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UN figures show death toll up to 1,174

Latest update : 2008-12-26

At least 1,174 people are now known to have died from the Cholera epidemic which has ravaged Zimbabwe for weeks. The United Nations children's fund UNICEF said that "the disease is still not under control".

AFP- The toll from Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic rose again Tuesday with 1,174 people now known to have died from the disease since August, the United Nations children's fund UNICEF said.
   
"The disease is still popping up in the country which means it is still not under control," UNICEF representative in Zimbabwe Roeland Monasch told a press conference in Geneva by telephone.
   
Almost 3,000 new cases have been diagnosed since the last UN figures were published five days ago, Monasch said, taking the total number of confirmed infections to 23,712.
   
The previous toll had been 1,123, meaning that 51 new cholera deaths had been confirmed since Thursday.
   
Monasch added that the UN is preparing aid supplies to treat up to 60,000 possible cases of the deadly, but curable, disease.
   
"The UN partners have prepared their stocks to be able to respond to up to 60,000 people. It doesn't mean that there will be so many cases but we need to be prepared," he said.
   
Also Tuesday, the International Federation of the Red Cross also said it was launching an emergency appeal for 10 million Swiss francs (six million euros, nine million dollars) to help 1.5 million people at risk of a host of problems in Zimbabwe.
   
"We face a new tragedy as the year draws to an end. Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak, coupled with hunger and AIDS, has created a veritable deadly molotov cocktail," said Encho Gospodinov, director of the federation's communications and policy division.
   
Red Cross aid, including water purification equipment, will be mainly distributed to three regions in Zimbabwe where the mortality rate is "abnormally high" at 10 percent, he added.
   
Elsewhere in the country, UNICEF puts the mortality rate at five percent.
   
Earlier this month, President Robert Mugabe appeared to deny cholera's existence in the country, proclaiming in a radio address that "there is no cholera."
   
His spokesman later said his comments were meant as "sarcasm" after they drew international outcry.
   
Mugabe then accused former colonial power Britain of deliberately introducing the disease as "a genocidal onslaught on the people of Zimbabwe."
   
The epidemic adds to the economic and political crisis roiling the impoverished southern African country, with inflation spinning to stratospheric proportions and a political stalemate reigning between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai over disagreements on a power-sharing government.
   
Monasch said the cholera epidemic is a result of a severe economic malaise in Zimbabwe.
   
"The biggest problem is the economic crisis that needs to be addressed immediately," he said adding that the country's economy will only improve when the political crisis is resolved.
   
Washington had hoped the UN Security Council would adopt a non-binding resolution condemning Mugabe for failing to protect his people from the cholera outbreak, but a Western diplomat said the plan had run into opposition from neighbouring South Africa.
   
Zimbabwe has been in political crisis since elections in March when the long-ruling ZANU-PF party lost control of parliament and Mugabe was pushed into second place by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential vote.
   
Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, pulled out of a run-off over violence against his supporters.

Date created : 2008-12-26

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