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    Repiglican Roast

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    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Zimbabwe children eating toxic roots, rats

    Children in Zimbabwe are eating rats and inedible roots riddled with toxic parasites to stave off hunger because of chronic food shortages, an aid agency said on Thursday. Save the Children said the most vulnerable faced starvation unless they get food aid in the next couple of weeks.

    "The rising malnutrition and the rise in diseases are going to mean that children will die and we have to act very fast," said Sarah Jacobs, a spokeswoman for the relief group. The United Nations had said previously that more than 5 million people in Zimbabwe would need food aid by early next year after a poor harvest compounded by economic turmoil. Jacobs said many people in the Zambezi Valley, the poorest and driest area, were now surviving on a vile-tasting, fibrous root called makuri. "It's got no nutritional value whatsoever. It tastes disgusting and it also has a parasite which attaches to it which is toxic," said Jacobs, who has just returned from the region.

    President Robert Mugabe imposed the ban before a run-off presidential election in June, accusing the agencies of supporting the opposition. But Save the Children said in reality many agencies had not been able to work in the field since the first election round in March."This is all they have to eat. You see babies eating it and toddlers eating it, and it's not digestible. It creates terrible stomach pains." People were eating anything to survive, she said. She had come across one child who had died after eating a poisonous root and young children eating tiny rats they caught in their huts. Save the Children and other agencies are resuming work after Zimbabwe's government lifted a ban on their operations at the end of August. The agency, which has launched a 5 million pound ($9.2 million) appeal for emergency operations in Zimbabwe, said the situation had got much worse in the past few months and that rampant inflation meant even people with jobs would need food aid. "People's ways of coping have been completely exhausted. People are saying they're scared they're going to die within weeks if food doesn't come," Jacobs said.
    [...]




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