UN pledges to assist Zim beyond cholera crisis

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Harare - The United Nations has pledged to assist Zimbabwe beyond the cholera epidemic to address the humanitarian situation in that country.

The UN team visiting Zimbabwe to assess the country's humanitarian needs made the pledge during a meeting with President Robert Mugabe at Zimbabwe House in Harare on Monday, The Herald newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Team leader UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg described the meeting with President Mugabe as fruitful.

"We talked of the continuing partnership between the UN and the government. The president spoke positively. He invited me back," she said, adding that they discussed the possibility of any other form of humanitarian assistance that Zimbabwe might require.

"We are focusing on cholera and any form of humanitarian assistance the UN can offer," said Ms Bragg.

She has met the ministers of Labour, Education, Health, Agriculture and Foreign Affairs. Her team has held meetings with government ministers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The president also indicated to the UN delegation that the country's new inclusive government was working reasonably well. He requested the lifting of the sanctions imposed by the west, saying the embargo was hurting ordinary Zimbabweans.

South Africa, which said it would help Zimbabwe in its recovery plan to address the economic and humanitarian crisis in that country, has also requested the European Union to consider lifting its sanction imposed on the country.

Zimbabwe has requested financial assistance from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to jump-start recovery of its battered economy. The finance ministers from member states are expected to meet to discuss this in Cape Town on Wednesday.