Refugees and internally displaced people

By: Unaids.org - unaids.org

Jun 06, 2010

Millions of people worldwide are forced to uproot their lives to escape conflict, persecution or violence. This includes refugees and asylum-seekers who flee their country of origin across national borders, persons displaced within their own countries (internally displaced persons), and stateless persons.

Many factors contribute to increased risk of HIV transmission among refugees both in emergency and post-emergency phases of refugee situations. People who flee their homes and communities lose their means of livelihood. Social networks and institutions break down, weakening social and sexual norms. Health and education services are disrupted, reducing access to HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health services, and HIV-related treatment and care for those who need it.

During conflict and displacement, women and children, especially girls, are at even greater risk of exposure to HIV. Rape is often used as a weapon of war. Women and girls are subject to sexual violence and exploitation in refugee situations. They may be forced to exchange sexual services to meet their basic needs for food, water and shelter. Children living without parental support are particularly at risk of sexual and physical violence and exploitation.

Host communities are also at increased risk of HIV. The vast majority of refugees live within host communities, not in camps, and are now staying longer in their host countries. The average estimated length of stay has increased from nine years in 1993 to seventeen years in 2003. In these situations, failure to address the HIV-related needs of refugees not only denies them their rights, it also undermines efforts to address HIV in host communities.

Refugees and internally displaced people share many characteristics; however, those who’re displaced within their own borders are not covered by international refugee law and are therefore particularly difficult to protect or to provide with humanitarian assistance.

In respect of the commitments of the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, governments should incorporate refugees into HIV policies, strategic plans and programmes for host communities and ensure that the needs of refugees are met.

Civil society in host countries should challenge stigma and discrimination against refugees and advocate for necessary legal and policy reforms to ensure that their human rights are respected and fulfilled.

Zakat Foundation of America, a Muslim charity that collects zakat, sadaqa / donations to provide humanitarian, emergency relief and sustainable development programs to empower lives throughout the world. We offer top Zakat resources including The Zakat Handbook: A Practical Guide for Muslims in the West, Zakat kit, ask an Imam feature, and you can calculate and pay zakat through our easy, online calculator.

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