HUMANITARIAN organisations have accused the government and war veterans of denying them access to some parts of the country to distribute food aid.
The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) said the hindrances were making it difficult for the organisations to fully exercise their mandate to provide humanitarian needs and to control hunger stalking the nation.
“The broader deficits in democracy and respect for the rule of law as well as the limited commitment by some officials to adhere to international humanitarian standards and principles have resulted in unabated disruptions of humanitarian operations in many areas,” Nango spokesperson Fambai Ngirande said this week. “There is a clear need for stronger human rights protection mechanisms to safeguard humanitarian workers and all Zimbabweans from abuse by the powerful.”
In Shurugwi last week, Nango said, a consignment of food from a humanitarian organisation was monitored by suspected members of Zanu PF who directed the food distribution.
Deserving individuals were reportedly denied aid.
On Tuesday, USAid stressed the need for complete and unhindered access in order to provide critical humanitarian assistance in the country.
According to Nango, humanitarian operations were underway throughout the country, albeit under very difficult conditions.
A combination of a severe drought, an unorthodox and costly land distribution exercise and brutal pre- and post-election violence by Zanu PF has seen Zimbabwe failing to feed its citizens.
The food situation was made worse when the government barred humanitarian organisations from operating before the June 27 presidential election run-off after accusing them of campaigning for the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai.
Before the ban, three million people were being catered for by the organisations. Now over five million people are in need of food relief.
By Thando Mpofu