January 30, 2009 / 5:07 PM / 10 years ago

WFP cuts cereal rations for hungry Zimbabweans

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The U.N.’s World Food Program will halve cereal rations for Zimbabweans next month because of an increase in the number of people in need of food aid, a spokesman said.

Zimbabwe is facing chronic food shortages and seven million people, or half the population, will need handouts in February and March, according to the WFP. The agency opted to cut the monthly cereal ration to 5 kg (11 lb) per person to feed more people.

“The main reason is that we are increasing the number of beneficiaries to 5.1 million in February, and this is substantially more than we had originally planned for,” Richard Lee, WFP’s spokesman for southern Africa, told Reuters.

“We simply don’t have the resources to provide a full ration to all 5.1 million people.”

He added that the amount of beans and vegetable oil in the food packages would remain the same.

Zimbabwe’s opposition decided Friday to join a government with President Robert Mugabe next month, ending a paralysing political deadlock that has worsened the desperate economic and humanitarian crisis.

Editing by Paul Simao and Andrew Roche

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