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UMCOR assists local partner for Zimbabwe aid

Students at the Mount Makomwe United Methodist Mission School near Marange, Zimbabwe, line up for a cup of the nutritional drink mahewu.
UMNS file photos by Mike DuBose.

June 5, 2008 | NEW YORK (UMNS)

The United Methodist Committee on Relief is providing humanitarian assistance in politically charged Zimbabwe. 

UMCOR responded on June 4 to a request for aid and will assist a partner organization working on the ground in distributing food and medicine to communities and clinics serving the most vulnerable.

Because of the high cost of fuel, UMCOR will help pay to transport the goods to areas most affected by food shortages and politically related violence.

The agency also is working with Bishop Ivan Abraham and the Methodist Church in Southern Africa to help provide shelter and food in the Johannesburg area for refugees there, many of them from Zimbabwe. UMCOR sent a $10,000 emergency grant and may provide a staff member there for several months.

Students attend an assembly at the Munyarari United Methodist Mission
Center near Marange, Zimbabwe.

Methodist and other churches in the Johannesburg area are attempting to care for as many as 30,000 people, some of whom were caught up by violence in May aimed at refugees.

Both inside and outside the country, Zimbabweans are suffering from economic hardship and political strife, particularly in the wake of disputed results of a presidential election involving President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader. A runoff election is set for June 27.

On June 3, The New York Times reported that CARE––one of the largest nonprofit aid groups working in Zimbabwe––was among groups ordered by the government to suspend all operations in the country. The Times quoted Mugabe's charge that money was being channeled through western organizations to the opposition and that food was being used "as a political weapon" against his government.

UMCOR is working with partners in Zimbabwe who "are coordinating with their local network to provide humanitarian assistance," according to the Rev. Sam Dixon, UMCOR’s top executive.

"As in Myanmar, where politics intervened in a humanitarian crisis, we are poised and ready to respond fully when the government releases its restrictions," he said.

The agency continues to support three hospitals in the region that serve mothers and vulnerable children. Because of their location, however, many people are too frightened to visit the hospitals and healthcare providers are discouraged from assisting those affected by the conflict, according to UMCOR.

Donations to UMCOR Advance No. 199456, Zimbabwe Emergency, can be dropped into church offering plates or mailed directly to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, N.Y. 10087-9068. Write the Advance number and name on the memo line of the check. Credit card donations are accepted online at www.givetomission.org or by phone at (800) 554-8583.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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