Good News Agency – Year XI, n° 184



Weekly – Year XI, number 184 – 18th March 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



Netherlands ratifies cluster bomb ban treaty

London, 2 March - The Kingdom of the Netherlands ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 23 February 2011. The treaty will enter into force nationally on 1 August 2011, making the Netherlands the 52nd State Party.

In the past, the Netherlands has produced, imported and reportedly exported cluster munitions. It used cluster munitions as part of NATO operations in Kosovo/Serbia in 1999. The Netherlands is in the process of destroying its stockpile of the weapon and has said it will finish ahead of the eight-year deadline under the Convention. Since signing the Convention in December 2008, the Netherlands has supported its humanitarian aims and committed to begin to work on its treaty obligations.

In March 2007 a Dutch documentary on investments in cluster munitions producers by Dutch financial institutions sparked public outrage and led to a Parliamentary debate on the issue. Several Dutch financial institutions subsequently banned investment in companies that produce cluster munitions, but the Dutch government had yet to pass legislation to ban such investments, despite a majority of Parliamentarians voting in favor. An October 2009 report by IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen on worldwide investments in cluster munitions producers coincided with the launch of a CMC campaign promoting disinvestment from such companies.

The Netherlands is the 12th European Union member state to ratify the Convention - 20 out of 27 EU members have signed. In July 2010, the European Parliament passed a resolution urging all EU members to get on board the treaty “as a matter of urgency.”  


The written declaration for the Statute of European Association is accepted

The EASEA today welcomes Jerzy Buzek's proclamation of the European Parliament's support for a statute for European associations during the plenary session in Strasbourg. The announcement follows the signing of Written Declaration 84/2010 by a majority of MEPs, that was submitted to the European Parliament through cross party support from Regina Bastos (EPP), Marc Tarabella (S&D), Pascal Canfin (Greens-EFA), Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE-NGL) and Renate Weber (ALDE). AEGEE was deeply involved during the whole initiative and was actively lobbying in the European Parliament for the written declaration 84/2011!

Members of European Alliance for the Statute of the European Association (EASEA) celebrate the success of the campaign for the setting up of a European Statute for European Associations, to give institutional recognition to the engagement and activism of millions of citizens who freely and voluntarily join together in associations across Europe.

For EASEA, the successful passing of the Written Declaration is a key step along the road towards building a common political culture that gives citizens from Member States the possibility to gather together within legally recognised transnational organisations.



Human rights



Illinois abolishes the death penalty

10 March - Amnesty International has welcomed the decision by Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois to sign into law a bill abolishing the death penalty. He also commuted the death sentences of the 15 men on death row in the state. Illinois will become the 16th state in the USA to ban capital punishment when the law signed by Governor Quinn yesterday comes into effect on 1 July. It will be the third state to enact abolitionist legislation in the past two years after New Jersey and New Mexico. The bill was approved by the Illinois legislature in January.

Illinois has executed 12 people since judicial killing resumed in the USA in 1977. During the same period, 20 people have been released from the state's death row, the second highest number of such exonerations among the USA's death penalty states. Illinois has not carried out an execution since 1999. In 2000 then-Governor George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions after concluding that the capital justice system was fundamentally flawed. In 2003, he pardoned four death row inmates whom he concluded were innocent, and commuted the death sentences of 167 others.

The 15 other abolitionist states in the USA are: Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The District of Columbia is also abolitionist. The remaining 34 states have the death penalty, as does the federal government and the US military.


Delta Airlines signs tourism code of conduct, joining ECPAT-USA in the fight against child trafficking in the travel sector

First major airline to combat global child trafficking

New York, 9 March - ECPAT-USA, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies to protect sexually exploited children, announced that Delta Air Lines has become the first major airline in the world to enter the fight against the commercial sexual exploitation of children by signing the tourism Code of Conduct (The Code). The Code specifically focuses on the protection of children from sexual exploitation in the travel and tourism industries. While The Code has been signed by almost 1,000 travel industry members worldwide, Delta is the first U.S. air carrier and the third U.S. organization to sign.

As a subscriber to The Code, Delta will implement policies that condemn child trafficking and provide training to help their employees identify and report trafficking activities. Delta will also raise awareness among customers by including information about ECPAT and the Code in its Sky magazine and website.


8 March: Education International celebrates International Women' Day

8 March - Women around the world continue to face systemic discrimination and inequality in education opportunities and access to decent work.

On International Women’s Day, educators worldwide are demanding greater investments in girls’ education and training opportunities leading to full employment and decent work for women.

The year 2011 marks the centenary of International Women’s Day celebrations. Since 1911, this day has been a global event, celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, present and future, and mobilising to address the challenges. Around the globe, EI member unions organise rallies, marches, fairs and debates, and reflect on the progress made to advance women’s equality, assess the challenges facing girls and women, look at ways to improve the quality of life and to actualize rights, and to empower girls and women in all spheres of human endeavour.

A strong delegation of trade unionists participated in the 55th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in February 2011. For the first time, gender, education and decent work were included together as priority themes in the UN CSW working agenda.

At EI’s First World Women’s Conference in January 2011 – On the Move for Equality, nearly 400 teacher trade unionists from all corners of the world came together to discuss strategies for advancing and empowering women and girls in today’s world.


ECJ ruling against sex discrimination in insurances key victory for women’s rights, say civil society organisations

2 March - The European Court of Justice (ECJ) yesterday delivered its ruling in the Test-Achats case (C-236/09) concerning sex discrimination in insurance premiums. The EU’s highest Court ruled that different insurance premiums for women and men are not compatible with the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights. Member States are not allowed to derogate from the principle of equality between women and men in their national legislation. The ‘opt out’ clause in the Council's Directive 2004/113 on gender equality in access to and supply of goods and services is thus illegal. As of 21 December 2012, no further differentiations in insurance premiums and benefits for women and men will be permitted in the EU.

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and AGE Platform Europe, who partnered up with the Belgian consumers’ organisation Test-Achats in the context of the adoption of the Directive, are delighted at the result: ‘This ruling, which confirms that there can be no exceptions to fundamental rights in the EU, is a victory for fairness, common-sense, solidarity and the rule of law’, says Alexandra Jachanova Dolezelova, EWL Vice-President. ‘We expect it to have substantial direct and indirect impacts on the quality of women’s lives in Europe.’



Economy and development



Iraq: ICRC to expand initiative to alleviate hardship and restore dignity

Geneva/Baghdad,14March - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has announced plans to expand its micro-grant initiative in Iraq following a trial period, which saw hundreds of disadvantaged Iraqis start their own businesses and begin earning much-needed income.

An estimated one million women are shouldering the burden of caring for their families alone because their husbands have been killed or arrested, or have gone missing. In addition, tens of thousands of men and women around the country have been disabled by war injuries.

In an effort to help needy Iraqis get back on their feet and create ways to support themselves and their families, the ICRC launched its micro-grant initiative in 2008. The programme has so far made over 800 grants enabling almost 5,000 people in Baghdad, Ninewa, Kirkuk, Diyala, Basra-Missan, Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaimaniya governorates to set up businesses.

The ICRC is looking forward to expanding the grant programme in 2011 so that even more people will benefit, particularly in the areas hardest hit by violence.


Walmart commits more than $2.5 million to empower women in Latin America

Bentonville, Ark., USA, 10 March - The Walmart Foundation is committing more than $2.5 million in grants to projects aimed at improving the lives of women in Latin America. Through the Latin America Women's Initiative, projects funded in six countries will help empower more than 9,000 women, building their capacity to rise out of poverty, support their families and improve their communities. This initiative is part of Walmart's broader efforts to improve economic opportunities for women around the world.

The Walmart Foundation funds initiatives focused on education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From Feb. 1, 2009 through Jan. 31, 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $512 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally, $467 million of which was donated in the U.S.


New Project won: RussiaNorth Caucasus agricultural development project

10 March – ACDI/VOCA has won a $7 million, four-year North Caucasus Agricultural Development Project (ADP), funded by USAID, to strengthen agricultural value chains to reduce poverty and mitigate conflict. Russia’s North Caucasus is a region with significant social, economic and security problems ranging from conflict to poverty to high-unemployment rates to low-living standards. ACDI/VOCA takes a value chain approach to its development work as a proven strategy to jumpstart economic growth and poverty reduction. In the North Caucasus program, ACDI/VOCA’s technical experts will address production, processing and marketing constraints to increase the economic viability of 12 key value chains.

As part of USAID’s North Caucasus conflict mitigation strategy, the program expects to benefit more than 200,000 economically vulnerable people, including unemployed agricultural workers, youth and women, who otherwise may be drawn into criminal economic activities.

ACDI/VOCA staff will collaborate with local authorities and organizations to drive economic growth in the republics of Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.

ADP staff will strengthen and ensure the long-term sustainability of key local organizations that support producers, processors and other stakeholders.

These organizations will include cooperatives, associations, agricultural extension services, vocational training institutions and others.


The United States commits $12 million to foster economic growth in Lebanon

On March 9, Ambassador Maura Connelly inaugurated the five-year, $12 million Developing Hydroponics to Access International Markets (DHAIM) program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  The DHAIM program will help establish hydroponic production of high-value fruit, vegetables and flowers in Lebanon with the long-term goal of improving earnings and livelihoods of rural Lebanese producers in this sector.  The launch event included the signing of sub-agreements between ACDI/VOCA, the primary implementing partner, and seven local sub-partners for the implementation of DHAIM activities.

DHAIM uses a value chain approach to enhance Lebanon’s greenhouse sector producing lettuce, capsicum, strawberry, tomato, cucumber, and floriculture.  It will target approximately 1000 greenhouse owner representing over one third of the greenhouse producers of these crops in Lebanon, and is expected to increase related exports by at least 50 percent.  DHAIM will partner with local organizations to increase access to markets, strengthen value chain linkages, increase access to credit, train smallholder greenhouse producers, and to improve post-harvest handling.  Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture will facilitate market intelligence and business development; NGOs and foundations will handle extension services and farmers’ training. They will host demonstration centers and have master trainers in hydroponics technology.


Closing the gender gap in agriculture

FAO report makes strong business case for investing in women

Rome, 7 March - If women in rural areas had the same access to land, technology, financial services, education and markets as men, agricultural production could be increased and the number of hungry people reduced by 100-150 million, FAO said today in its 2010-11 edition of The State of Food and Agriculture report.

Yields on plots managed by women are lower than those managed by men, the report said. But this is not because women are worse farmers than men. They simply do not have the same access to inputs. If they did, their yields would go up, they would produce more and overall agricultural production would increase, the report said. 

"The report makes a powerful business case for promoting gender equality in agriculture," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. Just giving women the same access as men to agricultural resources could increase production on women's farms in developing countries by 20 to 30 percent. This could raise total agricultural production in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 percent, which could in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent, or 100 to 150 million people. An estimated 925 million people in the world were undernourished in 2010, of which 906 million live in developing countries.






Save the Children deploys emergency response teams to tsunami-affected areas in Japan

Westport, Conn., USA, 13 March – Save the Children has sent emergency response teams to assess the needs of children and their families in the worst affected tsunami areas between Miyagi Prefecature and Tokyo in Japan.

“We are extremely concerned for children in tsunami-affected areas that are at risk because of a triple whammy of life-threatening incidents including an earthquake, tsunami and now an incident at a nuclear reactor,” Stephen McDonald, Save the Children’s team leader in Japan said.

The Save the Children teams will be within 80 miles of the nuclear reactor at Fukushima where there has been an explosion. In the area around the reactor, the authorities have set up a 12 mile radius exclusion zone, and have reported that up 170,000 people have been evacuated.

Evacuations centers are being established in the area and along the tsunami-affected coast to accommodate people, and it will be important that children’s needs are met while parents register for help and assistance from authorities. “We’re looking to set up child-friendly spaces in the worst affected areas. These spaces provide children with an opportunity to play safely with other children while freeing up their parents to work on the recovery,” added McDonald.


ACT donates more food to displaced victims in Preah Vihear

By Ratna Leak

8 March – In Cambodia's Kulen district, in Preah Vihear province, ACT Alliance has donated 30 tons of food worth US$41,092 to people displaced by fighting between Cambodian and Thai troops around Preah Vihear temple in February. The humanitarian aid was channelled through Life With Dignity (LWD), a Cambodian NGO in the Cambodia ACT forum. The ACT Alliance aid was administered by LWD to address the emerging needs of the victims in cooperation with the National Committee for Disaster Management, DanChurchAid, Christian Aid and Church World Service. (...)

According to Chan Vibol, who leads the LWD Emergency Response Team, 2,420 out of 2,678 families who are staying at Takueng Displaced People Camp in Kulen district were identified by the joint assessment team as the most vulnerable families. They were classified into two groups—the first group consisted of 697 families of which each family has more than 3 female members, and the second group consisted of 1,723 families. Families received packages with basic foodstuffs. (…)


Gambia: Red Cross assists over 400 Senegalese refugees

Banjul, 8 March - More than 400 Senegalese refugees in Gambia will receive three-month food rations, sleeping mats, clothing, soap and hygiene kits from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Gambia Red Cross Society over the coming days.

The southern Senegalese region of Casamance has witnessed new rounds of clashes between the Senegalese armed forces and armed groups since late December 2010. Hundreds of people have fled their homes, seeking refuge with host families across the border in Gambia and swelling the ranks of some 6,000 Senegalese refugees already present in the neighbouring country.

Through its newly opened mission in Banjul, the ICRC will continue to assess the situation of these refugees and of any others who may arrive in the country. The ICRC is working in close cooperation with the Gambian Red Cross and coordinating its actions with the Gambian authorities and other humanitarian agencies.


The fight against poverty and social exclusion

The European Union has pledged to lift at least 20 million people out of poverty over the next ten years. As a contribution towards achieving this target, on 7 March the Council adopted conclusions backing the Commission's proposal to create a platform against poverty and social exclusion. This platform provides a framework for the development of national strategies and for policy coordination between the member states and with the EU. It proposes a series of actions to tackle poverty by encouraging and developing more effective and innovative methods and instruments.

The implementation of the initiative does not necessarily require more spending, but a better use of funds. Efforts and instruments must be combined at EU and national levels, with a particular focus on groups most at risk of social exclusion. Emphasis should be put on areas which are likely to have the most decisive impact. The structural funds should support social inclusion and social innovation.

Poverty is a widespread phenomenon in the EU, affecting 8 % of Europeans who cannot afford the basics. More than 80 million people - 16% of the population, and 19% of the children - are currently at risk of poverty. The crisis has hit the most vulnerable hardest.


DCA allocates DKK750.000 to aid Libyan refugees

By Lisbeth Engbo

3 March - DanChurchAid allocates DKK 750,000 for emergency relief supplies to refugees from the civil riots in Libya. “Together with the ACT Alliance we have sent out a team in charge of assessing how to best help the refugees”, says DanChurchAid ‘s Humanitarian Director, Lisa Henry. To begin with, the ACT Alliance will focus on helping the refugees who have crossed from Libya into Tunisia over the past two days. More than 25.000 people have reportedly created a huge bottleneck on the Tunisian side of the border due to lack of onward transportation.

According to new estimates, up to 147.000 people have fled Libya to Egypt, Tunisia and Niger. Thousands of people are stuck on the Libyan side of the border with Tunisia and are not allowed to cross. They are stranded without access to food, health, water and sanitation.



Peace and security



Video on deadly cluster bomb legacy in Laos wins CNN award

London, 16 March – An original video news report on the devastating impact of cluster bombs in Lao PDR won the first-ever CNN iReport Community Choice Award, CNN announced on 15 March.

The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) worked with reporter Samantha Bolton and an independent video production team to release the video, “Clearing cluster bombs on the Ho Chi Minh Trail,” from Lao PDR during the historic First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in November 2010.

The short video focuses on the decades-old cluster bomb problem in Lao PDR and documents the work being done today by civil society and governments to tackle the humanitarian problems caused by unexploded cluster bombs in affected countries around the world.

“To shoot this video, demining professionals walked us through forests infested with cluster bombs, where we saw how children playing and farmers ploughing still risk being blown up long after the Vietnam War ended,” said Bolton. “Getting the most votes to win the CNN iReport award shows just how many people and organisations care about eradicating cluster bombs in affected countries like Laos, and how good they are at mobilising. Great work everyone!”

The CNN iReport Community Choice award called on viewers to vote for the video they thought embodied the best of CNN iReport in 2010. Competition was stiff, with 30 nominees across six categories. To view “Clearing cluster bombs on the Ho Chi Minh Trail,” visit:


UN-backed talks on future of Western Sahara to resume next week

3 March – Delegations of the parties to the Western Sahara dispute, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, and the two neighbouring States, Algeria and Mauritania, will gather in Malta on Monday for two days of United Nations-backed informal meetings as agreed during their last round of talks in January. Morocco has presented a plan for autonomy while the position of the Frente Polisario is that the territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum on self-determination that includes independence as an option.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) reported that Frente Polisario has destroyed another 1,506 anti-personnel mines in its stockpiles in line with international efforts to end the use of the explosives, which kill and main indiscriminately.

To date, a total of 10,148 mines have been destroyed, according to a news release issued by MINURSO, which added that its Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC) conducted the quality control of the stockpile destruction, while the UN Mine Action Service’s (UNMAS) implementing partner, Landmine Action UK, provided technical support.  


UN opens office to help Central African nations consolidate peace, prevent conflict

2 March – The United Nations today opened a new political office designed to support the efforts of Central African nations to consolidate peace and prevent conflict, as well as to tackle cross-border challenges such as arms trafficking and organized crime.

The UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) has an initial mandate of two years and will be headed by a Special Representative, who will be appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It will work closely with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), which comprises Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe.

UNOCA is the third regional political office set up by the world body to promote preventive diplomacy and assist regions to manage shared problems and crises, and follows the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA). (…)


Mine action field staff meet in Serbia

In the period between the 28th of February to the 4th of March, the Norwegian People's Aid regional office in Belgrade, Serbia, hosted the 7th operations meeting for field staff from NPA mine action programmes and partner organizations from 14 countries where NPA works with removing the devastating effects of landmines, cluster sub-munitions and other explosive remnants of war. The meeting was attended by NPA staff and partner organizations from Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Serbia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Vietnam.

The important issues analyzed, discussed as well as solutions suggested will be further developed at the NPA meeting for programme managers of mine action programmes in Oslo in August 2011.  


Cypriot leaders hold UN-sponsored talks on reunification; meet again on Friday

28 February – Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders today held the first of two top-level meetings scheduled for this week, under United Nations sponsorship, as they intensified their efforts to reunify the Mediterranean island which has been split for almost 50 years.

The leaders have met more than 90 times since the UN-sponsored talks began in 2008 with the aim of setting up a federal government with a single international personality in a bi-zonal, bi-communal country, with Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot constituent states of equal status.

The Secretary-General met with both leaders in Geneva at the end of January, and the two agreed to intensify the reunification talks for an island that has been split since inter-communal violence erupted in 1964. One of the major issues that have to be resolved concerns property. The Greek Cypriots say those with property in the north should be able to seek reinstatement, while Turkish Cypriots say that if all property owners were allowed reinstatement, it would be impossible for Turkish Cypriots to secure bizonality. They want a ceiling on those who can have properties reinstated instead of compensation.   


Ban welcomes resolution of situation in UN compound in Gabon

27 February – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the peaceful resolution of the situation regarding a group of people in Gabon who had been in the compound of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the country's capital, Libreville, since 25 January. (...)

Mr. Ban welcomed the willingness of the people of Gabon to work together to ensure that differences were resolved peacefully in order to preserve the peace and stability.

“The Secretary-General reaffirms his readiness to continue working with the Government and the people of Gabon to help bring peace, stability and prosperity to the Central Africa sub-region, particularly as the United Nations sets up the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa in the Gabonese capital, Libreville,” the statement added.  


ITF and Serbian Mine Action Centre have signed Memorandum of understanding

24 February - By signing the Memorandum of Understanding in Belgrade on 24 February 2011, ITF and Serbian Mine Action Centre (SMAC) agreed to strengthen its cooperation on clearance of cluster munitions, bombs and other unexploded ordnance and also to extend its cooperation on destruction of surplus conventional weapons in Republic of Serbia, with an aim to raise the level of human security and socio-economic development of country.

Long-standing cooperation between the ITF and SMAC has began with the establishment of SMAC in 2002 and the start of mine action activities in Republic of Serbia in 2003.

In year 2010, 813.050 square meters of land, contaminated with cluster munitions, bombs and other unexploded ordnance, was cleared. With this new Memorandum of Understanding, ITF and SMAC agreed to extend their cooperation on destruction of surplus conventional weapons, what is in accordance with ITF Strategy 2009-2013.  


1 August 2011: Plan a sports event to celebrate the first anniversary of the CCM’s entry into force

On 1 August 2011, the Cluster Munition Convention (CMC) will mark the first anniversary of the Convention’s entry into force with campaign events worldwide. The CMC will call on all states to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and will mark this day with a sports theme.  This theme was inspired by successful events such as the wheelchair basketball event held at the COPE reception during the First Meeting of States Parties in Lao PDR and the “Rumble in Cartagena” wheelchair rugby match on the sidelines of the Cartagena Summit on a mine-free world, which won the Sports Event for Peace Award 2010.

Campaigners will be encouraged to organise or participate in sporting events including sports events for people with disabilities, as a way of celebrating the anniversary of the Convention’s entry into force and urging governments to join and implement the Convention.

A logo and campaign slogan on this theme will be developed that can be used throughout 2011 and in particular on the 1 August campaign action day. An action alert on this day of action will soon be shared with the campaign. We welcome your input and ideas on a campaign slogan!






Pediatric HIV/AIDS clinic opens in Mbeya, Tanzania

10 March - The doors to a specialized pediatric HIV/AIDS outpatient clinic in Tanzania opened today in Mbeya, the region with the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country.  The Mbeya pediatric center was established through a public-private partnership between the Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI), Texas Children’s Hospital, the Abbott Fund, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Tanzania.

The Baylor College of Medicine-Texas Children's Hospital-Abbott Fund Children's Clinical Centre of Excellence-Tanzania is located on the grounds of the Mbeya Referral Hospital which serves a population of over 2.4 million. HIV prevalence in Mbeya fell from a high of 13.5 percent in 2004 to 9.2 percentin 2008, but is still estimated to affect nearly one in ten adults.

The Abbott Fund committed more than $2.5 million to the project, which will be run by BIPAI and its local non-government organization affiliate the Baylor College of Medicine Children's Foundation-Tanzania. The clinic will be staffed almost exclusively by Tanzanian personnel, augmented by a small number of BIPAI and Texas Children's Global Child Health pediatricians, who will assist in care and treatment, as well as building local health professional capacity through education, training and mentoring. USAID will provide funds for ongoing care and treatment operations at the center through President Obama's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).


UEFA donation for Afghanistan mine victims

Geneva/Nyon, 8 March - Football star Carles Puyol of FC Barcelona is donating to the ICRC the 100,000 euro he has received from UEFA as captain of the users' Team of the Year 2010. The donation will support the ICRC's physical rehabilitation programme in Afghanistan.

UEFA began its partnership with the ICRC in 1997 with support for its anti-landmine campaign. This will be the fourth time that the ICRC will benefit from the cheque offered by UEFA in connection with the selection of the users' Team of the Year. The donations are used to support the ICRC rehabilitation project providing landmine victims in Afghanistan with artificial limbs, physiotherapy and vocational training.

More than 60 people are killed or maimed by landmines in Afghanistan every month. The ICRC's limb-fitting and rehabilitation programme has helped more than 90,000 mine victims and other disabled people since it was established in 1988. Apart from supporting their physical rehabilitation, the ICRC also helps disabled people play an active role in society by financing education, vocational training, employment and small business activities.


MSF delivers more medicine and supplies, by road and boat, to areas affected by violence

8 March - Access to areas further west is still extremely difficult, while medical doctors in a number of locations have requested MSF's support. MSF is working on delivering more drugs and supplies. On March 6, an MSF team headed for Ras Lanuf was unable to continue due to high insecurity.

Since the first MSF team was able to cross the Egyptian border into Libya on February 24, MSF has been assessing the situation in various medical facilities in Benghazi and surrounding areas like Brega and Ajdabya, as well as donating medical supplies.

So far, MSF has delivered 22 tons of medical equipment and supplies to Benghazi, including drugs, burn kits, dressings, sutures, and external fixators to the Benghazi central pharmacy. Currently, 11 more tons of supplies are on the way to Benghazi, ready to be dispatched to areas where the ongoing fighting has created supply shortages and needs.

The MSF team continues to try and access Ras Lanuf and other areas further into western Libya, but insecurity and fighting continue to make such assessments impossible.


Mosques, schools, hospitals made accessible to disabled Afghans

Posted by: Karen Matthee

25 February 25 - CPI [Clear Path International] has been at the forefront of developing practical guidelines for the construction of physical accessibility ramps in Afghanistan.

With special funding from the Weapons Removal and Abatement section of the U.S. Department of State's Political Military Affairs Department, CPI has developed pilot projects in conjunction with three of its implementing partners. Each partner undertook physical accessibility project sites at key public buildings in different provinces where unmet needs were prioritized and where security conditions permitted the projects to be undertaken.

In Kabul, Accessibility Organization for Afghan Disabled (AOAD) developed and implemented access ramps at four locations, including three mosques: a neighborhood mosque that functioned as a polling station in last year's parliamentary election; a larger community mosque with a rare co-educational madrassa; and one of the highest profile mosques in all of Afghanistan, the Eid Gah Mosque, where several VIPs regularly worship and where important funeral prayers of martyrs are held.

In Kapisa Province, north of Kabul, Afghan Amputee Bicyclists for Rehabilitation and Recreation (AABRAR) developed and implemented access ramps at several diverse sites. In Balkh Province, in the north of Afghanistan, Afghan Landmine Survivor Organization (ALSO) constructed access ramps at several educational settings across Mazar-i Sharif, the main city of Balkh. (…)


End Polio Now: Rotary lights up the world

24 February - Most people celebrate a birthday with cake - but not Rotary International. Living up to their motto, 'Service Above Self', Rotarians instead used the organization's 106th anniversary to spread the message about polio eradication.

So after the bell was rung and the New York Stock Exchange closed yesterday, a message was beamed onto the side of the building - 'End Polio Now'. This powerful message was also beamed onto around 20 of the world's most famous landmarks including the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Charminar in India and Kanazawa Castle in Japan. And when the Stock Exchange's closing bell was rung, it was Rotary's president, Ray Klinginsmith, who was there to do it.

Rotary International's most important mission has been to eradicate polio. Since 1988, Rotary has raised more than US$1 billion for polio eradication, and moved governments and private foundations to give much more. More than 1 million Rotarians have volunteered for the cause, helping to immunize more than two billion children in 122 countries.

This year, those at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined in the celebrations, supporting their fellow polio warriors by illuminating the side of their Seattle headquarters with Rotary's message. Other landmarks lit up include the parliament building in The Hague, Netherlands; the soccer stadium in Cape Town, South Africa; a gate at the Lantern Festival in Taiwan; the government building in Karachi, Pakistan; the planetarium in Seoul, Korea and the Globe of the Mall of Asia in the Philippines.



Energy and safety



Over 400 wind, solar and biogas industry players expected at Ontario Feed-in Tariff Supply Chain Forum

Toronto, Canada, 11 March - Over 400 developers, manufacturers, service providers and scheme administrators are expected at the second Ontario Feed-in Tariff Supply Chain Forum on April 19-20 in Toronto. This industry critical conference is a proven must attend event for renewable energy experts. Last year's event sold-out a week in advance and the April Forum is on track to do the same.

The forum provides a much needed platform for wind, solar and biogas developers, manufacturers and suppliers to explore the tremendous opportunities created by North America’s most ambitious feed-in tariff. It offers the very latest updates on manufacturing capacity, domestic content requirements, supply chain opportunities, and financing. It also covers the most critical questions facing FIT forum participants including updates on the province’s transmission expansion plans and managing political uncertainty in the run-up to Ontario's election next October.

Over 60 speakers from top renewable energy manufacturers, developers and suppliers are confirmed on the agenda including representatives from Canadian Solar, Siemens, GE Energy, Vestas, Brookfield Asset Management, International Power Canada, Recurrent Energy, Enercon, Silfab, and Suncor Energy. Speakers also include representatives from the Ontario government and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) which is administering the FIT program. SkyPower Limited is sponsoring a special breakfast session where OPA representatives will be taking questions.


Ministers commit to review the world crop gene pool

Bali meeting sees climate benefits of genetic diversity in edible plants

Bali, Indonesia, 11 March - Agriculture ministers and senior officials from more than 100 countries have committed to review the global crop gene pool of the International Treaty on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and urged those countries who have not signed the farming biodiversity treaty to do so as soon as possible.

The ministers paved the way forward on the eve of a meeting of the Treaty's Governing Body in Bali, Indonesia on March 14-18, adopting a lengthy declaration designed to steer the Treaty's future course to face food insecurity and climate change.

The Treaty, which came into force in 2004, creates a multilateral system through which member countries share the genetic material of 64 of the most important crops for food security - crops that account for over 80 percent of our plant-sourced food.

127 countries have already signed the Treaty with more signatures in the pipeline.


DOE Honors Minnkota Power Cooperative with 2010 Wind Cooperative of the Year Award

March 11 - The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Program, through its Wind Powering America initiative, announced that Minnkota Power Cooperative has received the 2010 Wind Cooperative of the Year Award. The award was presented at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) TechAdvantage Conference in Orlando, Florida. This 10th annual award honors the North Dakota-based NRECA member for its outstanding leadership, innovation, project creativity and benefits to customers resulting from North Dakota’s first utility-owned wind turbine and its other investments wind power. The cooperative was selected for the honor from a group of eight nominees nationwide.

Minnkota Power Cooperative has executed wind energy power purchase agreements (with FPL Energy, among others) which guarantee that energy from several wind projects will be purchased and used.


Alcoa leads the way in responsible e-waste recycling - Earns e-Stewards Enterprise designation

Seattle, WA, USA 7 March – The Basel Action Network (BAN) announced today that Alcoa has become an e-Stewards® Enterprise, recognition for the company’s commitment to responsible recycling practices for its electronic waste (e-waste) in North America and advocating the responsible disposal of e-waste everywhere. The distinction is granted to companies that agree to always make best efforts to use only e-Stewards® Electronics Recyclers.

“Consumer electronics represents a fast-growing market for aluminum, with the aluminum content in laptops alone expected to increase 30 percent by 2013 from a 2010 baseline,” said Alcoa’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Kevin Anton. "By joining the e-Stewards Enterprise program, Alcoa brings its long-standing environmental stewardship and expertise to help solve the growing e-waste challenge.”

Alcoa is a recognized sustainability leader and has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for nine consecutive years..

The Basel Action Network, an environmental organization dedicated to promoting responsible e-waste recycling practices and preventing toxic trade.



Environment and wildlife



Key Russian fishery joins sustainability lobby

Hamburg, Germany, posted on 11 March - A key Russian fisheries organisation is to join WWF in lobbying government for more sustainable policy and management measures for one of the world's most important whitefish fisheries.

The influential Alaska or Walleye Pollock Catchers Association (PCA) - one of the governing bodies of the Russian pollock fishery -  has agreed to join WWF in lobbying for the adoption of governmental policies to place independent fishery observers onboard trawling vessels and the adoption of WWF Russia proposals into the Russian National Strategy on fighting illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fisheries.

The new partnership will also push the signing of the bi-lateral port control agreement with Japan and China, and establishing a fishery protection zone in the Sea of Okhotsk.

The Association also agreed that it is necessary to create a fund to finance the transfer to improved vessel monitoring measures, to develop and adopt methodology on IUU catch assessments in conjunction with the Russian Federal Fishery Agency, the Russian Coast Guard, the Russian Customs Service and independent experts, and to assess capacity of the Russian Far East fishing fleet versus available fish stocks to avoid fleet over-capacity.

United States-Alaskan Pollock fisheries, have received Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification; however the Russian Pollock fishery is not yet ready for successful certification. The lobbying efforts that the PCA have now committed to are positive steps towards rectifying this situation and then moving ahead with MSC certification.


Aussies do their bit on Clean Up Australia Day

6 March – An estimated 562,511 volunteers are pitching in for Clean Up Australia Day – showing that even as the wild weather leaves a trail of destruction across the nation, it has not dented Australia’s community spirit.

Armed with gloves and bags, volunteers gathered at 7,400 registered sites across Australia to participate in the 21st Clean Up Australia Day. Focusing on our nation’s beaches, streets, parks, bushland and waterways, volunteers removed the country’s most frequently dropped items – including cigarette butts and recyclables such as glass, plastics and paper – as well as clearing flood, cyclone and bushfire debris. This year’s preliminary results reveal that an estimated 562,511 volunteers are removing a staggering 16,280 tonnes of rubbish from 7,400 sites around the country. This includes 216 priority sites registered by Brisbane City Council.

Over its 21 year history volunteers have transformed the nation on Clean Up Australia Day. In total, they have devoted more than 25 million hours, removing an estimated 253,780 tonnes of rubbish.



Religion and spirituality



Interfaith Encounters – Citizens Building Communities

We form and maintain on-going interfaith encounter groups, or centers, that bring together neighboring communities across the country.  Each center is led by an interfaith coordinating team with one person for each community in the area.

The goal of this group is to develop into a “mini-community” that exemplifies the desired relations of mutual respect and friendship while respecting and reinforcing the unique identity of each community. These groups then act as models for the surrounding community of how multiple faiths can live side by side in peace while becoming growing islands of coexistence communities.

The backbone of the groups’ process is the monthly session of joint study. Dedicated to one theme each time, these sessions usually open with a short presentation followed by joint study and discussion of the beliefs, practices and sacred texts of the respective traditions.

Women’s Interfaith Encounters (WIE) In these encounters, Muslim, Christian, Druze and Jewish women study topics of relevance to women from the perspective of the different religions.  Not only is interfaith study is used as a vehicle  for understanding, acceptance and respect for the “other”, but also as a way to deepen awareness of one’s own religion.

Youth Interfaith Encounters (YIE) The YIE is a special place for young adults to have interfaith encounters with their counterparts of other faiths.  These encounters are run by young people, for young people.  Similar to the general groups and the WIE groups, the YIE groups also develop into “mini-communities” that seek to induce the desired change in the larger society.  The YIE also acts as a gateway for young adults to join the interfaith encounter process.



Culture and education



Education International: research is 'key tool to substantiate our claims'

11 March - The General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, has told participants who gathered at the seventh EI Research Network meeting, to press on because “without research or data on a raft of indicators, it is virtually impossible to achieve our objectives.” He added: “We will increasingly need to undertake research activities and become more dependent on this work. We have incredible potential with our combined capacities. The challenge is to use that potential in the most efficient and effective way.”

Discussing EI' sixth World Congress, to be held in Cape Town during July 2011, Mr. van Leeuwen said: “Congress will address professional issues, education and public services, democracy and human and trade union rights...[and]... invite us to undertake studies on topics such as teacher migration.” He finished by reminding participants that research is a core EI activity and indispensable to defend members and help us achieve our objectives (…).


New support pledged for African cinema


Education researchers gather to ‘measure what we value’

8 March - Participants have gathered at the Education International Research Network meeting to discuss the global threats to unions from the reduction in public expenditure on education and privatisation, to testing and ranking systems that only tell part of the story.

The two-day event is being held in Brussels, Belgium, and is attended by representatives of EI affiliates from across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America who gather to hear about the latest research developments and share experiences from their own national and regional contexts.

EI’s Research Co-ordinator, Guntars Catlaks, opened the 7th Network event by reviewing the policy landscape that has emerged in education. He described the fiscal consolidation practises that have accelerated because of IMF pressures on governments to reduce deficit levels, and explained how this was leading to austerity measures in public services and a greater reliance on public-private finance initiatives. He demonstrated with examples how this was having the impact of teachers being asked to do more with less, creating precarious working conditions, with more insecure tenures, and a greater prevalence of performance related pay offers.



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Next issue: 8 April 2011.


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

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