One in three Zimbabweans is facing starvation, and the situation will worsen in the coming months if food aid is not increased, Caritas Internationalis charity has said. According to the charity, families in rural Zimbabwe got only 50 kg of maize, the staple food, for the year. Child malnutrition rates have doubled to 12 percent since November 2006. Urban areas are also under threat, with 80 percent unemployment and 8,000 percent inflation making basic food too expensive to buy for many. "The people of Zimbabwe are suffering. Harvests have failed as a result of poor rainfall and unsuccessful land reforms, Caritas Internationalis secretary general, Lesley Anne Knight, said. "The shops lie empty as the economic crisis worsens. The national health, education and agricultural services have collapsed. Zimbabweans who can are fleeing the tragedy that the country has become. Caritas has launched an appeal for $US 7 million to scale up its operations to provide food for over 100,000 people until April 2008. The charity will also help 16,500 families with agricultural and irrigation support in planting for the next harvest. Although Zimbabwe is set to import food, even taking into account their projected imports, there will still be a 10 percent gap in the food need, said Caritas. The full impact of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe, with prevalence rates of over 20 percent in the age group 19-29 years, has weakened people,s capacity to cope in times of need. Life expectancy is estimated at less than 40 years for both men and women. The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe has blamed President Robert Mugabe,s government for overseeing the economic and social collapse and violating the freedom and fundamental rights of the people and for failing to tackle rampant corruption. Source: CISA/Caritas
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