UN chief Ban Ki-Moon called on Zimbabwe's politicians to quickly strike a power-sharing deal to address difficulties plaguing the country, faced with a serious humanitarian and health crisis.
"The Secretary-General is alarmed that the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is now desperate and will worsen in the coming months," a United Nations statement said.
"Distressed at the collapse of health, sanitation and education services, and the consequent rapidly escalating cholera outbreak," Ban "urges all parties to support and provide humanitarian assistance leaving political considerations aside."
Ban supports the humanitarian initiative of the Elders, the statement said, adding Ban was disappointed by the Zimbabwean government's refusal to cooperate with the group of senior statesmen that includes ex-United Nations chief Kofi Annan and former US president Jimmy Carter.
Tuesday, the Zimbabwean regime accused Annan and Carter of participating in a conspiracy by the West to depose President Robert Mugabe, according to statements carried by the official daily The Herald.
The two men, accompanied by Nelson Mandela and human rights activist Graca Machel, were denied entry to Zimbabwe where they had planned a humanitarian mission at the weekend.
The regime and the opposition have met since July in talks facilitated by former South African president Thabo Mbeki to find a solution to the political stalemate. They relaunched talks on Tuesday in South Africa to revive a power-sharing agreement signed in mid-September that has not yet been implemented, a negotiator told AFP.
Ban called on the parties "to rapidly reach an agreement on the formation of a new Government consistent with the letter and spirit of the 15 September agreement."
"The people of Zimbabwe cannot afford another failure by their political leadership to reach a fair and workable agreement that would allow Zimbabwe to tackle the formidable challenges ahead."
A cholera epidemic affecting more than half of Zimbabwe's territory has killed more than 53 people and affected 1,600 new victims in a single day, the UN announced Tuesday in Geneva, stating that the epidemic cause 366 deaths and 8,887 new cases since August.
Beyond its debilitating political crisis, Zimbabwe also faces over 231 million percent hyperinflation, 80 percent unemployment and an inactive production sector. The UN estimates almost half of the population will need food assistance in January.