09.12.2008 - Press release
The FDFA is concerned about the catastrophic situation in Zimbabwe
The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is very concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe which has seriously deteriorated with the outbreak of a cholera epidemic. The Humanitarian Aid of the Confederation has decided to provide additional aid to the value of CHF 1 million.
Zimbabwe, which is already being rocked by a number of crises, has suffered a further serious blow with the outbreak of a cholera epidemic that has so far affected more than 13,000 people and claimed the lives of 600. The government has declared a national state of emergency, and the United Nations is warning of a dramatic spread of the disease. The outbreak of cholera and other infectious diseases is the direct result of the collapse of the already fragile public infrastructure in the country. There is not even a minimum level of public health care and medical supplies, clean drinking water or public transport. The economy is in a state of desolation and the country has been paralysed by hyperinflation. More than five million people, i.e. almost half of Zimbabwe’s population, are dependent on international food aid. This disastrous situation has been caused by the policy failures of the government of President Mugabe, its mismanagement, arbitrariness and corruption.
For this reason, the FDFA firmly rejects the criticism of the Zimbabwean government that the disastrous humanitarian and economic situation is the result of the international sanctions imposed on the country. The FDFA points out that the sanctions, which include the freezing of assets, travel restrictions and a ban on weapons exports, are primarily targeted at individual members of the Mugabe regime.
Switzerland has supported for a number of years the people of Zimbabwe who have suffered terribly as a result of this situation. Swiss support includes both food aid and health care, for example the Connaught Clinic directed by Prof. Ruedi Lüthy, who with a medical team is treating HIV/Aids patients in Harare.
The Humanitarian Aid Unit of the Confederation has decided to boost its support with additional measures to the value of around CHF 1 million. Contributions will be channelled to the cholera emergency aid programme of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the World Food Programme (WFP). The Swiss government is also reviewing the possibility of sending several experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit to support UN agencies in organisational and logistical matters, as well as in their efforts to bring the epidemic under control.