Press release

For immediate release

6 March 2009

For further information

Mark South

Contact number

020 7877 7042

Cholera toll approaches 4,000 as Red Cross funds run short in Zimbabwe

As the death toll from cholera in Zimbabwe appears certain to hit 4,000, the Red Cross has received less than half the funding it needs to continue its work there, forcing the organisation to prepare to scale back its response.

So far, almost 90,000 people have contracted the disease - far beyond the UN's initial “worst case scenario” prediction of 60,000 - but despite the desperate situation, the Red Cross appeal remains critically under-funded.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) is now urgently appealing for money to help save lives.

“What is happening in Zimbabwe is an absolute tragedy and this grim milestone is just one more reminder of that,” said the IFRC's Matthew Cochrane.

“The British public, as always, have shown themselves to be extremely generous but more is needed – overall the Red Cross has received less than half of the funding necessary to continue its work.

“We're now forced to prepare to scale back our operation when we should be increasing what we are doing. If that happens, many more people will die who could have been saved.

“Most deaths are currently occurring in communities where people simply cannot get to help before it is too late - it is exactly these vulnerable people the Red Cross is working to reach out to.”

The magnitude of the cholera outbreak has prompted an unprecedented mass deployment of international Red Cross resources, including a British Red Cross team of water and sanitation experts, as well as teams from Japan , Norway , Austria , Germany , France and Finland .

The IFRC launched an appeal for £6.2m in December last year, but remains more than $3m short of that target .

“We have been able to send an emergency response team into Zimbabwe , thanks to money from the public and a significant donation from GlaxoSmithKline to the British Red Cross Appeal,” said Pete Garrett, Relief Operations Manager, British Red Cross.

“But it is not just big donations that matter; when you consider that it costs just £1 a day – less than a cup of coffee – to protect a family of five from cholera, it shows that any donation, large or small, can make a huge difference.”

To give to the British Red Cross Zimbabwe & Region Appeal visit www.redcross.org.uk/zimbabweregion or call 0845 054 7200. Postal donations can be sent to British Red Cross, UKO, 44 Moorfields, London , EC2Y 9AL


For more info, interviews or pictures contact Mark South 020 7877 7042 msouth@redcross.org.uk

Red Cross delegates are available for interview from Zimbabwe , as well as delegates who have recently returned to the UK . Contact Mark for info.

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

In the event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK . For more information, visit redcross.org.uk


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