JOHANNESBURG, 6 Feb 2003 (IRIN) - The HIV/AIDS pandemic has become a
human security and governance issue no less destructive than warfare
itself, according to a new project aimed at exploring the impact of
the disease on security in Southern Africa.
The Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on Thursday
launched the "AIDS and Security" project to study the linkages
between stability, security and governance in the region, which has
the world's highest rates of HIV/AIDS.
A recently published ISS research paper found that HIV/AIDS could
complicate attempts at post-conflict reconstruction in countries
with high HIV prevalence rates.
"Efforts at demilitarisation and reintergrating combatants may be
threatened when combatants return to dying families and villages;
and by the breakdown of government, police and civil society to the
point that they may be useless in filling the gap the military
leaves behind," the paper said.
"Generally immediately after conflict, there is a surge in HIV
prevalence rates because of all the movement within the country. It
will be difficult to develop that country - not just in terms of
demobilisation but also economically - when this happens," Martin
Schonteich, the head of the AIDS and Security project at ISS, told
While humanitarian agencies had factored this into their response to
a certain extent, they had not fully taken the role of HIV/AIDS into
account, particularly in their reconstruction efforts in post-war
Angola, he noted.
Coupled with population pressures and trends such as migration and
urbanisation, HIV/AIDS could also create more "volatile" social and
political situations. "It can aggravate and provoke social
fragmentation and political polarisation," Schonteich said.
The increasing number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS was another
concern. Poor living conditions, malnourishment and a lack of
education "trapped" these children into a cycle of poverty, leading
to an environment conducive to crime and exploitation.