Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 14:12 UK

UK announces 5m aid for Zimbabwe

Gordon Brown: "Let this meeting be a sign of our shared desire for change"

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced an extra £5m ($8m) of aid to Zimbabwe after meeting his Zimbabwean counterpart Morgan Tsvangirai.

This takes the total this year to £60m ($98m) but Mr Brown said more money would only come after further reform.

He also said the aid would go through aid agencies, not the government in which Mr Tsvangirai shares power with President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe says it needs $8bn (£4.9bn) to revive its shattered economy.

Mr Tsvangirai has been on a tour of Europe and the US to ask for increased funding but many donors are still wary of sending money which could be misused by Mr Mugabe and his allies.

Under Mr Mugabe, relations between the UK and its former colony have become severely strained.

'Irreversible change'

Some £4m ($6.5m) of the new money is to be channelled into food aid and agriculture, with the rest towards buying text books for Zimbabwean schools.

Morgan Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans were positive about overcoming meltdown

At their joint news conference in London, Mr Tsvangirai defended his decision to share power with President Mugabe in February.

Mr Tsvangirai said "irreversible change was now taking place in Zimbabwe towards a transition to democracy and elections".

Mr Brown said it was the first time a British and a Zimbabwean prime minister had stood together in Downing Street for 25 years.

"I pay tribute today to your courage, your determination, your strength of character and your fortitude in this tragedy," he said.

The British premier added: "There are great signs of progress, a budget and economic plan are in place, schools are reopening, children are once again filling the classrooms.

BBC ban lifted?

"As a result of the progress, we will increase our support to help Zimbabwe move from mere survival towards a genuine recovery."

A woman with a baby on her back fetches water in Epworth, Harare, on 26 May 2009
Australia: $6.4m (£4.7m)
World Bank: $22m (£14.4m)
African nations: $650m (£400m)
US: $73m (£44m)
Germany: $35m (£21m)
UK: $98m (£60m)
Zimbabwe needs: $8bn (£4.9bn)

But he said that further money would only be forthcoming if "the reform programme on the ground gains momentum".

He called for more economic reforms, an improvement in human rights, media freedom, the scrapping of repressive laws and an end to the invasion of white-owned farms, reports the Reuters news agency.

Mr Tsvangirai had been expected to ask Mr Brown to lift sanctions against Mr Mugabe and his officials but there was no change in this stance. These include a travel ban and assets freeze.

Up to half the population - some four million people - is believed to need food aid after years of economic meltdown.

Mr Tsvangirai also told the news conference that he hoped the ban on the BBC operating in Zimbabwe would be rescinded soon.

He said media reforms were being implemented and that the BBC should "look forward to coming to operate in Zimbabwe openly, and not secretly".

Last week, Amnesty International said that the human rights situation in Zimbabwe remained "precarious" despite the power-sharing government.

Opposition and civil rights activists continue to be arrested by the security forces, which are still largely controlled by Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

On Saturday, Zimbabwe's prime minister was booed by Zimbabwean exiles in London when he urged them to return to the country.

Many were bitter that, following years of outspoken opposition to the Zimbabwe government, he had decided to join it and offer public support to Mr Mugabe.

Mr Tsvangirai is due to round off his visit to Europe and the US - his first official tour since becoming prime minister - with a stop in Paris on Wednesday before returning home.

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