Good News Agency – Year X, n° 170



Weekly – Year X, number 170 – 9th April 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



UNESCO, ILO and UNICEF welcome Right to Education Act

New Delhi, 1 April - UNESCO, ILO and UNICEF today joined forces in applauding the ground-breaking Right to Education Act, legalising the right to free and compulsory education for all children between the ages of 6 and 14 in India. 

“Tens of millions of children will benefit from this initiative ensuring quality education with equity,” said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Representative in India. “RTE will propel India to even greater heights of prosperity and productivity for all guaranteeing children their right to a quality education and a brighter future.”

There are an estimated eight million Indian children and young people between the ages of six to 14 out-of-school, the majority of whom are girls. Without India, the world cannot reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of having every child complete primary school by 2015. (...)

RTE provides a platform to reach the unreached, with specific provisions for disadvantaged groups, such as child labourers, migrant children, children with special needs, or those who have a “disadvantage owing to social, cultural, economical, geographical, linguistic, gender or such other factor.” (...)


Renewed impetus for food security: the EU tackles hunger in developing countries

Brussels, 31 March - Today, the European Commission adopted two new EU policy frameworks to help developing countries address the issue of food security, both in emergency and long-term situation. The objectives are to ensure progress toward achieving Millennium Development Goal related to the elimination of poverty and hunger (MDG 1), and to maximise the effectiveness of humanitarian support in crises where food insecurity threatens lives. Food security implies food availability, access to food and quality of food. The Commission promotes the vision of an environmentally friendly and sustainable agricultural model, adapted to the reality of developing countries and markets, and able to make food available, accessible and of adequate nutritional quality. It therefore concentrates on enhancing the productivity of smallholder farmers and the resilience of rural communities, supporting governance improvements for food security, and strengthening assistance mechanisms for extremely vulnerable population groups. (…)


UNFCCC publishes reports summing up results of 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

Bonn, 31 March - The UN Climate Change Secretariat Wednesday published official reports on the results of last year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (7-19 December 2009).

The reports detail the outcomes of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties at its 15th session (COP 15) and of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol on its fifth session (CMP 5). Each report is in two parts: one on formal proceedings and one on the decisions adopted by the relevant body. The reports can be found on the <> web site at:

Since the closing of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has received submissions of national pledges to cut or limit emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 from 75 Parties, which together account for more than 80% per cent of global emissions from energy use.

41 industrialised countries have formally communicated their economy-wide targets to the UNFCCC. 

35 developing countries have communicated information on the nationally appropriate mitigation actions they are planning to take, provided they receive the appropriate support in terms of finance and technology. These communications can be found on the <> web site at: (...)


Bangladesh sets regional precedent as it joins International Criminal Court

24 March - Bangladesh has become the first South Asian country to ratify the pact that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) and gave it a mandate for trying people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Bangladeshi Government ratified the 1998 Rome Statute yesterday, according to a press release issued by the ICC in The Hague, the Dutch city where the permanent, independent court is based. When the statute enters into force for Bangladesh on 1 June, the South Asian country will become the 111th nation worldwide to become a State Party to the ICC. The court was set up in 2002 after the statute took effect that year when it passed a total of 60 ratifications.

The court’s President, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, noted that Bangladesh is the first country in its region to join the ICC. “I applaud its decision to join the growing commitment of States to end impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide,” he said.

The ICC is currently investigating events in four countries or regions: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Darfur region of western Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).



Human rights



Ban stresses promotion of human rights on visit to Turkmenistan

2 April - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on authorities in Turkmenistan to focus on the promotion of human rights, and expressed the readiness of the United Nations to engage with the Central Asian nation on this critical issue. Mr. Ban discussed human rights and other global and regional issues with the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, in the capital, Ashgabat, the first stop on a five-nation tour that will also take the UN chief to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. (...) He urged the Government to fully implement those recommendations, including provisions relating to the penitentiary system and the Convention against Torture. (...) They also discussed the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia (UNRCCA), set up in Ashgabat in 2007, which they agreed is an important forum for dialogue and regional engagement on a range of shared problems such as water and energy issues, economic and social development, drug trafficking and terrorism. (…) Asia&Cr1=


ICC Prosecutor welcomes decision to move forward with Kenya probe

1 April - The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today welcomed the body’s decision to grant his request to investigate alleged crimes against humanity committed in the wake of disputed Kenyan elections two years ago, and said he expects at least two cases to result from the probe. Last November, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo sought authorization to open an investigation into the violence - claiming 1,000 lives and uprooting more than 300,000 others - that erupted after the disputed December 2007 polls in which President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is now Prime Minister. (...) Mr. Moreno-Ocampo underscored the need to protect witnesses, which the ICC will do “independently.” But he also emphasized that it is the responsibility of Kenyan authorities to “ensure that all those who speak in favour of justice are duly protected.” (...)

Kenya will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary, “a historic opportunity to show an example of how one country overcomes violence,” the Prosecutor underlined. (…)


CWLA marks child abuse prevention month by rallying support for White House Conference on Children and Youth; the first in 40 years

Arlingrton, VA, 1 April - The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), the nation’s largest and oldest membership-based child welfare nonprofit, is marking April’s National Child Abuse Prevention Month by campaigning to have a White House Conference on Children and Youth. The last such conference was held in 1970. (...)

A White House Conference on Children and Youth will be a two-year process that culminates in a national event that brings together stakeholders in communities across the nation to seek solutions for the most pressing issues confronting children. Such a conference would examine the latest research and numbers, setting policy and reform recommendations to protect children into the next decade. For the Conference to become a reality, the President and Congress will have to act on legislation (HR 618 & S 938). Incredibly effective policy has come from past White House Conferences on Children, which convene child welfare experts from around the nation. (…)


Philippines move to protect women’s rights during armed conflict

31 March - Amnesty International has welcomed a decision by the Philippine government to implement a United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution, which aims to ensure the protection of women’s rights during armed conflict and post-conflict situations. The Philippine government launched the National Action Plan (NAP) on Women Peace and Security in Quezon City, on Friday, 26 March. “This is a step in the right direction. Forming this National Action Plan not only provides a framework for the protection of women in armed conflict and post conflict situations, but could also empower women as peace advocates and human rights defenders,” said Donna Guest, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Asia and the Pacific. (...)

The Philippines is the first Asian country to produce a National Action Plan (NAP) implementing the resolution. (...)


EU Commission strengthens the fight against trafficking in human beings

Brussels, 29 March - The European Commission today proposed new rules to step up the fight against trafficking in human beings. The new proposal will help to combat modern slavery by ensuring consistency of national rules on crimes and penalties, better assistance for victims and tougher action to prosecute criminals responsible for trafficking. (...) According to International Labour Organisation estimates, there are globally at least 2.45 million people in forced labour as a result of trafficking in human beings. Most victims of trafficking are exploited for prostitution (43%) - overwhelmingly women and girls - or for menial labour (32%). Several hundred thousand people are estimated to be trafficked into the EU or within the EU every year.

The Commission today proposed EU rules that would oblige EU Member States to act on the three fronts of prosecuting criminals responsible for trafficking human beings, protecting the victims and preventing the offences. The Commission will also soon take steps to appoint an EU “Anti-Trafficking Co-ordinator to make the EU anti-trafficking policy more efficient, visible and coherent, including in relation to addressing root causes and working with third countries. (...)


UNESCO supports Namibian participation in conference on gender in media education

“Setting things right towards gender equality and equity”

Windhoek, Namibia, 25 March - Representatives from the Polytechnic of Namibia and the University of Namibia will participate in the two-day regional conference on Gender in Media Education in Johannesburg (South Africa) next week.

UNESCO supports this participation as its contribution to gender perspectives promoted through journalism education, and in line with the UN Joint Gender and Development Programme entitled “Setting things right towards gender equality and equity”. (...)

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development, signed and adopted by SADC Heads of States in August 2008, calls “to ensure that gender is mainstreamed in all information, communication and media policies, programmes, laws and training”. The regional conference in Johannesburg is an important step to take this recommendation further and to apply it to the media industry. The participants will share best practices and formulate strategic approaches to mainstreaming gender in South African curricula.



Economy and development



28 million USD closing for first Private Equity Fund targeting small and medium sized enterprises in Angola    European Investment Bank to provide 6 million USD for fund

29 March - Fundo de Investimento Privado Angola (FIPA) is the first Private Equity (PE) fund of its kind. The fund manager is optimistic about the prospects of investing in Angola, one of the world’s fastest growing economies over the last few years. The first closing of FIPA represents a milestone for the development of the capital market in Angola. By linking local capital markets with international sources of finance, the 28 Million USD fund will target small and medium sized privately owned businesses (SMEs).

EIB Vice-President Plutarchos Sakellaris, responsible for Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific, said: “We are pleased to work closely with FIPA to enhance equity finance available for Angolan small and medium sized companies, a crucial issue for companies across Africa. We welcome FIPA’s significant contribution to Angola’s economic development and long-term recovery.” (...)

The investors in FIPA are: the European Investment Bank (EIB), Danish International Investment Funds (IFU), Banco Privado Atlântico (BPA), Banco Africano de Investimentos (BAI) and Norfund. (...)


Vietnam to help Chad improve food security

South-South Cooperation accord signed at FAO

Rome, 26 March - Vietnamese experts will help Chad implement a series of activities aimed at improving the African country’s food security under a tripartite South-South Cooperation agreement signed here today.

The activities, which involve irrigation for rice growing and horticulture, increased cereals production, artisanal fishing, bee-keeping and food processing, are part of Chad’s five-year, $200 million National Programme for Food Security, which FAO helped design. Fifteen Vietnamese experts and technicians will help Chad implement the activities over two years. The $2 million in costs will be covered by Chad through a trust fund established with FAO, which will also be providing technical assistance. (...)


President Clinton to host third Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting at the University of Miami, April 16-18

Special programming to focus on moving forward in Haiti

New York, NY, 26 March - President Bill Clinton will host the third Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting from April 16-18, 2010 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. Building on the success of the Clinton Global Initiative, CGI U engages university students, organizations and administrators to make commitments that address global issues with practical, innovative solutions. (...) “I am so proud of the young leaders who have come through the Clinton Global Initiative University. Since the first CGI U meeting in 2008, students from 53 countries have made more than 2,000 commitments that are positively affecting hundreds of thousands of lives around the world,” said President Clinton. “As one of America’s leading intuitions of higher education, the University of Miami offers the ideal venue for the more than 1,000 students who will attend the third annual CGI U meeting to share ideas and join together in taking action to improve the world we all share.” (...)


Rwanda: improved access to safe drinking water for 10,000 people in Huye district

Kigali, 25 March (ICRC) - Around 10,000 people now have better access to safe drinking water thanks to a water-supply project which has just been completed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Mbazi and Ruhashya sectors of Huye district in Rwanda’s Southern Province. “This project will provide people with plentiful, good-quality water supplies close to where they live,” said Christoph Hartmann, head of the ICRC delegation in Rwanda. (...)

This project brings to an end a vast programme launched in 2000 by the ICRC delegation in Rwanda through which it financed 18 water projects involving the development of water sources and gravity-fed and pumped water conveyance systems in 14 districts throughout the country’s four provinces as well as in the city of Kigali. (...) Some of the projects involved cooperation with RECO and RWASCO, and all were carried out with the participation of the communities concerned. Over 200,000 people are estimated to have benefited from the 18 projects. (...)


P4P breaks new ground in Sierra Leone

Source: United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

15 March - The Koinadugu Women’s Vegetable Farmers’ Cooperative delivered the first consignment of rice ever purchased by WFP in Sierra Leone. Twenty five metric tons of locally produced rice was purchased through the Purchase for Progress (P4P) project to be distributed through the school meals programmes. This rice - enough to feed 3,800 primary school children for 3 months– is the first batch of a total of 500 metric tons of food that WFP plans to buy this year from 10 different organizations in Sierra Leone. (...)

For the Koinadugu Women’s Vegetable Farmers’ Cooperative, which represents 750 women, the contract to supply rice to WFP at a cost of US$560 per metric ton was a major breakthrough. “P4P has given us an income that allows us to expand our production, educate our children and take care of the needs of our families”, said Haja Marah chairwoman of the Koinadugu Women’s Vegetable Farmers’ Cooperative.






EU pledges over 1.2 billion euros at International Donors’ Conference ‘Towards a New Future for Haiti’ in New York

Brussels, 30 March - EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Commission Vice-President, Catherine Ashton along with Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs and Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva will attend the ministerial-level International Donors’ Conference “Towards a New Future for Haiti” that will take place on March 31 at the UN Headquarters in New York. The Conference will be co-chaired by Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France, and Spain as leading donors to Haiti. The first goal of the donor conference is to secure the foundation for Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction through pledges from all sources - public, private, non-governmental and multilateral institutions - to meet the $3.8 billion required over the next two years. Secondly, the EU delegation will stress the need for a long-term strategy over the next ten years to complete the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) projects to rebuild the country which it is estimated will cost in the region €10 billion. (...)


Caritas reinforcing communities one year after Italy’s earthquake

30 March - Caritas has completed major rebuilding projects in the central Italian town of Aquila one year after an earthquake caused major damage.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake on 6th April 2009 left over 66,000 people homeless and 308 people dead. Not only did historical buildings collapse, but also ones recently built structures such as schools and the local hospital. (...) Over the past year Caritas has built three schools, five community centres and other buildings that will benefit the community and parishes. Caritas is also constructing accommodation to re-house those made homeless during the earthquake. There is a particular focus on helping the elderly, children, immigrants, families in difficulty and people with mental health issues. Apart from rebuilding communities, Caritas’ long-term goal in L’Aquila is to reboot the economy through credit schemes, grants, support for people launching businesses or social projects and professional training. (...) Over 3.000 volunteers from around Italy have supported Caritas work in L’Aquila over the past year. (…)


ADRA set to provide water access to flood affected southeastern Madagascar

Silver Spring, Md., 30 March - Thousands of people living in the southeastern coast of Madagascar will have improved access to clean water when a new project launches in April to assist families affected by Tropical Storm Hubert, which struck in early March, reports the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).

The project aims to help 6,000 families affected by the recent flooding, and is being implemented by ADRA with funding worth $50,000 from the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA). Project partners include Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Land O’Lakes International Development Division, two entities already working with ADRA to improve food access in the region. (...)

This assistance follows heavy rains and flooding that isolated several communities and caused widespread damage affecting some 32,000 people in the region. (...)


Interactors build homes, dreams for Mexico’s poor

By Ryan Hyland

Rotary International News, 29 March - The Interact Club of La Jolla High School, California, USA, is making a difference by helping to build new homes for some of the poorest residents of Tijuana, Mexico. Interactors and the sponsor Rotary Club of La Jolla have collaborated with Project Mercy, a San Diego-based nonprofit that brings groups to Mexico for a day to build simple single-family houses. “This is a unique opportunity for the students to understand the incredible difference they can make in communities in need,” says Rotarian Calvin Mann, the La Jolla club’s youth service committee chair. “It’s a universally good experience.”

Through Project Mercy, Interactors have built 11 homes for families in the last three years. A group of about 15 to 20 Interactors, parents, and Rotarians can build a home in one day. Interactors raise $3,500 per home through school fundraising activities and Rotarian contributions. Project Mercy works with communities to identify needy families, many of whom live in flimsy shacks with dirt floors and tarp roofs. The organization hires local construction workers to pour concrete foundations, then brings in volunteers to build the homes.

The project is just one of five stories highlighted on the new Interact promotional DVD, Interact: Make a Difference, designed to inspire young people to join Interact and to motivate Rotarians to sponsor a club in their community. (...)


ICRC in action: two of its African projects

Côte d’Ivoire: Red Cross brings aid to 37 villages in west of country

Abidjan, 29 March (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in cooperation with the Red Cross Society of Côte d’Ivoire, is mounting an aid operation from 29 March to 1 April for some 15,000 people in the Moyen-Cavally area near the border with Liberia. It is distributing 50 tonnes of rice seed, 25 tonnes of corn seed and 2,500 hoes in 37 villages in the departments of Toulepleu, Bloléquin and Duékoué. Those receiving the aid are mainly people who had been displaced but returned to their homes after February 2009 and are now unable to meet their basic needs. Aid is also being distributed to the host families accommodating them, to widows and to people made vulnerable by the crisis. (…)

Niger: ICRC distributes aid to communities affected by drought

Niamey, 19 March (ICRC) - In the last few days, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has completed a distribution of food and household items to over 10,000 displaced persons and local residents who have been affected by inter-community violence in the departments of Ouallam and Filingue, in the Tillabéri region of western Niger. The distribution was carried out in cooperation with the Red Cross Society of Niger and the authorities. (...)


Aid reaches 200,000 families as Chile marks one month after earthquake

29 March - Essential aid from Caritas has reached 200,000 families in Chile one month after a major earthquake struck. (...) Caritas has helped with food and other items such as beds, clothes, medicine and shelter material. Of the many initiatives, Caritas is supporting 30 comics to perform in the worst-hit communities. The project is called the “good humour caravan” and aims to help the victims, and most of all traumatized children. “Our brothers need to be able to laugh again and by helping them to do this, we are supporting them. It is a service to the dignity of these people”, said Bishop Manuel Camilo Vial of Temuco.

Caritas Argentina is supporting a special sports event, bringing together some of the continent’s most famous soccer stars, in particular the captain of Chile’s national team Iván Zamorano, in a charity match on March 29. (...)


CARE: Quick work on water has prevented disease after Haiti quake

Port-au-Prince, 22 March - Outbreaks of water-borne disease in Haiti’s earthquake-affected zone have been largely avoided, thanks to quick intervention by the government and humanitarian agencies including CARE. But efforts to ensure sanitation and safe drinking water remain urgently important as the country faces the onset of the annual rainy season.

On the occasion of World Water Day, CARE is emphasizing the crucial need for safe drinking water in the aftermath of major emergencies like the January 12 quake.

“We are relieved that there have been no large-scale reports of diseases, such as cholera, that are frequently a risk after major disasters,” said Sophie Perez, CARE Haiti country director. “Our work providing safe water, sanitary facilities, and hygiene supplies, and our outreach to the public promoting good hygiene practices, has been largely successful in this regard.” (...)


Caritas inaugurates Peru’s earthquake houses

18 March - Caritas has inaugurated 78 houses in Pisco, as part of its rebuilding programme following Peru’s 2007 earthquake. Over 960 families in the departments of Lima, Ica and Huancavelica have so far received homes as part of Caritas’ rebuilding projects, which have been supported by Caritas Switzerland, Caritas Luxembourg and the Government of Luxembourg. “The rebuilding project in the Humay district isn’t just about providing homes,” says Luis Peña, the project coordinator. “We’re also putting a major emphasis on health and hygiene by building better kitchens and loos and we help with nutrition by helping people grow things.” The earthquake which hit Peru in August destroyed tens of thousands of homes and left over 400 people dead. The housing is the latest phase in Caritas’ response to Peru’s earthquake. In the immediate aftermath Caritas launched an US$11 million (8 million euro). It initially focused on providing people with food, water, blankets, food and hygiene kits and temporary shelter. (...)


WFP airlifts food to thousands of Congolese refugees

Brazzaville, 12 March - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today started to airlift urgent food assistance from Pointe Noire to Impfondo in Likouala province to reach tens of thousands of Congolese refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who have moved into northern Republic of Congo (RoC).

“Getting regular food supplies to such a remote area has been a major logistical challenge, and we had no other resort than to start airlifts from Pointe Noire to beef up our food stocks,” said Alix Loriston, WFP Representative in the Republic of Congo.

More than 120,000 Congolese have fled violent clashes in the DRC since October last year and crossed the river westwards into the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. (...)

The airlift will allow WFP to replenish food stocks with 600 metric tons of maize, pulses and salt, enough to distribute emergency rations for two weeks to some 100,000 refugees. (...)



Peace and security



The New START Treaty and Protocol

Posted by Macon Phillips on April 8

Earlier today, President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia signed the New START treaty and its protocol.  PDF versions of these documents are available here:

Read the Treaty (pdf)  -  Read the Protocol (pdf)

After signing these documents, both presidents gave remarks and answered questions.  Read the full transcript,  video will be posted here later today.  An excerpt of President Obama's opening remarks is below:

Finally, this day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia -- the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons -- to pursue responsible global leadership.  Together, we are keeping our commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which must be the foundation for global non-proliferation.

While the New START treaty is an important first step forward, it is just one step on a longer journey.  As I said last year in Prague, this treaty will set the stage for further cuts.  And going forward, we hope to pursue discussions with Russia on reducing both our strategic and tactical weapons, including non-deployed weapons. (...)


International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action - 4 April

On 8 December 2005, the General Assembly declared that 4 April of each year shall be officially proclaimed and observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action (A/RES/60/97).

It called for continued efforts by States, with the assistance of the United Nations and relevant organizations, to foster the establishment and development of national mine-action capacities in countries where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the civilian population, or an impediment to social and economic development at the national and local levels.


Iraq: two cleared minefields given back to local communities

1 April - MAG Iraq, in coordination with the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA), will hand over two cleared minefields, almost 40 square kilometres of land, to local communities in Dohuk governorate on Sunday. The handover is taking place on the International Day for Mine Awareness, held every year on 4 April and celebrated throughout the world in countries affected by landmines. During the ceremony IKMAA will also hand over two minefields they have cleared.

With funding from the Irish Government, MAG has cleared and released more than 30,555 square metres of land in Barmerne and Sarsink sub-districts since May last year. It will be used for agriculture as well as to build homes for internally displaced people (IDPs) who have fled the dangerous security situation in central Iraq and are currently living in temporary structures in Badarashke village, Sarsink. (...)


Côte d’Ivoire: UN pursues multi-pronged strategy for peaceful elections

1 April - From high-level political meetings to workshops and sporting events, the United Nations mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) is deploying a multifaceted strategy to create a peaceful environment for the repeatedly delayed elections that are intended to reunify the divided country.

UNOCI is “following very closely” consultations between Côte d’Ivoire’s President, Laurent Gbagbo, and President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, the African mediator in the crisis that began in 2002 when civil war divided the country into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south, mission spokesman Hamadoun Touré said today. (…) “All these initiatives have the same objective, revolving around three major principles: maintaining peace and security, preserving the achievements made so far including the provisional electoral list, and producing the definitive electoral list as soon as possible,” UNOCI said in a news release.


Noting progress, Ban encourages Cypriot leaders to continue efforts to end dispute

30 March - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the progress achieved by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders in their United Nations-backed reunification talks and encouraged them to continue working towards a solution that takes into account the legitimate rights and concerns of both sides. (...) In their joint statement, which was read out on their behalf by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Cyprus, Alexander Downer, after the latest round of talks in Nicosia, the leaders said important progress in the areas of governance and power-sharing, European Union (EU) matters and the economy has been achieved recently. (...)

They stated that they were convinced that their “mutual concern for the common good of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots” and their will for a “comprehensive solution” will soon lead to an exhaustive discussion of the remaining aspects of the problem and the gaps between their positions to achieve a mutually acceptable solution that will be put to simultaneous referenda. (…)


More than 110,000 explosive devices destroyed in Afghanistan this year – UN

29 March - The United Nations-supported mine action centre in Afghanistan destroyed nearly 112,000 different types of explosives in the first two months of this year and could do much more with additional funding, one of its top officials said today ahead of next week’s International Mine Action Day. “It only takes $277 to clear each mine, so in reality it is not very expensive,” Haider Reza, Programme Director of the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA), told reporters in Kabul. He added an area of around 600 square kilometres still needs to be cleared of mines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). At a rate of 120 kilometres annually, that would take up to six years at a cost of $500,000. In January and February this year, the centre cleared 1,727 anti-personnel mines, 135 anti-tank mines and more than 110,000 different types of ERW in 19 communities. In addition, 50,000 people, including women and children, received mine risk education. (...)


UN hails milestone as Timorese police celebrate tenth anniversary

29 March - The National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL), which was set up by the United Nations in the wake of the country’s vote for independence, has celebrated its 10th anniversary, making it one of the oldest institutions in the fledgling South-East Asian nation.

Parades and activities were held in the capital, Dili, on Saturday to mark the first decade of existence of the PNTL, established on 27 March 2000 by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), set up to assist the country during its transition to independence in 1999.

“The continued development of the professionalism of the national police service is an essential element to a peaceful, stable Timor-Leste, where citizens can have trust in the rule of law,” Ameerah Haq, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said, following a ceremony attended by Government officials and diplomats.


10 Years: it wasn’t always so

Geneva Call celebrates its tenth anniversary in a spirit of humility and gratitude towards its donors and partners

25 March - To be sure, a great deal has been achieved: Since 2000, 39 armed non-State actors on three continents have pledged not to use anti-personnel mines. In its 10 years of activity, Geneva Call has gone from non governmental outlier to a respected partner of many of the actors who work in the area of the protection of civilians caught up in conflict. It has extended its operations towards non-State actors and the protection of women, and children in armed conflict.

It wasn’t always so. In the beginning, Geneva Call’s proposal was met with disbelief in some quarters. The international community was skeptical. (...)

Events on the ground quickly proved that Geneva Call was on the right path. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front from the Philippines was the first to sign the Deed of Commitment banning AP mines the same month that Geneva Call was officially launched. A year and a half later the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army signed the same deed and thereby induced the government in Khartoum to sign the Mine Ban Convention one year later. It was working. (...)


Cooperation between ITF and Demining Fund of Vukovar Srijem County continues

22 March - The International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victim Assistance (ITF) and Vukovar Srijem County Demining Fund signed on 22 March 2010 yet another Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the amount of 1,5 million Croatian kunas. (...) This year’s donation will be matched with funds provided by the US and will be used for demining of mine suspected areas in the Vukovar Srijem County. The cooperation between ITF and Demining Fund of Vukovar Srijem County continues in 2010 with aim to clear mine suspected areas in the Vukovar Srijem County. According to data provided by the Croatian Mine Action centre (CROMAC) the area of Vukovar Srijem County remains to be one of the most mine contaminated areas in Croatia. According to CROMAC estimate for 2010 the Vukovar Srijem County plans to demine approximately 3,8 sq. kilometres. Since 1998 ITF has raised more than 261 million Euro of donations, cleared more than 100 million sq. meters of land and provided help to more than 1000 mine victims in several rehabilitation centres in the region.


Italy contributes 500.000 Euros to the UNDP Lebanon Mine Action Program

Beirut, 19 March - The Development Cooperation Department of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has officially approved on Friday a financial contribution of 500.000 Euros to UNDP for the Lebanon Mine Action Programme (LMAP). This initiative aims at empowering communities affected by cluster bombs, through a demining programme to reduce the risk of death and injuries and alleviate the socio-economic impact of cluster bombs. This contribution will also improve the development of small and medium enterprises as well as the agricultural sector, through improved access to land and tailored agriculture extension services.

The Italian Government, through the Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, acted resolutely and pragmatically by funding urgent demining activities. A contribution of 3 Million of Euros has been granted to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in order to clear the most affected areas in South Lebanon.


Guatemala and UN launch scheme to fight organized crime

17 March - The top United Nations drug and crime official and Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom oversaw the destruction of some 6,000 illegal firearms today at the launch of a national programme to fight organized crime in a country that has a gun for every 10 people. (...)

The three-year programme – worth $16 million – is designed to strengthen Guatemala’s capacity in the areas of criminal justice, police reform, anti-corruption, firearms control, prison reform, cybercrime, and human trafficking. (...) As part of the programme, UNODC will establish a Centre of Excellence on Organized Crime in Guatemala City. The Centre will support the development of applied research, data collection and analysis on crime trends, and provide training to national and regional authorities on counteracting organized crime.

Guatemala will join a regional network of Centres of Excellence, including centres for: urban crime prevention (El Salvador); maritime security (Panama); and drug demand reduction and prison reform (the Dominican Republic). (…)






Progress for Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge for polio eradication 

Rotary International News, 8 April - As of 31 March, Rotarians have raised about $117.5 million for Rotary's US$200  Million Challenge. These contributions will help Rotary raise $200 million to match $355 million in challenge grants received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The resulting $555 million will directly support immunization campaigns in developing countries, where polio continues to infect and paralyze children, robbing them of their futures and compounding the hardships faced by their families.

As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, children everywhere remain at risk. The stakes are that high.


ADRA improves health and nutrition for women in tsunami-ravaged Sri Lankan communities

Silver Spring, Md., USA, 30 March - In southern Sri Lanka, where many tsunami-affected communities have made significant strides toward finding long-term stability, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is implementing a new project that is helping women improve their health and nutrition, as well as that of their future children.

Through the Health and Nutrition Assistance (HANA) project, which is being implemented in the Hambantota District, ADRA is teaching 500 women of child-bearing age ways to better care for themselves and their families through improved nutrition, health care and sanitation, prenatal care, breastfeeding, and early childhood development. (...)

In addition, ADRA has also renovated various community centers within the targeted areas, providing furniture and other basic equipment to give women a safe place where they can visit and share information, have access to monthly medical care for themselves and their children, and attend nutrition sessions and cooking demonstrations. (...)


Psychological support remains vital one month after Chile earthquake

26 March - As Chilean Red Cross relief distributions to families affected by the massive earthquake that struck central Chile on 27 February continue to gain momentum, special emphasis is being given to psychological support for people traumatized by continuing strong aftershocks. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has sent international health teams to support the Chilean Red Cross operation. (...)

The 14-member psychological support team provided by the Spanish Red Cross, supported by staff from the Red Cross Societies of Colombia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, as well as by Chilean Red Cross volunteers, have treated nearly 1,700 adults and children since the disaster. They are working in the region of Maule, and in Santiago. In addition to holding therapeutic sessions with different groups of people affected by the disaster, with a special emphasis on children, they are also training Red Cross volunteers. (...)


Haiti - MSF moves into next crucial phase as medical needs remain high

26 March - Ten weeks after the January 12 earthquake that left up to 300,000 people injured, medical needs remain immense in Haiti, and they continue to grow. A crucial phase has begun with thousands of injured people requiring long term medical care just as some of the health providers who responded to the initial emergency phase have begun to discharge patients and leave the country. MSF is expanding its capacity to care for the many wounded requiring extensive postoperative care - including secondary surgeries, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and mental healthcare - for at least the next year.

In recent weeks, more than 200 patients have been referred to MSF medical facilities by other medical teams leaving the country. MSF is also focusing on primary health care, with the opening of new out-patient departments and the creation of additional capacity for secondary health services, including emergency obstetrics, intensive care for malnourished children, and inpatient care for paediatrics and adults. (...)


Improving care for TB patients, Wardher, Somali Region, Ethiopia

25 March - (...) To date, MSF outreach teams have extended health care to five health posts in nearby villages, along with referring TB patients from the new MSF/BoH health centre in nearby Galadi. There remain, however, many people in the wider Wardher area who do not have access to such care. Although the Somali Region has the least TB case detection rates in the country, the TB incidence rates is suspected to be high; yet another reason why increased assistance and unfettered access by medical providers is crucial if lives are to be saved.

MSF has a long experience of implementing TB projects in Somali Region (Jijiga, Gode and Afder zones). At the national level, MSF is also involved in the technical working group for multi drug resistant-tuberculosis (MDR-TB) led by the National TB Program which developed “The National Guideline and Strategy for MDR-TB”. MSF has worked in Wardher, Somali region, Ethiopia, since 2007. The organisation supports the Ethiopian Government’s Bureau of Health facility in delivering primary health care, including inpatient and outpatient care, treatment of malnutrition, reproductive healthcare, treatment of tuberculosis and laboratory work. (...)


Haiti Healing Arts

24 March - (...) Research shows that earthquakes increase the rates of mental health problems in the communities they strike. (...) Art therapy services were found to be instrumental in accessing the children’s internal processes and helping them return to normal functioning.

For the Haiti Healing Arts Program, ICAF will train and send groups of art therapists to Port au Prince starting in May 2010. Severe cases will be identified for psychological treatment, and the program results will be independently evaluated. (...) The program will continue throughout 2010 and beyond, if the necessary funding becomes available. (...)

ICAF’s program partners include the Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters (University of Massachusetts Boston), the International Art Therapy Organization, and BelTiFi (Young Haitian-American Women Empowerment Network). (...) ICAF is making available free-of-charge its Guidelines for any person currently working with children in Haiti or planning to do so.

See also: Chile Healing Arts Program at


Breathing Lessons - Path to a cure

By Emma Carew

24 March - At 14,000 feet above sea level, breathing becomes labored, the heart beats harder and faster, and nausea may roll through the stomach. For doctors Ray L. Benza and Robert P. Frantz, both cardiologists, these symptoms are hardly unfamiliar. They confront them daily treating patients who suffer from a type of high blood pressure that affects the lungs, making it hard to breathe and often causing death. Dr. Benza, Dr. Frantz, and Jessica Lazar (a physician assistant) experienced those symptoms themselves as they climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last month, raising more than $100,000 to benefit the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. The trip was the brainchild of Dr. Benza, who climbed the Grand Teton, in Wyoming, three years ago to honor a patient who died of pulmonary hypertension. The first climb raised about $25,000 to fight the disease, which afflicts an estimated 100,000 Americans. (...)

The organization represents more than 10,000 patients, family members, and medical professionals and has an annual budget that was nearly $8-million last year, Ms. Dern says. Because the disease is fairly rare, Ms. Dern says the organization relies heavily on word-of-mouth and the personal stories of its patients to build awareness. Last year, the charity received contributions from 13,000 donors.


Psychosocial support, one more step towards normality in Chile

By Enrique Santo in Hualañe, Chile

22 March - (…) The municipality of Hualañé contacted the members of the Red Cross psychosocial support Emergency Response Unit (ERU) which was sent to this location after the earthquake, in order to help people overcome the emotional trauma caused by disasters or emergencies. (...)

According to José Luis Camisón Sánchez, member of the psychosocial support ERU, “this project is based on preparing teachers and caretakers with basic tools to respond to any traumatic experiences that the children may have had, and help them recover. This allows the affected community to participate in its own psychological recovery.” (...) The Spanish Red Cross psychosocial support ERU sent to Chile after the earthquake counts 14 members. At the moment they are active in the region of Maule, and in Santiago, where they are training Chilean Red Cross volunteers in psychosocial support. At the same time, they are holding therapeutic sessions with different groups of people affected by the disaster. Other volunteers from the Colombian Red Cross, Ecuadorian Red Cross and Nicaraguan Red Cross, also specialized in psychosocial support, have joined the Spanish and Chilean Red Cross team in their work to help affected people recover from the tragedy. To date, they have held 453 sessions. (...)



Energy and safety



London’s new Electric Razor is where the future meets the wind

7 April - Only a short time ago the idea of wind turbines becoming an integral part of  residential tower construction would have been relegated to the overly imaginative realm of science fiction.

Yet soon in southeast London a new 147 metre high residential and retail building will boast three wind turbines that are expected to generate 8% of the 43-floor tower’s electricity requirements.

Commonly called the Electric Razor because of its futuristic design, the skyscraper’s real name is the Strata Tower and it is reportedly the first building in the world with wind turbines built directly into its fabric.

The iconic building cost about €130 million and is expected to house more than 1,000 people in 408 homes. Its successful completion will also prompt developers to speed up their efforts to become more eco-friendly while complying with British regulations requiring all new structures to be zero-carbon by 2019. (...)[tt_news]=1822&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1&cHash=1f35f32c7c


Europe’s offshore wind power industry keeps getting positive feedback

By Chris Rose, EWEA

1 April - The expanding European offshore wind sector is once again the recipient of exciting news, this time in the form of planned market investments and new government policies designed to help the marine-based industry prosper, create thousands of well-paying jobs and harnessing increasing amounts of green electricity. On Monday, Siemens Energy announced it anticipates investments in the “high double-digit million range” for a new production plant it intends to build in Britain for offshore wind turbines in order to meet growing demand for the developing sector.

In making its announcement, the company also said the new plant would create more than 700 new jobs. (...) The company said it was confident that the British offshore wind sector will grow significantly in the future and it is reviewing possible sites for the production plant on Britain’s east coast and in the northeast, with a special focus on harbour infrastructure. 

The announcement follows news from GE a week earlier that it plans a major offshore wind expansion with a €340 million investment in manufacturing, engineering and service facilities in Britain, Norway, Sweden and Germany. (...)[tt_news]=1819&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1&cHash=66dc41ee05


EIB supports Russia’s power generation sector with EUR 250 million to contribute to energy efficiency and emission reduction

Moscow/Luxembourg, 26 March - The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending EUR 250 million to Russian company Enel OGK-5 to finance the upgrading of a gas fired power plant located in Nevinnomyssk, South Russia. This is the first EIB loan in support of the Russian power generation sector, and also the first EIB project in Southern Russia. Enel OGK-5 is majority-owned by Italian power utility Enel. The project concerns the construction of a modern, efficient combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) unit with a capacity of 410 MW to replace / put in cold reserve old power plant units, as well as the rehabilitation of existing generating capacity. This will lead to greater energy efficiency as well as a reduction in CO2 emissions per unit of electricity produced.

Through its loan to Enel’s Russian operations, EIB therefore supports European Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Russia, while at the same time contributing to European policies in the important areas of energy efficiency and climate change. (...)


Renewable energy agency and UNOPS to work together 

Copenhagen, 23 March - The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and UNOPS today signed an agreement which paves the way for UNOPS to provide comprehensive administrative and procurement support to the recently established agency.

Mandated by governments worldwide, IRENA's mission is to promote the widespread and increased adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy. With the global population projected to reach 10 billion in 2050, abundant renewable energy sources worldwide can make a significant contribution to the world’s growing demand for energy. IRENA was officially established in Bonn, Germany on January 26, 2009 and 142 states and the European Union have now signed its statute. It is headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (...) Speaking at the signing ceremony at UNOPS headquarters in Copenhagen, Ms. Pelosse, Interim Director-General of IRENA, said: "The unique expertise of UNOPS in the area of service provision will enhance the capabilities of IRENA and boost the take-off of its activities dedicated to renewable energy". (...)



Environment and wildlife



Obama Administration finalizes move to limit climate change caused by autos

Standards will make cars cleaner, cut dependence on foreign oil

Washington, DC, 1 April - Today marked the concluding step in the Obama administration’s historic process of setting new fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and some trucks.

The final rule on these tailpipe emissions standards, released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in tandem with the Department of Transportation’s rule on corporate average fuel economy standards, will make cars and trucks cleaner, greener, and less costly to fill at the pump. The standards are expected to cut global warming pollution from these vehicles by 21 percent and produce net benefits of $190 billion.

It is the last step in a process initiated by President Obama in May 2009, when he announced that, in response to the country’s critical need to address global climate change and to reduce oil consumption, his administration would set new requirements for light-duty vehicles that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy. This process required a series of intense negotiations and discussions with automakers and ultimately ended with their signoff and endorsement. (...)


USA Energy Secretary Chu announces $384 million in Recovery Act Funding for environmental cleanup in New Mexico

New funding will create jobs and accelerate cleanup efforts

Washington, DC, 31 March - Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $6 billion in new funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to accelerate environmental cleanup work and create thousands of jobs across 12 states - including a major investment in New Mexico. Projects identified for funding will focus on accelerating cleanup of soil and groundwater, transportation and disposal of waste, and cleaning and demolishing former weapons complex facilities. “These investments will put Americans to work while cleaning up contamination from the cold war era,” said Secretary Chu. “It reflects our commitment to future generations as well as to help local economies get moving again.”

These projects and the new funding are managed by the Department’s Office of Environmental Management, which is responsible for the risk reduction and cleanup of the environmental legacy from the nation’s nuclear weapons program, one of the largest, most diverse and technically complex environmental programs in the world.


Smart Water for Green Schools breaks ground in Ghana

25 March - The Smart Water for Green Schools project at the Al-Iman School in Ghana was officially inaugurated 9 March with a groundbreaking ceremony thereby making the school the first in the pilot phase of the project. This new project seeks to build rainwater harvesting systems and ecological latrines at schools in order to provide a reliable supply of water, hygiene and sanitation facilities, as well as environmental education to students, teachers, and parents living in transboundary river basins. Construction of the five thousand (5,000) gallon capacity Rainwater Harvesting Tank started the following day with men and women from the village coming together to assist with the construction. Work on the construction of the Rain Water Harvesting System is 75% complete and when completed the Tank will measure 10 feet high, 8 feet wide and 8 feet long. The installation of the rain gutters on top of the school to channel the rainwater into the tank will occur at the end of the month. The construction of the ecological latrines is also underway. (...)



Religion and spirituality



Holy Land: Greek-Catholic Church, a prayer for peace and reconciliation

7 April - On April 10th, the Church of the Annunciation of the Catholic Melkite Greek Patriarchate in Jerusalem will host the third “Special Prayer of all Churches of Jerusalem for peace and reconciliation”. The Greek Melkite Church stated that it is “a great prayer of intercession that brings together the Orthodox, Reformed and Catholic Churches to ask for peace in Jerusalem and in the Holy Land, for the unity of the churches and inter-religious dialogue, and fpr the unification of Easter day for Christians. Jerusalem is a place of tension and contrasts: the Holy City and the Mother Church urgently need the spiritual support of all the Church to remain faithful to its call as the epicentre of grace in Christ, for the Church and for the world”. The two previous prayers were held at the Syro-Orthodox Church (30 May 2009) and at the Lutheran Evangelical Church (20 February 2010). The next one will be hosted by the Orthodox Armenian Church, in September or October 2010. The initiative will be broadcasted live on TV in the Middle East and in Europe, and by recorded broadcasting in North and South America. (...)


From South Africa to Palestine, a message of peace and hope

In an Easter message, more than 60 South African church leaders and Christian, Jewish and Muslim lay theologians have conveyed their solidarity with Palestinian Christians in their Kairos call.

1 April - Recognizing Palestinian Christian “history of keeping the faith in the Holy Land”, despite the circumstances, they urged Palestinians to be steadfast and resist being “forced out of your own land”. Responding to the Kairos Palestine document, they recall the words of Nelson Mandela who said: “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”. Conveying South African solidarity “with your cause”, they express conviction that “justice will come to the Holy Land, as it came to us here in the southernmost part of Africa”. The Kairos Palestine document was launched in December 2009 in Bethlehem and reflects the Palestinian Christian’s word to the world about what is happening in Palestine. Drawing on their own experiences, they define apartheid as “the denial of the humanity of one human being by another or the idea that there is a superior and an inferior human being”. Yet, they observe, the practical manifestations of Israeli apartheid are in many ways worse than South African apartheid ever was. (...)


Indonesia: Emerging leader in inter-religious diplomacy

29 March - (...) While much ink has been spilled about Indonesia’s political reemergence, its role as a potential leader in the movement for religious pluralism has been largely understated. As the world’s most populous majority-Muslim country, Indonesia is poised to become a strong force for outreach, pressing for greater intra-religious cooperation within Islam to and undertaking diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions between Muslim and Hindu, Jewish, and Christian communities in areas of tension overseas. Preliminary signs indicate that it is well on its way to becoming a major player. Just this January, in conjunction with Religions for Peace and the U.S. Department of State, the Department of Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Indonesia hosted the “Indonesia Interfaith Forum” in Jakarta. The Forum convened leaders from the U.S. and Indonesia, as well as throughout Southeast Asia. It will likely be the first of many such forums and lay the groundwork for significant advances in poverty reduction and education through close collaboration with religious communities. (...)

Anand Krishna, a prominent author and interfaith activist, recently wrote in the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue of his conceptualization of inter-religious work and the potential for Indonesia to become a leader within it. (...)



Culture and education



European Commission, Europa Nostra - European Heritage Awards 2010

Celebrating Excellence - Instabul, Turkey, June 10

The Hague, 1 April - The European Commission and Europa Nostra announce 29 winners from 15 countries for the 2010 Edition of the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards. This unique Awards programme highlights some of Europe’s best achievements, and showcases remarkable efforts made in safeguarding Europe’s rich architectural, landscape, archaeological and artistic heritage.

The awards will be presented during the 8th Annual European Heritage Awards Ceremony, taking place in Aya Irini in Istanbul, Turkey on 10 June 2010, as part of the Europa Nostra Annual Congress. These events contribute to the celebration of Istanbul as a European Capital of Culture 2010 and are included in the official programme of Istanbul 2010. The awards will be presented by Mrs Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President of Europa Nostra.

The Awards celebrate not only outstanding initiatives, conservation projects, research, and education successes within Europe’s cultural heritage sector, but also reward the exceptionally dedicated service to heritage conservation by individuals and/or groups. The 2010 winners have been selected from nearly 140 submitted projects, stemming from 26 countries. The selection of Laureates is made by one of the 4 Heritage Awards Juries, composed of independent experts from across Europe.

Among the 29 selected winners of the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, 6 Grand Prix winners will be announced at the European Heritage Awards Ceremony on 10 June in Istanbul Turkey, as 2010’s most outstanding examples of heritage protection. Each Grand Prix winner will receive a monetary reward of € 10,000.

Register now for the Annual Congress:


Improving care for TB patients, Wardher, Somali Region, Ethiopia

25 March - (...) To date, MSF outreach teams have extended health care to five health posts in nearby villages, along with referring TB patients from the new MSF/BoH health centre in nearby Galadi. There remain, however, many people in the wider Wardher area who do not have access to such care. Although the Somali Region has the least TB case detection rates in the country, the TB incidence rates is suspected to be high; yet another reason why increased assistance and unfettered access by medical providers is crucial if lives are to be saved. MSF has a long experience of implementing TB projects in Somali Region (Jijiga, Gode and Afder zones). At the national level, MSF is also involved in the technical working group for multi drug resistant-tuberculosis (MDR-TB) led by the National TB Program which developed “The National Guideline and Strategy for MDR-TB”. MSF has worked in Wardher, Somali region, Ethiopia, since 2007. The organisation supports the Ethiopian Government’s Bureau of Health facility in delivering primary health care, including inpatient and outpatient care, treatment of malnutrition, reproductive healthcare, treatment of tuberculosis and laboratory work. (...)


Sudan: UN mission takes to the airwaves with civic education drama

30 March - The United Nations Mission in Sudan is taking to the airwaves with a new radio drama series aimed at raising public awareness on various issues, including measures related to the ongoing process of implementing the peace accord that ended two decades of civil war in Africa’s largest country. The series, ‘Tahed Shadjera Ardeb,’ Arabic for ‘Under the Tamarind Tree,’ can be heard on Radio Miraya, which is run by the mission, known as UNMIS. The initial programmes will dramatize themes aimed at enlightening the public on the 11-13 April presidential and legislative elections in Sudan. (...) The series will also tackle other themes, including domestic violence, the reintegration of former fighters into society and agriculture.

The programmes are produced in simple Arabic. (...) Radio drama is considered an effective way of promoting debate on sensitive social and political issues in a compelling way, while also reaching populations with low literacy rates and who have limited access to information because they live in remote areas. (…)


EDC breaks ground on new radio station in Sudan

Newton, MA, 24 March - Sudan Radio Service (SRS), the first independent radio news service in Africa’s largest nation, has begun construction on a new radio station in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan. Founded and supported with assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), SRS is currently based out of its studios in Nairobi, Kenya, with news bureaus in Sudan. SRS’s new radio station in Juba will provide daily news, information, and entertainment programming on FM 98.6.

The studios and transmitter being built in Juba will allow SRS to reach a larger listening audience and increase its current daily broadcasting from 6 to 15 hours a day. While there are several other FM stations in Juba, SRS will be the first to carry such varied programming in 12 languages, including English, Arabic, and 10 Sudanese languages. (...)

Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), is a global nonprofit organization that addresses some of the world’s most urgent challenges in education, health, and economic development. EDC manages 350 projects in 35 countries.


Three education institutions win new prize for boosting effectiveness of teachers

24 March - Education institutions in Pakistan, the Dominican Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the first laureates of the new UNESCO-Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers. The winners were announced at a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters on 24 March. The prize, set up in 2009 and funded by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum of Dubai, will be awarded to the Ali Institute of Education (Pakistan), the Center of Excellence for Teacher Training (Dominican Republic) and the Centre Congolais Education pour Tous (Democratic Republic of the Congo). The value of the award is US$ 270,000 to be divided by the three winners. Every two years, the prize will reward three candidates from around the world who have shown outstanding achievement in enhancing the performance and effectiveness of teachers in developing countries or within marginalized or disadvantaged communities. The prize aims to support, encourage and benefit those working to improve the quality of teaching towards ‘Education for All’. (...)


Green Cross International engages youth to work towards a more secure future

23 March - At the fifth annual European Global Issues Network (GIN) conference for over 400 students from around the world, Green Cross International’s (GCI) Value Change Programme organised two workshops designed to engage students on environmental issues. Hosted by Earth Focus and the International School of Geneva, the Conference was held 21-23 March in Geneva under the theme “Our People and Planet - Working towards a more secure future.” (...)

The mission of the Global Issues Network is to help students realise they can make a difference by empowering them with knowledge on the current issues, while creating an international platform to develop solutions for global issues. Other GIN conferences will be held this year in Africa, Asia and the Near East.  For more information please visit the Conference website.


World Book and Copyright Day, 23 April

23 April is a symbolic date for world literature for on this date in 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors such as Maurice Druon, Haldor K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo. 

It was a natural choice for UNESCO's General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity. In this respect, UNESCO created both the World Book and Copyright Day and the UNESCO Prize for Children's and Young People's Literature in the Service of Tolerance.


IRFF’s Discover True Friendship Service Tour - July 7 – 19, San José, Costa Rica

Building a Culture of Service and Peace

IRFF’s Discover True Friendship Service Tour is an experiential learning program that brings young men and women to a developing country to work on a service project, learn about the challenges facing the people of that country, and experience its culture and customs firsthand.

This year, IRFF is working with the Fundación Luz Para Las Naciones (the Light for the Nations Foundation), a Costa Rican organization that serves needy children and families outside the capital city of San José, to renovate the facilities of their dining and community centers.

In a world divided by religion, race, nationality and language, this is your opportunity to create understanding and friendships with our brothers and sisters of other countries and cultures in a way that will change your life, as well as theirs. Be a part of bridging these differences.  (...)



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Next issue: 30 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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