UN peacekeepers spreading Aids, US says

Re file LontimX9


Wednesday, 8 March 2000

WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- United Nations peacekeepers are "unintentionally" spreading AIDS in the countries they are supposed to be helping, a U.S. official told lawmakers Wednesday. "All too often, the sad truth is that at times, in trying to solve on problem such as preventing a war...or containing conflict, U.N. peacekeepers unintentionally contribute to another serious problem, the spread of AIDS," said Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Holbrooke added that the United States would oppose future peacekeeping missions unless the U.N.'s peacekeeping department attaches measures aimed at better controlling soldiers' behavior. "As long as I am ambassador, the United States will never again vote for a peacekeeping resolution that does not require specific action by the (U.N.) to prevent AIDS from spreading by or to peacekeepers," Holbrooke said. U.N. officials contacted for comment were not immediately available. Holbrooke's remarks came as lawmakers attempted to build support for a proposal establishing a trust fund for fighting AIDS. The $100 million trust fund would be fed over five years mainly by U.S. donations and administered by the World Bank. According to the proposal, fund managers would target the regions hardest hit by AIDS/HIV: sub-Saharan Africa, India and the former states of the Soviet Union. While the trust fund proposal comes at a time of greatly increased attention to the AIDS issue on Capitol Hill, where at least a dozen separate bills aimed at fighting AIDS are under consideration, the problem of AIDS/HIV, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, are long-standing and well documented: -- The World Health Organization now estimates 33.4 million individuals throughout the world are currently infected with HIV. Approximately 22.5 million of them live in sub-Saharan Africa. -- Worldwide, the U.N. estimates that more than 16,000 additional individuals are infected with HIV every day. More than one-quarter of the adult population in Botswana and Zimbabwe are infected with HIV/AIDS. -- By the end of this year, the U.N. also estimates more than 10.4 million children in sub-Saharan Africa will lose at least one parent to AIDS. In Uganda alone, which has been hardest hit by AIDS, more than 1.1 million children had lost at least one parent to AIDS by the end of 1999. -- AIDS has cut overall life expectancy by as much as three decades in some sub-Saharan nations.

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