Orphans

Given that HIV/AIDS generates significant mortality with the 15-45 age range of the population, one might expect the pandemic to generate significant cohorts of orphans who have lost one or both parents to AIDS. UNAIDS estimates the number of Zimbabwean children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS at 1,100,000 as of 2005 (up from 600,000 in 2000).27 In 2000 the US National Intelligence Council report concluded:

With as much as a third of the children under fifteen in hardest-hit countries expected to comprise a "lost orphaned" generation by 2010 with little hope of educational or employment opportunities, these countries will be at risk of further economic decay, increased crime, and political instability as such young people become radicalized or are exploited by various political groups for their own ends; the pervasive child soldier phenomenon may be one example.28

Schonteich has argued that the AIDS epidemic will directly increase the frequency and severity of crime in Zimbabwe in the decades to come, primarily as a function of the inexorably growing population of AIDS orphans: "Growing up without parents, and badly supervised by relatives and welfare organizations, the growing pool of orphans will be at greater than average risk to engage in criminal activity."29

The drain of orphaned populations on state coffers will become onerous in the years to come and has the capacity to further strain Zimbabwe's already overtaxed budget. The other portion of the burden will fall on extended families to care for the children, placing additional strains on declining household incomes and savings. Therefore, such a large cohort of orphans threatens to overwhelm already flimsy existing support systems. The majority of these children will grow up impoverished, poorly educated, prone to criminal behavior, and disenchanted with society. As the AIDS epidemic continues to expand, it will destabilize governments throughout the region. Such weakened states may provide fertile breeding grounds for terrorist organizations to move in, set up shop, and recruit from the disaffected, particularly from such enormous orphan populations. This is particularly worrisome given that terrorist organizations are active in eastern Africa and are moving into Southern Africa to set up bases of operations and recruit personnel. Thus, the AIDS orphan problem threatens not only to create governance problems within affected states, but also to contribute to problems of global governance (particularly terrorist activity) in the future.

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