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US to provide 600,000 dollars for cholera-hit Zimbabwe

usaidThe United States said Thursday it is providing 600,000 dollars to help fight a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe that has claimed hundreds of lives. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government pleaded for international help Thursday after declaring a national emergency over the epidemic in which 560 people have died.

 "The US government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing an additional 600,000 dollars to help combat the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe," USAID said in a statement.

The statement distributed by the State Department said the aid comes on top of a four-million dollar emergency USAID program to improve water quality, sanitation, and hygiene.

USAID said it has also "deployed a team of experts to Zimbabwe to focus on water, sanitation, and hygiene."

The contribution from the USAID brings the total US humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe's food and health crisis to more than 220 million dollars since October 2007, the statement said.

State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood told reporters earlier that "we're obviously very concerned about the health situation in Zimbabwe, as well as the economic and political situation.

"And so it's incumbent on the Zimbabwean government to cooperate with the international community in trying to deal with some of these issues," Wood said.

He renewed calls for the Mugabe government to implement a power-sharing agreement with the opposition.

Mugabe lost a first-round election in March, but later claimed victory in a one-sided runoff after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out amid a wave of deadly political violence.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing deal more than two months ago, but have so far failed to agree on how to form a unity government. AFP