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Horn Of Africa Food Crisis Could Last Into Summer 2012, E.U. Aid Commissioner Says

“The crisis in the Horn of Africa, which has left more than 13 million people at risk of starvation, will continue into the spring, and possibly the summer,” European Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said Tuesday, Reuters reports (Batha, 12/6). She “said investing in the Sahel now was not just the ethically and morally right thing to do, but would be less expensive than waiting for disaster to strike, as was the case in Somalia,” the Guardian writes, adding, “Seven million people are already facing shortages in Niger, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, with major shortfalls in food production in many areas. The figures point to a massive problem of food availability next year, according to the European commission” (Tran, 12/7).

Agreement On Climate Deal Unlikely At Durban U.N. Conference, Ban Says

“Only a binding global accord on cutting greenhouse gases will spare Africa, the world’s poorest continent, more devastating floods, droughts and famine, a senior African climate change official said on Tuesday” at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, Reuters reports. “The talks, bringing together nearly 200 nations, have repeatedly struggled to get a new deal to update the Kyoto Protocol, whose crucial clause on enforcing targets on carbon cuts expires at the end of next year,” the news service writes. Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, chair of the Africa Group, “said legal force was the only way to make polluters take the necessary action and states who failed to deliver should in effect be ‘named and shamed,'” according to the news service (Lewis, 12/7).

Reuters Examines Role Of Family Planning At Durban Climate Change Talks

“[W]ith studies suggesting that 215 million women around the world want — but cannot get — effective contraception, making sure birth control methods are available to those who want them could be one of the cheapest, fastest and most effective ways of addressing climate change, experts said at the U.N. climate conference in Durban” this week, AlertNet reports. “But getting U.N. climate negotiators to even mention the controversial issue is nearly as difficult as getting them to agree on a long-delayed new global climate treaty,” the news agency adds.

S. Korea Resumes Aid Through UNICEF To N. Korea

“South Korea said on Monday that it would send 6.5 billion won, or $5.7 million, in aid to North Korea through UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency,” the New York Times reports. South Korea last year suspended aid to North Korea through UNICEF and the WHO, but Seoul last month resumed aid through the WHO, the newspaper notes (Choe, 12/5). “Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Monday it will donate about $5.7 million to UNICEF programs to send medicines and vaccines and help malnourished North Korean children,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes (12/5).

Proposed Bill In Nigeria Would Affect Gay Rights, Possibly HIV/AIDS Donor Funding, AP Reports

The Associated Press examines the potential impact on HIV/AIDS funding of a proposed bill in Nigeria that would outlaw gay marriage; assisting a gay couple in marriage; “‘public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly'”; or “organizing, operating or supporting gay clubs, organizations and meetings.” According to the news agency, “Statements from the U.S. and U.K. say both governments are watching the bill closely, but declined to comment further on how it may affect their outreach.” Before becoming law, the bill must pass Nigeria’s House of Representatives and be signed by President Jonathan, the AP notes (Ibukun, 12/4).

Fully Funding Global Health Initiatives Critical In AIDS Fight

“With donor support flagging around the world, U.S. leadership is crucial. Congress must fully fund its global health programs, especially the Global Fund” to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Joyce Kamwana, a Global Fund “HERE I AM” campaign ambassador, writes in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” She adds, “Reducing support for global health would put millions of people at risk” and “would deal a devastating blow to the global fight against AIDS, which has reached a critical point.”

Government Leaders Make Statements In Recognition Of World AIDS Day

A number of government leaders made statements on Thursday in recognition of World AIDS Day. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a press statement said, “We have come a long way in the fight against AIDS, but there is still a long road ahead to realize our ambitious goals. If we continue to work together and coordinate a global effort guided by science, we may one day live in an AIDS-free generation” (12/1). In a post on the White House Blog, Gayle Smith, special assistant to the President, and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby write, “As President Obama made clear, the fight against global AIDS is a shared responsibility, not one the U.S. can meet alone. … As we move forward, we will work with a growing number of partners as the global community joins the U.S. in a heightened focus on this fight” (12/1).

Obama Announces New U.S. Commitments To End AIDS Domestically, Globally

Speaking at the ONE campaign and (RED)’s “Beginning of the End of AIDS” event at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., to mark World AIDS Day on Thursday, “President Obama … announced a deepened U.S. commitment to fighting the pandemic, declaring ‘make no mistake, we are going to win this fight,'” ABC News reports (Bruce, 12/1). Obama said his administration is “setting a goal of providing antiretroviral [ARV] drugs to more than 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women over the next two years” to help prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, and “setting a new target of helping six million people get [ARV] treatment by the end of 2013,” two million more people than the original goal, according to the speech transcript (12/1). A White House fact sheet adds PEPFAR will support more than 4.7 million voluntary medical male circumcisions in Eastern and Southern Africa and the U.S. will distribute more than one billion condoms worldwide over the next two years. The fact sheet notes PEPFAR’s “continued focus on lowering costs and finding efficiencies will allow us to achieve these ambitious targets with existing resources” (12/1).

Obama Renews U.S. Commitment To Ending AIDS In World AIDS Day Speech

President Barack Obama on Thursday renewed the U.S. commitment to ending HIV/AIDS in a speech marking World AIDS Day, and was joined by former presidents Bill Clinton, who participated by video, and George W. Bush, who spoke from Tanzania with that country’s President, Jakaya Kikwete, the Independent reports (Popham, 12/1). According to the Associated Press, Obama announced U.S. “goal[s] of getting antiretroviral drugs to two million more people around the world by the end of 2013,” bringing the total to six million people, and “to 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women to prevent them from passing the virus to their children.” The news agency continues, “Despite Obama’s more ambitious goals,” which build on existing PEPFAR programs, “the plan’s budget is not expected to increase. Instead, officials said the expanded targets would be funded through savings achieved by making the program more efficient and cutting the costs of treatment” (Pace, 12/1).