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Church in Zimbabwe may resort to legal action to restart feeding scheme

The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe is considering legal action against war veterans who have halted its feeding program for children and expectant mothers in the drought-prone Binga District.

"The church is wondering whether the courts should be approached to force the police to give the church protection when they are delivering the food to the people," said the source.

Some of the children are reportedly fainting from hunger while in class. Church officials said the war veterans were still camped outside the church's warehouse, ready to pounce on delivery trucks hired to distribute the food to about 4000 pre-school children and expectant mothers in the district.

Joel Gabhuza, the local MP, said on Monday a report had been compiled on the impact of the drought in the region.

"A number of school children are fainting from hunger and if the situation continues people will die of starvation," he said.

He added that some families were going up to one week without a solid meal. Gabhuza said war veterans wielding sticks and stones were milling outside the Catholic Church to stop the feeding program.

They launched their siege after the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Ignatius Chombo, ordered the Church's Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace Commission (CCJP) to abandon the feeding program because it was using "structures similar to the government's".

Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference
Zimbabwe 'disaster' as famine looms (BBC)

The Daily News (Harare)

20 Jun 2002