'Africa must help Zimbabwe' – Umaru Yar'Adua

Abuja – Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua on Tuesday urged African countries to step in with urgent aid to help Zimbabwe out of its humanitarian crisis.

"African nations need to take the lead in sending support and assistance to the people of Zimbabwe at this critical time," Yar’Adua said as he received the new South African ambassador to Nigeria, Kingsley Mamabolo.

Yar’Adua said Nigeria’s emergency management agency (NEMA) was already assessing Zimbabwe’s immediate humanitarian needs ahead of sending aid to the southern African country hit by an unprecedented cholera outbreak.

The country, once dubbed the breadbasket of southern Africa is in the throes of a food crisis affecting more than half of its 12 million population.

A top-level United Nations team is also in Zimbabwe looking at ways of curbing the cholera epidemic that has claimed more than 3 800 lives and easing food shortages that have left 6.9 million people without enough to eat.

A unity government that took office two weeks ago aims to end nearly a year of political turmoil stemming from disputed elections last March, but faces the enormous challenge of rebuilding a country devastated by hyperinflation. – AFP