Unicef calls for greater protection of indigenous people (Lead)

August 11th, 2009 - 10:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Aug 11 (IANS) The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has called for greater protection of the world’s 370 million indigenous people who are considered the most vulnerable members of human societies, WAM news agency reported.
“Many indigenous peoples live in conditions that make them especially vulnerable to the spread of HIV,” said Unicef Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said in a message marking the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.

“Yet efforts to monitor the epidemic among indigenous peoples are often lacking, as are examples of interventions informed by local participation,” said Veneman.

She stressed that the forces driving the HIV epidemic in indigenous communities must be identified and understood to develop effective educational programmes.

“Health education is essential to preventing the transmission of HIV and AIDS,” she said, adding that differing “indigenous beliefs, practices and sensitivities about illness, sex and reproduction will have an impact on the success of that health education in indigenous communities”.

Indigenous women, in particular, suffer disproportionately from a number of socio-economic difficulties that increase the spread of the disease, including poverty, marginalisation, homelessness and poor access to education, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues said in a press release.

In a message to mark the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasised the vulnerability of indigenous peoples to HIV/ AIDS. “It is essential that indigenous peoples have access to the information and infrastructure necessary for detection, treatment and protection,” he noted

The event was organised by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in cooperation with the NGO Committee on the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

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