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Quarter of Zimbabweans now starving: Red Cross

Up to a quarter of Zimbabweans urgently need food aid, the Red Cross said yesterday.

“In some parts of the country, the food situation is as bad as many of our volunteers and staff have ever seen it,” said Emma Kundishora, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society.

Erratic rain — too much in some areas and too little in others — has damaged crops of corn, the staple food across the southern African nation.

At least four million Zimbabweans are estimated to have fled the nation's economic meltdown in recent years to find work in neighbouring countries and further afield, leaving the population at about eight million, according to official estimates from the finance ministry.

The Red Cross expressed particular concern about the possible impact of existing and looming food shortages on people living with or affected by HIV.

Last December the Red Cross extended emergency food operation in Zimbabwe until October 2010.

“Right now, the situation is already critical — more than two million people need direct humanitarian support,” said Dr Stephen Omollo, the International Red Cross representative in Zimbabwe. “And we know that this will get worse as the upcoming harvest already appears to have failed.”

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