United Nations To Provide HIV/AIDS Prevention Education to Sierra Leone Peacekeepers
U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Michael Sheehan on Thursday announced a "groundbreaking" effort to educate peacekeepers in Sierra Leone about the risks of HIV, according to a United Nations press release. HIV/AIDS rates in Sierra Leone have "escalat[ed]" during recent conflicts, which have been marked by "widespread rape and sexual exploitation." Sheehan said, "The United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations is committed to working with our partners to support HIV/AIDS awareness among our peacekeeping forces. It is crucial that peacekeepers have the knowledge to protect themselves and the communities they serve." Officials will first gauge peacekeepers' current level of HIV knowledge, then train them in HIV/AIDS prevention, gender awareness and women's rights. "Peacekeepers are uniquely positioned to educate communities and prevent HIV infection," Oluyemi Adeniji, special representative of the U.N. secretary general for Sierra Leone, said, adding, "Armed with knowledge and skills, they can fight the war against HIV/AIDS and reverse the tide of infection." The peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone is the largest in the world. The operation includes 15,000 troops, 250 military observers and about 50 civilian police from approximately 37 countries (United Nations release, 3/6).
Conference Discusses U.N. Effectiveness in HIV/AIDS Prevention
U.N. associations from 18 African countries met on Thursday in Kampala, Uganda, for the opening of the three-day World Federation of the United Nations Association Academy for a Stronger United Nations Conference, where they will discuss the effectiveness of U.N. HIV/AIDS prevention programs, Xinhua News Agency reports. Ibrahim Fall, the U.N. Secretary-General's special representative in Central Africa's Great Lakes region, "expressed concern" about the area's situation, which is marked by conflicts, diseases and poverty. He added that the problems are contributing to instability in the region. The United Nations will be holding an international conference to address conflict, disease and povery in the Great Lakes region, Ibrahim said (Xinhua News Agency, 3/6). Representatives from Benin, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda attended the coference (WFUNA conference agenda, 3/7).