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Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her most recent assessment is of (a) the loss of life in Zimbabwe over the last 12 months and (b) the level of humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe; and if she will make a statement. [110329]

By far the greatest cause of mortality in Zimbabwe is HIV/AIDS, which the WHO estimates may have resulted in 130.000 deaths in the last year.At present there are no official estimates of mortality in Zimbabwe during the past 12 months. The results of a national nutrition and health survey, supported by donors including DFID, are due to be released by the Ministry of Health during May. Preliminary indications are that there is little evidence of widespread severe malnutrition among children or deaths from starvation. NGOs report however that there have been cases of illness and death as a result of consuming poisonous wild foods.

In the last four months prior to the new maize crop entering the market from May, nearly seven million people have been receiving food through the international relief effort. As the nutrition and health survey is expected to confirm, overall, the aid effort has been successful. DFID has been a significant contributor, providing £51 million to help Zimbabwe since the humanitarian crisis began in mid 2001 The prospects for Zimbabwe in 2003 remain dismal. Food security continues to be affected by chaos in the agricultural sector, economic disincentives to production, unemployment at 70 per cent., and 228 per cent. inflation eroding purchasing power. DFID's priorities for the next year will continue to be the prevention of HIV and mitigation of the impact of AIDS, and directassistance for the poor and vulnerable during the continuing economic andsocial crisis in Zimbabwe.