Washington, D.C., Aug. 17, 2005 - Tony Hall, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN World Food Program, told the Voice of America (VOA) today that Zimbabwean people are suffering because of the food crisis there, but that "a lot of the suffering is caused by the government themselves." Hall, who recently returned from a trip to Zimbabwe, added that "it's easy to write off the [Zimbabwean] government, but you can't write off the people."
He said a number of factors, including Zimbabwe's 380 percent inflation rate, HIV/AIDS epidemic, 80 percent inflation rate, failed harvest, and harsh political crackdown by the government, all make it "very, very difficult for the people, their own people, to eat."
He said Zimbabwean government officials "weren't very cooperative" during his visits to camps that had been affected by "Operation Restore Order," the government's initiative to rid the capital of urban slums and illegal vendors, and even blocked his attempt to visit one camp where homes had been destroyed. The United Nations has estimated that 700,000 people have been left homeless and jobless due to "Operation Restore Order." The U.S. recently donated nearly 74,000 metric tons of food to Zimbabwe and five other countries in southern Africa facing drought.
Excerpts of Hall's interview were aired worldwide during VOA's News Now broadcasts and repeated during today's Daybreak Africa show, VOA's half-hour weekday breakfast show for listeners in Africa.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages.
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