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UNHCR urges governments to include refugees, the displaced in HIV/AIDS programmes

UNHCR urges governments to include refugees, the displaced in HIV/AIDS programmes

16 September 2004

ADDIS ABABA (WIC) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Tuesday urged governments to include refugees and displaced people in their HIV/AIDS programmes.

Addressing a four-day workshop under the title of "UNHCR Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS" the Commission's Regional Liaison Office Deputy Representative, Fernando Protti-Alvarado told the gathering that there is a need for governments to extend their programmes to the displaced people as HIV/AIDS is increasing fast among refugees.

Protti said UNHCR has been implementing HIV/AIDS prevention and control programmes in many refugee camps around the world. However, the official said, his office is "doubtful whether adequate behavioural change has been brought about as a result".

Therefore, Protti said there is a need to "wisely strategize to bring positive behavioural changes among refugees and the host communities.

There is also a felt need to acquaint health professionals with the rapidly advancing and changing dynamics in the field of HIV/AIDS."

He also noted that UNHCR needs to "strengthen the management of sexually transmitted diseases and address the issue of sexual and gender based violence, harmful traditional practices, and their relations with HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases."

Protti also told the gathering that UNHCR is now faced with budget constraints. So, he said it is now particularly important to utilize the funds in the "most appropriate and relevant way."

Daisy Dell, Deputy Director of Operational Support said in her remarks that UNHCR is trying to strengthen its capacity to protect the health of refugees and the workshop was organized in line with this goal. She also told participants that technical capacity in the health, HIV and nutrition sectors is essential to "monitor and realize accepted minimum international standards" of living for refugees.

The workshop also covers programme planning, malaria control, family planning and health information system.

Some 32 technical and health professionals from 18 countries are attending the workshop.