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ZIMBABWE: EU gives US $20 million to ameliorate vulnerability
March 11, 2005

JOHANNESBURG - A US $20 million cash injection from the European Commission (EC) this week is expected to bolster the efforts of aid agencies struggling to cope with rising vulnerability in Zimbabwe.

The money will be disbursed through UN agencies and NGOs, to assist the country's internally displaced population and those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, especially children. Zimbabwe is estimated to have over a million orphans, mainly as a result of the AIDS pandemic.

"The European Commission is committed to providing humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable Zimbabweans, regardless of the political situation there. European aid is provided strictly on the basis of genuine needs," the commission said in a statement on Thursday.

The EU has cut all non-humanitarian aid to the southern African country since the March 2000 presidential elections, which President Robert Mugabe was accused of rigging, and earlier this year also renewed its targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his cabinet.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a deep socio-economic crisis, with rising rates of HIV/AIDS infection and an unprecedented number of people facing food insecurity. The EU noted that diseases that had been eradicated in the country, such as cholera and dysentery, were once again being reported due to the lack of basic water, sanitation and health services.

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