UN and UNICEF Leaders Call for Action in Africa

Marking the 42nd Africa Day, three United Nations' leaders together with the Executive Director of UNICEF, Ann Veneman, who is currently in the midst of her first mission trip, have called for the world to focus on the continuing problems and humanitarian needs of millions of people, especially children, in Southern Africa.

Much of Africa, especially south of the Sahara suffer from the tragic effects of violent conflict, extreme poverty and disease. In the western Darfur region of Sudan, continued attacks and displacements have seen at least 2.6 million people urgently need assistance.

United Nations Special Envoy James T. Morris, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and UN AIDS Executive Director Peter Piot called for more investment to support the most critical needs of the regions under the 'triple threat' of HIV/AIDS, food insecurity, and the loss of human capacity. These three are still very apparant and are stalking Southern Africa's children.

"Emergencies come and go, but we are now in an acute phase of a chronic problem and the effects of this are going to be with us for generations to come. This is not about one issue or one country. Many factors are converging to undermine livelihoods of millions of people in southern Africa. The complexity of the situation demands that we must do all we can to help Governments in the region," said Mr. Morris on his four-nation assessment mission.

Mr. Morris also has called for the 10 UN country representatives in the region to come to Johannesburg in South Africa for a special meeting. The meeting will hope to examine current interventions, UN reform and strategies as the HIV/AIDS-driven aspects of the crisis are considered very serious.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and General Assembly President Jean Ping reflected on the prospects for continent-wide democratic reforms, peace and reconciliation, poverty reduction and control of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Annan called 2005 as a landmark year in this fight.

"2005 could well be a crucial year for Africa," he pointed out and emphasised that the UN summit in September will review the Millennium Declaration, with its goals (MDGs) extinguish a massive amount of extremely negative socio-economic factors, especially in Africa by 2015.