Good News Agency – Year X, n° 169



Weekly – Year X, number 169 – 19th March 2010

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

 “…In conveying the appreciation of the Head of State for the passion and the professionalism with which you spread, above all among the young, the culture of "good news", I would like to take this opportunity of adding my personal greeting”. (From the letter of the Adviser for the Press and Information of the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, to the Editor of Good News Agency, 12 October 2007.)



Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,700 high schools, colleges and universities. It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, an educational charity associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.  




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



Car safety: European Commission welcomes international agreement on electric and hybrid cars

Brussels, 10 March - The European Commission welcomes the adoption today at the United Nations in Geneva of the first international regulation on safety of both fully electric and hybrid cars. This landmark decision will facilitate the early introduction of safe and clean electric cars onto our roads. The technical regulation adopted today at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) ensures that cars with a high voltage electric power train, such as hybrid and fully electric vehicles, are as safe as conventional cars. Hybrid and electric cars are increasingly available on the market and are very promising in terms of making road transport clean and energy-efficient. (...) The Regulation was agreed within an international framework (the 1958 UNECE agreement), so that car manufacturers will be able to sell their vehicles on the basis of common standards not only in the EU, but in a number of other important automotive markets, such as South Korea, Japan and Russia. Mutual recognition of approvals between contracting parties of the 1958 agreement will be possible as soon as the Regulation is applied. This will simplify the marketing of advanced electric cars and reduce costs significantly. (...)


Atlantic bluefin tuna international trade ban

Washington, D.C., 3 March - WWF welcomes today’s announcement that the United States government will vote for a ban on international commercial trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna during a meeting of the largest wildlife trade convention later this month.

Joining a growing list of supporting countries, the U.S. announced today that it would vote to list the Atlantic bluefin tuna on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). An Appendix I listing would ban all international commercial trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna, giving this endangered species a chance to recover. “The U.S. has a vested interest in this issue, as a fishing nation of Atlantic bluefin tuna - so if the U.S. can see the bigger picture and back the international trade ban proposal for the long-term survival of a species and a fishery, all countries can and should do so,” said Dr Sergi Tudela, WWF tuna expert. (...)

The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP 15) will take place March 13-25 in Doha, Qatar.

The Convention is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival in the wild.



Human rights



At Paralympics, top UN official highlights rights of people with disabilities

16 March - The Paralympic Games currently under way in Vancouver, Canada, highlight the contribution sport can make in promoting the inclusion and well-being of people with disabilities, a senior United Nations official said today.

“The Paralympics are a powerful example of what can be achieved when everyone is given the opportunity to participate and perform to their full potential,” said Wilfried Lemke, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace.

Last week, he also addressed students at a Model UN Conference in Vancouver on the importance of the Paralympic movement in advancing the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Canada ratified the day before the Paralympic Games kicked off on 10 March. The Convention, which entered into force in May 2008 and has so far been endorsed by 144 countries, is the culmination of years of global efforts to ensure that the rights of the world’s estimated 650 million persons with disabilities are guaranteed and protected. It asserts the rights to education, health, work, adequate living conditions, freedom of movement, freedom from exploitation and equal recognition before the law for persons with disabilities.


Different needs – equal opportunities: increasing effectiveness of humanitarian action for women, girls, boys and men

Developed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee

By Julie Montgomery

8 March - Published in 2010, this online course provides the basic steps a humanitarian worker must take to ensure gender equality in programming. The course includes information on the core issues of gender and how it relates to other aspects of humanitarian response.  The three hour, self-paced course provides information and scenarios which will enable you to practice developing gender-sensitive programming.  This training is based on the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Gender Handbook and related IASC guidelines, including the Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings and others. The IASC consists of 21 humanitarian organizations and is the primary humanitarian forum for facilitating coordination, policy development and decision-making in response to complex emergencies and natural disasters. To take the course:


International Women’s Day: EU action plan puts equality and empowerment high on the development agenda

Brussels, 8 March - Today, on the occasion of International Women’s Day and of the 15 th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration, the European Commission services have outlined an EU Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development for the period 2010-2015. This Action Plan aims to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular on gender equality and maternal health, as well as to contribute to attaining other international development goals related to gender equality. The Action Plan suggests actions in areas, such as the organisation of regular political meetings to assess progress on the issue, the setting up of gender databases and analysis and a stronger involvement of civil society. (...)


Civil society group to help advise UN on role of women in peace and security

5 March - The United Nations has invited a newly established group of independent experts to advise on ways to better protect women in conflict situations, and to ensure that their voices are heard in peace processes and that they are included in post-conflict reconstruction and governance structures. The establishment of the group of experts from civil society comes as the landmark Security Council resolution 1325 on the role of women in peace and security marks its tenth anniversary in 2010. The expert group will advise a UN High-Level Steering Committee set up by Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, which is tasked with enhancing the UN system’s efforts to implement the resolution. Resolution 1325, which was adopted by the Council in 2000, stresses the importance of giving women equal participation and full involvement in peace and security matters and the need to increase their role in decision-making. (...)


UNESCO Director-General joins UN agency heads to promote the rights of adolescent girls

4 March - The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, has signed the UN Joint Statement on Accelerating Efforts to Advance the Rights of Adolescent Girls. The other signatories are the Executive Heads of UNFPA, UNICEF, UNIFEM, ILO and WHO. The statement was launched on 3 March 2010 in New York, during the 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

This Commission is currently conducting a fifteen-year review of the Beijing Platform for Action.

The Statement expresses a common vision among the signatories to intensify their agencies’ support to advancing policies and programmes that empower the hardest-to-reach adolescent girls, particularly those aged 10 to 14 years old. It is as part of a joint commitment to promote gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women.


UNICEF supports children in eastern India against early marriage

1 March - The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is supporting a new anti-child marriage movement in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, where nearly half of all girls become child brides and one-third become teenage mothers even though the legal marriage age is 18.

“We need to have a zero-tolerance policy towards child marriage, so that every child, boy and girl, has the opportunity to live their childhood and gain an education.” said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF India Representative.

Some 225 children launched the movement - called “Amar Shaishab Amar Adhikar” (My Childhood, My Right) - last week at a meeting jointly hosted by the UNICEF office in Kolkata (Calcutta) and the Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Government of West Bengal. (...) As part of the launch, children released a manifesto they developed as a first call for action. The manifesto is the first time views of children have been gathered on child marriage and translated into tangible actions for parents, teachers and communities.



Economy and development



The Microcredit Summit Campaign, April 7-10

In April 2010, more than 2000 delegates from over 40 countries will join Nobel Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus at the Africa/Middle East Regional Microcredit Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

The first Microcredit Summit, held February 2-4, 1997, gathered more than 2,900 people from 137 countries in Washington, DC. They launched a nine-year campaign to reach 100 million of the world’s poorest families, especially the women of those families, with credit for self-employment and other financial and business services by the year 2005. That goal was very nearly reached and in November of 2006 the Campaign was re-launched to 2015 with two new goals:  1. Working to ensure that 175 million of the world’s poorest families, especially the women of those families, are receiving credit for self-employment and other financial and business services by the end of 2015.  2. Working to ensure that 100 million families rise above the US$1 a day threshold adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), between 1990 and 2015. (...)

Registration is now available! Click here or visit for more details.


Madagascar: UN scheme aims to give youth employment a boost

16 March - A year after political violence rocked Madagascar, the United Nations agency dedicated to eradicating rural poverty is helping to generate employment for the Indian Ocean nation’s young people while supporting small businesses.

The UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) reported yesterday that its ‘Prosperer’ project aims to create work for young people as well as a stable workforce for small businesses after a year in which investments have fallen and job opportunities have decreased.

Under the new scheme, the incomes of poor people in rural areas will receive a boost and young people will be matched to businesses including pottery, tool-making and shopkeeping. Already, 400 young apprentices have been trained, and that number is expected to rise to 8,000 in the next five years. Ultimately, 54,000 small businesses will benefit from the initiative. (…) The agency hopes that the scheme’s benefits will extend beyond increasing young people’s incomes. (...)

See also:


FAO-African Virtual University agreement on e-learning

A partnership aimed at widening access to education and communications technologies in developing countries

Rome, 12 March - FAO and the African Virtual University (AVU) have signed a partnership agreement aimed at widening access to education and communications technologies in developing countries. The two organizations will share educational resources and integrate FAO e-learning courses in the AVU e-campus for Development and Peace. This partnership conforms to FAO's madate for capacity development and enables the AVU to widen access to education and to improve the quality of its learning programmes. (...)

The e-learning courses being provided by FAO include the Information Management Resource Kit  (IMARK) for building capacity to better manage and exchange knowledge and information and a series of courses on food security developed by the EC/FAO programme on Food Security Information for Decision Making. They also include a course on the organization, management and procedures of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and a series of courses on the right to adequate food.


CARE Bangladesh wins prestigious Gold Standard Award for linking rural rug-making enterprises to profitable European markets

Atlanta, United States, 10 March - CARE Bangladesh is honored to be the unanimous choice for the Public Affairs Asia Gold Standard Award under the Sustainability category for its project “Sustainable Women Empowerment on the Road to Export Markets.” This innovative CARE project supports the development of rural rug-making enterprises where 400 marginalized women are employed and then linked with profitable export markets in Europe through Kik, a German retailer. The rug-making enterprises not only increase the incomes of women in the project - allowing them to save more and invest more in their families - but they also dramatically transform the women’s social positions by enhancing their decision making power, voice and participation in their families and society. (...) The women in the project received support in everything from quality training, to accessing raw materials, improving workplace safety, and of course linking with a secure market. The deep partnership with Kik ensured the impact of CARE’s work would be sustainable over the long term. (...)


Germany to fund food security projects

Smallholders targeted in sub-Saharan Africa

Rome, 3 March - Germany will provide funding of more than $6 million to five FAO projects aimed at strengthening the food security of smallholders in Africa and elsewhere.  

The donation, from Germany's food security trust fund with FAO, will finance a global project as well as inter-regional projects and a number of smaller initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa. They will be implemented between 2010 and 2012 and countries already targeted include Sierra Leone, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

The biggest project, aimed at supporting food security, nutrition and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa, is worth some $2 million. Beneficiary countries have yet to be identified.

The aim of the global project is to improve the abilities of regional organizations to develop, implement and monitor food security training programmes. Another will help incorporate food security, nutrition and livelihoods in ongoing initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa. (...)


US$ 8 million IFAD grant to Gambia to support rural women and youth for agriculture production

Rome, 3 March - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed a grant agreement of US$8 million with the Republic of The Gambia to improve the production and marketability of livestock and horticulture products, specifically targeting rural women and youth nationwide. The grant agreement was signed today in Rome by Mod K. Ceesay, Director of Loans and Dept Management, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs of the Republic of The Gambia, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD.

Currently, the IFAD country programme in The Gambia focuses on promoting environmentally sound staple foods and improving access to microfinance services for small-scale rural producers. This new project, on livestock and horticulture development, will concentrate on increasing food security in the country by boosting production of vegetables and livestock, and improving access to markets for farmers to sell their products. The project will help ease the workload for women by improved access to water and fuelwood. (...) Approximately 10,400 small-scale rural producers, mostly women (73 per cent) and young people (27 per cent), will benefit from the project. (...)






Chile: Red Cross supplies medicines and helps prisoners contact families

Santiago de Chile, 12 March (ICRC/Chilean Red Cross) - The earthquake and tidal wave that struck Chile on 27 February also affected the inmates of prisons in the Bío-Bío and Maule districts. In Lebu, prisoners had to be evacuated to a school after the collapse of an external wall. They are now back in their place of detention. For several days, ICRC mobile family links teams visited prisons in Concepción, Lebu and Talca. Thanks to satellite phones, 70 prisoners were able to talk to their families for the first time since the quake and let them know that they were unhurt. In one prison that the ICRC visited, basic health care is being dispensed under canvas as the sick-bay was destroyed. In response to a request from the prison service health section and in close association with the Chilean Red Cross, the ICRC provided medicines and medical supplies to meet the inmates’ needs. The ICRC regularly visits prisoners in Chile to check on the conditions of detention, from a physical and psychological angle, and on the way prisoners are treated by the authorities. In particular, ICRC delegates visit people detained in relation to the situation of the native Mapuche people.


Rotaract hockey team scores a goal for polio

By Ryan Hyland

Rotary International News, 11 March - A junior hockey team made up of U.S. Rotaractors scored a goal for polio eradication by raising thousands of dollars for Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge.

The Twin Cities Northern Lights hockey team, a nonprofit organization based in Minnesota, traveled to British Columbia, Canada, to play five exhibition games against Canadian hockey teams before February’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The team comprises members of the Rotaract Club of the Athlete Village, Minneapolis-St. Paul. Half of the admissions proceeds from the exhibition games supported Rotary’s challenge, and the other half benefited the local Canadian Rotary clubs that sponsored the exhibitions, which were played in different communities in British Columbia. The team also raised money through the sale of hockey jerseys, temporary tattoos for fans, and special events during the games. Some of the fans had their pinkies dyed purple to raise awareness of polio eradication. Purple dye is used to mark the fingers of children who have been immunized during National Immunization Days.

The Rotaractors also promoted literacy and health education among schoolchildren in the communities where they played. In addition, during a stay in Vancouver, the team and coaches participated in events associated with the Olympic torch relay and took part in volunteer activities for the Winter Games.

Team owner and trip coordinator Stephanie Smith, a member of the Rotary Club of Bloomington-Daymakers, founded the Rotaract club with the goal of bridging sports and community service.

“Our team’s mission, not only during the Olympic trip but throughout the whole year, is to foster goodwill and to help build better communities using sports,” says Smith, who was an athletic trainer at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. “We’re demonstrating a model for mobilizing sports teams to accomplish the worthy causes led by Rotary clubs worldwide.” (...)

The hockey team aims to raise $30,000 this year for polio eradication.


Teachers worldwide display solidarity and generosity towards Haitian colleagues

To date, a total of 150,000 euros have been raised after the Urgent Action Appeal launched by EI for Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake that hit the country on 12 January

11 March - Education unions around the globe mobilised en masse in show of support for Haitian teachers and their organisation, the Confédération nationale des éducateurs d’Haïti (CNEH).

As a follow-up to the appeal, EI met with CNEH representatives during the recent North America and Caribbean Regional Conference in Trinidad and Tobago on 24 Feb to plan how assistance could be best delivered to colleagues affected by the disaster.

They identified two main objectives in the solidarity efforts:  to rehabilitate the organisational structure of the CNEH at all levels;  to reinforce the CNEH’s participation in the reconstruction of Haiti’s education system. Member organisations in and outside the region are also actively involved in the recovery work co-ordinated by EI. (...) They are developing various rehabilitation programmes with the CNEH, with the participation of member organisations under the umbrella of the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT). (...)


Distribution of mosquito nets and certeza to children in Mozambique

11 March - As part of Project HOPE’s work with Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC), we established a relationship with Population Services International (PSI) - another leading international health NGO that works in the country. Through our relationship with PSI we were able to procure Mosquito nets and bottles of Certeza which purifies unclean water and distribute these to the OVC in our program. One of the leading causes of death in the country of young children is Malaria and waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea. (...)

Present at the handover ceremony was a representative from the Provincial Ministry of Health who spoke about the importance on using the nets and how to use Certeza.

Thanks to PSI and generous donors (...), these children are now able to drink safe water, and sleep under a net that will help protect them from getting malaria.


Nigeria: Red Cross assisting victims of Jos violence

Geneva/Abuja, 10 March - In the wake of last Sunday’s violent attacks south of Jos, in northern Nigeria, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Nigerian Red Cross Society are distributing food and water to about 5,000 displaced people (IDPs) who have taken refuge in various police stations in the area and to some 300 detainees.

An additional 3,000 people have fled from Jos to camps in the neighbouring state of Bauchi, where some 3,800 people displaced by violent clashes that occurred in January were already sheltered. Nigerian Red Cross volunteers are currently registering the newly displaced in Bauchi and assessing their situation in coordination with the National Emergency Management Agency.

The ICRC is working alongside the Nigerian Red Cross to evaluate further needs of those harmed by the clashes. So far, some 50 individuals have been reported missing. A Red Cross team is collecting their names and photographs with the aim of finding them and reuniting them with their families. (...)


Haiti: ADRA begins second massive food distribution

Silver Spring, Md., 9 March - On Monday, March 8, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) began a second large-scale food distribution that will feed an estimated 300,000 people in Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. According to officials, ADRA will help feed an estimated 2,500 families a day by providing food baskets containing 119 pounds (54 kilograms) of rice, corn-soy blend, beans, vegetable oil, and salt. Approximately 1,296 metric tons of food will be distributed across nine zones in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Carrefour, with an estimated 50,000 households receiving emergency food supplies. ADRA, which is handling the second largest allocation of food from UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) in Haiti and will distribute 17 percent of WFP’s food, is one of 10 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in this large distribution. (...) The current effort, which follows a massive food distribution that provided some 3 million meals to survivors, will give another 2 million meals by March 30. (...)


Chile: Mobile Red Cross teams help restore contact between family members

Santiago de Chile, 8 March (ICRC/Chilean Red Cross) - A week has passed since the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Chile, yet families both in and out of the country are still without news of their loved ones. Over the last few days, three mobile teams from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Chilean Red Cross have been visiting the worst affected places, including Dichado, Talcahuano, Tubul and Llico, in the Bio Bio region. The Tumbes Peninsula was another of their destinations, where inhabitants had been forced to flee their homes to escape the post-quake tsunami and are now camping in the hills along the coastline. More than 220 people made use of the satellite telephones provided by the teams to help restore contact between separated family members. It was an emotional and nerve-racking time for all, and a great relief for the 105 who were successful in reaching their loved ones.

Although landline and mobile telecommunications services are beginning to return to normal, some people are still finding it difficult to communicate with distant family members. The ICRC, in cooperation with the Chilean Red Cross, has set up a website to help those both in and out of Chile who have lost contact with a loved one, accessible at:


Kuwait donates $1 million for children of Gaza

Washington, DC, 8 March - ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) is pleased to announce a donation of $1 million from the government of Kuwait to fund ANERA’s work with children in Gaza. With this donation, ANERA will operate its Milk for Preschoolers program, which has been delivering vitamin-fortified milk and biscuits to 20,000 preschool children across Gaza since 2003 (read more). ANERA also will continue its renovations of preschools (read more) and support of education across Gaza. Milk for Preschoolers has garnered the support of many donors who see ANERA successfully reaching people in need in a location rife with challenges. The $1 million grant is a valued endorsement of ANERA’s ability to deliver with the highest standards of accountability and responsibility. (...)


Save the Children opens first temporary school for quake-affected Haitian children

Agency plans to set up around 300 temporary classrooms over coming weeks

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, 5 March - Classes have begun again for the children of the Cejecodema School in Martissant, an area on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, thanks to assistance from Save the Children. The humanitarian agency has provided classroom tents and supplies so that hundreds of children in this quake-affected area could re-initiate their studies and regain a sense of normalcy. (…) Since the temporary school opened two days ago, attendance has increased by a dozen students, from 120 students to 132 students, and the school director estimates the number of students could climb as high as 400. Save the Children is focusing on offering children safe, temporary classrooms across the earthquake impact area as a key measure in helping vulnerable children recover from the disaster. The agency plans to set up about 300 temporary classrooms over the coming weeks, which would include repairing some less damaged school structures. (...)


Democratic Republic of the Congo: 15 children join their families after years of separation

Kampala/Kinshasa, 5 March (ICRC) - The ICRC is currently reuniting with their families 15 Congolese children separated from them by the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The four girls and eleven boys fled the fighting in eastern Congo between 1997 and 2009, and have been living with foster families in refugee settlements in western Uganda. The ICRC and the Uganda Red Cross Society transported the children to the border, where they were handed over to ICRC staff from Goma in the DRC. (...)

Restoring family links is one of the priority activities of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. In 2009, 134 children were reunited with their families in Uganda, while 1,908 children were reunited with their families in the DRC.


Caritas aid to Sudanese refugees in Chad to continue

26 February - A quick return home is unlikely for 250,000 Sudanese refugees in camps in Eastern Chad for the last seven years despite progress in peace talks. Negotiations between the Sudanese government and rebel groups are going on. A truce with the most powerful rebel group in Darfur was signed this week. However, the process will take time before people can begin returning. The refugees will continue to depend on humanitarian aid until then. (...)

Caritas will support 58,000 people in the camps of Farchana, Kounoungou and Mile in Eastern Chad for at least another year. The aid agency will also provide for 9,000 poor local farmers. (...)

The situation in Darfur, Eastern Chad and the north of the Central African Republic remains calm, but volatile. Since fighting decreased, many aid agencies have left. However, the victims of the Darfur conflict still need help. (...)

The Caritas project budget exceeds one million euro. Caritas will secure access to clean water. It will also improve hygiene thanks to better waste management and new sanitary structures. Agriculture and livestock farming will be strengthened. (...)



Peace and security



Japan assists MAG in Lebanon

15 March - The Japanese Government has given MAG a grant of US$78,818 to cover the cost of a mini vegetation cutter. This machine is used in suspect areas to cut vegetation, allowing deminers to check the ground and make it safe much more quickly. Funded by Japan’s “Grant Assistance for Grass-roots Human Security Project” (GGP), the contract was signed by the Ambassador of Japan to Lebanon, Mr. Koichi Kawakami, and MAG Lebanon’s Country Programme Manager Dr. Christina Bennike at the Embassy of Japan in Lebanon on 12 March.

GGP supports development projects at grass-roots level proposed by such bodies as non-governmental organisations and local governmental authorities in Lebanon. Japan has so far extended more than US$9 million through GGP since 1996. (...)


Burundi: More anti-personnel mines and UXO discovered

10 March - On 20 January, in Kanyosha Rural on the outskirts of Bujumbura, a joint MAG-Civilian Protection-Police team (MAG-CPP) safely destroyed an extremely dangerous ‘POMZ A2’ anti-personnel mine.

Discovered by the local population at a former military position when they decided to use the land for cultivation, the mine was ready to explode. It therefore had to be destroyed in situ by the MAG Technical Field Manager. An unexploded mortar was also discovered on the site and this too was safely cleared. Unfortunately, this explosive discovery is far from an exception in Burundi and the joint MAG-CPP team regularly intervenes in such situations. (...)


Colombia: Helping communities help themselves

5 March - Life is difficult for the 280 or so people who live in the small village of La Trampa, deep in the Colombian countryside. Located in the central north-western department of Antioquia, La Trampa lies in a very fertile area. (...) Locals get paid just 10 US cents for their avocados and less than one cent per banana. In addition to the daily struggle to grow enough food to be able to afford to send their children (...) residents also have to live with the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance. The internal conflict that has raged for 50 years has left an ongoing legacy in places like La Trampa. (…) With information, though, the community can protect themselves better. MAG’s Mine Risk Education (MRE) campaign - ‘Yo me protejo’ - in Antioquia is helping do just this. Alberto Naranjo, who runs the small shop, contacted Bhiana Holguin, MAG’s Community Liaison Officer in this part of Antioquia, and they together organised an MRE session in La Trampa. Each session addresses the problems the particular community faces from mines and unexploded ordnance, as these vary from one village to the next. The type of audience and their levels of prior knowledge also have to be taken into account. (...)


Obama marks 40th anniversary of Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

Statement by President Obama on the 40th Anniversary of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

President outlines three pillars to stop the spread of nuclear weapons

The White House - Office of the Press Secretary, 5 March - Forty years ago today, in the midst of a Cold War, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) entered into force, becoming the cornerstone of the world’s efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Today, the threat of global nuclear war has passed, but the danger of nuclear proliferation endures, making the basic bargain of the NPT more important than ever: nations with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament, nations without nuclear weapons will forsake them, and all nations have an “inalienable right” to peaceful nuclear energy.

Each of these three pillars - disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful uses - are central to the vision that I outlined in Prague of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and seeking a world without them. To promote disarmament, the United States is working with Russia to complete negotiations on a new START Treaty that will significantly reduce our nuclear arsenals. (...)

To prevent proliferation, we will build on the historic resolution that we achieved at the United Nations Security Council last September by bringing together more than 40 nations at our Nuclear Security Summit next month with the goal of securing the world’s vulnerable nuclear materials in four years. At this spring’s treaty review conference and beyond, we will continue to work with allies and partners to strengthen the NPT and to enforce the rights and responsibilities of every nation, because the world cannot afford additional proliferation or regional arms races.

Finally, to ensure the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the United States seeks a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation among nations, including an international fuel bank and the necessary resources and authority to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency. For nations that uphold their responsibilities, peaceful nuclear energy can help unlock advances in medicine, agriculture and economic development.






Family of Rotary supports immunizations in India

By Dan Nixon 

Rotary International News, 17 March - Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends of Rotary joined health workers in carrying out India's National Immunization Days (NIDs) in January and February, mobilizing public support, vaccinating children, and contributing additional funding to the global polio eradication effort. The NIDs marked the first time the new bivalent oral polio vaccine was used in India, when the Dalai Lama administered the vaccine to children in Bihar in January.

The Rotary Club of Delhi South Metropolitan, Delhi, with support from the India PolioPlus Committee, organized a health camp on 7 January for underprivileged residents that also encouraged people to participate in polio immunization activities. Rajashree Birla, an honorary member of the Rotary clubs of Bombay and Mulund, Maharashtra, joined Lakshmi Mittal, who leads ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, and his wife, Usha, at the inauguration of the health camp.

After the outreach effort, the Mittals pledged an additional US$500,000 to The Rotary Foundation in support of Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge  for polio eradication. In 2008, they made a $1 million contribution to the challenge. (…)

During the launch of NIDs on 7 February in New Delhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, India's minister of health and family welfare, was honored with Rotary International’s Polio Eradication Champion Award for his leadership in directing the country’s effort to end polio. At the event, Birla announced a contribution of Rs 50 million (about $1.1 million) to Rotary’s challenge. In 2008, she contributed $2 million to the challenge. (…)


Ongoing support to hospitals, plus mobile clinics and more supplies after earthquake in Chile

9 March - Ten days after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile, the Médecins San Frontières (MSF) teams that have travelled through the affected areas are focusing their interventions on the most urgent needs: supporting health structures that are caring for large numbers of patients, re-establishing primary health care services, distributing basic necessities, and offering mental health assistance to the affected population.

MSF teams have distributed medical supplies to hospitals in the heavily impacted regions of Maule and Bío Bío. They have also carried out several mobile clinics, particularly in the coastal areas of Maule, which was hit by huge waves caused by the earthquake, and in the inland region of Curepto. Additionally, a team of two MSF doctors are providing medical assistance and supplies to the island of Santa María, which lacked any medical personnel to look after its local population.



Sri Lanka: UN supports health services for resettled women

9 March - The United Nations is setting up mobile health clinics and distributing hygiene packs and maternity kits to women and children returning home to former conflict zones in northern Sri Lanka. (...) Given that most health facilities were damaged during the conflict or are difficult to access by the limited public transport, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Sri Lankan officials have begun to operate mobile reproductive health clinics in resettled areas.

The mobile clinics - run in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, provincial health officials and the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka - offer prenatal and postnatal care, voluntary family planning, services for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and psychosocial counselling.

In addition, UNFPA provided a range of reproductive health equipment and supplies to the Mallavi Base Hospital and Kilinochchi General Hospital.


Aravind to receive $1.5 million Hilton Humanitarian Prize

Los Angeles, 5 March - Aravind Eye Care System, the world’s largest eye care provider that has developed innovative technologies allowing it to perform 300,000 eye surgeries each year - 70 percent subsidized or free for the poor - has been selected to receive the 2010 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize of $1.5 million. The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation presents the annual award, the world’s largest humanitarian prize, to an organization that is doing extraordinary work to alleviate human suffering. (...) There are 45 million blind people in the world, the majority in the developing world, and 12 million of these are in India. Because of extreme sun and genetics, Indians get cataracts in their 40s and 50s versus 60s and 70s in the United States.  Without surgery they go blind, losing many of their productive years. (…) As of 2009, Aravind has handled over 29 million outpatient visits and performed over 3.6 million surgeries. (...)


Africa united in fight against polio outbreak – Joint Global Polio Eradication Initiative/IFRC

85 million children to be immunized across 19 countries

Dakar/Brazzaville, 4 March - More than 85 million children under five years old will be immunized against polio in 19 countries across West and Central Africa in a massive example of cross-border cooperation aimed at stopping a year-long polio epidemic. Nine countries in West and Central Africa - Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Sierra Leone - are considered to have active outbreaks of polio (i.e. cases within the last six months). The campaign kicks off on March 6 in these countries as well as Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Central African Republic, Gambia, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau. Niger, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire will join at a later date due to political transitions or elections. Over 400,000 volunteers and health workers will take part in the campaign.

This complex logistical operation is largely made possible by US$ 30 million in funding released by Rotary International, a major partner in the global effort to stop polio. (...)



Energy and safety



EU money injects new life into electricity interconnection

4 March - The European Commission today allocated over €903 million to electricity interconnection projects as part of its broader European Economic Recovery Plan, injecting new impetus into long standing electricity grid development plans within the EU.

Nine projects received funding, including the vital France-Spain interconnection, which has been planned for a long time. (...) Funds will also be allocated to a link between Sweden and the Baltic States, the Nordbalt line, as well as to reinforce an interconnection between Finland and Estonia, Estlink-2, amongst other transmission lines.

“If we want to fully exploit the potential of renewable energies, create a truly European power market, and keep electricity prices low for consumers, we need to connect the whole of Europe,” Wilczek said. “These projects are a good start and the right way forward. Europe now needs to carry on developing the interconnectivity of its electricity grids,” concluded Wilczek.[tt_news]=1801&tx_ttnews[backPid]=259&cHash=af63b82678


EU’s biggest-ever energy package

4 March - 43 gas and electricity projects to split €2.3bn, the most the EU has ever spent on energy infrastructure in a single package.

Gas pipelines account for 31 of the projects and include the Nabucco project running from the Caspian Sea region to Austria via Turkey and the Galsi project from Algeria to Italy via Sardinia. Twelve other projects involve upgrading connections between power grids to link fringe countries like Ireland, Malta, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to the wider EU energy network.

The package uses up the last of the €3.98bn the EU set aside during the recession to give the economy a boost. The projects are expected to create jobs and help small businesses survive tough times, especially those in construction and services. In providing an initial outlay, the EU contribution could lever up to €22bn in private investment. Moreover, they will diversify gas imports and improve the flow of energy across European borders, says Günther Oettinger, the new energy commissioner. (...)

The first batch of grants was announced in December. Worth €1.5bn, it went to 9 offshore wind parks and 6 projects for burying climate-changing carbon. (...)


The EU Sustainable Energy Week    22-26 March

The EU Sustainable Energy Week is the reference event for sustainable issues in Europe. It forms part of the Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign which is an initiative of the European Commission launched in 2005. The Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign contributes to achieving the European Union’s energy policy targets within the fields of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, clean transport and alternative fuels.

The EUSEW in 2009 combined 149 events in Brussels and outside with over 30,000 participants.

EUSEW is organised by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) on behalf of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and Transport. (...)


Clean Energy Council (CEC) National Conference 2010 – Adelaide, 3-5 May

The clean energy industry is set to enter a phenomenal growth period.  Australian policy makers are embracing climate change and moving swiftly to install progressive, pro business policies to deploy clean energy. More than 700 senior managers and key decision makers in the clean energy industry are expected from across Australia and around the world. The event will bring all sections of the industry together and provide valuable knowledge and opportunities for your business. Regulators, financiers, manufacturers, private developers and others will be attending, and there will be many chances to network and develop invaluable business contacts in the industry.

Clean energy is a dynamic space and the boundaries change regularly as government and industry work together to get the framework right for investment. The reality is that we still have a long way to go, but the exciting thing is that this is an emerging industry where we all have a very real chance to shape the future of our country.



Environment and wildlife



Discovery Communications and the United Nations announce partnership to celebrate International Year of Biodiversity

Awareness Campaign to Promote Biological Diversity

New York, NY, 10 March - Discovery Communications and the United Nations announce a partnership to spread awareness of the United Nations global campaign to celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB). Throughout the year, Discovery will work closely with the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to increase the understanding of the vital role that biodiversity plays in sustaining life on Earth. To meet the goals of the IYB, Discovery will utilize a wide range of company resources including its education unit, international networks and special programming including LIFE, Discovery Channel’s blockbuster co-production with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

“Biodiversity is life. Biodiversity is our life. It is critical that Governments - and people around the world - work with renewed urgency to reduce biodiversity loss. We are pleased that Discovery is supporting the International Year of Biodiversity and helping us to inspire people around the world to take action to safeguard our shared irreplaceable natural wealth,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (...)


Forest and donor countries stump up to reduce emissions

Paris, France, 11 March - Forest and donor countries have kicked off an important joint process which could speed up action to reduce the 15 per cent of global carbon emissions linked to deforestation and forest degradation. Despite no formal agreement to achieve Reduced Emissions from forest Degradation and Deforestation (REDD) being reached at the United Nations conference on climate change last December, key nations met yesterday in Paris in a process being called the REDD+ Partnership Process.

The initiative, which brings together major forest countries and donor nations, is hosted by Norway and France. Broad agreement has already been reached on principles and safeguards of REDD+ and according to WWF, the initiative represents a critical opportunity to mobilise early action and financing for national REDD+ programmes. (...)

Countries have signalled their commitment to REDD+, with many developing countries, including Brazil and Indonesia, announcing targets for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. In Copenhagen, $3.5 billion was pledged for REDD+ by Australia, France, Japan, Norway, the UK and the US. (...)


Chinese medicine societies reject tiger bones ahead of CITES

Doha, Qatar, 12 March - WWF and TRAFFIC welcome a World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS) statement urging its members not to use tiger bone or any other parts from endangered wildlife. The statement was made at a symposium Friday in Beijing and notes that some of the claimed medicinal benefits of tiger bone have no basis. The use of tiger bones was removed from the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) pharmacopeia in 1993, when China first introduced a domestic ban on tiger trade. (...) Illegal trade in Asian big cat products is a key issue at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of Parties meeting at Doha, Qatar. China is among the 175 countries that are signatories to this international treaty governing wildlife trade. (...)

The statement also calls on all WFCMS’ members to promote tiger conservation and encourages them to abide by all relevant international and national regulations on wildlife trade. (...)


World leaders, top academics selected for Ban’s climate change advisory group

4 March - Philanthropist George Soros and prominent British academic Nicholas Stern are among the 19 members of the high-level advisory group set up by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon seeking to mobilize financing to help developing countries combat climate change, it was announced today. Last month, Mr. Ban launched the Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, which will be headed up by the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and Ethiopia, Gordon Brown and Meles Zenawi. (...) The four leaders will be joined by high-level officials from Government ministries, including Mexican Finance Minister Ernesto Cordero Arroyo, as well as representatives of central banks, such as Jean-Pierre Landau, the Second Deputy Governor of the Bank of France. The Advisory Group is slated to hold its first meeting on 29 March in London and is expected to submit its final report to Mr. Ban before the next conference of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Mexico later this year. The Copenhagen Accord reached at December’s UN conference in the Danish capital aims to jump-start immediate action on climate change and guide negotiations on long-term action, with developing countries to be given $30 billion until 2012 and then $100 billion a year until 2020. (...)


New interactive atlas maps North America’s shared environment

Montreal, 5 February - North America’s rivers, migratory species and even pollution move freely across its nations’ boundaries. Yet most maps stop at the borders.

The North American Environmental Atlas-a trinational partnership coordinated by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC)-provides a unique way to see the continent as a continuous, shared users access to free and accurate geospatial data and map layers related to significant continental environmental issues.

With nearly 40 map layers-ranging from major roads and population density to pollutant releases and marine and terrestrial ecoregions-already available, the Atlas is now fully interactive and offers a host of new features. (...) The collection of maps, data, and downloadable map files can be found at:


World Water Day 2010: Clean Water for a Healthy World    22 March

UN-Water is dedicating World Water Day 2010 to the theme of water quality, reflecting its importance alongside quantity of the resource in water management. World Water Day 2010 activities will aim to communicate messages on water quality, ecosystems and human well-being.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/47/193 of 22 December 1992 by which 22 March of each year was declared World Day for Water, to be observed starting in 1993, in conformity with the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) contained in Chapter 18 (Fresh Water Resources) of Agenda 21. States were invited to devote the Day, as appropriate in the national context, to concrete activities such as the promotion of public awareness through the publication and diffusion of documentaries and the organization of conferences, round tables, seminars and expositions related to the conservation and development of water resources and the implementation of the recommendations of Agenda 21.



Religion and spirituality



Joint Protestant-Catholic commentary on WCC document “Called to be the One Church

16 March - A joint response by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria (ELKB) and the Roman Catholic dioceses of this southern German state to the document “Called to be the One Church” was given to the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit on 15 March in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WCC presented the document at its 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2006, and called on member churches around the world to submit their responses.

Although Bavaria’s two major churches have developed good relations of trust and dialogue over several decades and have kept each other informed of their ecumenical initiatives, this is the first commentary on an ecumenical document to be jointly written by Protestant and Roman Catholic theologians, said representatives of both churches while meeting at the WCC offices in Geneva.

“I am pleased that your joint response is to this paper,” the WCC general secretary told the Bavarian delegation, “because reminding the churches of their call to be one is the core task of the WCC.” (...)


40 days to end violence against women – 17 February - 3 April

During the period of Lent, a series of study resources will help congregations and individuals to do their bit to end violence against women.

Featuring films and stories from places as diverse as Colombia, India, the Democratic Republic of Congo and New Zealand, the WCC Decade to Overcome Violence website will host the interactive resources from 17 February until 4 April 2010. Church congregations, community groups and individuals will be invited to sign up to follow the bible studies, use the liturgical resources and become involved in online discussions to advance the cause of ending violence against women. The resources will be available as a downloadable toolkit.

The campaign is a partnership of the WCC, the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) and the World Young Women’s Christian Association (World YWCA). (...)


World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel    29 May - 4 June

Joint action for just peace convened by the World Council of Churches

The World Council of Churches is inviting member churches and related organizations to join a week of advocacy and action for a just peace in Palestine and Israel. Those who share the hope of justice are invited to take peaceful actions, together, to create a common international public witness. (...)The week calls participants to seek justice for Palestinians so that both Israelis and Palestinians can finally live in peace. It is now more than 60 years since the partition of Palestine hardened into a permanent nightmare for Palestinians. It’s more than 40 years since the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza overwhelmed the peaceful vision of one land, two peoples. (...)

The action week’s message is that now:

•It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.

•It’s time for freedom from occupation.

•It’s time for equal rights.

•It’s time for the healing of wounded souls.



Culture and education



UNESCO response to the earthquake in Chile

UNESCO is supporting the emergency reactivation of schooling following the massive earthquake which hit central Chile on February 27

10 March - (...) UNESCO’s staff in the Santiago field office are in the midst of assessing damage to the education system and it is already clear that several schools have been affected in the areas of Penco, Tome and Coronel.  Scores of teachers and students have been affected and are in need of psychosocial support to deal with the trauma of the earthquake. UNESCO activated its five-person Emergency Task Force in the Santiago Office immediately after the quake.  The Organization has been in close contact with the Ministry of Education and is providing support for the emergency reactivation of schooling in the affected areas of Penco, Tome and Coronel. UNESCO staff are also participating in needs assessments of the education system and a rapid survey of affected coastal areas.


Educational centre for cultural heritage preservation opened in Hungary

8 March - A new educational centre for cultural heritage preservation was opened on 18 February in Budapest, Hungary. Thanks to €16 000 in support from the Hungarian NGO Fund of the EEA and Norway Grants, 160 teachers and professionals have been trained in preserving traditional Hungarian architecture. The new centre will be one of few offering courses in these subjects in Hungary. (...) Speaking at the opening ceremony, Norway`s ambassador to Hungary Siri Ellen Sletner underlined the importance of cultural heritage preservation as a basis for identity and a sense of belonging. “Cultural heritage creates understanding of traditions, as well as premises for how society should evolve further. It enriches us as a society and individuals, and provides a basis for identity and values,” the ambassador said. (...)


1GOAL welcome decision to host a summit for education at 2010 World Cup

London, UK, 4 March - 1GOAL: Education for All campaign today welcomed the news from President Zuma’s meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown that South Africa will host a global summit on education during the World Cup this summer. Adrian Lovett, Chair of the 1GOAL campaign committee, said: “Today’s announcement that there will be an education summit gives real political momentum to the campaign to ensure all children go to school. The world’s greatest game could leave the world’s greatest legacy: an education for every child.  We look to world leaders, led by President Zuma, to ensure Africa’s first World Cup unlocks the school gates to 72 million children that currently cannot get in.” (…) 1GOAL campaign is for the first time looking to secure change for millions of people using a sporting event as a backdrop for social change. 


“My Role In Creating A Peaceful World”: 2010 International Essay Contest for Young People

Young people from around the world are invited to enter the 2010 International Essay Contest organized by UNESCO and the Goi Peace Foundation. The theme for this year's contest is "My Role in Creating a Peaceful World." The deadline for entry is June 30, 2010. First prize winners will receive a cash award and a trip to Japan.

This contest asks young people to write their essay as a response to the questions:

    what is your vision of a peaceful and harmonious world? And

    what can you and the young people of the world do to realize that vision?

The entries must be submitted before 30 June 2010 to the International Essay Contest, c/o The Goi Peace Foundation 1-4-5 Hirakawacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0093 Japan – email: 

The Goi Peace Foundation is an organization committed to building peace. Through cultural and educational programmes its objectives are to enhance peace and respect for life and to raise awareness among young people on the role they could play in this area.

The winner will be announced November 2010 on the Goi Peace Foundation and UNESCO websites:   and . For contest details see websites.


Haitian teacher union confronts tragedy, plans for future       

26 February - More than 1,100 teachers lost their lives in the massive earthquake that devastated Haiti on 12 January, according to estimates by leaders of the Haitian teachers’ union. But Jean Lavaud and Rene Jolibois of the Confederation Nationale des Educateurs d’Haiti (CNEH) said they have been overwhelmed by the solidarity shown by member organizations of Education International around the world. The Haitian teacher unionists received an emotional welcome at the EI North America/Caribbean conference held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on 25 and 26 February. The CNEH has started a financial assistance program which will help teachers and their families to recover from the disaster. With the help of EI, CNEH will also develop trauma counselling programmes. The union is determined to play a central role in the reconstruction of Haiti’s school system. The support committed by the international community should enable Haiti to develop a public school system that can provide quality public education for all of the country’s young people, Lavaud said. (…)



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Next issue: 9th April 2010.


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Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next. Past issues are available at . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Maria Grazia Da Damos, Arianna Cavallo, Azzurra Cianchetta. Editorial Secretary: Maria Grazia Da Damos. Webmaster: Fabio Gatti.


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