A Catholic charity in Zimbabwe has been prevented from bringing food to starving children living in areas known to oppose the rule of Robert Mugabe, the American government said last week. The Zimbabwe Independent reported on Friday that a State Department spokesman, Colin Furst, said the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, had been prevented from giving food to malnourished children in Binga, Matabeleland, for more than a month. He said senior local officials had helped to block the aid and police had refused to intervene. Hurst said: "We have reports that children have fainted from hunger during school hours and that some are too weak even to attend classes. We are calling on the government of Zimbabwe to rectify the situation in Binga at once and ensure that food is distributed on a non-partisan basis countrywide." Jim Morris, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, told a press conference in Johannesburg he had spoken to Mr Mugabe three times in the last month to ensure that WFP food deliveries in Zimbabwe were not stolen by the ruling Zanu-PF party for distribution only to its political supporters. Around 13 million lives are at risk from starvation in Southern Africa. Mr Morris said: "Throughout the region people are walking a thin tightrope between life and death. The combination of widespread hunger, chronic poverty and the HIV/Aids pandemic is devastating and may soon lead to a catastrophe. This has developed into the most serious humanitarian crisis taking place in the world today."
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