Man-made starvation is “slowly making its way into Zimbabwe” and most households in the country are unable to obtain enough food to meet their basic needs.
Hilal Elver, an independent UN human rights expert said hyperinflation has reached 490 % and more than 60 per cent of the population is now “food-insecure”, in a country once seen as the breadbasket of Africa.
“In rural areas, a staggering 5.5 million people are currently facing food insecurity, as poor rains and erratic weather patterns are impacting harvests and livelihoods”, she said.
“In urban areas, an estimated 2.2 million people are food-insecure and lack access to minimum public services, including health and safe water”.
“Ms. Elver described the figures as “shocking”, and warned that, due to factors such as poverty and high unemployment, widespread corruption, severe price instabilities, and unilateral economic sanctions, the crisis is getting worse.
Women and children ‘bearing the brunt’
According to Ms. Elver, child deaths from severe malnutrition have been rising in recent months, and 90 % of Zimbabwean children aged six months to two years are not consuming the minimum acceptable diet.
“I saw the ravaging effects of malnutrition on infants deprived of breast feeding because of their own mothers’ lack of access to adequate food”.
The situation for women, as described by the human rights expert, is equally stark, with women (and children) increasingly forced to drop out of school, being forced into early marriage, domestic violence, prostitution, and sexual exploitation.
Ms. Elver called on the Zimbabwean Government, political parties, and the international community to come together to “put an end to this spiralling crisis before it morphs into a full-blown conflict”.