The United Nations food agency on Wednesday appealed for 118 million dollars in expanded food aid for Zimbabwe and pledged to assist about 3.3 million starving citizens of that country.
The World Food Programme (WFP) said in a statement that it plans to provide over the next eight months food aid to up to 3.3 million Zimbabweans facing severe food shortages.
"Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans are already starting to run out of food and several million more will be reliant on humanitarian assistance by the end of the year," said WFP regional director Amir Abdulla.
"WFP plans to feed more than 10 times the current number of beneficiaries over the next eight months to avert the threat of widespread hunger but to do this we need more donations and we need them immediately."
WFP has 138,000 metric tonnes of food already in stock or in the pipeline for Zimbabwe but still needs another 207,000 tonnes of cereals and other commodities valued at 118 million dollars to cover its increased relief activities from now until April.
Without additional funds, WFP's food stocks would begin to run dry in September and will be completely exhausted by December, just as the crisis reaches its peak, it said.
In addition, a group of US-sponsored NGOs known as C-SAFE plans to distribute food to another 800,000 vulnerable Zimbabweans, giving a combined total of 4.1 million people, it said.
Zimbabwe is in the throes of a chronic economic crisis with the world's highest rate of inflation and four in every five people jobless. Some 80 percent of the population live below the poverty threshold.