AWEPA regional seminar on children and AIDS, March 2006
The seminar Scaling up Parliamentary Efforts for Children and AIDS took place in Maputo from 28 to 30 March 2006. This regional event, organized by the European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA) in collaboration with UNICEF and the National Assembly of Mozambique, offered African parliamentarians an opportunity to place children and AIDS at the top of the political agenda. The seminar was part of the response to the crisis of orphaned and vulnerable children due to AIDS. Globally, more than 14 million children under the age of 15 have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Four out of five of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa.
The seminar brought together parliamentarians from Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa– Mozambique, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé & Príncipe. Parliamentarians from Brazil and several European countries as well as experts from national and international organizations, such as the Foundation for Development Community (FDC), the National AIDS Council (CNCS), the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe and UN agencies also attended the event.
The First Lady Maria da Luz Guebuza, who is the Patroness of the Unite for Children Unite against AIDS campaign in Mozambique, participated in the opening ceremony, together with Graça Machel of the Foundation for Community Development, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah and AWEPA Executive President Jan Nico Scholten.
Focus of the seminar
The goal of the seminar was to discuss the role parliamentarians can play in scaling up programmes for children affected and infected by AIDS in Africa:
Participants also looked at the situation of orphaned and vulnerable children in Mozambique with a focus on the challenges children face in accessing education. It is estimated that there are over 1.6 million orphaned children in Mozambique– more than 20 per cent of these are due to AIDS.
Participants also discussed the status of funding and the implementation of the National Plans of Action for orphaned and vulnerable children, as a follow up to the commitments made in the Cape Town Declaration. The Declaration, which was adopted in September 2004 at the African-European Consultation on Children Orphaned and Made Vulnerable by HIV/AIDS in Africa, lays out concrete actions and commitments for parliamentarians. One of these is the development of National Plans of Action for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children in every African country.
Multi-annual campaign for children and AIDS
The African-European Parliamentary Consultation on Children Orphaned and made Vulnerable by AIDS in Africa, held in Cape Town in 2004, was the start of a multi-annual campaign for children affected and infected by HIV/AIDS. The campaign was launched by AWEPA in collaboration with UNICEF, the North-South Centre for the Council of Europe, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, and other partners to enhance parliamentary efforts in scaling up programmes for children affected and infected by HIV/AIDS. A series of regional seminars have been organised in this context- Cape Town (May 2005), Lilongwe (September 2005) and Nairobi (November 2005). The last one will take place in Maputo from 28-30 March 2006.
In preparation for the event in Maputo, the National Assembly of Mozambique organised a preliminary seminar with national parliamentarians on 15 and 16 March 2006, to discuss the main issues to be approached and presented in the regional seminar. The document, “What Parliamentarians can do about HIV/AIDS: Actions for Children and Young People”, served as background document.
In addition, an overview of the situation of orphaned and vulnerable children due to HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, which includes an outline of the National Plan of Action for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children, was developed by UNICEF in collaboration with AWEPA and the Government of Mozambique.