News and Information

Namibia on the brink of a serious crisis
July 29, 2004

NAMIBIA and the rest of southern Africa face one of the world's most serious humanitarian crises, a top United Nations official has warned.

Fresh from visits to Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland, James Morris, the UN Secretary General's special envoy for humanitarian needs in southern Africa, has warned of serious consequences if nothing is done to stem the crisis.

"The numbers of food-insecure and vulnerable households tell of an extraordinary human tragedy and southern Africa must still be considered the location of one of the world's most serious humanitarian crises," Morris wrote in a report to the UN.

When he was in Namibia last month, Morris urged Namibia to play a greater role in combating the effects of HIV-AIDS and to offer improved access to services for the rapidly growing number of orphans and vulnerable women.

He said the Government needed to step up efforts to deal with the "humanitarian crisis" in the country.

"I am particularly concerned about the plight of orphans and women and their inability to access critical necessities such as food, clean water, education, and health care," he said.

Morris came to review how the international community could more effectively assist Namibia in battling HIV-AIDS, food security and the drain of human resources.

"An expedited implementation of commitments is required if Namibia is to get through this crisis without losing an entire generation," said Morris.

Namibia ranks among the top five countries in the world most affected by HIV-AIDS.

The virus has become the country's leading cause of mortality with nearly a quarter of a million people infected.

Average life expectancy will decline to around 40 years of age by the end of 2005 - 25 per cent lower than without HIV.

There are already more than 120 000 orphans and vulnerable children in Namibia and the number will reach 250 000 by the year 2020.

The World Food Programme, Unicef and the Namibian Government recently put together a joint appeal of US$5,8 million to help over 600 000 orphans and other vulnerable children and women suffering from the combined effects of erratic weather, severe poverty and worsening HIV-AIDS rates.

However, funding has been slow and this has had a serious effect on the UN's ability to adequately support the most vulnerable groups.


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