|© UNICEF video|
|UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy speaks at the press conference.|
JOHANNESBURG, 17 March 2005 - As Zimbabwe prepares for national elections, UNICEF Zimbabwe today released startling new statistics about the state of the country’s children. Since 1990, the under-five mortality rate has risen 50 per cent, and one in five Zimbabwean children are now orphans – a result of the severe HIV/AIDS crisis affecting the country. In Zimbabwe, a child dies every 15 minutes from HIV/AIDS.
Speaking in Johannesburg today, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy urged politicians and donors to turn their attention to the needs of the children of Zimbabwe. “Every day children in Zimbabwe are dying of HIV/AIDS, every day children are becoming infected, orphaned, and forced to leave school to care for sick parents,” said Bellamy.
Zimbabwe has the world’s fourth worst prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS and has registered the fastest rise in child mortality. Despite this, the country receives considerably less donor funding than neighbouring countries. For Zambia, a country with slightly lower HIV rates, donor contributions average $187 per HIV-positive person. By contrast, the average for Zimbabwe is just $4.
“Donors are properly concerned about governance and human rights in Zimbabwe, but by withholding desperately needed support for basic healthcare and education, they are also missing an opportunity to engage in a positive way at a grassroots level. I think we could all do better for the children of Zimbabwe,” added Bellamy.
|© UNICEF video|
|Carol Bellamy urged politicians and donors to turn their attention to the needs of the children of Zimbabwe.|
UNICEF is reporting other alarming statistics about Zimbabwe: Over one hundred babies become HIV-positive every day, and a projected 160,000 children will experience the death of a parent in 2005.
After gaining its independence 25 years ago, Zimbabwe has suffered from political turmoil which has depleted its economy and caused significant deterioration in social services. Severe droughts, guerrilla warfare, human rights violations, and lack of foreign investment and support have also contributed to the worst humanitarian crisis the country has ever faced.
“We at UNICEF believe that both the government of Zimbabwe and the international community must work on resolving this desperate situation. There is no excuse for letting the children of this country suffer without trying to find solutions to help them,” urged Bellamy.
UNICEF, along with the rest of the UN family, is fighting to reverse the troubling trends in Zimbabwe. The organization and its partners have begun initiatives to provide counselling and psychological support for 100,000 orphaned children and have supported the implementation of a National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children across the country. But much more could be accomplished with proper funding.
“Zimbabweans have the determination and the education to defeat HIV/AIDS and other causes of child mortality,” said Bellamy. “But to do so they need international help.”
17 March 2005:
UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy says children in Zimbabwe are suffering the most from the decision of international donors to cut off aid to the southern African nation.
Learn more about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Zimbabwe: