Advocates’ International Youth Activist Network (iYAN) consists of youth activists and adult allies from low and middle-income countries who are working to influence policies and programs in their countries and internationally to support improved youth reproductive and sexual health. Members of the iYAN connect to share information about their work; are provided information about scholarships and networking opportunities; get up-to-date information on downloadable advocacy materials and tool kits; and receive a monthly newsletter with information on advocacy, youth activism, and mobilization on important issues like sex education, access to contraception, and prevention of adolescent maternal mortality and HIV.
Sharing Our Passion
What kind of mess did I get myself into?
By Francess, Youth Activist, Lagos, Nigeria
Chika is a 20-year old lady who came from the Western part of the country in Nigeria. She is in a family of seven and the last girl with two younger siblings. She is from what many would call an average home.
These are Chika’s words: I would love to share my story with you all so we can all learn something about teenage pregnancy and the consequences one will have to face. I did not think of these consequences, before becoming sexually active.
This is Chika’s story: It all started when I got into a higher institution, for which I waited for so long. While I was in school I was studying really hard, because I wanted to get good grades. I did well in my first year, but in my second year I thought I was studying too much. I wanted to get a better idea of what it feels like to have fun in a higher institution, so I started going to parties and night clubs with friends and promised myself that I would be able to balance social time with school work. I met so many high-profile people and as a smart and pretty girl, I actually thought I would have my way– until I met one of the most reputable people in the entertainment industry.
This man was about 20 years older than me. I fell so much in love with him and did not want to lose him, because I found him very important and useful to me. It wasn’t just the social aspect, but also the fact that he was wise and financially supportive. I wanted to keep him really close to my heart and do anything he wanted so I wouldn’t lose him. I knew about all the celebrities that change girls like they change their underpants.
Then, as expected, he started asking me for sex! Nothing actually stopped me from giving it to him, but it sounded very irritating for an old, married man (old enough to be my dad!) to be constantly asking me for sex. I felt really reluctant giving it to him, and it made things difficult in our relationship. I did not like the way things were going, because he started giving me less attention and I was not getting all the fame I desired. I talked to some of my friends in school about it and they convinced me to finally give in. He promised he was always going to use protection and I agreed to that, until one particular day when we went outside the country for a trip and I stayed with him for close to a month. That was when the incident happened.
When I returned from my trip, I waited throughout the month for my period but I did not see it. That was when I realized I was pregnant and I went to the hospital and the doctor to confirm it was positive. I was so confused as to how I was pregnant and I still can’t explain how it happened.
I was expelled from school and my parents could not face the shame. I was totally lost in another world. My man friend (older partner) had promised to take me in as a second wife and I was so happy about it. Then, when I told him I was pregnant, he told me he did not mean all that he said to me that day.
Right now, I feel very useless and stained all over with sin, because my parents did not only find out that I was pregnant but that I was expelled from school also. I felt like the ground should open and swallow me up. My man friend was avoiding me and he gave me some amount of money to take care of myself. He told me he has stopped chasing young girls and he wants to focus on his wife and children.
Well, I lost everything; education, my family, respect and my dignity as a woman. Right now, I don’t blame my friends for giving me the wrong advice. After all, I was old enough to make decisions on my own. I really don’t know who to blame but myself.
My advice for other young girls out there is to be careful with the way you follow all these Man friends, because they have their wife at home and the most they will do for you is give you money, which you may value because you did not work for it. So please ladies, be extremely careful. I know it’s not easy but always remember God’s time is the best, don’t lose your dignity and respect as a woman.
I don’t want your story to be like mine.
Voices from the Slum
A Poem by John Ngugi, Youth leader, Mathare Youth Sports Association, Nairobi, Kenya
I wonder what would happen if,
Young people could get correct information on their sexual reproductive health and rights as well as HIV and AIDS.
How I wonder what would happen if,
Young people could understand their sexuality as the beginning of civilization.
I wonder what would happen if,
Young people could know their correct HIV serostatus by taking an HIV test today.
How I wonder what would happen if,
Young people living with HIV can live in a world free from stigma and discrimination.
I wonder what would happen if,
Young people living with HIV or AIDS could access antiretroviral therapy and ARV.
How I wonder what would happen if,
Young women were empowered and assertive of their sexual rights and right to make their own decisions.
I wonder what would happen if,
Young people could participate and be represented at all levels of decision making in family, private and government.
How I wonder what would happen if,
Our government would stop corruption and channel the billions of shilling to young people’s development agenda.
Oh I wonder what would happen if,
Adult partners would support inspiring and empowering young people to lead a productive life.
I wonder what would happen if,
Youth-serving organizations would be dedicated to transforming young people into social change ambassadors.
Yes I am convinced that,
Africa, Kenya and my community Mathare slums will achieve the Millennium Development Goals
When this happens,
We, Kenyan young people will sing,
Free at last, free at last,
Thank you GOD the almighty,
We are free at last.
Jamaican Youth Blog During First Safer Sex Week Blog-a-thon
February 8-13 marked Jamaica’s annual Safer Sex Week. Safer Sex Week started in 1994 when the Ministry of Health recognized the need for increased emphasis on the message of protection during sexual activity. By dedicating a week of activities to promotion of safer sex, young people from all over Jamaica discuss the importance of access to safer sex education, access to condoms and contraceptives, and promoting responsible behavior.
To facilitate dialogue during Safer Sex Week, the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) and their youth council, Jamaicans Safely Tackling Adolescent and Reproductive Health (J-STAR), teamed up with Amplify to host a blog-a-thon. Young people from all over Jamaica participated in the Safer Sex Week blog-a-thon, held February 8-13, to share their knowledge and experiences on what it’s like to be affected by reproductive and sexual health issues as a young person in Jamaica.
Check out Featured Blogs from the Jamaica Safer Sex Week Blog-a-thon on Amplify!
$150? No wonder people do not want to buy condoms!
Jamaica Bans Songs “Promoting Illicit Sexual Behaviour From the AirWaves”
Today’s Menu:SRHR Broth
To read more blogs, go to: www.amplifyyourvoice.org/Jamaica
My Voice Counts!
Participate in the 5th Asia-Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health & Rights
The 5th Asia-Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health & Rights (APCRSHR) will take place in Beijing, China, October 17-20, 2009. The theme of this year’s conference is: “Working for Universal Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights: Building on the ICPD PoA and the MDGs.”.
This conference follows successful conferences in Manila, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Hyderabad. The Conference will provide a common platform for all stakeholders to exchange experiences and discuss strategies in the field of reproductive health in Asian and Pacific countries.
The conference will consist of a number of Plenary Sessions, Symposia, Parallel Sessions (PS), Satellite Sessions (SS) and Capacity Building Workshops (CBW). In addition, abstracts will be requested and due no later than June 30, 2009.
For further details please visit the official website at: http://www.5apcrshr.org
What’s going on at Advocates for Youth?
Advocates for Youth supports President Obama’s decision to sign the U.N. General Assembly statement condemning human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
In the February edition of the iYAN newsletter, Advocates wrote about its support for the UN General Assembly statement condemning human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The statement was the first time sexual orientation and gender identity had been officially discussed on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly. Sixty-six countries signed on, but the United States abstained. Last month, under the leadership of the Obama presidential administration, the United States announced its support for the statement and became a signatory. This signifies a dramatic new trend under the government of the United States that shifts away from the Bush administration’s harmful policies on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Advocates for Youth applauds the Obama Administration for this bold and decisive move in favor of human rights for young people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
To read the article, “Advocates for Youth supports U.N. General Assembly statement condemning human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity“ from the February iYAN edition, click here.
A New Era for Reproductive Health: Advocates participates in the 2009 UN Commission on Population and Development
By Brian Ackerman, International Policy Manager, Advocates for Youth
NEW YORK—At the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (UN CPD) in April, there was a sweeping sense of change in terms of the United States’ approach to sexual and reproductive health, as reflected in this quote from the U.S. Chief Delegate for the United States, Margaret Pollak:
“We must do more to provide comprehensive, accurate information and education on sexuality, sexual and reproductive health for women, men, girls, and boys as they age and their needs evolve. We must, as well, foster equal partnerships and sharing of responsibilities in all areas of family life, including in sexual and reproductive life, and promote frank discourse on sexuality, including in relation to sexual health and reproduction. . . We need to prioritize comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, as defined in the Program of Action and the Key Actions for its further implementation, in our work to strengthen health systems.”
In case you are unfamiliar with the UN CPD, here is a brief explanation: The meeting takes place annually among a “commission” of country delegations. Members of the Commission rotate on and off, which means that not every country in the UN is included in the discussion every year. (To learn more, and see if your country participated this year, see this page here.) The conference is generally regarded as a technical one, in which the latest global demographic data is shared to inform the creation of the Commission’s resolution–the outcome document of the conference.
This year is special as 2009 marks 15 years since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. The ICPD, as it is called, resulted in the production of the Cairo Consensus or the “Cairo Program of Action” (PoA), which revolutionized the way we think about sexual and reproductive health and rights globally–moving us to what is now known as the “rights-based model” in which sexual and reproductive health are not luxuries–they are human rights for everyone, including young people.
The 20-year Cairo Program of Action (PoA) includes target outcomes to be achieved by 2015, the same year for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Since we are only six years away from the 2015 target for both the ICPD PoA and the Millennium Development Goals, this year’s meeting of the CPD was an important meeting. The theme of this year’s CPD was the importance of realizing the Cairo PoA for achieving the MDGs.
Considering that the MDG’s focus on the reduction of global poverty and the empowerment of individuals at social, political, and economic levels, the connection with the Program of Action is clear. Advocates for Youth worked in conjunction with a coalition of progressive young people including, Choice (from the Netherlands), International Planned Parenthood Federation, World AIDS Campaign, and the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights to advocate for strong progressive language on young people’s sexual and reproductive health in the final resolution.
In the end, negotiations were tense and the final resolution did not satisfy all of our goals as advocates. (In particular, language on the protection of sexual rights did not reach the final resolution.) But, it did have a very important result: Millennium Development Goal 5 B, achievement of universal access to reproductive health, was acknowledged by the international community as key to achieving the reductions in poverty and inequity at the heart of the MDGs. This is important because in the original MDGs, universal access to reproductive health was not included. Goal 5 (B) was added later and its recognition by the international community had been weak. With the support of a vocally progressive United States delegation, this conference ushered in a new era of advocacy for sexual and reproductive health. Now, we must ensure that our leaders do not fail to implement what they support.
Advocates continues to fight to eliminate the HIV entry ban
On Friday, March 6, members of Advocates’ International Youth Leadership Council and the Department of Public Policy met with Mr. Chris Bates, Acting Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy in the Department of Health and Human Services. The meeting was arranged to discuss the current status of the so- called “HIV entry ban,” the policy that restricts non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States if they are HIV positive. Given that the ban is unjust, contributes to the stigmatization of people living with HIV, and is not supported by evidence (which clearly shows that the policy does not protect public health), the elimination of this ban has been a policy priority for Advocates for Youth.
The meeting was informative regarding the current status of the policy. The entry ban is implemented through the inclusion of HIV in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) list of “communicable diseases of public health significance.” Having any of the diseases on the list provides the US government with grounds to refuse entry to applicants seeking visitor and immigrant visas to the United States.
The HIV ban first came into effect in 1987 in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when there was a great deal of fear and misunderstanding associated with the disease. The ban was originally an administrative policy under the purview of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). By 1991, however, HHS reversed its position and tried to overturn the policy. Despite attempts to overturn the policy, Congress codified the bar in statute in 1993, making it law.
Fortunately, last summer, during the reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), several Members of Congress spearheaded an effort to eliminate the statutory ban. This effort was successful, but now the next step still remains, which is to actually remove HIV from the CDC list of communicable diseases. At the meeting, Mr. Bates informed us that a new policy was still in the process of being reworked.
In addition, at a recent Congressional briefing, Carl Schmid of the AIDS Institute gave a presentation on efforts to remove the travel ban that also provided insight and some more clarity. According to Schmid, during the inter-agency debate regarding the removal of HIV from the CDC list in fall 2008, the Congressional Budget Office evaluated the expected cost of the ban to be at $83 million, based on an estimate of potential costs to Medicaid, the United States medical system for low-income people. The CDC drafted a new proposed regulation in November of 2008 and submitted it to the Office of Management and Budget, then under the Bush Administration. Advocates against the ban decried the cost estimate included in the CDC draft (based on the $83 million estimate provided by the CBO) and the new rule was never published and was withdrawn, effectively left to be dealt with by the Obama Administration.
CDC has since re-drafted the proposed rule with new cost estimates and it was sent to the Office of Management and Budget on April 10, 2009. This must be vetted within that office and will hopefully be published within 90 days. Once it is published, a 60 day comment period will follow during which public comments can be made supporting the CDC’s recommendations or arguing for changes. COMMENTS WILL BE NEEDED! Advocates is preparing for this comment period and will keep you informed as the regulatory reform process continues. Contact Brian with any questions.
Advocates’ March Family Planning Month of Action
For the month of March, Advocates for Youth spearheaded a month-long campaign to build critical support for international family planning from the U.S. government. During each of the four weeks of March, Advocates sent out updates to U.S. youth activists to take action in support of international family planning.
Petition Drive for $1 billion for International Family Planning.
On March 1st, Advocates launched a petition drive on Amplify calling for Congress to provide at least $1 billion in international family planning assistance for FY 2010. The petition currently has over 700 signatures. Check out the petition here: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/onebillion#one
Youth-Led Lobbying Training and Lobby Day
On March 1st, Advocates’ International Youth Leadership Council (IYLC) hosted a successful lobbying training for ten local college students, covering the history of U.S. policy on funding for international family planning, and how to effectively lobby for $1 billion in international family planning assistance. These students, in partnership with IYLC members and Advocates’ staff, completed 34 lobby visits over the course of four days. The lobby day was a great success and we gained a lot of insight into how best to advocate for increased funding for international family planning.
On March 3, Advocates hosted a Congressional Briefing titled “Global Youth: A Strategic Investment” on Capitol Hill, in collaboration with the International Women’s Health Coalition. The briefing was co-sponsored by 13 other organizations working on international reproductive health and rights issues. In total, 60 people attended the briefing, including almost 20 staff members from Congressional offices. IYLC memberand public policy intern, Abbey Marr, moderated the panel of speakers. The panel included:
James Wagoner, President of Advocates for Youth, who introduced the audience to the critical need for investment in young people through funding and sound public policy from the United States. He discussed the unique challenges and opportunities faced by the world’s 1 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and of the opportunity to re-brand the United States as a leader in improved foreign policy and strategic foreign aid investment that supports the world’s youth.
Andre Robb, member, Jamaicans Safely Tackling Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health, who spoke about his experiences as an advocate, a sex educator, and as a coordinator of a program supported by higher income countries. He noted that monetary and political leadership for young people’s sexual and reproductive health are essential for achievement of solid gains for young people’s empowerment in Jamaica. Andre underscored the importance of sexual and reproductive health education and services for young people’s well-being, in addition to a cross section of other issues that his organization supports, including violence prevention, care and protection (including persons with disabilities), employment and entrepreneurship, and education and training.
Ishita Chaudhry, founder, Youth Parliament Foundation, India, who spoke about her experiences leading youth advocacy efforts in India. In her own advocacy work through the Youth Parliament Foundation, she helps to empower youth leaders to explore their own passions for social justice through political advocacy, cultural and artistic expression, and service. She noted that U.S. government leadership has an immense impact on what is accepted internationally in terms of the standard of sex education, and that young Indians need accurate information for responsible decision-making.
Beth Fredrick, Executive Vice President, International Women’s Health Coalition, who spoke about the opportunities for policy change to support young people. In her words, “It is my job to bring us back to what is possible.” Fredrick spoke of the opportunities in Congress and the White House to improve existing policies to better support young people without spending another dime, while also recommending continued support for critical youth programming abroad that reflects the U.S. commitment to human rights.
Non-governmental Organization Briefing
On March 4, Advocates hosted a lunchtime briefing on the International Youth Speak Out (iYSO) project for the NGO community in Washington, DC. Nicole Cheetham, Advocates’ International Division Director, moderated a panel that included:
Mimi Melles, Program Manager for the iYSO Project, who presented an overview the international youth activist network, (iYAN), which now has over 900 members, and discussed Advocates’ work with in-country organizations in Jamaica, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, to support local youth-led advocacy.
Andre Robb, member, Jamaicans Safely Tackling Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health of the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network, who spoke about his advocacy and sex education work in Jamaica. A recent college graduate from the University of the West Indies, Andre discussed advocacy activities spearheaded by him and his fellow council members, including the Safer Sex week Blog-a-thon, sex education activities in the schools, and ongoing advocacy efforts with government stakeholders. Andre answered candid questions about sex and the culture in Jamaica and provided insight into the challenges ahead for youth advocacy. Finally, Andrew highlighted the importance of the partnership with Advocates for Youth in helping empower youth advocates to advance their sexual and reproductive health and rights in Jamaica.
Gyawu Mahama, member, International Youth Leadership Council, who spoke about his experience as a young activist at George Washington University in Washingotn, DC. Gyawu described examples of the council’s efforts to improve U.S. global AIDS policy through media work and political advocacy. He noted, in particular, his experience doing a Voice of America interview on comprehensive sex education and HIV prevention, which was viewed by his relatives in Ghana.
One Voice Summit.
March 27 – 30, Advocates, SIECUS, the Feminist Majority Foundation, and the Sierra Club, hosted the fourth annual One Voice Summit. This summit engaged 40 youth activists from across the country in bridging the divide between domestic and international advocacy efforts around the issues of international family planning, comprehensive sex education, and environmental justice. A total of 16 young people from Advocates for Youth participated in the Summit, several of whom moderated or spoke on panels. Advocates’ youth participants included members of the International Youth Leadership Council, a Jamaican member of the International Youth Speak Out project, state activists, a high school organizer, a campus organizer, a Youth Resource peer educator, and an International Division intern. Advocates’ staff helped lead numerous sessions throughout the weekend on topics including international family planning, advocacy, the politics of HIV prevention, media and messaging and community organizing. The training was followed by a lobby day where participants conducted lobby visits on the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act (that would fund comprehensive sex education in the United States) and the $1 Billion Dollar Ask for International Family Planning for FY 2010.
2009 Global Health Week of Action.
The March Family Planning Month of Action campaign culminated with the 2009 Global Health Week of Action, held from March 30 – April 3. Advocates for Youth, in partnership with University Coalitions for Global Health and member organizations, promoted the campaign and launched a tool kit to help students host a series of events on their campuses and take actions targeting a specific global health issue each day during the week. The issues were: access to essential medicines, health care workers, HIV and AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, and human rights. Check out the Week of Action toolkit here.
To read Advocates new publication on One Billion Dollars for U.S. International Family Planning Assistance, click here:
Read All About It
Rates of HIV on the Rise in Asian Gay Men
In Asia, the fastest-growing means of HIV transmission is through unprotected sex between men. New cases of HIV have surged in Asian cities such as Bangkok, where more than 30 percent of gay and bisexual men are HIV positive. Given current trends in the region, men who have sex with men may account for as much as half of all new HIV infections in Asia by 2020.
To read more, go to: Group Sex, Low Condom Use Spur Spread of HIV in Asian Gay Men, Bloomberg
HIV-Positive Pregnant Women in Liberia Lack Counseling and Treatment
The Liberian government reported that high stigma and low follow-up has resulted in only half of pregnant HIV-positive women returning for counseling and treatment to reduce the risk of mother-to-child-transmission. Lack of doctors is also a major concern, as fewer than 80 doctors are serving a population of more than 3 million.
To read more, go to: LIBERIA: Pregnant HIV-positive women forgoing care, IRIN News, Liberia
Brazil’s President Tosses Condoms to Citizens
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva wanted to show the importance of Brazil’s campaign to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, by tossing out condoms during a Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro in February. Brazil’s national program provided 65 million condoms that month, an increase from the usual 45 million.
To read more, go to: Brazil president tosses condoms to carnival crowd. Associated Press
China Approves New Guidelines on Sex Education
In December 2008, the Ministry of Education issued new guidelines that said primary schools across China should teach students about the human body and secondary sexual characteristics. Before, high school students could only read the information in textbooks on their own. Now, the new guidelines are provoking a discussion on whether junior high school students should start learning about AIDS and how to prevent it.
To read more, go to: Schools lift the veil on sex education in China, Xinhua, China
Tools You Can Use
Youth Coalition Releases New Fact Sheets!
Young People and HIV-related Stigma and Discrimination
This factsheet addresses how stigma and discrimination affect young people, what has been achieved in past UN General Assembly Special Sessions on HIV/AIDS related to stigma and discrimination, the gap between commitments and reality, and what young people can do to take a stand.
Check out the publication here: http://youthcoalition.org/site08/attachs/Factsheet%20-%20HIV%20Stigma_webversion.pdf
Comprehensive Sexuality Education for Young People
This factsheet deals with the definition of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, young people’s need for SRH information, education and services, and what young people can do about it in their own communities and beyond.
Visit Youth Coalition’s website to download the factsheets in English, Spanish, French and Chinese here!
Check out USAID’s Health Policy Initiative for Youth
Launched in 2004, youth-policy.com is an online resource for improving youth reproductive health (YRH) and HIV/AIDS policy worldwide. This site features a searchable database containing 126 full-text policies addressing YRH from 46 countries.
Check it out and don’t hesitate to send your feedback by contacting them at: email@example.com.
Youth-policy.com is hosted by USAID’s Health Policy Initiative (HPI), which strives to foster an improved enabling environment for health-especially for family planning/reproductive health, HIV, and maternal health programs. You can find out more about HPI at the website: www.healthpolicyinitiative.com.
New Report Released on Global Health Opportunities
The Global Health Opportunities report highlights priorities for improving health in the world’s poorest communities; identifies best buys for addressing these priorities effectively and at a reasonable cost; lays out the global resources needed from all sources; and identifies concrete investments that global leaders should make to bring about an era of improved health across the world.
The report is divided into five health focus areas: Child Health, Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS, Infectious Diseases, and Health Systems.
To read the report’s findings, click here: http://www.globalhealth.org/gho/2008/
Download the Barefoot Guide to Working with Organizations and Social Change
This is a practical, do-it-yourself guide for leaders and facilitators who want to help organizations function and develop in a more healthy, human and effective way as they strive to make their contributions to a more humane society. The guide has been developed by the Barefoot Collective (Community Development Resource Association (South Africa), Voluntary Services Overseas (Nepal, Cameroon, Canada), ActionAid International (Ghana, India), Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa), Church Land Programme (South Africa), The Democracy Development Programme (South Africa), and Oxfam (UK)).
The purpose of the guide is to help stimulate and enrich the work of leaders and facilitators of civil society organizations and to strengthen their ability to meet the challenges of working, learning, growing and changing to meet the needs of our complex world. The guide, with its supporting website, includes tried and tested concepts, approaches, stories, and activities.
The Barefoot Guide can be downloaded for free from www.barefootguide.org. The website also contains a growing library of additional downloadable exercises, readings, case studies and diagrams to accompany the Barefoot Guide.
June 20, World Refugee Day
In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly designated June 20th as World Refugee Day to recognize and celebrate the contribution of refugees throughout the world. Since then, World Refugee Day has become an annual commemoration marked by a variety of events in over a hundred countries. This year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will commemorate World Refugee Day to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees world-wide who are forced to flee their homes.
Among other obstacles, refugees constitute one of the most difficult populations to reach with health prevention and care services. In most cases, armed conflict leads to the formation of large groups of refugees. When conflict subjects civilian refugees to food shortage, displacement, and poverty, a “complex emergency” is often the result. The combination of these factors increases the risk to refugees of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS. Typically, reproductive and sexual health risks are greater under crisis conditions, which coincide with limited access to reproductive and sexual health information and services. Moreover, urban refugees are often undocumented and therefore do not receive support from UNHCR, while internally displaced persons are often barred from their government’s HIV/AIDS programs. However, the degree to which refugees are vulnerable to STIs, including HIV, depends in part on the level of HIV prevalence in their country of origin and in their host country.
Globally, countries impacted by complex emergencies account for 27 percent of all deaths due to HIV.
Post-conflict Cote d’Ivoire has the highest HIV prevalence in West Africa at 7.1 percent.
Although three percent of the general population of Angola is infected with HIV, between 40 and 60 percent of the Angolan military is
In Zimbabwe, the HIV-infection rate in the military is twice that of the general population.
Haiti, a post-conflict country, has the highest number of persons living with HIV in the Caribbean.
Conflict has displaced up to 400,000 people in Nepal, which may be accelerating the country’s HIV epidemic due to severely curtailing the ability of non-governmental organizations to provide HIV prevention services.
Would you like to organize a World Refugee Day event in your community?
Here are some ways you can organize an Event:
Invite a former refugee to speak at your school, church, and community center to share their experiences.
Volunteer at a local refugee resettlement agency to help newly arrived refugees.
Ask a teacher to dedicate the week of June 14 – 20th to World Refugee Week to discuss the word “refugee” in the classroom.
Host a World Refugee Day “house party” where you might show the movie “Hotel Rwanda” or another movie that shows the plight of refugees, like “Beyond Borders”, “I am David”, or “Return to Afghanistan.”
Serve a dish typical in another country or prepare an international meal with friends (see recipe ideas or use your own).
Set up a World Refugee Day discussion at your home, place of worship, or community center.
Wear light blue (the international color of UN Aid workers) on World Refugee Day (June 20) and talk to friends about why you are wearing blue that day.
Invite 10 or more of your friends to subscribe to UNHCR Insider Update, their weekly email newsletter about refugee issues around the world.
Organize a Fundraiser by:
Selling local crafts or food
Providing a service like washing cars
Raffle tickets for a prize donated by a community or local business
Auction used and collectible items
Set up a display table/booth on campus to distribute UNHCR materials
Form a Refugee Care Club with friends and fellow students to raise awareness
To read more information about World Refugee Day, check out this
Advocates for Youth has a form to sign-up for the iYAN on our website. Send this link to your friends so they can sign-up too!