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Rights Group calls for more Refugees in Europe on First Death Anniversary of Syrian Toddler Aylan Kurdi’s Death

Since Kurdi’s death, though, more than 4,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean – including hundreds of children – which Egeland called unacceptable

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Map of Europe. Image Source: Wikimedia commons.
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August 31, 2016: This week marks the one-year anniversary of the death of a Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey, and whose photograph sparked an outpouring of support around the world.

Now, the Norwegian Refugee Council, a human rights group based in Europe, is using the anniversary of the iconic photo to call on European leaders to “stop the loss of lives” on their doorstep.

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“One year after the death of Aylan Kurdi the haemorrhage of human lives on the doorstep to Europe has worsened,” Jan Egeland, head of the NRC. “European leaders promised action and countries promised to fulfil their moral responsibilities. But instead of building bridges they have built walls, and instead of taking their share of responsibility, they have participated in a race to a bottom.”

Representational Image of Refugees. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Representational Image of Refugees. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to the International Organization for Migration, European countries combined took in more than 1,000,000 refugees during 2015, but still, Egeland said this isn’t good enough and wants to see more refugees settled in Europe.

“European civilisation, or lack thereof, is defined by how we receive persecuted human beings seeking our protection,” he said.

The photo of the toddler, shown lying face down on the Turkish shoreline as the waves rolled in and out, led to a massive spike in donations to charities and NGOs that help refugees and asylum seekers obtain food, clothing and other goods.

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Save the Children, a U.K.-based child advocacy group reported a 70 percent increase in donations in the 24 hours after the picture was published, while the Migrant Offshore Aid Station, which operates independent rescue boats in the Mediterranean, saw 15 times as much money donated in the 24 hours after the photo was published than any other 24-hour time period in the past.

Since Kurdi’s death, though, more than 4,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean – including hundreds of children – which Egeland called unacceptable.

“European leaders must do more to prevent new tragedies,” he said. (VOA)

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Eastern Europe Sees A Rise in Number of HIV Cases

Since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 77 million people worldwide have become infected with HIV.

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HIV AIDS, Pakistan
A patient is seen in a ward at the state-run Lavra clinic, Ukraine's main HIV treatment center, in Kyiv. VOA

More than 130,000 people were newly diagnosed with HIV last year in Eastern Europe, the highest rate ever for the region, while the number of new cases in Western Europe declined, global public health experts said on Wednesday.

European Union and European Economic Area countries saw a reduction in 2017 rates, mainly driven by a 20 percent drop since 2015 among men who have sex with men. That left Europe’s overall increasing trend less steep than previously.

All told, almost 160,000 people were diagnosed in Europe with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional office for Europe.

HIV, AIDS
A man walks past a banner tied on a bus before the start of a charity walk on HIV/AIDS at the Ebute Mata district in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, April 21, 2012. (VOA)

“It’s hard to talk about good news in the face of another year of unacceptably high numbers of people infected with HIV,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, director of the WHO regional office.

Calling on governments and health officials to recognize the seriousness of the situation, she urged them: “Scale up your response now.”

The United Nations AIDS agency UNAIDS warned in July that complacency was starting to stall the fight against the global epidemic, with the pace of progress not matching what is needed.

Some 37 million people worldwide are infected with HIV.

AIDS, Indonesia, HIV
Students with their faces painted with messages pose during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign to mark the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, in Chandigarh, India, May 20, 2018. (VOA)

The WHO’s European Region is made up of 53 countries with a combined population of nearly 900 million. Around 508 million of those live in the 28 member states of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The joint report said one reason for the persistence of HIV in Europe is that many people infected with the virus are diagnosed late, meaning they are more likely to have already passed it on and are also at an advanced stage of infection.

It also found that in the European region, men suffer disproportionately from HIV, with 70 percent of new HIV cases diagnosed in 2017 occurring in men.

Also Read: Experts Warn About The Return of AIDS Epidemic

Since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 77 million people worldwide have become infected with HIV.

Almost half of them – 35.4 million – have died of AIDS. (VOA)