WASHINGTON DC , 16 December 2004 -- We are deeply grateful to the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) for providing ₤44 million to UNICEF for programmes to support children affected by AIDS. This generous contribution, announced by DFID Secretary of State Hilary Benn and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Gareth Thomas on the eve of the Global Partners Forum on Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living in a World with HIV and AIDS, co-hosted by UNICEF and the World Bank, will help UNICEF respond even more effectively to the enormous needs of children whose lives have been so cruelly disrupted by the global AIDS emergency.
The scale of the funding, intended for use over three years, sends a powerful message of support for UNICEF’s mandate to respond to children affected by HIV/AIDS, and to children in general. As the United Kingdom takes up the presidencies of the G8 and the European Union, we particularly appreciate the strong leadership and commitment of the UK Government to make fighting HIV/AIDS a major issue on their government’s agenda. Our thanks also go to the British public, whose visible support has made the growing HIV/AIDS pandemic a top priority for their government. We urge the UK Government to use its 2005 leadership position in the G8 and EU to promote significant and tangible commitments from other donors to target specifically the needs of children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Across the world, but particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS is destroying families and communities, the primary safety net for children. More than 15 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS and millions more live with sick and dying family members. And as the pandemic matures and the death toll rises, the face of HIV/AIDS is becoming ever younger. More than half the new infections each day are among people under 25 years old; most of them girls. More than 2 million children are now living with HIV and AIDS. In 2004, more than half a million children died from the disease. Children affected by HIV/AIDS are among the most vulnerable and in need of protection from sexual exploitation, trafficking and child labour.
UNICEF will use the DFID monies to assist children affected by HIV and AIDS, including orphans and children infected with the HIV virus itself, the majority of whom die before the age of five because of lack of care and treatment. We intend to dramatically extend our programmes designed to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to children, as well as programmes to keep mothers alive and to prevent new infections. Complimenting these efforts, we will initiate research to ensure paediatric formulations of anti-retroviral drugs are available for all children who need them and to encourage governments to work with pharmaceutical companies to provide these drugs and ensure that they are affordable to even the poorest families.
In Africa, UNICEF, together with DFID and other partners, will focus on helping the hardest-hit countries implement national action plans that focus on critical needs including health care, education, social protection, food and nutrition, and on getting countries to adopt the policy and legal changes needed to sustain a broad government-owned response. And in Asia we will concentrate on needs assessments in the worst-affected areas and on developing appropriate responses.
At the global level, UNICEF will significantly accelerate and intensify our advocacy with a broad range of partners to raise awareness of the fact that HIV/AIDS is hitting children and young people hardest, especially girls.
Our global work will also include leading governments, UN agencies and other partners to respond to the crisis of children affected by HIV/AIDS according to the UN’s adopted strategy, the Framework for the Protection, Care and Support of Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living in a World with HIV and AIDS. We will work to ensure that all national action plans for HIV/AIDS contain specific components addressing the needs of children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS and that they are sufficiently resourced.
For further information and interviews, please contact:
Liza Barrie, UNICEF New York, 212-326-7593, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alfred Ironside, UNICEF New York, 212-326-7261, email@example.com
Damien Personnaz, UNICEF Geneva, 4122-909-5716, firstname.lastname@example.org