Coordinated response to AIDS orphans underway

Children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, are to benefit from a recent agreement between UN agencies, donors and advocacy groups to offer strengthened assistance.

During a two-day meeting in Geneva, the groups agreed on a strategic framework to ensure that some 14 million HIV/AIDS orphans across the globe received as much help as possible.

In a joint statement issued by UNAIDS and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the organisations estimated that US $1 billion was needed to improve care of the orphans.

UNICEF executive director, Carol Bellamy said: "The crisis of orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS is massive, growing and long-term. But two-thirds of countries hard-hit by the disease do not have strategies to ensure children affected grow up with even the bare minimum of protection and care."

Research showed that the number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS could rise to at least 25 million by 2010, with four out of every five of such children living in sub-Saharan Africa.