Skip to comments.U.S. sends tons of food to Africa
Posted on 08/21/2002 12:31:14 AM PDT by sarcasm
WASHINGTON The United States said yesterday it has sent 190,000 tons of food to drought-stricken southern Africa, and blamed the confiscation of farms in Zimbabwe for rampant hunger in the region.
The food maize, vegetable oil, beans and corn-soy blend for severely malnourished children was shipped earlier this month, said Andrew Natsios, director of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
It will go to feed the hungry in six countries: Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland.
The region is in the grips of its worst drought in 10 years, Natsios said. USAID estimated that up to 12.8 million people will need food assistance between now and March, when farmers harvest.
The situation is exacerbated by President Robert Mugabe's policy of seizing white-owned farms in Zimbabwe and redistributing them to blacks.
Some of the farms that were taken have been turned over to members of Mugabe's family, Natsios said.
"So they're not exactly turning these over to poor people," Natsios said.
Walter Kansteiner, assistant secretary of state for Africa, said U.S. officials are working with other countries in the region on ways to "encourage the body politic of Zimbabwe" to oust Mugabe.
Before the land-reform program was launched two years ago, white farmers owned about one-third of all farmland in Zimbabwe.
Now, with farmers under arrest and their land confiscated, they are not able to produce the food that has gone to commercial markets.
The United States already sent 310,000 tons of food to the region, Natsios said.
Rushing to meet yesterday's deadline, many of around 200 farmers ordered by the courts to vacate their lands loaded their belongings onto trucks and pulled out before nightfall, farm leaders said.
The government had issued eviction orders demanding 2,900 white farmers leave their land by Aug. 9 as part of a controversial land-redistribution campaign.
Around 60 percent of those farmers stayed on past that date sparking the wave of arrests.
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