UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has welcomed President Bush's
pledge to spend 15 billion dollars in the next five years to help Africa and the
Caribbean fight the AIDS pandemic. In a statement Wednesday, Mr. Annan praised
President Bush in providing what he called "stronger US leadership" in
fighting the disease and emphasizing the need to make anti-viral drugs
available(WFP/B. Barton )...
Chief Praises Bush For Aids Initiative
Jan 2003, 05:20 UTC
U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan has welcomed President Bush's pledge to spend 15 billion
dollars in the next five years to help Africa and the Caribbean fight
the AIDS pandemic.
In a statement Wednesday, Mr. Annan praised President Bush in
providing what he called "stronger U.S. leadership" in
fighting the disease and emphasizing the need to make anti-viral drugs
In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, Mr. Bush said his proposed
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief would prevent seven million new AIDS
cases and treat at least two million people with life-extending drugs.
More than 35 million people across the globe are infected with the
HIV virus that causes AIDS and 25 million of them are in Africa.
White House officials say the President has proposed the establisment
of a Special coordinator for International AIDS/HIV assistance at the
State Department. The position would carry the rank of ambassador and
would manage all U.S. participation in international AIDS/HIV programs.
Mr. Annan says President Bush understands that the disease is
threatening the stability of the region as it ravages population in the
hardest hit countries. The nations that will benefit from President
Bush's plan include Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia and Haiti.
U.N. officials say as many as 70 million people will die of the
disease in the next two decades unless action is taken to prevent and
treat the disease.
Meanwhile, the head of the World Food Program, James Morris, says
although widespread starvation has been prevented in southern Africa,
the AIDS crisis in the region is creating conditions for future food
Mr. Morris made the comment Wednesday in Johannesburg, South Africa,
after completing a one week tour of the region.
Galvanize to Combat HIV/Aids and Stave off a Complete and Total Disaster
World Food Programme (Geneva)
January 29, 2003
Posted to the web January 29, 2003
The international community has so far succeeded in averting a humanitarian
catastrophe in southern Africa, but the monumental proportions of the HIV/AIDS
pandemic is unleashing a disaster which threatens the very existence of
countries," warned two United Nations Special Envoys after a week-long UN
inter-agency mission to four southern African countries.
"While responding to the severe food crisis in southern Africa, an even
greater disaster has been unearthed. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is compounding the
premature death of thousands of productive people - particularly women -- across
the region, and is wrecking the livelihoods of millions more while sowing the
seeds of future famines," said James T. Morris, the UN Secretary-General's
Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa.
The calamitous conjunction of HIV/AIDS, severe food shortages and chronic
poverty has left more than 15 million in need of assistance across the region.
Meanwhile, the pandemic is changing the nature of famine in Africa. It is
cutting agricultural productivity, weakening and decimating the population and
undermining people's ability to recover from natural and man-made shocks.
"Without a radical and urgent approach, which addresses the terrifying
reality of the pandemic and how it is indelibly woven with chronic food
shortages, even worse crises will stalk vulnerable people for generations to
come. I am overwhelmed by the very real prospect of nations of orphans,"
"When the body has no food to consume, the virus consumes the body,"
said Stephen Lewis, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in
Africa. "The incredible assault of HIV/AIDS on women in particular has no
parallel in human history. Women are the pillars of the family and community -
the mothers, the care-givers, the farmers. The pandemic is preying on them
relentlessly, threatening them in a way that the world has never yet
The unique and pressing nature of the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa
prompted the inclusion of Lewis on Morris' second mission to the region. It is
also Lewis' second tour of southern Africa in the past two months, reflecting
the priority given to tackling the pandemic by the UN and Secretary General Kofi
Following their mission to Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia, the Envoys will
pass their findings back to the UN and issue a report calling for a bold, new
approach from the entire international community. In particular, they will
advocate that current and future programmes of every UN agency be formed through
the lens and reality of HIV/AIDS and its impact on women and children.
The mission also reviewed current responses to the humanitarian crisis in
southern Africa. Millions of the most vulnerable people in the worst-affected
parts of the region have benefited from international food aid, while many
communities have been provided with essential non-food items, such as seeds and
"When I last visited in September, southern Africa was facing a catastrophe
but this has been averted by a remarkably swift and effective response from
international donors, regional governments, UN agencies and NGOs," said
Morris. "There is still an enormous amount of work to do and hurdles to
overcome over the next few months, but we are in a position to prevent the
current crisis from becoming a tragedy in the longer-term."
In Lesotho, erratic weather has already undermined chances of an improved
harvest this year, while in Swaziland and southern Mozambique a lengthy dry
spell after planting has once again hit crop potential across large swathes of
the country. In Malawi and Zambia, recent rains have fuelled hopes of a
much-better maize harvest than last year but the situation - although stabilized
by international assistance - remains precarious with millions of people still
The situation in Zimbabwe is cause for serious concern, with over half the
population currently in need of assistance. Along with continued political
turbulence and economic decline, people in Zimbabwe will experience continuing
food shortages in the coming year due to a combination of dry weather, lack of
affordable food on the market, and a dramatically reduced amount of land under
The UN is working with local institutions to closely monitor the remainder of
the rainy season and crop development with an eye to determining appropriate
levels of emergency food aid beyond the upcoming harvest in April/May.
"This current crisis is far from over but the response has already
illustrated what the UN does best - saving the lives of thousands of people and
preserving the livelihoods of millions by working with governments, donors and
NGOs," said the Envoys. "We know that the world's attention is focused
elsewhere at the moment but it is crucial that the UN and the international
community continue to channel their efforts into refocusing on and responding to
the crisis in southern Africa and across the continent."
Prega Ramsamy, the Executive Secretary of the Southern Africa Development
Community (SADC) and Julia Taft, Assistant Administrator for UNDP and Director
of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery were among the mission members,
which also included representatives from UNICEF, UNAIDS, WFP, OCHA, WHO, and FAO.
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