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UN says Zimbabwe’s cash shortage hurts aid delivery efforts

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FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 file photo, village women receive aid from the charity organisation, Oxfam International, at a distribution centre in Chirumhanzi about 250 Kilometers South east of Harare. The United Nations says about half of Zimbabwe’s population faces severe hunger amid a devastating drought and economic collapse. The World Food Program notes a “vicious cycle of skyrocketing malnutrition that’s hitting women and children hardest.” More than 7 million people overall are in need. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)
FILE – In this Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 file photo, village women receive aid from the charity organisation, Oxfam International, at a distribution centre in Chirumhanzi about 250 Kilometers South east of Harare. The United Nations says about half of Zimbabwe’s population faces severe hunger amid a devastating drought and economic collapse. The World Food Program notes a “vicious cycle of skyrocketing malnutrition that’s hitting women and children hardest.” More than 7 million people overall are in need. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The World Food Program says Zimbabwe’s cash shortage complicates efforts to rush aid to millions of people facing severe hunger.

The U.N. agency’s country director Eddie Rowe said Thursday that challenges in accessing cash have delayed aid delivery to parts of the once-prosperous southern African nation.

The agency is increasing the number of Zimbabweans it helps to more than 4 million. More than 7 million are in need, about half the population.

A U.N. expert on the right to food has said Zimbabwe has shockingly high hunger levels for a country not at war.

WFP says it needs $293 million and 30% has been raised and that cash is needed now to make timely deliveries.

A drought and soaring inflation have worsened Zimbabwe’s most severe economic crisis in a decade.

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