Monday, November 20, 2006

AIDS victims petition

AIDS has robbed more than 34 million children of their parents. We must work together to give these innocent victims an opportunity for a decent life.

Ask your Representative to give the innocent victims of the AIDS epidemic a second chance>>

At the last G8 conference, the United States made a promise to lead the fight to end the AIDS epidemic. Since then, the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund which provides basic education in developing countries, has been cut by $136 million. Congress is withholding $100 million in funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. And more than $100 million dedicated to to alleviating poverty has been slashed.

This funding must be restored if we want these children to have any chance to live a decent life. Help ensure the United States keeps its promise to the victims of this disease.

Tell your Representative to restore life-saving funding for the victims of the AIDS epidemic>>

Labels: , , ,

love, listen, lead...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Based in Kandy, Sri lanka, Fridsro is a registered non-profit organisation with about 300 employees. Since 1972 Fridsro has been investing in restoring the lives of children and adults affected by poverty and social disparities."

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, November 13, 2006

Kony denies use of child captives -- AGAIN

SUDAN-UGANDA: 'No child captives here,' rebels tell UN

RI-KWANGBA, 13 November (IRIN) - Joseph Kony, the Ugandan rebel leader, told the top United Nations humanitarian official that his group did not hold any children captive, insisting instead that he only had 'combatants' in rebel ranks.

"We don't have any children in our movement, there is [sic] only combatants," Kony said after a short meeting on Sunday with the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, near the border between Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), is notorious for kidnapping children to fight in his ranks or to serve as sex slaves to his commanders.

Egeland met the rebel leader under a tarpaulin at a muddy clearing in Ri-Kwangba, one of two assembly points in southern Sudan, where LRA fighters are expected to gather after a landmark cease-fire agreed with the Ugandan government in Juba, capital of southern Sudan.

Egeland said he had asked Kony: "What I should tell the mothers who have been crying and begging to see their abducted children?"

Egeland had hoped to secure the release of women, children and injured fighters but came away empty-handed after waiting more than two hours for the reclusive LRA leader.

"I think it was an important meeting because it was the first time we have been able to impress on the highest command of the LRA the whole range of humanitarian issues, such as the need for a genuine cessation of hostilities and [the] return [of] those they've abducted," Egeland said.

The rebel group signed a new truce this month with the Ugandan government, paving the way for further talks to end the war and allow the two million people who have been displaced by two decades of fighting in the region to return home.

Kony and his high command have, however, refused to attend the Juba talks, despite signing the agreement, fearing arrest on war crimes charges.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued warrants for the arrest of five commanders, including Kony and his deputy Vincent Otti, accusing them of crimes against humanity.

The ICC's move has been opposed by many people in northern Ugandan, who say the court's involvement will only prolong the conflict.

The Ugandan government has promised Kony an amnesty if the talks succeed, suggesting that traditional northern Ugandan forms of justice may be adopted to end the conflict.

Kony and Otti told Egeland the ICC arrest warrants were a major obstacle to the talks. "If the warrants are lifted, then we can go to the peace talks," Otti said.

Saying he could not comment on the ICC because of its independence, Egeland noted after the meeting that the issue of justice had to be addressed. "Peace and justice have to go hand in hand," he said. "There can be no lasting peace without justice."

Few, if any, LRA fighters have gathered at Ri-Kwangba, one of two assembly points set up by the cessation of hostilities agreement. The rebels are said to prefer their own well-equipped base to the muddy assembly point, replete with flies buzzing around bags of rotting sugar.

Egeland pledged to improve conditions in the camps, saying: "We have a major stake as the international community in this working and so hopefully we will see them assemble in the next few weeks."

He also said the rehabilitation of northern Uganda would be a priority. Funding, he added, had been secured to provide UN support to the peace talks and to assist those who would gather at the assembly points under the cessation of hostilities agreement.

Before flying out to meet Kony, Egeland had met parties in Juba involved in trying to end northern Uganda's brutal 20-year civil war.

"I think we can make progress. It took time before the international community saw the potential of the process. We now realise this and are there to help," Egeland said after meeting the chief mediator of the talks, Riek Machar, the south Sudanese Vice-President.

Also see:
[Related IRIN stories on Uganda]
[IRIN film 'The Shadows of Peace: Life after the LRA']


Labels: , , , ,

Friday, November 10, 2006

SWAZILAND: Growing number of children working

IRIN Report: SWAZILAND: Growing number of children working

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

MANZINI, 10 November (IRIN) - Rights activists have demanded laws to protect Swaziland's children, particularly its growing population of AIDS orphans, from being exploited as cheap labour.

With the current AIDS orphan population of 69,000 expected to rise to 120,000 or possibly even 150,000 by 2010, "these uneducated, unsupported children risk not only exploitation as labour use, but child labour of the worst kind. Today, 50 percent of children engaged in the sex trade are orphans," said Velephi Riba, consultant to the South African NGO, Reducing Exploitive Child Labour in Southern Africa (RECLISA), at their second national conference, held this week in the commercial city of Manzini, 35km southeast of the Swazi capital, Mbabane.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Swaziland is 34.2 percent and approximately 10 percent of households are now headed by children, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

"The minimum age to work was set at 15 to 18 years - depending on the work - by the Employment Act of 1998," said Commissioner of Labour Jino Nkhambule. "This will be augmented by the new Child Welfare legislation when it is passed, and will allow for an expansion of my labour inspector team specific to child labour."

Nati Vilakazi, coordinator of the rights NGO, Save the Children-Swaziland, said the existing law provided limited legal and social protection for working children and exempted agriculture and domestic labour. "A child is defined as anyone aged below 16, against the internationally recognised age of 18."

UNICEF's Swaziland mission has found that orphans were twice as likely to engage in child labour, while a World Bank study pointed out that Swaziland has the highest number of school dropouts in Southern Africa. However, Riba cautioned that a ban on child labour had to be coupled with programmes that enabled a family to find other avenues of support.

"We don't want child labour - the effect on psychological and social development are detrimental - but in our intervention we don't wish to make the situation worse, which may only push children into the worst type of child labour," she told IRIN.

RECLISA has targeted 2,000 vulnerable children felt to be at risk of forced labour in the impoverished southern Shiselweni region, where agricultural production has been hard-hit by drought and AIDS. This week's conference was meant to jump-start child labour legislation that has been languishing with government since 2003, awaiting final drafting and presentation to parliament.

"Poverty is a major 'push' factor for child labour in Swaziland. It has become worse, with 69 percent of Swazis living in poverty today, 76 percent in rural areas," said Riba. According to the UN Development Programme, two-thirds of Swazis live in chronic poverty as peasant farmers under palace-appointed chiefs who administer communal Swazi Nation Land.

She commented that Swaziland's excessive rich-poor divide - the most affluent 20 percent of the population consumes 56 percent of the gross domestic product, while the poorest 20 percent consume only 4.3 percent - and the twin problems of high unemployment and low pay for those who do find work, create the economic necessity for child labour in some households.

The authorities lack the capacity to monitor workplaces: sixteen labour inspectors monitor 5,000 formal-sector workplaces, where slightly more than 100,000 people are employed. The informal sector has many more, and are usually not monitored.

"Children are the cheapest to hire, easiest to fire, and least likely to protest," said policy analyst Duncan Reed.

Conference participants reported an upswing in the number of children scavenging waste dumps in Manzini and the adjacent Matsapha Industrial Estate, and working in illegal bars, or as sellers of home-brewed beers in urban townships.

Swaziland's most famous exploited children remain where they have been for at least two years - dancing in makeshift costumes all day long for tourists along the highway in Pigg's Peak, capital of the northern province of Hhohho.

Mumcy Dlamini, Acting Director of Public Prosecutions and the first woman to hold the position, told the conference that the new child labour law stipulated penalties for violators.

"We have not seen a docket coming to our office on child labour violation - this has never been prosecuted in Swaziland. This could be due to a failure of reporting. The new law will contain a fine of not more than (US$435) for an employer violating child labour rules, or a custodial prison sentence of not less than one year," she said.

Rights activists have also called for a review of Swaziland's constitution, which allows underage girls to get married. Dlamini said traditional marriage was misused by elderly men to secure household labour.

"You ask yourself, why do these men marry a child? Mainly, they do this because they want to make the child work at their homes, with the ... [justification] that they are their wives. This is a vacuum that we need to address," she told conference delegates.

The new constitution, which is likely to be approved next year, defines a child as any person younger than 18 years, making a traditional marriage to a child a violation of the girl's constitutional rights. The constitution also forbids child labour, and calls for universal education for Swazi children.

Conference delegates cited studies showing that the need for child labour decreased as family income rose, and endorsed anti-poverty efforts by government and the NGO community. Compulsory education was mooted as another insurance against child labour abuses.

The recommendations will be presented to the Ministry of Enterprise and Employment, to ensure that the proposed child welfare legislation conforms to the International Labour Organisation's Convention 182 and other child labour accords to which Swaziland is a signatory.



Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

mental illness in gulu, uganda

THE number of metal illness cases at Gulu Referral Hospital is high.
A total of 30 cases were recorded in October.

“There is an increase in the number of mental illnesses because in the past months, the admissions were at an average of 20 cases,” said the principal psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Aluma.

“In July, we registered 15 cases and in August, we received 21 cases and the number is getting bigger.”

Aluma said the majority of the patients suffer from mental imbalances caused by the traumatic effects of the 20-year-old war between the Government and the LRA rebels.

“We are receiving many patients because of the heavy sensitisation that is done on radio that mental illnesses can be cured if treated early,” Aluma said.
Aluma decried understaffing, saying the unit has very few psychiatrists who can administer drugs and treatment to patients effectively.

“The unit has only one principle psychiatric clinical officer, two doctors of special training and four nurses. These are not enough to fully attend to each patient considering the alarming cases of re- admissions,” Aluma said.

He said over 500 patients are re-admitted each month due to their failure to take medication as directed by doctors.

***this is a repost from a myspace bulletin.

***just verified this article on

Labels: , , , , ,