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Press centre

Media advisory

New UNICEF Executive Director begins three-country visit in Southern Africa

A Region Where Child Survival Is Threatened by AIDS and Poverty

NEW YORK / GENEVA, 20 May 2005  – UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman makes her first field visit as head of the agency next week, touring three southern African countries where the lives of children are increasingly under threat from an AIDS-driven crisis and where the number of children affected by AIDS is the highest in the world. 

During the seven-day mission, Veneman will visit South Africa, Swaziland and Malawi – three countries affected by the ‘triple threat’ of food insecurity, weakened capacity for governance and AIDS.  She will join James Morris, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, on a two-day mission to Malawi, which is one of the countries worst-affected by the regional dry spell, rising malnutrition rates, and HIV/AIDS.

In all three countries Veneman will meet with senior government officials, donor representatives and aid agencies.  She will also visit maternal and child health facilities, schools, community outreach centres, and supplementary feeding programs.  Many of the locations she will visit benefit from the cooperative support of multiple UN agencies, including UNICEF, the World Food Programme, UNAIDS, the World Health Organization, and other partners. 

As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Mr. Morris has asked Ms. Veneman and UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot to join him to review the southern Africa crisis.  They will be joined by ten country representatives from the United Nations system in southern Africa for a meeting in Johannesburg on Wednesday May 25.  The group will examine current relief efforts, upcoming initiatives, and resource needs.

Later that day the three UN leaders will hold a joint press conference in Johannesburg to outline the challenges affecting the region.

“Although sub-Saharan Africa has just 12 percent of the world’s population, it has 42 percent of all child deaths, Veneman said.  “There is no other region where children face so many threats, and in southern Africa the HIV/AIDS crisis is particularly devastating to children’s well-being.”


Sun. 22 - Mon. 23   South Africa  (Johannesburg and Pretoria)
Tues. 24  Swaziland
Wed. 25    Johannesburg (meeting and press conference)
Thurs. 26 – Sat. 28  Malawi  (Zomba, Lilongwe, and Blantyre)

*  *  *

For further information please contact:

Sarah Crowe, UNICEF Media Johannesburg (+27) 83402-9812

Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media New York (with Ms. Veneman) (+001) 646-247-2975

Damien Personnaz, UNICEF Media Geneva (+41 22) 909-5716

Mike Huggins, WFP (+27) 832-913-750

Richard Delate, UNAIDS (+27) 82-370-2666




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