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Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

New York, 9 August 2009 – “ In many places, indigenous people are among the most vulnerable and marginalized members of their societies. In Latin American, for example, many indigenous communities have standards of living that are far below national averages.”

“In recent years, remarkable progress has been made in promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous children. The finalization of a Committee on the Rights of the Child’ General Comment (Comment 11) in January 2009, which provides guidance to States on the protection of the rights of indigenous children, is the latest contribution to this process. Combined with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly in September 2007, it helps set standards for the fulfilment of indigenous children’s rights.”

“The theme of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People in 2009 is indigenous people and HIV and AIDS.”

“Many indigenous peoples live in conditions that make them especially vulnerable to the spread of HIV.  Yet efforts to monitor the epidemic among indigenous peoples are often lacking, as are examples of interventions informed by local participation.” 

“Health education is essential to preventing the transmission of HIV.  Differing indigenous beliefs, practices and sensitivities about illness, sex and reproduction will have an impact on the success of that health education in indigenous communities.”

“If indigenous children and women are to receive effective HIV prevention and care, the factors that drive the epidemic in indigenous communities must be identified and understood, and appropriate information must be provided in ways that are accessible to indigenous communities. “
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and a generation of children, including those who are indigenous, has grown up under the protection of the Convention. Remarkable progress has been made but significant obstacles to the realization of indigenous children’s rights remain. UNICEF will continue to work with its partners towards the realization of the rights of all children.”

For more information:
Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, Tel: 1 212 326 7452 e-mail: kdonovan@unicef.org
Tamar Hahn, thahn@unicef.org, UNICEF América Latina y el Caribe 

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


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