Zimbabwe appeals for $10.9m aid for refugees

Harare - Financially hamstrung Zimbabwe joined UN agencies and charities on Wednesday in appealing for $10.9m of aid for thousands of refugees in the country including families fleeing violence in neighbouring Mozambique.

Zimbabwe, grappling an economic crisis including a cash crunch which has had a toll on social services, is host to 17 500 refugees, official statistics show.

"Governments and humanitarian organisations are left to deal with the consequences while at the same time struggling to save lives on limited budgets," Robert Tibagwa, the resident representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Zimbabwe, said at the launch of the appeal.

"This appeal represents one such effort to provide protection, assistance and solutions for refugees and asylum seekers in Zimbabwe. To this end we are appealing for some $10.9m.

"Admittedly, this is not the most prominent refugee situation globally. However, the people affected are no less deserving of assistance," said Tibagwa.

Mahomed Ayoya, of the United Nations Development Programme, said international aid agencies had exhausted the funds needed to help thousands fleeing conflict in Mozambique.

He said at least 6 500 Mozambican asylum seekers were living in Zimbabwe "hosted by communities who themselves have very limited means."

"Zimbabwe is currently responding to address the refugees situation from Mozambique," said Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira.

Refugees and asylum seekers in Zimbabwe are mainly from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Rwanda and the Horn of Africa.

The appeal covers the refugees' shelter, food and water provisions and other basic needs until the end of 2017.

Last year the number of refugees worldwide jumped 300 000 to peak at a record 65.6 million - six million more than at the end of 2014, according to a report published by the UN refugee agency this week.

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