By NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has appealed for US$70,9 million to meet Zimbabwe’s increased humanitarian needs as hunger and a collapsing economy take a huge toll on the long-suffering citizenry.
Humanitarian agencies estimate that millions face hunger, with the World Food Programme (WFP) on July 31, putting the figure of food insecure Zimbabweans at 8,6 million.
According to the WFP, the desperate situation faced by many Zimbabweans is exacerbated by the combined effects of drought, economic recession and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unicef is appealing for US$70,9 million to meet the increased humanitarian needs in the country in 2020 as a result of the multiple hazards of drought, residual impacts of Cyclone Idai, diarrheal disease outbreaks, and economic crisis compounded by the current COVID-19 outbreak,” Unicef said in its latest Zimbabwe humanitarian situation report.
According to Unicef, as of July 31, about US$ 30,7 million, which is 30% of the total 2020 funding requirement has been received from various donors.
The UN agency warned the country’s humanitarian situation will have devastating effects particularly on children as reports of malnutrition are now being recorded.
“Without a well-resourced response, the COVID-19 epidemic is projected to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities among children, with lasting negative impact on children’s education and learning outcomes,” Unicef noted.
“The combined impact of drought and economic deterioration has thus worsened the dire situation of vulnerable children, placing them at a heightened risk of increased protection violations and negative coping strategies.”
In July, an analysis by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and WFP identified Zimbabwe as among 27 countries in the world facing COVID-19 induced famine.
Other countries cited by the WFP and FAO include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Haiti, Venezuela, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Mozambique and Sierra Leone, among others