Millions facing starvation in Zimbabwe, Archbishop warns

3,500 people a week are dying of a combination of malnutrition, poverty and AIDS, Archbishop Pius Ncube said, citing a UN report that warns that an estimated 6.1 million Zimbabweans now face starvation.

Archbishop Ncube from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, made the comments while visiting the UK for meetings at the Foreign Office and the Houses of Parliament, hoping to raise awareness of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Zimbabwe, the Catholic Information Service for Africa reports.

According to the Independent Catholic News, the figure of 3,500 deaths per week suggests that far from the media spotlight, more people die in Zimbabwe each week than in the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur.

The World Health Organisation figures released earlier this year place life expectancy in Zimbabwe at 34 years for women and 37 for men, making it the lowest in the world. In comparison, life expectancy in Iraq for men is 51 and for women it is 61.

The outspoken archbishop said that although Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV infection rates on earth, with more than 24 per cent of the population infected, these life expectancy figures cannot just be blamed on AIDS.

Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries have the similar incidence of AIDS but their life expectancy figures are better and some substantially better, he said.

"Zimbabwe is not a nation at war. It used to be able to feed itself and its neighbours. Zimbabwe used to have one of the highest life expectancy rates in Africa, up with South Africa," Archbishop Ncube said, according to Independent Catholic News.

"Now hunger, illness and desperation stalk our land. Cemeteries are filling up throughout the country.

"But no blood is being spilt. People are just fading away, dying quietly and being buried quietly with no fanfare - and so there is little international media attention," Archbishop Ncube said.

"These deaths are largely preventable yet without significant intervention, the situation threatens to develop into a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions," he said, noting that the UN has warned that an estimated 6.1 million Zimbabweans now face starvation.

Zimbabwe's humanitarian plight critical, Catholic archbishop says (CISA, Catholic Online, 27/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archbishop Pius Ncube (Wikipedia)
Archdiocese of Bulawayo

Archbishop's report exposes Zimbabwean homelessness debacle (CathNews, 1/9/06)
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28 Nov 2006