29 August 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed Zimbabwe’s announcement on lifting the suspension of field operations of aid agencies, which have a vital role in the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the southern African nation. “This positive development will help ensure that neutral and impartial humanitarian assistance is provided to the people of Zimbabwe,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement. The Secretary-General also welcomed the Government’s invitation to all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private voluntary organizations (PVOs) as well as UN agencies to discuss the operational modalities following the lifting of the suspension, which has been in place since June.“He would like to emphasize the importance of ensuring that people in need have full access to humanitarian assistance essential to their health and well-being and that humanitarian organizations have full and unhindered access to vulnerable populations in order to carry out vital relief operations,” the statement added.Prior to the ban, many Zimbabweans were already suffering from food shortages and rampant inflation, a situation made worse by the violence that plagued the country ahead of the June presidential run-off election. Earlier this month Mr. Ban had warned that not lifting the suspension could worsen the already dire humanitarian situation. With these organizations unable to operate, only 280,000 people of the 1.5 million in need of food assistance were being reached with distributions.“The United Nations stands ready to work together with the Government and NGO/PVO partners to continue provision of humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe,” today’s statement noted.