HARARE – Caritas Internationalis is warning that the crisis in Zimbabwe is so grave that people facing crushing food shortages are mixing cow dung with their food.
With pressure continuing to mount on President Mugabe to relinquish his hold on power, Zimbabweans are suffering the consequences of his government’s policies. Besides the lack of food, people are also suffering a cholera epidemic and crippling hyperinflation.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight reports that "people in Zimbabwe are dropping dead on the streets from cholera".
They have witnessed people mixing cow dung with what’s left of their food to make it go further. "This is poverty at its most dehumanising."
Caritas plans to ramp up its aid operations across the country with hunger likely to increase after poor harvests.
A Caritas survey in October found 70 to 90 percent of households going hungry and the remainder on the brink of starvation. At least 5.1 million people are facing starvation out of a population of 13 million people. Additionally, nearly 14,000 cases of cholera have been reported.
Knight also commented on the political crisis, saying, "An effective government that can rectify the policies that have put the country into this position must be established.
"The international community must maintain the pressure on Zimbabwe for an end to this crisis. We must also prepare ourselves for the implosion of the country and the catastrophe that will mean in terms of human suffering across the region".
Zimbabweans have faced discrimination in South Africa and other neighbouring countries and Knight warned that they "must address the xenophobia directed at Zimbabwean refugees in their own countries".
"These are very challenging conditions for aid agencies to operate, but Caritas remains committed to delivering aid to the country in its hour of need," she said. - CNS