Lesotho + 1 more

IOM Press Briefing Notes 10 June 2005: Lesotho, Colombia, Sri Lanka

Spokesperson: Jean-Philippe Chauzy

LESOTHO- Reducing HIV Vulnerability Among Migrant Workers and Their Families- On 9 June, IOM and Population Services International (PSI), launched a joint programme aimed at reducing HIV vulnerability among migrants and their families in Maseru, Lesotho.

The programme, which is funded by the Swedish international development cooperation agency (Sida), aims to increase knowledge of HIV/AIDS, access to and use of voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) services and correct and consistent condom usage. Sporting tournaments, raining and outreach activities will be organised to promote HIV prevention and VCT services.

The programme will target mineworkers and their families, Lesotho Defence Force personnel, factory workers and taxi drivers.

Like other neighbouring countries, Lesotho is heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS, with an estimated HIV adult prevalence rate of 28.9% in 2004.

The HIV epidemic is partly fuelled by regional labour migration trends. Fifteen per cent of Lesotho's total labour force, about 64,000 people, is employed in South African mines.

Lesotho also hosts an important number of migrant factory workers, taxi drivers and members of the uniformed services.

"Labour migration leaves both the workers and their spouses vulnerable to HIV infection," says Julia Hill-Mlati of IOM Pretoria. " Being mobile in itself is not a risk factor for HIV/AIDS. It is the situations encountered and the behaviours that migrants might adopt during the migration process that increase vulnerability to HIV/AIDS."

For more information, please contact Julia Hill-Mlati, IOM Pretoria, Tel: + 27 12 342 27 89, Email Jhillmalti@iom.int or Daniella Fanarof, PSI Deputy Country Representative, Tel: + 266 22326825

SRI LANKA - IOM Begins Work on New Housing Site - Yesterday IOM inaugurated a site for 60 transitional housing units at Kalutera, a 90-minute drive south of Colombo. The Minister of Welfare and Poverty Alleviation, Pavitra Wanee Arachie, and the Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Rohitha Abeygunawartena, presided the ceremony.

The Carpentry School site, which will house more than 300 people made homeless by the tsunami, will also include a community centre that will be used for meetings and other communal activities.

The transitional housing units, which have a minimum lifespan of two to three years, are designed to recreate a normal living environment for people currently living with neighbours or in tents. In Kalutera, the units will be connected to the town's electrical grid.

IOM's transitional housing programme, which followed an emergency shelter programme to house 7,000 people in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, has now provided 1120 new homes. A further 586 are presently under construction and land has been allocated for 1900 more in five tsunami-affected districts.

For further information, please contact Chris Gascon, IOM Sri Lanka, Tel +94 11 536 19 41, Email Cgascon@iom,.int