- A visiting UN envoy has accused the world's wealthiest countries of failing Malawi, which is struggling to care for more than two million orphans and vulnerable children.
"Where is the money? At the G8 summit in Gleneagles in July 2005, rich nations promised to double financial aid to Africa, an extra US$25 billion by 2010. The Malawi government is struggling to support its people because there is no money," complained Stephen Lewis, the UN secretary-general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Malawi has 1.6 million orphans and an estimated 80,000 children below the age of 15 are living with HIV and AIDS. The world's seven richest nations and Russia pledged at the Gleneagles summit to help support children orphaned by the epidemic and double donations to the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria.
But Lewis, after visiting a day-care orphanage bankrolled by his foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) near the capital, Lilongwe, said the promised funds had not materialised.
The day-care orphanage, called Consol Homes, looks after 12,000 children besides supporting women-headed households. The women get start-up capital from the centre to fund their own income-generating activities.
"I support seven children. Their parents, who were my children, died of AIDS-related illnesses. I had three children and they all are no more and this has created a huge burden for me... I cannot farm and these children are the ones now working in the farm. I am only managing because of the support I receive from Consol Homes," said 75-year-old Geletina Nkhunguzu.
Established in 2000, Consol Homes is helping 300 children become economically self-sufficient by providing bursaries for vocational skills training.
Pop-star Madonna's recent controversial visit to Malawi to find and adopt a child focused international attention on the vulnerability of orphans in one of the world's poorest countries.
Deputy Director of Children Affairs at the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Cyrus Jeke, said a survey was needed to establish the number of orphans in Malawi - the vast majority of whom are absorbed by the extended family. "This will help us to plan properly", he added, but the study would require funding.
Lewis noted: "Should the G8 nations have fulfilled their pledges this exercise the government wants to implement would not have been a problem. This is a nationwide campaign and will need a lot of funding to be successful".
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