Independent On-line, 26 November 2002, Africa discusses the fate of its Aids orphans

Windhoek - Representatives from 22 countries in east and southern Africa began meeting on Monday in Namibia to draw up a blueprint for caring for Africa's millions of Aids orphans.

The five-day workshop was organised by the Namibian government, The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and other aid organisations to assess existing plans, monitor progress on national goals and highlight programmes that are successfully helping orphans.

More than 13 million children below the age of 15 have lost at least one parent to Aids, and 90 percent of those orphans live in sub-Saharan
Africa. The number of orphans is expected to double by 2010.

Namibia, with a population of 1,8 million, is estimated to have 82 000 orphans and most of them have lost their parents due to Aids.

Diana Swain, director of The United States Agency for International Development in
Namibia, said in her keynote speech that governments must draw up policies to prohibit the discrimination of orphans' "access to medical services, education, employment and housing, and to protect their inheritance".

Unicef head Carol Bellamy and ministers from 22 countries are expected to attend the workshop. - Sapa-AP