Harare (AFP) – Zimbabwe is facing “man-made” starvation with 60 percent of the people failing to meet basic food needs, a UN special envoy said Thursday after touring the southern African country.
Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, ranked Zimbabwe among the four top countries facing severe food shortages outside nations in conflict zones.
“The people of Zimbabwe are slowly getting to a point of suffering a man-made starvation,” she told a news conference in Harare, adding that eight million people would be affected by the end of the year.
“A staggering 5.5 million people are currently facing food insecurity” in rural areas due to a drought that has affected harvests, she said.
‘Full-blown social unrest’
“Political polarization, economic and financial problems and erratic climatic conditions all contribute to the storm of food insecurity currently facing a country once seen as the breadbasket of Africa,” Elver said.
She warned that food insecurity heightened “the risks of civil unrest and insecurity”.
“I urgently call on the government and the international community to come together to put an end to this spiraling crisis before it morphs into a full-blown social unrest,” she said.
She said she personally “witnessed some of the devastating consequences of the acute economic crisis in the streets of Harare, with people waiting for hours on long lines in front of gas stations, banks, and water dispensaries”.
Elver said she also was received complaints of partisan distribution of food aid in favor of known ruling Zanu-PF members against opposition supporters.
“I call on the government of Zimbabwe to live up to its zero hunger commitment without any discrimination,” Elver said … Read more.