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Press release

UNICEF Executive Director visits Zimbabwe

HARARE, 17 January 2009 – UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, today announced that the United Nations will make available $5 million for the health sector in Zimbabwe as the country is battling an on-going cholera outbreak and the effects of collapsing social services.  

“The cholera outbreak is the tip of the iceberg,” said Veneman, the first head of a UN agency to visit the country in three years. “The economy in Zimbabwe is crumbling, with the highest inflation rate in the world at 231 million percent.  Over half the population is receiving food aid, health centers have closed and when the school term starts there is no guarantee that there will be enough teachers.”

Veneman met with President Mugabe and key stakeholders.   Discussions underscored the humanitarian impact on women and children.

The Executive Director visited a cholera treatment clinic and a care center that is part of a UNICEF supported program that helps 250,000 orphans and vulnerable children.

UNICEF and partners have been responding to the emergency, providing vital equipment to cholera treatment centers. Over the next four months UNICEF will support the drilling of 100 boreholes in areas in need of water.  The UN children’s agency has also been providing 70 percent of the country’s essential medicines.

“More than ever before all stakeholders must put children at the forefront of their collective agenda,” said Veneman.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments

For further information, please contact:
Shantha Bloemen, UNICEF Johannesburg, Mobile:+27 79495 5938, sbloemen@unicef.org
Tsitsi Singizi ,UNICEF Zimbabwe Communication Officer,Tel: 263-91 2 943 915, tsingizi@unicef.org
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York, Tel, +1212 326 7426, pmccormick@unicef.org




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