Swedish aid to help Zimbabwe fight cholera

Sweden has agreed to provide 84 million kronor ($10.5 million) in humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe in part to help the country battle its ongoing cholera epidemic.

“Sweden decided this week to grant Zimbabwe humanitarian aid of 50 million kronor in response to a UN appeal. With the 34 million kronor in aid accorded to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Sweden has in recent weeks given the Zimbabwean people 84 million kronor,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The ministry said the 50 million kronor would go towards the UN’s appeal for humanitarian aid, benefiting a number of organizations including Unicef, the Food and Agriculture Organization and Save the Children UK.

The remaining 34 million would go towards fighting the cholera epidemic.

More than 91,000 cases of cholera have been reported in Zimbabwe since the disease broke out last August, killing 4,035 people, according to the latest World Health Organization data published Monday.

“The humanitarian crisis in the country continues to be very serious… The food situation is critical and an estimated five million people are in need of food aid,” the Swedish ministry said.

That estimate falls short of recent UN World Food Programme figures, which show that nearly seven million people in Zimbabwe are suffering from food shortages.

“Sweden is ready to contribute further humanitarian aid but an increased commitment is conditional on the implementation of immediate reforms,” Development Aid Minister Gunilla Carlsson said in the statement.

Over the past decade, Zimbabwe’s economy has collapsed with the world’s highest inflation rate, chronic shortages of foreign currency and food, skyrocketing unemployment and widespread hunger.

In December, the Nordic countries called on President Robert Mugabe to resign, holding him responsible for the chaos in his country.