The government of Zimbabwe has declared the ongoing cholera outbreak, which has claimed more than 500 lives, to be a national emergency. The World Health Organization reported in early December that there were nearly 140,000 active cases of cholera.
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said that the emergency appeal "will help reduce morbidity and morality. Our central hospitals are literally not functioning. We still have a challenge controlling the movement of people in an effort to curb further prevalence of the outbreak."
Since the declaration, churches have been pleading for action and humanitarian assistance to address the epidemic. However, many humanitarian agencies had their licenses stripped by the Zimbabwean government, which accused them of supporting the opposition in the March 2008 elections.
In response to the humanitarian pleas, the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, which is part of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, is releasing 10,000 tons of emergency food aid to 120,000 citizens in Zimbabwe. This decision came after the U.N. predicted that 5.1 million Zimbabweans would require emergency food supplements in the first three months of 2009.