September 12, 2005
UNICEF and partners in the orphans and vulnerable children national taskforce have been seeking $11 million to implement the first phase of the National Plan of Action for children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS to cover 56,000 orphans initially.
"Despite our modest initial goals, responses from donors towards the Plan of Action have been poor," UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia Bjorn Ljungqvist said. "This Swedish contribution is the first major contribution we have received since the plan was announced last December. In Ethiopia, this poor showing from the donor community has meant that our response to HIV/AIDS, particularly with regard to orphans, remains at very rudimentary levels."
With the assistance of the Norwegian and Austrian Governments over the past three years, UNICEF has put national youth networks in place and established over 10,000 anti-AIDS clubs across the country, he said.
From today's $4.96 million Swedish gift, the anti-AIDS clubs will be strengthened and the young people will receive counselling, testing and other health and educational support. Activities covered by the contribution will be implemented in Afar, Oromia, Somali and Tigrai regions over the next three years, UNICEF said.
With the number of children orphaned by AIDS expected to increase to 2.5 million by 2014, Mr. Ljungqvist said: "We are faced with hard decisions, juggling precious resources between competing needs. However, we have no choice but to act now if we are to save a generation of children and adolescents from being lost."
About 1.5 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia and this number is projected to top 2.4 million by 2015, UNICEF said. It is important to work with young people, it said, because they are not only deeply affected by HIV/AIDS, but adolescents typically can learn more easily than adults to modify their behaviours, while young Ethiopians can help break the silence that still surrounds HIV and AIDS.