Annan urges world leaders to be accountable for promises made on HIVAIDS

Attending an inter-faith event at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York on the eve of World AIDS Day, Mr. Annan said the international community has finally begun to take the fight seriously, devoting greater financial resources and giving more and more people access to antiretroviral treatment.Yet the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS, estimated recently that 39.5 million people around the world live with HIV and another 4.3 million will be infected this year, with nearly two out of every three new infections occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. Significant increases in rates of infection have also been reported in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.At least 25 million have now died from AIDS-related diseases in the 25 years since the first case was reported, and this year alone almost 3 million people will die. The pandemic is the leading cause of death among both men and women aged between 15 and 59.“Because the response has started to gain real momentum, the stakes are higher now than ever,” Mr. Annan said. “We cannot risk letting the advances that have been achieved unravel; we must not jeopardize the heroic efforts of so many,” adding that “leaders must hold themselves accountable – and be held accountable by all of us.”He urged the leaders to strengthen protections for all vulnerable groups, whether people living with HIV, young people, sex workers, injecting drug users or men who have sex with men.The theme for this year’s observation of World AIDS Day is accountability, and the idea that “AIDS stops with me.”The Secretary-General said accountability applies not only to world leaders, but to “all of us,” from business leaders who can campaign for HIV prevention in the workplace to health workers and faith-based groups who can listen and provide care to sufferers without passing judgement.“It requires fathers, husbands, sons and brothers to support and affirm the rights of women. It requires teachers to nurture the dreams and aspirations of girls. It requires men to help ensure that other men assume their responsibility – and understand that real manhood means protecting others from risk.“And it requires every one of us to help bring AIDS out of the shadows, and spread the message that silence is death.”In an opinion column published yesterday in USA Today, Mr. Annan outlined many of the steps he has taken to fight the AIDS pandemic during his 10-year tenure as Secretary-General, such as the establishment of UNAIDS, and promised to “keep spreading that message.” read more

Donors pledge over 400 million for UN rapid humanitarian response fund

“The most vulnerable people on Earth depend on your support to enable this work to continue,” Mr. Ban said in his opening remarks at the High-level Conference for the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). “That is why I ask that you give as much as possible to this important fund. These are uncertain economic times for many, but I urge you to give generously and to give early, so CERF can help as many people as possible in 2014.”The Fund, established by the General Assembly seven years ago, has grown to become one of the largest and most reliable sources of humanitarian funding. Since 2006, it has disbursed more than $3.2 billion to emergencies in 88 countries.“It has proved itself as one of the most effective and efficient ways to support urgent aid needs,” Mr. Ban said, noting that this year alone, CERF funds have kick-started urgent humanitarian operations in Syria, Mali and the Philippines. In 2013 alone, CERF allocated more than $82 million to support relief efforts in Syria and neighbouring countries, bringing the total since the crisis began in 2011 to more than $135 million. In the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, CERF provided the first major injection of funds for relief work on the ground. As a result, millions of people received desperately needed food, clean water and medicines.CERF has also been fulfilling its mandate by providing critical funding for less visible emergencies, added the Secretary-General. “In Haiti, Sudan and Somalia … in the Central African Republic, Myanmar and Yemen … wherever people are suffering, CERF offers a lifeline.”According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which administers the Fund, more than $473 million has been released this year from CERF to enable fast delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to millions of people affected by natural disasters and other crises in 45 countries.“The Central Emergency Response Fund is a fund by all countries, for all countries,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos. “It is helping us to ensure that those who need our assistance receive it – quickly, effectively and efficiently.” read more