World Bulletin / News Desk
The number of people needing food aid in Zimbabwe will rise by 60 percent this year to 1.6 million, the World Food Programme said on Friday, citing an annual assessment carried out by the United Nations and the Zimbabwean government.
A poor farming season this year is blamed on erratic rainfall and limited access to seeds and fertilisers, which prompted Finance Minister Tendai Biti to cut the 2012 growth forecast to 5.6 percent from 9.4 percent.
Zimbabwe harvested 1.077 million tonnes of cereals in the 2011/12 season, down by one-third from the previous season and the lowest since 2009 when a unity government formed by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai helped revive a sinking economy.
Nearly one in five rural people in the southern African state will need food aid during the peak of next year's "hunger season", which runs from January to March when new crops are not ready for harvest, the WFP said in a statement.
"Our field staff are already reporting signs of distress in rural areas, including empty granaries and farmers selling off their livestock to make ends meet," said Felix Bamezon, the WFP country director.
In December the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 1.45 million would needfood aid.
Biti said last week that agriculture production for the 2011/2012 season had fallen 5.8 percent, leaving a grain deficit of 445,000 tonnes, which would be partly met through imports by the private sector.
The WFP said it would import cereals from neighbouring countries to distribute in rural Zimbabwe but would also hand out cash in some areas to allow people to buy their own cereals.
A senior official has said that Burkina Faso will hold their own independent inquiry into the the abuse of children by French soldiers.
Bookseller Sam Mansour has been stripped of his Danish citizenship allegedly inciting terrorism through Facebook posts
President Joseph Kabila has said that he will not stand for a third term when it ends in 2016. The ambassador to the UK has said his compliance will mean that the UK will finance the election.
Ukraine's state-run gas company Naftogaz has announced the suspension of gas purchases from Russia from July 1
A court in Germany has ruled that Youtube must use a digitial fingerprint to prevent users uploading copyright material
Tensions over NATO and the Ukraine conflict have paved the way for the Bulgarian military to revamp its fleet.
Two French Uber executives will face trial over deceitful commercial practices and being complicit in illegal operation of a taxi service
Baltic states criticize Russian authorities for 'absurd' intention to review legality of their independence
European Union will provide Hungary with financial aid to take care of illegal migrant flows
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken at an official Ramadan iftar saying that Islam will always remain in Germany
In a letter, Greek prime minister offers to accept most of terms in creditor's Saturday offer with some minor conditions
U.S. President Barack Obama signed a legislation aimed on discouraging boycotts against Israel
An online crowdfunding campaign started by a London shoe shop worker is aiming to create a Greek bailout fund of his own.
Sheihk Kirya has become the 12th Muslim cleric to be slain in a period of 2 years.
Ten people suspected of joining ISIL have been arrested in a police operation on the Italian-Albanian border
Italian finance minister says euro zone ministers still open to any Greek agreement