UNISFA commemorates World AIDS Day and honors peacekeepers
The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) joined the global community in celebrating World AIDS Day (WAD) on 1 December 2016. This year’s theme “Hands Up for HIV Prevention” was a crucial reminder to some 6,000 civilian staff and uniformed personnel of UNISFA that the world continues to fight against the pandemic and the importance of correction information on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
A medal parade was also marked to honor the men and women of Level-2 Hospital, Light Field Engineering, Headquarter Supporting Units and Mechanized Companies of Ethiopian Battalions serving with the mission for their valuable support in building basic infrastructure, providing health services, communication and force protection. “The peace medal signifies the United Nations’ gratitude and appreciation to the commitment, sacrifice and hard work of the Mission’s uniformed personnel.”
In her keynote speech, the Special Guest of Honor Acting Force Commander and Head of Mission, Brig. Gen. Zewdu Gebrekidan commended the holding of the joint event. “This will contribute to coordinated efforts in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.”
In his message for WAD 2016, read on his behalf by Dr Martin Konyango UNISFA’S Chief Medical Officer, United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon announced that there has been real progress in tackling HIV/AIDS emphasizing that more people than ever are on treatment while the number of children infected through mother-to-child transmission has dropped by half since 2010. He also stated that fewer people die of AIDS-related causes each year. And people living with HIV are living longer lives.
Ki-moon also stated that while there is clear progress in efforts to stop AIDS, gains remain fragile, noting that key populations continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. He lamented that new infections are on the rise among people who inject drugs as well gay men and other men who have sex with men adding that the AIDS epidemic is increasing in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, fuelled by stigma, discrimination and punitive laws. He also noted the people who are economically disadvantaged lack access to services and care globally while criminalization and discrimination foster new infections each day.
Both events were marked with sporting activities volleyball, badminton, billiards, table tennis, “tug of peace” and mini-marathon. Winners of the sporting events were awarded medals and trophies.