Governments should do more to include the uprooted in their HIV/AIDS strategies

News Stories, 24 June 2009

© UNHCR / J Redden
A camp clinic in Nangweshi, Zambia. UNHCR has an active HIV and AIDS programme there.

GENEVA, June 24 (UNHCR) UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has said more must be done to ensure governments include refugees and internally displaced people (IDP) in their national strategies for dealing with HIV/AIDS. In a wide-ranging address Monday afternoon to the UNAIDS governing body, the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB), Guterres said people on the move whether refugees, IDPs or migrants can be more vulnerable to HIV.

"It is the duty of all of us to ensure that the human rights of people on the move are respected," he said. "Meeting the needs of people on the move for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support is essential for achieving universal access."

Guterres spoke on the opening day of the annual meeting of the PCB, ending today, which was focused on the HIV-related needs of "people on the move."

Global movements are complex, involving forced displacement as well as migration. UNHCR estimates there were 42 million refugees and IDPs last year, not counting those displaced by natural disasters, while the International Organization for Migration estimates there were more than 200 million international migrants in 2008.

"Programmes aiming to reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by refugees, IDPs, and migrants need to be implemented at all levels," the High Commissioner said. "At the national level, they need to be included in HIV/AIDS National Strategic Plans, policies and funding proposals.

"Results presently are discouraging," he said. "Inclusion of refugees in HIV National Strategic Plans has actually decreased since 2006." Only 32 out of 46 countries with more than 5,000 refugees had National Strategic Plans available for review in 2008. Of these, 14 nearly 44 percent made no reference to refugees.

"A recent examination of Global Fund HIV-approved proposals for countries with more than 5,000 refugees or internally displaced people was equally discouraging," Guterres said. "Approximately 68 percent of the approved HIV proposals made no mention of refugees. Nearly 73 percent of the approved HIV proposals did not mention internally displaced people.

"Clearly, we must do better to ensure that forcibly displaced persons and migrants are included in National HIV Strategic Plans and proposals," he said.

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Advocacy

Advocacy is a key element in UNHCR activities to protect people of concern.

HIV and AIDS

Read about UNHCR's provision of HIV and AIDS protection, prevention, treatment and more.

Public Health

The health of refugees and other displaced people is a priority for UNHCR.

Health crisis in South Sudan

There are roughly 105,000 refugees in South Sudan's Maban County. Many are at serious health risk. UNHCR and its partners are working vigorously to prevent and contain the outbreak of malaria and several water-borne diseases.

Most of the refugees, especially children and the elderly, arrived at the camps in a weakened condition. The on-going rains tend to make things worse, as puddles become incubation areas for malaria-bearing mosquitoes. Moderately malnourished children and elderly can easily become severely malnourished if they catch so much as a cold.

The problems are hardest felt in Maban County's Yusuf Batil camp, where as many as 15 per cent of the children under 5 are severely malnourished.

UNHCR and its partners are doing everything possible to prevent and combat illness. In Yusuf Batil camp, 200 community health workers go from home to home looking educating refugees about basic hygene such as hand washing and identifying ill people as they go. Such nutritional foods as Plumpy'nut are being supplied to children who need them. A hospital dedicated to the treatment of cholera has been established. Mosquito nets have been distributed throughout the camps in order to prevent malaria.

Health crisis in South Sudan

Kuwaiti Funds Provide Vital Medical Aid for Syrians in Lebanon

As the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon continues to grow, ensuring access to quality health care is becoming an increasing challenge for humanitarian aid groups and the international community. So, Kuwait's unprecedented donation in April of US$110 million for UNHCR's Syria crisis operations this year came at a most opportune time. Slightly more than 40 per cent of the amount has been used to fund programmes in Lebanon, including the provision of vital - and often life-saving - medical care. In the following photo gallery, photographer Shawn Baldwin looks at the essential work being done in just one Kuwaiti-supported clinic in northern Lebanon. The small Al Nahda Primary Health Care Clinic in the town of Beddawi has a staff of seven doctors and one nurse. Between 600 and 700 people seek medical attention there every month and the clinic meets the needs of some of the most vulnerable refugees.

Kuwaiti Funds Provide Vital Medical Aid for Syrians in Lebanon

Statelessness and Women

Statelessness can arise when citizenship laws do not treat men and women equally. Statelessness bars people from rights that most people take for granted such as getting a job, buying a house, travelling, opening a bank account, getting an education, accessing health care. It can even lead to detention.

In some countries, nationality laws do not allow mothers to confer nationality to their children on an equal basis as fathers and this creates the risk that these children will be left stateless. In others, women cannot acquire, change or retain their nationality on an equal basis as men. More than 40 countries still discriminate against women with respect to these elements.

Fortunately, there is a growing trend for states to remedy gender discrimination in their nationality laws, as a result of developments in international human rights law and helped by vigorous advocacy from women's rights groups. The women and children depicted here have faced problems over nationality.

Statelessness and Women

Chad: Health for allPlay video

Chad: Health for all

Refugees in southern Chad receive health care under a European Union-funded programme. A new clinic tackles malaria, malnutrition, respiratory infections and more.
Jordan: Getting Health CarePlay video

Jordan: Getting Health Care

In Jordan's Za'atri Refugee Camp, dust and heat are taking their toll, especially on young children.
South Sudan: Providing Health CarePlay video

South Sudan: Providing Health Care

Mobile clinics and hundred of community workers are mobilized to bring health care to the refugees in Yusuf Batil Refugee Camp.