Posted by: africanpressorganization | 26 November 2008

Zimbabwe / Statement by the UN secretary-general




Zimbabwe / Statement by the UN secretary-general


HARARE, Zimbabwe, November 26, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Daily press briefing by the office of the spokesperson for the UN secretary-general



The Secretary-General is alarmed that the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is now desperate and will worsen in the coming months.  He is deeply concerned that nearly half of the total population of 12 million could require food assistance and by reports that many households are now cutting back the number of meals eaten each day.  He is distressed at the collapse of health, sanitation and education services and the consequent rapidly escalating cholera outbreak.  The Secretary-General urges all parties to support and provide humanitarian assistance, leaving political considerations aside. 


The Secretary-General supports the humanitarian initiative on Zimbabwe offered by The Elders and regrets the decision of the Government of Zimbabwe not to cooperate with their timely, well-intended effort to assist the people of Zimbabwe.  The Secretary-General hopes that another mission can take place in the near future, given the rapidly deteriorating situation in the country. 


The Secretary-General calls on the Zimbabwean parties meeting in South Africa today to rapidly reach an agreement on the formation of a new Government consistent with the letter and spirit of the 15 September agreement.  The people of Zimbabwe cannot afford another failure by their political leadership to reach a fair and workable agreement that would allow Zimbabwe to tackle the formidable challenges ahead.


Still on Zimbabwe, the number of reported cholera cases in Zimbabwe has reached nearly 9,000, with more than 350 deaths reported as of today.  According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), this is an increase of some 1,600 cases and 53 more deaths from the previous day.  OCHA also says the outbreak is taking a regional dimension, with detection of suspected cholera cases reported in Botswana.  This follows earlier reports of cholera cases reported in South Africa.


The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, says it is in touch with Angola, South Africa and Mozambique regarding the cholera outbreak on their borders with Zimbabwe.  For WHO, the major concern at the moment with regard to cholera was in the urban areas of Harare.  There was a risk of the disease spreading to other regions of the country, which was why WHO was extremely concerned about the control of the disease.


UNICEF called on the Government of Zimbabwe to urgently address the water, sanitation and sewer infrastructural challenges that were driving the outbreak.  This was the only way to stop it.


SOURCE : United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General


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