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Uganda loses hosting rights for international Aids conference as organisers cite “risky” environment


Uganda has lost the hosting rights of the 21st edition of the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) that was scheduled for December 6-11, 2021.

According to a statement dated December 14, 2020 from the Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA) who are the organisers, the conference will not be held in Kampala, Uganda as earlier planned, “because of circumstances beyond their control.”

“The Society for AIDS in Africa acknowledges that without peace, security, and a conducive environment for all, we have no option but to revoke the hosting rights of Uganda. The Society for AIDS in Africa apologises for any inconveniences this might cause,” the statement reads in part.

The organisers noted that a new host country will now be announced in the coming days, to ensure that the conference happens as scheduled, but in a different country.

The ICASA conference is a major international AIDS conference which takes place in Africa every after two years.

The conference brings together more than 10,000 delegates including scientists, policy makers, religious leaders, civil society leaders and other implementers in the HIV/AIDS response on the continent and beyond.

In 2019, the 20th edition of the ICASA was held in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali from the 2nd to 7th December 2019. At the same edition, Uganda was announced as the 2021 host, seeing off competition from Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and Tunisia.

Last year, the minister for Presidency Esther Mbayo told journalists in a press conference that hosting the ICASA conference was a great opportunity that would see Uganda renew her global recognition by drawing the world’s attention.

Mbayo also noted that Uganda was to benefit through the extra income that the delegates were to spend during the six days of the conference.

In January this year, UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima cautioned government against what she called continued human rights violation, saying that the violations posed a threat to the milestone.

As Uganda gears up for the 2021 general election, some rallies of opposition candidates have been violently broken up, something political analysts have said projects the country poorly.

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