UNICEF seeks one billion dollars to help AIDS orphans
"Our target is to reach 10 million orphans and assist them to get access to schools, have food, and meet other needs," said UNICEF's HIV/AIDS advisor Peter McDermott.
While there are currently 15 million children worldwide who have lost their parents to AIDS, that number is expected to reach 18 million by 2010.
"The real impact of AIDS is still coming...the number of deaths is going to increase in the next six years," said UNICEF monitoring information officer, Roeland Monasch.
Officials from the UN Children's Fund were attending a conference in Cape Town with their counterparts from the UN World Food Programme and the UNAIDS agency to draw up an action plan to help AIDS orphans worldwide.
The three-day conference is also attended by officials from 17 African countries, which are the most affected by the AIDS pandemic.
In 2003 alone, 5.2 million children became orphans in sub-Saharan Africa mainly due to the AIDS pandemic, according to UNICEF.
There are currently about 12.3 million AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa.
McDermott said that UNICEF was meeting with donors and hoped to launch the campaign next year and that it will be a six-year effort to tackle the projected increase in the number of AIDS orphans until 2010.
The devastating effects of the pandemic are being compounded by drought in countries like southern African countries like Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Swaziland.
"Unfortunately during the times of draught and economic crisis, families are being put under stress to cope with the problem of orphans," said Zimbabwe's acting permanent secretary for public service, labour, and social services, Sydney Mhishi.
The pandemic is also taking a toll on the extended family.
"HIV/AIDS is eroding the structure of the extended family, which has acted as a safety net for orphans," said Swaziland Education Minister Constance Simelane.
But Monasch said that extended families were still looking after 90 percent of AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in Africa.
Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence in the world at close to 40 percent.
Copyright (c) 2004 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 09/22/2004 13:03:04
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