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UNICEF UK Ambassador Ewan McGregor calls for urgent action for children affected by HIV/AIDS in Malawi

© UNICEF Malawi/2005/Irby
Ewan McGregor in Malawi this week during his first field trip as a UNICEF Ambassador.

By Sarah Epstein

LONDON, UK, 15 December, 2005 – Actor Ewan McGregor returned from Malawi this week following his first trip to the field as a UNICEF Ambassador. The five-day trip was an opportunity to see first hand how children are paying a disproportionately high price in the HIV/AIDS pandemic – and what still needs to be done to reach the thousands who are orphaned or living with HIV/AIDS.

Malawi – one of the countries most affected by HIV/AIDS in southern Africa – is home to half a million children who have been orphaned, and nearly a million people live with the disease. Seventy thousand children die of AIDS-related illnesses across Malawi every year.

On his return to the United Kingdom earlier this week McGregor made an urgent plea for action to reach the millions of children needing care, medicines and support.

“Children in Malawi are facing uncertain futures,” McGregor highlighted. “Their mothers and fathers, teachers, aunts, uncles, doctors and nurses are simply dying around them because of AIDS. They are left alone, forced to grow up too fast, robbed of their childhoods and missing out on the play, love and education they need.”

© UNICEF Malawi/2005/Irby
During his 5-day field trip Ewan McGregor visited with many children affected by HIV/AIDS.

“Though many are being reached through the UNICEF projects I saw during my trip, we need to urgently reach the ones who are still all alone. UNICEF is calling on everyone – world leaders, governments, corporations and the general public – to unite in action against AIDS – and put children at the centre of the global response,” he continued.

The visit took place just 6 weeks after UNICEF launched its largest-ever global campaign for children affected by HIV/AIDS. The campaign, UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS, highlights for the first time how children are the missing from the debate about the impact of the AIDS pandemic. It reveals how children are missing out of the global response to the pandemic: across the world, fewer than 5 percent of children in need of antiretroviral treatment are receiving it, and fewer than 10 per cent of the worlds’ 15 million children orphaned by AIDS are receiving any external assistance.

“UNICEF urgently needs money to help give orphans the care and support they need,” said McGregor. “We need to drastically increase the number of vital prevention and education projects for young people in Malawi – and across the world – and ensure access to ARV drugs for all, including children, before 2010.”



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