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UNICEF in Emergencies & Humanitarian Action

UNICEF Executive Director and UN leaders call for action in southern Africa

© UNICEF/HQ05-0703/Christine Nesbitt
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman speaks during a joint press conference in Johannesburg, accompanied by (left-right) World Food Programme Executive Director James Morris and UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 25 May 2005 -- Three United Nations leaders called for the world to focus on the chronic problems and humanitarian needs of millions of people in southern Africa, especially children.

United Nations Special Envoy James T. Morris, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot warned that although great strides have been made by governments and the international community in meeting the most critical needs of the region, the "triple threat" of HIV/AIDS, food insecurity, and the loss of human capacity is still stalking southern Africa’s children. They called for more investment to sustain the gains made over the last three years.

"Over the last couple of days in Swaziland and South Africa, I've seen remarkable initiatives to prevent the spread of HIV from mother to child, to treat HIV-positive children and to care for the millions of children who are made vulnerable by the deaths of adults who are in their lives,” said Ms. Veneman who is currently in the midst of her first trip as UNICEF Executive Director. “Based on many successful models and on what I've heard from Government officials, NGOs, doctors and UN colleagues whom I've met, I believe that the tide can be turned against HIV over the next ten years," she added.

The three UN leaders said that children are caught in a vicious cycle: without sufficient food, they said, anti-retrovirals are less effective; without anti-retrovirals, children become orphans; and without healthy and educated children, southern Africa will have great difficulty breaking out of poverty.

“It’s crucial that we reverse the downward spiral on child survival in this region. There are remarkable local initiatives across the region to prevent the spread of AIDS from mother to child,” Ms. Veneman said. “By expanding these successful models we can reduce the number of infants contracting HIV.” She added that treatment for HIV-positive children and adults is a critical element of the regional response. “Keeping more patients alive means fewer children orphaned by AIDS,” she said.




25 May 2005:
UNICEF Executive Director calls for action in southern Africa.

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