Zimbabwe: On the Brink of a Humanitarian Crisis

Center of Concern
The current situation in Zimbabwe continues to raise new alarms as the political and social climate deteriorate into more and more desperate states. The current reality has far reaching root causes whose most proximate ones include the failure of power-sharing agreements between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai after the hotly contested presidential election in June 2008.

The net effect of this failure has resulted in continued violence, the breakdown of essential government functions, the failure of the political leaders to act for the good of their people and millions of Zimbabweans at the brink of survival. While Zimbabwe has wanted to maintain its autonomy and control, under the leadership of Robert Mugabe, things have only gotten worse.

Carefully brokered power-sharing agreements have failed to hold and chaos is now the result. The unraveling of this society has been a steady, at times violent, progression of decisions and rulings that have concentrated the power into the hands of Robert Mugabe. Mugabe has been in power since 1980 when Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) gained independence from Britain. Once a promising democratic leader of a flourishing country, Mugabe’s slow accession of power and his attempts at land redistribution have slowly choked the country’s economy and now endangers its people.

As a result of these factors, life in Zimbabwe is spiraling out of control for millions.
• This year’s planting season has been lost because there was no seed available.
• Chronic food shortages are the result.
• A failed land redistribution effort has created a breakdown in the farming sector, and has left 1.5 million Zimbabweans at risk of hunger, malnutrition and starvation.
• Hyperinflation currently at 231 million percent has place the price of the most essential food staples far beyond the reach of regular citizens.
• Some prices of basics goods are doubling every 24 hours.
• A major humanitarian crisis is mounting with more than half the population needing food aid.
• Millions have fled Zimbabwe for other countries particularly South Africa.
• A cholera epidemic is sweeping the country and as Zimbabweans flee, disease is spreading.
• Basic drugs to treat the disease and prevent death are unavailable because hospitals could not afford them.
• The medical system is in a near state of collapse.
• The country is on the verge of economic collapse.

Former president, Jimmy Carter was part of a delegation sent to assess the extent of the humanitarian crisis and noted, “The entire basic structure in education, healthcare, feeding people, social services and sanitation has broken down. These are all indications that the crisis in Zimbabwe is much greater, much worse than we had ever imagined.” Diplomatic pressures have had little success and greater efforts are urgently needed.

Lord God,
Our hearts cry out for the people in Zimbabwe
whose lives are in chaos,
whose hopes are waning,
whose very lives are in danger.
by the government’s failed choices.

Galvanize the forces of good to change the dynamics at work.
Help us to be people of faith
who bring life and light
to situations of death and darkness.Help us to stand with the Catholic Bishops of Zimbabwe,
and with the international community,
and be a voice for our sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe.