Good News Agency – Year XI, n° 182



Weekly – Year XI, number 182 – 4th February 2011

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

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

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 1,600 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



UN Secretary-General welcomes Russia’s approval of nuclear arms reduction pact

26 January - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed today’s adoption by the Russian parliament of the law on ratification of the nuclear arms reduction treaty that signed last year with the United States, thereby enabling the pact to enter into force.

The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (known as the New START Treaty) was signed by US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April 2010. In it, they pledged to slash their nuclear arsenals by a third.

The action by Russian lawmakers follows a similar move by the US Senate last month to support the Treaty’s ratification.


Cyprus: leaders agree to intensify reunification talks after meeting with Ban Ki-moon

26 January - Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders agreed to intensify talks to reunify their island today after meeting in Geneva with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has warned that substantive agreement in the next few months is crucial to avoid potential failure.

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu have clearly worked to move closer together through a range of bridging proposals on the economy, governance and power-sharing since he last met with them in November, but more work must be done to reach further accords on outstanding core issues, Mr. Ban told reporters.

The UN-sponsored talks, which began in 2008, seek to set up a federal government with a single international personality in a bi-zonal, bi-communal country, with a Turkish Cypriot constituent state and a Greek Cypriot constituent state of equal status.

The Secretary-General will provide the Security Council with a report on the state of the talks at the end of February. “I am certain that if the constructive spirit that I witnessed today continues, I will have a positive report to submit,” he said.


El salvador ratifies cluster bomb ban treaty

London, 19 January - The Republic of El Salvador will be the 50th state party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions after it ratified the treaty on 10 January 2011.

El Salvador actively participated in the Oslo Process that produced the Convention and was among the 94 countries that signed the treaty in Oslo on 3 December 2008. El Salvador has never used, produced, transferred or stockpiled cluster munitions. A state party to the Mine Ban Treaty, El Salvador has at least 3,158 survivors of landmines and explosive remnants of war left over from an internal armed conflict from 1980-1992.

In the Americas, 19 countries have signed the Convention and eight Latin American countries have ratified (Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Uruguay). Brazil, the only remaining producer of cluster bombs in the region, and Argentina, a former producer and stockpiler, have yet to sign the Convention.


Serbia joins list of countries agreeing to enforce ICC jail terms

20 January – The International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Government of Serbia signed an agreement today by which people convicted by the court can serve their sentences in the Eastern European nation. Five other countries – Austria, United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark and Finland – have concluded similar agreements with the Court, which is based in The Hague.

At the signing ceremony, the ICC President noted that having sufficient options to ensure the enforcement of judicially ordered sentences is an important element in the overall credibility of the judicial process at the Court.

The ICC is the world’s first permanent court set up to try people accused of the most serious international offences, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Currently investigations are ongoing into five situations: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), the Darfur region of Sudan and Kenya.



Human rights



Afghanistan signs pact with UN to prevent recruitment of children into armed forces

30 January - The United Nations and the Government of Afghanistan today signed an agreement in which the country made a commitment to protect children affected by armed conflict and to prevent the recruitment of minors into the national armed forces. “Today we come together to undertake a big step for a better future for the children of Afghanistan,” Zalmai Rassoul, Afghanistan's Minister of Foreign Affairs, who represented the Government at the signing of the agreement in Kabul with Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict. Also signing the document was Staffan de Mistura, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The steering committee and the UN-led country task force on children and armed conflict developed the Action Plan signed today. The plan sets out various activities that the Government will undertake to address issues such as the strengthening of birth registration and age-verification mechanisms, investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of under-age recruitment and sexual violence.


Chad: ICRC helps 369 ex-detainees return to their villages

N’Djamena / Geneva, 28 January – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was today present at the release in N’Djamena of 369 persons held by the Chadian authorities.

Head of delegation Judith Greenwood explains: “We agreed to the Chadian government’s request to help these detainees get home on purely humanitarian grounds. The vast majority of these people had been arrested following fighting between Chadian forces and various armed groups in N’Djamena in February 2008 and in Am Dam, in the east of the country, in May 2009.”

As a neutral intermediary, the ICRC takes no part in negotiations concerning the release of detainees. What the organization can do if asked by the parties involved, however, is facilitate communication between them and help them organize the transfer of detainees on release.

In this particular case, ICRC staff present when the detainees were released gave them a set of clothes and enough money to get them back to their villages.

The ICRC had been visiting these detainees regularly since 2008, and maintaining contact with the detaining authorities, in order to verify that conditions of detention were in conformity with the provisions of international humanitarian law that apply to non-international armed conflict.


UN marks Holocaust memorial day with exhibitions and pledges of 'never again'

27 January – The United Nations today honoured the memory of the estimated six million Jews and countless others who perished in the Nazi death camps of the Second World War with ceremonies around the world and pledges to wipe genocide off the face of the Earth. The General Assembly in 2005 designated 27 January, the date of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest and most notorious of all of the camps, as the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, and this year's theme pays special tribute to the suffering of women.

Paying homage to the millions of Jews and thousands of other victims, including Roma, Slavs, disabled people, homosexuals, Jehovah's witnesses, communists and other political dissidents “whose lives were brutally cut short by the ideology of hatred of the Nazis and their allies,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stressed that the Holocaust should serve as a reminder of the dangers of marginalization of particular groups and the need for urgent action at the first signs that a climate conducive to genocide is emerging.

Exhibitions on the Holocaust are being held at various UN offices, including New York, Vienna and Paris, with a travelling exhibit due to visit other centres, including in Africa, all stressing the categorical imperative of never allowing such a catastrophe to be perpetrated again.


Gender conference pushes for a better world

26 January - 'There can be a better world' was the rallying cry of almost 400 participants from 87 countries who participated in Education International's first World Women's Conference, On the Move for Equality, in Bangkok, 20-23 January. The teacher and education workers' representatives from EI-affiliated member organisations were joined by partners from UN agencies, Global Unions and the NGO community.

Participants stressed the role and responsibility of teacher unions in the creation of a world rooted in gender equality. They also agreed that EI's Women's Networks are a key tool to achieving results; generating more women leaders, and a better education of both men and women leaders. Access to and participation in quality public education for girls and illiterate women leading to full employment and decent work for women, with equal pay and opportunities for progression, was a critical goal.



Economy and development



World Social Forum, Dakar, Senegal - February 6 - 11

The World Social Forum is an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and interlinking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neoliberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism, and are committed to building a planetary society directed towards fruitful relationships among Humankind and between it and the Earth.

First held in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2001, the Forum has been held on an annual basis in different locations around the world.


Heineken to be inaugural participant in United Nations Global Compact LEAD

Davos and Amsterdam, January 28 - Today, during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Heineken NV, joined United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and CEOs of other leading international companies for the launch of Global Compact LEAD.

This new platform created by the UN Global Compact has been established to set a new benchmark for corporate sustainability. Heineken is one of 54 companies invited by the UN to make a commitment to work towards implementation of the 'Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership' a roadmap of actions to achieve greater sustainability.

In his remarks to the group, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "From the beginning, the Global Compact has been driven by business leaders willing to move beyond the status quo. Through Global Compact LEAD, you can help guide the way to the level of sustainability performance our world requires from business today."

'Brewing a Better Future' is Heineken's long-term sustainability initiative. The 23 integrated programmes that make up the initiative focus on improving the environmental impact of Heineken's brands and business, empowering people and the communities in which Heineken operates and positively impacting the role of beer in society. (…)


ACDI/VOCA gives $30,000 to help job-building program in Haiti

January 13  - ACDI/VOCA is pleased to announce that it has committed an additional $30,000 to its Haiti job-building program, REACH (Rural Economy Acceleration in Haiti).

Last year, ACDI/VOCA worked with local partner APTECH (Ateliers Pilotes de Technologie), a Haitian educational association based in Cayes-Jacmel, to design a six-month job training program to help train workers in new building techniques important to this region, which is prone to natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes.

The REACH funds allowed ACDI/VOCA to send an expert volunteer to Haiti in October to work with APTECH and pay for the materials and supplies needed for the four-week, hands-on skills training of local trainers and construction workers in Haiti’s Southeast Department.

The training has since continued and, as part of the hands-on coursework, students expect to complete construction of a classroom in Jacmel by March.






Mattel announces $750,000 donation to Save the Children’s new corporate partners in emergencies fund

Initiative marks groundbreaking shift in disaster preparedness support efforts

Westport, Conn., USA, 28 January  - Save the Children, one of the leading global humanitarian and relief agencies, has partnered with Mattel, the world’s largest toy company, and the Mattel Children’s Foundation to create a multi-year disaster response strategy, which includes a $750,000 cash donation and toy donation program for Save the Children and the American Red Cross. The initiative represents a strategic focus and groundbreaking shift toward corporate support of proactive preparedness planning with first responder organizations for immediate disaster relief globally when needs arise. Mattel’s toy donation program also is a crucial component of its disaster preparedness planning initiative, which will pre-position toys around the world to allow for immediate distribution to local disaster relief efforts.

Mattel has a long and rich history of actively supporting communities around the world with a global commitment to serve children and families in need.


D.W.Morgan donates meals for starving children worldwide with every shipment in February

Pleasanton, Calif., USA, 28 January - Global transportation and logistics services firm D.W. Morgan expects to donate 50,000 meals to starving kids around the world through its second annual campaign to fight hunger, Morgan Delivers for Starving Kids.

In February, Morgan will donate six meals for each shipment it delivers through its supply chain. Morgan's goal is to provide 50,000 meals to starving children via nonprofit partner Feed My Starving Children, a 501(c)(3) organization focused on providing critical meals to children in the neediest regions in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Last year, Morgan delivered over 47,000 meals through the same program, exceeding its company goal by over 15,000.

Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) distributes meals in more than 60 countries through missionary partnerships at orphanages, schools, clinics, refugee camps and malnourishment centers. Of all donations to FMSC, 94 percent goes directly toward the feeding program. In the 2009 fiscal year, the organization brought more than 78 million meals to children around the world.


Jet Li promotes the spirit of volunteerism among Vietnam's youth

By Patrick Fuller, IFRC communications manager, asia pacific

24 January - On his first visit to Vietnam, Chinese Movie Star and philanthropist, Jet Li came with a clear message for the country's youth - 'come together and volunteer your time and energy to help your brothers and sisters'.

Jet Li arrived in Vietnam on a three day visit in his role as goodwill ambassador for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). He began his tour on January 22 when he spoke at the Spring Festival in Hanoi's Youth Park, an annual event organised by the Vietnam Red Cross Society which aims to recruit young blood donors to help meet the country's emergency blood requirement during the Lunar New Year period. After presenting 40 long time blood donors with awards, he moved on to Chu Van An High School where students took part in simulated emergency first aid demonstration and showed their skills in bandaging a head wound caused by a road accident. Road accidents are the biggest killer in Vietnam. At least 500 children die each month on Vietnam's roads, mostly in accidents involving motorcycles. The Red Cross is a leading provider of first aid training in schools across the country and is set to play a more active role in the Global Road Safety Partnership.


ADRA delivering aid to survivors of Brazil's worst flooding

Silver Spring, Md., USA, 19 January  - Following extensive flooding that has so far left more than 700 people dead in Brazil’s mountainous state of Rio de Janeiro, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is delivering relief aid to survivors in some of the worst hit areas.

To meet the immediate needs of survivors, ADRA is providing essential hygiene kits to benefit 400 households, or approximately 2,000 people, who were left homeless by mudslides. This assistance is expected to meet the hygiene needs of a family of five for up to a month. In addition, a $100,000 donation from the United States Embassy in Brasilia will also help ADRA deliver additional assistance to affected families in the region.

ADRA is working closely with local government authorities, the Civil Defense, and trained volunteers to ensure efficient distribution of relief materials. Priority is being given to women-headed families, families with disabled children or elderly dependents, and families whose members were directly impacted.


Australia: ADRA responds to severe flooding in Queensland

Silver Spring, Md., USA, 19 January – The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Australia has committed AUD$100,000 towards relief efforts in response to the disastrous floods, which have turned approximately three fourths of the northeastern state of Queensland into a disaster zone.

In response to the devastating flooding, which has already left more than 30 people dead and caused upwards of US$20 billion in damages, ADRA Australia has already assisted hundreds of people with emergency accommodation in three separate shelters in northern New South Wales state, one of the areas closest to the devastation. Additionally, ADRA has provided food, clothing and blankets to those affected through the assistance of ADRA Op Shops, a community service program.

ADRA Australia continues to work with state and local governments to develop programs that will address the immediate needs of flood-affected communities and post-flood cleanup efforts, which are expected to take time.


Full Circle exchange and CARE team up to offer chocolate lovers an opportunity to "Share Your Love" this Valentine's Day

Boise, Atlanta, USA, January 18 - This Valentine's Day, Full Circle Exchange and CARE invite sweethearts to share their love for each other and for people all over the world by purchasing a custom box of gourmet organic chocolates. From January 18 through February 14, 2011, Full Circle Exchange will match the purchase price of each "Name Your Love, Share Your Love" box of chocolates in a donation, up to $1 million to CARE, a humanitarian organization that fights global poverty by empowering girls and women. To purchase a custom box of organic chocolates, order online at (...)

Through the "Name Your Love, Share Your Love" Valentine's Day promotion, customers can create a custom label for their box of chocolates and add a personalized note to those they love. Each gift box will include a beautiful card highlighting CARE's work to empower girls and women all over the world to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. (...)

The Valentine's Day program is an extension of Full Circle Exchange's "Wake Up To Justice – Dollar 4 Dollar" campaign. Designed to support CARE's global poverty-fighting programs that help girls and women, Full Circle Exchange and its philanthropic partners are committed to donating the full purchase price of all CARE co-branded chocolate and coffee, up to $1 million through December 31, 2011.



Peace and security



Transport union partners with UN to de-mine Afghan roads

28 January – The challenge of ridding Afghanistan of the landmine problem will require an estimated $900 million, according to Dmitry Titov, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

“The United Nations is confident that the landmine problem can be solved in years rather that decades if sufficient funding is made available,” he stated at a ceremony in New York at which the International Road Transport Union (IRU) donated $2 million to the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) for its work in Afghanistan.

Maxwell Kerley, the Director of UNMAS, said the programme has cleared 15,000 landmine-contaminated areas in Afghanistan and handed them back to local communities. The cleared area represents more than two-thirds of the affected territory, he said.

The IRU donation will be used to fund a project to clear landmine-contaminated areas along the ring road that links Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, to northern provinces and the neighbouring States of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.


Top UN officials welcome inauguration of new Afghan parliament

26 January – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his top envoy for Afghanistan have welcomed the inauguration earlier today of the country’s new Parliament, which comes four months after the 18 September elections for the Wolesi Jirga, or lower house.

Mr. Ban commended Afghan political leaders, and all who participated in the electoral process – voters, the electoral institutions, and both winning and losing candidates – for their contribution to Afghanistan’s democratic development. (...)

The 249 members of the Wolesi Jirga were sworn in by President Hamid Karzai. The country’s second Parliament to be inaugurated since the ousting of the Taliban regime in 2001 includes 69 women.

“Today is a historic day for Afghanistan and for all the countries wishing and working with Afghanistan for its future,” Staffan de Mistura, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said following the inauguration ceremony.


UN mine action programme clears 27,000 landmines in Cyprus

20 January – United Nations de-miners have removed over 27,000 landmines from the buffer zone in Cyprus over the past six years, the UN envoy to the country said today, while announcing that the mine action programme will come to an end next month due to lack of access to remaining minefields. A total of 74 minefields or 9.7 square kilometres of land have been cleared throughout the buffer zone. The cleared area can now be farmed or put to other productive use.

Since late 2004, teams of de-miners working with the UN Mine Action Centre in Cyprus (UNMACC) have been working to rid the 180 kilometre-long buffer zone of landmines laid during the outbreak of inter-communal violence in 1964.

According to UNMACC estimates, some 15,000 landmines may still remain in Cyprus and two million square metres of land could still be contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance.


New law to protect Congo indigenous peoples

13 January - The Republic of Congo is set to become the first country in Africa to provide specific legal protection for its indigenous peoples. Almost seven years in gestation, the government-backed bill was passed by both the senate and national assembly in late December and will take effect once signed into law by the president.

Indigenous people, some of whom are known as Pygmies, make up about 10 percent of Congo's population and live in almost all regions of the country. The new law aims to counter their chronic marginalization, manifested in their exclusion from the education system and high levels of illiteracy, and lack of access to state services such as health facilities.

"This legislation is a major innovation, a revolution in the rights of indigenous people and the Bantu. It corrects the wrongs that were in place," Valentin Mavoungou, director of human rights at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, told IRIN.

Source: IRIN News and UN News


Official opening ceremony of the demining activities in Čista Mala community

On January 10, German Ambassador to Croatia, H.E. Dr Bernd Fischer opened the demining project site in Čista Mala, in Šibenik Knin County. The demining of the project site “Meadows, pastures and forest area southeast of the Čista Mala Community” in total area of 197.594 sq. meters is financed by the donation of the FR Republic of Germany to ITF in the amount of 200.000 EUR. This is the first German donation to ITF for Croatia. Short information about the project site was presented at the press conference that was held in the premises of the Vodice City council.

Following the conference, a visit of the project site was organized where CROMAC gave a short introduction of the project location and mine situation in the area. Also, the Contractor (company RUMITAL ltd from Zagreb) introduced the demining methods and demining machine to the guests.

Federal Republic of Germany is one of the major ITF donor and has altogether contributed over 19 million EUR of donations for the Region of southeast Europe.


A big step forward for Mine Action in Thailand

By Tine Johansen

10 January - On December 21 2010, the first draft of the National Mine Action Standards (NMAS) was handed over to Thailand Mine Action Centre’s (TMAC) Director General, Lieutenant General Attanop Sirisak. As Lt Gen Sirisak stated this “valuable support” to Mine Action in Thailand paves the way for efficient planning and processes to assist the Royal Thai Government in meeting its obligations to the Anti Personnel Mine Ban Treaty. With major changes to International Mine Action Standards during 2010, the Thailand NMAS will be one of the most up to date country specific standards available.

Throughout 2010, NPA has continued to assist TMAC in its development of Information Management and this will continue throughout 2011.

With the National Strategy and National Standards now developed, NPA will continue to use its global experience in further assisting Mine Action in Thailand at an operational level. With base funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NPA along with local partners, Thailand Civilian Demining Association (TDA) will field supplementary teams to assist in conducting Land Release operations, initially in North East Thailand along the border with Cambodia. An MOU was signed between NPA and TDA on 29th November 2010. This significant event will pave the way for efficient operational processes in provision of much needed resources, while building up a local national capacity. (...);action=Article.publicShow;ID=12907






Changing lives through clean water – Africare partners with President Obama’s effort to improve lives in africa

Clean water is the gateway to good health and development. This is why Africare, using the Nobel Prize monies generously donated by President Obama, launched the Ghana Water Access, Sanitation and Hygiene for Health (WASHH) Project in the Wasa Amenfi West District of Ghana on September 1, 2010. The six-month project is a response to significant challenges in the availability of clean water and decent sanitation in the country. The goals of the WASHH project are to: increase access to clean water and sanitation facilities; expand knowledge and awareness of good sanitation and hygiene; and, improve health and quality of life for 1,200 beneficiaries, especially children, in four of the district’s communities.

Since the launch of the project, Africare has begun implementing activities that will lead to a sustainable and successful intervention, and is on track to complete the project by early spring 2011.


UK Government doubles polio funding in matching grant

Citing dramatic gains achieved with polio vaccines, Prime Minister David Cameron joins Bill and Melinda Gates to call on world leaders to finish the job

Davos, Switzerland, January 28 – British Prime Minister David Cameron said today that the United Kingdom would double its current contribution to polio eradication. Mr Cameron called on other donors to back the Global Polio Eradication Initiative as he announced the UK’s commitment that will see an extra 45 million children fully vaccinated against the disease.

In 20 years, polio cases have been reduced by 99 percent and the disease is now close to being only the second in history – after smallpox – to be wiped out. In 2010, India and Nigeria – historically the toughest challenges to eradication – cut cases by 95 percent each. However, until eradicated, polio remains a threat to children everywhere.

The new contributions build on the progress to date in bringing polio close to eradication, due in no small part to the leadership of Rotary International. Both Mr Cameron and Mr Gates paid tribute to Rotarians, who will have contributed nearly US$ 1.1 billion to polio eradication.

The contribution from the UK is structured as a matching grant, to broaden the support base for polio eradication.  For every $5 pledged by others from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2012, the UK will increase its support by $1 up to a maximum of the additional £40m announced.


Pakistan launches emergency action plan against polio

By Dan Nixon

Rotary International News -- 28 January 2011 – Responding to a sharp increase in the number of polio cases in Pakistan in 2010, the government has launched the National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication 2011. Developed by national and international health experts at the request of President Asif Ali Zardari, the plan’s two main goals are to stop polio outbreaks by mid-2011 and halt transmission of the disease by yearend.

Pakistan was the only one of the world’s four polio-endemic countries to see an increase in polio cases last year -- 142 compared with 89 in 2009. And Pakistan’s total accounted for more than 60 percent of all cases among the four, which also include Afghanistan, India, and Nigeria.

That increase “was a cause of alarm for the nations of the world, who were preparing to usher in, [in] the near future, a world without the scourge of this disease,” says health minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin. “Failure is no option. We have come this far after years of efforts with the support of our international partners, and we must now finish the job with a more focused approach toward the last remaining bottlenecks that threaten to reverse the gains we have made.”

A national task force will oversee implementation of the plan, which is aimed at reaching children in high-risk districts, mobile populations, and insecure areas. (...)

Rotarian coordinators assigned by the Pakistan PolioPlus Committee are mobilizing Rotary clubs to provide support in the country’s four provinces. Club members will assist with the effort “to cover every nook and corner of the country,” says Aziz Memon, chair of the committee. “We are committed to a polio-free Pakistan.”

The plan’s progress will be evaluated by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s independent monitoring board, established in 2010 to assess the GPEI’s effectiveness in fulfilling its 2010-12 strategic plan. Rotary is a spearheading partner of the initiative, along with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (...)


Gaza: improving services for the physically impaired

Jerusalem/Gaza (ICRC) 26-01-2011 – Improved services will be available to physically impaired people in the Gaza Strip starting 27 January, when an extension to the Artificial Limb and Polio Centre will be inaugurated.

The Gaza City facility, run by the municipal authorities and supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), provides a healing environment for the physically impaired and promotes their rehabilitation and re-education. The centre also has a well-equipped workshop that manufactures prostheses and orthoses.

"This inauguration is a historic event, representing a milestone in the improvement of services to people with disabilities," said Hazem Al Shawwa, the director of the Artificial Limb and Polio Centre. "It is very significant for the Gaza Strip, whose inhabitants are living in very difficult conditions." Over 2,800 people received treatment at the centre in 2010, a 64 per cent increase over the previous year's total. The newly renovated centre will be able to cope with the growing demand for its services while expanding its range of activities and maintaining high standards.


Mexico: ICRC provides supplies for National Rehabilitation Institute

Mexico City, 26 January – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has provided equipment and supplies for the manufacturing of artificial limbs to the National Rehabilitation Institute (INR) in Mexico City, with which it has been working for a number of months.

“By supporting institutions such as the INR, the ICRC can help improve access by vulnerable groups to physical rehabilitation services,” said Karl Mattli, head of the ICRC’s regional delegation for Mexico, Central America and Cuba. “These groups include migrants who have lost a limb.”

The ICRC has provided support for various institutions in the region since the 1980s with a view to ensuring that victims of antipersonnel mines and other explosive devices receive appropriate physical rehabilitation services. Since 2008, through its Special Fund for the Disabled, the ICRC has also assisted migrants who have lost a limb. This project, launched in Honduras and extended in 2009 to Mexico and Guatemala, has benefited more than 150 patients.


Save the Children receives $3 million Wrigley Company Foundation Grant to expand school health programs

$3 million (USD) dedicated to health initiatives with Save the Children in China, Kenya, the Philippines, Tajikistan, Vietnam and Indonesia

Westport, Conn., USA, January 25 - Save the Children announced today that it has received a $3 million (USD) grant from The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company Foundation to launch a two-year school health partnership. The initiative will be activated in six countries across the world, aimed at improving the health and nutrition of more than 273,000 school-age children in disadvantaged communities. The school-based programs will be implemented in China, Kenya, the Philippines, Tajikistan, Vietnam and Indonesia at a grass-roots level. The programs will address the needs of school-age children holistically, including physical health, oral health, and nutrition. Health interventions will focus on increasing access to safe water and sanitation in targeted schools and promotion of healthy behaviors, including keeping a clean school environment, hand washing with soap, and practicing oral care, among schoolchildren, teachers and parents.


Health awareness sessions in Gaza

ANERA’s Milk for Preschoolers (MfP) program is more than just providing nutritious milk and biscuits. A key goal is raising awareness among mothers and teachers about how to keep children healthy. MfP is active in more than 150 preschools across Gaza, so health awareness sessions can reach into many communities.

Thirty-three mothers squeezed into a classroom at New Maghazi Preschool in central Gaza to learn about the best feeding practices and the major causes of anemia. The topics for discussion included anemia, iron therapy, parasite infections and health nutritional habits, and hygiene.

In the sessions, mothers learn that iron drops they give their children should be swallowed with juice or water an hour before or after eating and not during a meal with milk or tea as mothers had thought.



Energy and safety



Argentina looks to wind for the answer to its energy woes

By J. Espinoza, Editor, Potencia eNewletter

Buenos Aires, 28 January - In 2004, Argentina received a wake up call. The Latin American nation experienced a deep energy crisis as a result of a shortage in natural gas caused by the demand for energy skyrocketing and outstripping supply. Since then the country has made a conscious effort to diversify its energy sources, with wind power attracting particular attention.

The country's chamber of renewable energy (CADER) believes Argentina has a huge wind power potential. This is supported by a report by the National University of Comahue that said the country’s Patagonia region could theoretically support as much as 200 GW of wind power. But Argentina is currently taking advantage of a mere 2 percent of this potential. (...)

The push for a more prominent use of wind energy could gather momentum thanks to new legislation introduced, which if properly enforced could see the use of renewable energy increase to 8 percent by 2016. Currently, 50 percent of Argentina’s renewable energy is derived from wind power but the country’s Energy Secretariat expects it to cover the energy needs of a million people by 2025. (…)


Water for Life provides clean drinking water for Haiti

By Ryan Hyland

Rotary International News, 27 January – Roy Sheldrick and other members of the Rotary Club of Ancaster, Ontario, Canada, have spent 15 years helping to provide clean drinking water for 300,000 people in the Artibonite Valley of Haiti. A year after a massive earthquake crippled the country, followed by a deadly cholera outbreak, their work in the region is more important than ever.

Sheldrick and his wife, Norma, founded Water for Life after taking part in a service trip to Haiti with their church in 1996. The nonprofit organization, supported by the Ancaster club and District 7090 (parts of Canada and New York, USA), drills wells to provide clean and accessible water in Haiti.  To date, the project has raised more than US$1.5 million for  219 wells. It has also helped construct more than 350 latrines."There is a desperate need for clean water in Haiti," says Sheldrick. "The fear of cholera made the need so much worse. More and more people are relying on our wells. They are lifesavers."

With the main river in the Artibonite Valley tainted by cholera, the wells are a crucial source of clean and accessible water. Wells have been installed in schools and medical centers, including Albert Schweitzer Hospital, the largest medical facility in the valley. "We had to raise money and help build a new wing of the hospital because of the cholera outbreak. They were treating more patients for cholera than for trauma following the earthquake," says Sheldrick.

Since 1998, the Ancaster club and its Haitian partners have been awarded Rotary Foundation humanitarian grants totaling $672,093 for well and latrine projects. The grants have helped the program become more sustainable.

"With the leveraged contributions from the Foundation, Water for Life has expanded to do more work for the communities, including teaching Haitians how to maintain the wells," says Sheldrick. "We trained plumbers and created all kinds of jobs. Water takes them out of poverty." (...)



Environment and wildlife



Rescue the bees!

Honeybee populations are mysteriously dying off in Europe and elsewhere. On 24 January, EU agriculture ministers discussed this alarming phenomenon on the basis of the Commission's communication on honeybee health.

Europe has over 2,500 species of wild bees and one commonly domesticated species, the honeybee. They play a vital role in the pollination of crops and flowers. Honeybees also provide honey and other products such as wax, royal jelly and propolis.

In recent years, vast numbers of both wild and managed pollinators have disappeared. In a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, bees become disoriented and die far away from their hives. Many factors have been blamed, including parasites, viruses, fungi and pesticides. So far, however, scientists have not been able to pinpoint the exact causes.

The EU aims to start a pilot surveillance programme by the end of 2011 to tackle the current shortage of comparable bee data. An EU Reference Laboratory for bee health will be set up in Sophia Antipolis, France, by April 2011. Member states' officials are receiving bee health training under the Better Training for Safer Food initiative.

Habitat loss and fragmentation is another threat to bee populations. The EU seeks to address this problem by encouraging biodiversity in its programmes.

The Union cooperates closely on this issue with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide.


Al Gore and WWF unite to promote business solutions for forest conservation in the Heart of Borneo

Posted on 9 January - Jakarta, Indonesia - More than 600 hundred Indonesian government and business leaders joined former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate, Al Gore and WWF Indonesia’s CEO, Dr. Efransjah at a gala dinner to celebrate the United Nation’s International Year of the Forest and to discuss the role of business in finding forest solutions to the challenge of climate change.

Co-hosted by the Republic of Indonesia’s House of Regional Representatives (DPD), WWF-Indonesia and Global Initiatives (GI), the dinner was part of the 2011 Business for Environment (B4E) Forest Dialogue - the forerunner to the world’s leading international conference for business-driven action for the environment -the B4E Global Summit, organised by GI and scheduled for 27 - 29 April, 2011, in Jakarta.

As one of the world’s most influential voices on the environment and climate change, Mr. Gore delivered an exclusive keynote address sharing his vision for the role of forests in a sustainable future. “The beginning of the U.N. International Year of the Forests is the perfect time to have the impressive collaboration that this dinner and forthcoming B4E gathering between the business community, government leaders and NGOs represents,” he said.

He went to outline the huge advantage for Indonesia to become the regional leader in the pursuit of a green economy in partnership with business. (…)



Religion and spirituality



World Interfaith Harmony Week - February 1 - 7

In November 2010, following a proposal by HM King Abdullah II and HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, the United Nations General Assembly decided to observe the first week of February every year as World Interfaith Harmony Week. The resolution recognized that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding, and it reaffirmed that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace … Read the full resolution here.   

In the words of HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, the Week has three objectives:

- To co-ordinate and unite the efforts of all the interfaith groups doing positive work with one focused theme at one specific time annually, thereby increasing their collective momentum and eliminating redundancy.

- To Harness and utilise the collective might of the world's second-largest infrastructure (that of places of worship — the largest being that of education) specifically for peace and harmony in the world: inserting, as it were, the right "software" into the world's religious "hardware".

- To permanently and regularly encourage the silent majority of preachers to declare themselves for peace and harmony and providing a ready-made vehicle for them to do so. Moreover, if preachers and teachers commit themselves on the record once a year to peace and harmony, this means that when the next inter-religious crisis or provocation occurs, they cannot then relapse into parochial fear and mistrust, and will be more likely to resist the winds of popular demagoguery. See the web site listing activities around the world during the Week:



Culture and education



Teachers join voices on Education for All in Africa

31 January - Teacher unionists from all over the world called for reinforced investments into the education sector and teachers to ensure the continent’s future and to meet the EFA commitments concerning recruitment and retention of qualified teachers. This call was made at a conference organised by the International Task Force on Teachers for Education for All (EFA) held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 19-20 January. The theme of the conference was, “Collaborative Action to Address the Teacher Gap”.

Participants from 27 countries in Africa and elsewhere joined together to address the issue of the teacher gap on the continent. They shared good practices and made recommendations on how to address the funding, policy, and capacity gaps in the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers to achieve EFA by 2015 Other issues discussed at the conference included contractual teachers. The recruitment of less qualified teaching personnel on the basis of short-term contracts was discouraged by participants.


Europe brings chemistry to schools during International Year of Chemistry

Thousands of events scheduled to share chemistry with young people

Brussels, January 27 – Students from throughout Europe will have a chance to experience the power of chemistry during events carried out by the European chemical industry during the International Year of Chemistry 2011.

A subject often overlooked in the classroom, chemistry will be back on the map through a series of events directly coordinated by Cefic – the European Chemical Industry Council – its member federations from throughout Europe and its member companies. Cefic activities include Xperimania, an educational programme organised with the body representing ministries of education in 31 European countries. The programme is a school-based initiative designed to breathe new life into chemistry through interesting experiments and a Europe-wide competition between schools.

The chemical industry sees a growing need to put chemistry back on the map in ways that attract more people to the field, especially to bridge the gender gap in chemistry in Europe. In Germany, for example, Europe’s largest chemical industry job market, women represent only 27.6 per cent of the workforce, according to the German employers association BAVC. Total employment in the chemical sector in Europe is around 1.2 million workers.


In massive effort, over 1,000 Liberian teachers receive education training

Newton, MA, USA, January 20  Several decades of civil conflict in Liberia have left teachers with languishing reading and math skills and little opportunity for improvement. To update their skills and help create a more effective teacher corps, more than 1,000 teachers and facilitators in six counties will receive three days of refresher in-service training. Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), will deliver the workshop as part of the Core Education Skills for Liberian Youth (CESLY) program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The training, the second of its kind, will not only build basic skills, but will assist Ministry of Education teachers and facilitators to better serve youth who missed the chance to enter formal conventional school. Participants will deepen their knowledge of literacy, numeracy, math, work readiness, and life skills. The training will also include developing lesson plans and techniques to enhance the development of critical thinking. Looking beyond the classroom, facilitators and teachers will also learn how to promote a culture of reading, prevent gender violence, and adhere to the teachers’ code of ethics.

The newest training will contribute to the piloting of a nonformal education curriculum, expected by the summer of 2011, to meet the needs of older youth, who can then be placed into junior secondary school or into skills training, self-employment, or formal employment opportunities.

The CESLY program is a bilateral collaboration between the Ministry of Education of Liberia and USAID. EDC is implementing the program with its partners YMCA of Liberia and the Research Triangle Institute.


International Mother Language Day - February 21

We live in One World, and are all part of One Life. Yet within this unified whole each individual unit is precious and significant. It is essential that cultural diversity be fostered to maintain richness and variety in the human community. At the heart of culture is language.

Each individual's mother language plays a vital role in their health and development: "It is the language of childhood, of intimate family experience and of our social relations". Yet in a world of increasing globalization small language groups find it increasingly difficult to survive. UNESCO estimates that about half of the approximately 6,000 languages spoken in the world are under threat.

International Mother Language Day promotes linguistic and cultural diversity and multi-lingualism The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.



* * * * * * *



Next issue: February 25, 2010.


* * * * * * *


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, Arianna Cavallo, Azzurra Cianchetta. Webmaster: Fabio Gatti. Media and NGOs coverage: Maurizio Palazzoni.  


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations in 54 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Caribbean Islands, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Oceania, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to 3,000 NGOs and 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities.


It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered educational charity chartered in Italy in 1979 The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing. It is based in Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy.

* * * * * * *