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Cross Red Crescent urges support to protect children made vulnerable by
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has expressed concern
about the future viability of some states in Southern Africa if all stakeholders
do not rally to protect and support orphans and other children made vulnerable
by HIV and AIDS. The International Federation voiced its concern a day
before the Day of the African Child, as it announced a massive scaling
up of its activities to support these vulnerable children.
"As the world’s largest humanitarian organization, we are well-placed
to speak for these voiceless children and advocate for their right to
a better future. As adults, we have a moral obligation to take care of
our children and to give them a minimum decent life," said Mrs Emma
Kundishora, of the Zimbabwe
Red Cross Society, one of ten national Red Cross societies involved
in the campaign, launched in Johannesburg today under the theme: "Our
Children, Our Future".
She underscored the need for all stakeholders, especially the private
sector, governments and other humanitarian organizations to play a more
active role in ensuring that orphans and children made vulnerable by the
HIV/AIDS pandemic have access to basic services such as food, health,
education, shelter, clothing and protection, to give the entire region
a brighter future.
"A silent tsunami is wiping away an entire generation, leaving millions
of children at risk. It is imperative for all stakeholders to come together
in support of this cause. If we do not do something today, we will lose
the administrators, business leaders, workers and customers of tomorrow.
We have to start investing in these children now," she added.
The secretaries general of the ten Red Cross societies in southern Africa
have decided to make use of their huge grassroots network of community-based
volunteers to reach out to these children and scale up existing activities,
which include prevention, advocacy, support and home-based care for those
infected and affected. Under the new regional strategy for orphans and
other children made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS, the Red Cross is calling
for a more coordinated effort which attempts to promote community capacity
in responding to the needs of these children.
The pandemic has had devastating effects on the lives of children in sub-Saharan
Africa; with more than 12 million children there having lost one or both
parents to AIDS, a figure that is expected to double by 2010. Millions
more are made vulnerable in other ways: poverty; dropping out of school;
vulnerability to abuse and prostitution.
"Some families are now comprised of only children, whilst in other
households, children have to nurse their sick and dying parents. This
terrible situation leaves children emotionally distressed as death painfully
takes away their parents right in front of their eyes," said Jennifer
Inger, the International Federation’s Regional HIV and AIDS delegate in
"In severely affected communities, the epidemic affects all aspects
of community life – agriculture, economic and social structures, business,
health and education. All this in turn has a huge impact on children and
increases their vulnerability," she added.
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