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Hotels, Schools Slammed for Rejecting AIDS Orphans

At a Wednesday press conference, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Sir Roger Moore had harsh words for about 40 local hotels and schools. The inns and dormitories refused to accommodate 72 orphans attending the country's first summer camp for children who have lost their parents to AIDS. The camp opened in Beijing on Tuesday.

Moore said that the operators of schools, guesthouses and hotels that rejected the children should hang their heads in shame for their irrational belief that these children could infect other guests and kids.

He went on to express appreciation to the Badachu Xicui Hotel in suburban Beijing, which did provide the children with lodgings.

He also encouraged the media to send the message to the public that there should be no stigma or discrimination resulting from the children's misfortune, and that AIDS orphans should not lose their friends and jobs.

The summer camp, jointly organized by the China Youth Concern Committee, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF, opened on August 10 in Beijing.

"Although they are healthy, they were still refused by nearly 40 hotels and school dormitories in the past two months," said Li Qimin, an official with the summer camp organizing committee. He added that hotel owners feared that guests would move out after hearing that AIDS orphans were staying in the same hotel, while school administrators said students were not willing to leave their dormitories for the children.

Finally, the Badachu Xicui Hotel in suburban Beijing agreed to take in all 72 AIDS orphans and arrange the best rooms for them.

According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, China will have between 138,000 and 260,000 AIDS orphans by the end of 2010.

In spite of these grim statistics, Moore -- a British actor perhaps best known for playing the role of secret agent James Bond -- remains optimistic.

"This battle will be won," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency August 12, 2004)

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