Despite an increase in grain production in 2009, up to 2.5 million people in the country are expected to need food aid in 2010.
“The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is still very grave. Even securing access to food is a major challenge for the majority of the population,” Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre commented.
The decision to increase humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe comes in response to an appeal from the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. The funds are primarily intended for improving food security, and will be channelled through organisations such as the Red Cross, Norwegian People’s Aid, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Médecins Sans Frontières. These are organisations that have a long-term involvement in Zimbabwe. They have implementation routines and monitoring systems to minimise the risk of the funds being misused.
In addition to the humanitarian assistance, Norway is providing well over NOK 100 million to development projects in Zimbabwe via the UN system and civil society organisations.
“Norway continues to support Zimbabwe’s unity government, but we are disappointed over the lack of progress in implementing the cooperation agreement. The persistent violations of human rights are also cause for concern. It is now important to work for free and fair elections,” Mr Støre said.
There will be a meeting of the informal donor group Friends of Zimbabwe in Oslo on 1 June. The aim of the meeting is to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe and a common approach for the way ahead.