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Brussels, 2 December 2008

European Commission response to cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe

The European Commission has responded to the growing cholera crisis in Zimbabwe by deploying humanitarian funding aimed both at treating victims of the disease and at stemming its spread. More than €9 million from the Commission humanitarian 'global plan' for Zimbabwe (IP/08/1404) is being provided to UN and non-governmental partner agencies working in Zimbabwe to support water, sanitation and hygiene actions, epidemic response and the provision of essential drugs.

Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid said: "I'm shocked at the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe and call upon the authorities there to respond quickly to this cholera outbreak by allowing full assistance from international humanitarians and regional partners. Cholera is a disease of destitution that used to be almost unknown in Zimbabwe. It can be kept at bay with clean water and good hygiene, and when there is an outbreak, the death toll can be minimised through proper medical treatment. With almost no local capacity left in Zimbabwe to tackle the epidemic due to the collapse of so many basic community services, help from outside is crucial. This is a preventable tragedy and our priority is to save lives and relieve suffering."

The cholera outbreak is affecting most regions in Zimbabwe - including the border regions with South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique - with more than 11.700 cases and 473 deaths recorded since August, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In 2007, The European Commission provided 90.9 Million euros in both humanitarian and essential development aid which was channelled through our international partners such as UN agencies. The European Commission is the main donor to the vulnerable populations of Zimbabwe having provided more than 500 million euros in direct support to the population since 2002.

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