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UNICEF appeals to donors to look beyond politics

[Zimbabwe] Girl - Porta Farm
World Vision aims to reach vulnerable children (Obinna Anyadike/IRIN)

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has called on the global community to "differentiate between the politics and the people of Zimbabwe".

"Every day children in Zimbabwe are dying of HIV/AIDS; every day children are becoming infected, orphaned and forced to leave school to care for sick parents. The global generosity towards tsunami victims was inspiring, but it has dried up for Zimbabwean children, who are facing a deadly crisis every day of their lives," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Despite the world's fourth highest rate of HIV infection, and the greatest rise in child mortality in any nation, Zimbabweans were receiving just a fraction of donor funding compared to other countries in the region, UNICEF noted.

"Some 110 Zimbabweans under the age of 15 will become infected with HIV/AIDS today," said Bellamy. "Another 110 will be infected tomorrow, 110 more the day after that. Yet, despite these horrendous numbers, Zimbabweans have the determination and the education to defeat HIV/AIDS and other causes of child mortality - but to do so they need international help."

UNICEF revealed that "one in five Zimbabwean children are now orphans; a child dies every 15 minutes due to HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe; 160,000 children will experience the death of a parent in 2005".

Yet in 2004-05 Zimbabwe received little or no HIV/AIDS funding support from the main donor initiatives. The World Bank estimates that Zimbabweans receive US $14 per capita from both development assistance and aid - less than one-quarter of what Namibians ($68) receive, and around 12 percent of those in neighbouring Mozambique ($111).

Despite the scarcity of funds, Zimbabwe has been making some headway in its fight against HIV/AIDS and rising child mortality. UNICEF is providing support for counselling and psychosocial support to 100,000 orphaned children, and has assisted in achieving a national measles coverage of 95 percent.

UNICEF noted that Zimbabwe was one of the few countries with a National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs).

The children's agency is responsible for overall UN coordination of the OVC response, and has been supporting its implementation across Zimbabwe. UNICEF pointed out that Zimbabwe was the only country in Africa where a three percent tax levy had been instituted to generate domestic resources for fighting HIV/AIDS.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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