by Staff Writers
Oslo (AFP) May 19, 2014
Norway announced a $63 million aid package to South Sudan on Monday, the eve of an Oslo conference to raise money for desperately needed humanitarian assistance in the conflict-torn country.
The United Nations has warned of a widespread famine in South Sudan if fighting between the government and rebel groups does not stop.
It says 3.7 million people -- more than a third of the population -- are at risk of starvation in the world's youngest nation, where has thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.2 million forced to leave their homes.
"We fear that the crisis will worsen in the next months," said Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende in a statement as Oslo announced the $63 million (46 million euro) package.
The UN says it needs $1.8 billion to fund humanitarian aid through to the end of March 2015, and only $536 million has been secured so far.
"If the conflict continues, half of South Sudan's 12 million people will either be displaced internally, refugees abroad, starving or dead by the year's end," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said last week.
Norway, which sent $17 million to South Sudan at the beginning of the year, will on Tuesday host a conference to try to raise funds and find ways to improve the delivery of humanitarian assistance there.
The event will be co-chaired by Brende and UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.
"Tens of thousands of people have already died in South Sudan even if they still haven't taken their last breath," said Liv Toerres, head of the non-governmental organisation Norwegian People's Aid.
"It's a terrible thing to say, but that does not make it any less true. For many it's already too late. There isn't enough food produced and stored away before the rainy season begins."
Uganda jails nurse for 'transmitting' HIV
Rosemary Namubiru, 64, was arrested in January and her case has been sharply divisive -- with some newspapers branding her the "killer nurse" and accusing her of knowingly trying to infect the patient -- but HIV/AIDS activists asserting she is an victim of growing stigmatisation.
Initially charged with attempted murder, Namubiru was finally convicted of professional negligence under a section of the Ugandan law covering any deliberate act likely to spread infectious diseases.
"What happened is that she was trying to put a canulla (needle and tube) on the baby, but he was moving a lot and she pricked herself. Once the baby calmed down, she still went on and used the same canulla," explained Stella Kentutsi, head of the National Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Networks in Uganda and a supporter of the nurse.
She also condemned what she said was "hype and misinformation from the media" surrounding the trial.
The child has not tested positive for HIV, although officials have said it may be too early to tell.
The case comes a week after the Ugandan parliament passed a new legislation that criminalises the deliberate transmission of HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS, a move that MPs have argued is necessary to halt a rise in infections.
Rights groups, however, argue the new law will only further stigmatise those living with HIV and dissuade people from getting tested.
Uganda was once heralded as a success story in the fight against HIV, with President Yoweri Museveni being among the first African leaders to speak openly about AIDS and the government mounting a highly successful public awareness campaign in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Infection rates initially dropped from double to single digits, but according to the most recent statistics, from 2011, the national prevalence rate rose to 7.3 percent from 6.4 percent in 2004-05 -- with health officials blaming increased complacency.
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