Good News Agency – Year XI, n° 185



Weekly – Year XI, number 185 – 8th April 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



European Parliament alliance to protect children in Europe and beyond

30 March - Children make up a third of the world’s population, but seldom come first with the world's politicians. In Europe, 20% of minors live below the poverty line and many lack access to basic rights. To combat this problem, the Treaty of Lisbon made the protection of minors an objective for all EU policies. In order to pursue this goal, last week the Parliament constituted the "Alliance for Children". EP Vice-President Roberta Angelilli, who is promoting the initiative, told us more.

Why did you create the "alliance" and who will participate?

The goal of the Alliance is to defend minors in internal and external policies, mainstreaming their rights in all the actions and programs of the EU. The group has the support of UNICEF and other non-governmental organisations committed to the defence of children. It is backed by the presidents of seven EP committees (Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Civil Liberties, Development, Women, Culture and Petitions). Now we want to extend it to more members, because the Lisbon Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights acknowledge children as full citizens of the EU, and therefore give us the possibility to transpose this principle into law.


UN-backed tribunal concludes appeal hearing for convicted Khmer Rouge figure

30 March – The United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia dealing with mass killings and other crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge three decades ago today concluded the appeal hearing for the former head of a notorious detention camp who was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity last year.

Kaing Guek Eav, whose alias is Duch, was sentenced last July to 35 years in prison by the trial chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), with a five-year reduction to remedy his illegal detention at a Cambodian military court.

The court found that Mr. Kaing not only implemented, but also actively contributed to the development of the policies of the Communist Party of Kampuchea at the S-21 camp, where numerous Cambodians were unlawfully detained, subjected to inhumane conditions and forced labour, tortured and executed in the late 1970s.

The Supreme Court Chamber is expected to hand down its appeals judgment in a few months. The appeal took place as the ECCC prepares for its second case concerning the four most senior members of the Democratic Kampuchea regime who are still alive.


Lithuania ratifies treaty banning cluster bombs

London, 28 March – The Republic of Lithuania ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 24 March 2011. The treaty will enter into force nationally on 1 September 2011, making Lithuania the 55th State Party.

More than half of the 108 countries that signed the treaty have now ratified, and the Cluster Munition Coalition urges the remaining 53 to ratify promptly and all other countries to accede to the Convention without delay.

Lithuania signed the Convention in Oslo in December 2008, after participating in the Oslo Process to negotiate the treaty. Lithuania is not believed to possess a stockpile of cluster munitions and has stated that it never used, produced or transferred the weapons. Lithuania is the first Baltic state to sign and ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions; Estonia and Latvia have not yet joined.


Mozambique ratifies treaty banning cluster munitions

London, 21 March – The Republic of Mozambique ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 14 March - The treaty will enter into force nationally on 1 September 2011, making Mozambique the 54th State Party.

The 2008 Convention comprehensively bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, sets strict deadlines for clearance of contaminated land and destruction of stockpiles of the weapon, and includes groundbreaking provisions for assistance to victims and affected communities. A total of 108 countries have signed the treaty, which entered into force as binding international law on 1 August 2010. Its historic First Meeting of States Parties was held in November 2010 in Lao PDR – the most heavily cluster-bombed country in the world.

Mozambique signed the Convention on 3 December 2008 and is not believed to have used, produced, transferred or stockpiled cluster munitions. It was one of three African countries to attend the launch of the Oslo Process that led to the treaty and during negotiations was  a strong advocate for a comprehensive ban without exceptions, and for far-reaching provisions on victim assistance and international cooperation and assistance.



Human rights



DR Congo: UN provides logistical support for rape trial of army general

30 March – United Nations human rights officials are providing technical and logistical support to military justice authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the rape trial of General Jerôme Kakwavu, the highest ranking national army officer to be prosecuted for such crimes. UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) spokesperson Madnodje Mounoubai told a news conference in Kinshasa today. “The joint human rights bureau acknowledges the efforts undertaken by military justice in the fight against impunity,” he said. Welcoming the opening of General Kakwavu’s trial yesterday, Ms. Wallström said: “These actions send a powerful signal that no military or political leader is above the law, and no woman is below it. In addition to prosecution, there is a need for reparation of victims. It is vital that survivors receive assistance, in particular medical interventions. The aim is not only to bring the perpetrators of sexual violence to justice, but also to ensure that victims obtain justice and care.”


Improving people's protection in war

Geneva, 28 March – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is adding a selection of national practice of 30 countries to its database on customary international humanitarian law on 30 March. This is the first of a series of updates of national practice that will be made available on the database in the coming years.

Practice of countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America has been ascertained by studying military manuals, national legislation, case law and official statements and reports, all of which have been translated into English, analysed and now made available in one single online source on customary international humanitarian law.

Updates of State practice from about 100 countries will be available by mid-2012 on the database which the ICRC developed with the British Red Cross. The practice relates to current armed conflicts and issues of humanitarian concern such as the distinction between combatants and civilians, the use of certain weapons, recruitment of child soldiers, and war crimes.

Customary international humanitarian law is a set of unwritten rules derived from a general or common State practice generating a custom which is regarded as legally binding. It lays down the basic standard of conduct in armed conflict demanded by the world community and is universally applicable. Under customary law it is not necessary for a State to formally accept a rule to be bound by it, provided that the overall State practice on which the rule is based is widespread, representative and virtually uniform. Customary law is especially important in non-international armed conflicts, for which treaty law is less well developed.



Economy and development



IFAD signs US$3 million loan for poverty reduction programme in Grenada

Six-year US$7.5 million Market Access and Rural Enterprise Programme to benefit 50 rural communities

Rome, 30 March – Representatives from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Grenada signed a US$3 million loan today in Rome for a new poverty reduction programme that will benefit some 12,000 poor rural people in Grenada and Carriacou. The six-year US$7.5 million Market Access and Rural Enterprise Development Programme will create jobs, improve market access, and support rural micro-enterprise development in 50 communities.  The Government of Grenada will provide US$2.2 million in co-financing, with the Caribbean Development Bank providing another US$2.3 million.

“Despite its relatively high Gross National Income, the rural areas of Grenada still suffer from high levels of poverty,” said Jaana Keitaanranta, IFAD Country Programme Manager for Grenada. “Families living in rural areas are also more vulnerable to natural disasters, have limited natural resources and few opportunities to find a job. With this in mind, we worked with the Government of Grenada to design a programme that will give young people new opportunities, reduce reliance on high-priced food imports by strengthening the agricultural sector, and promote entrepreneurship.”

Implemented by the Grenada Ministry of Finance, the programme seeks to improve access to financial services, strengthen community organizations and producers associations, and support a national advocacy campaign that addresses gender and youth issues.

Contacts: Greg Benchwick, Regional Communications Specialist:   


Small-scale fishers in the Coral Triangle get big break in global market

Mindoro, Philippines, posted on 29 March –– Tuna handline fishers in the Philippines now have a better chance at competing in European markets through a private-public partnership between WWF, Blueyou Consultancy, European seafood companies and the Government of Germany.

Strict European Union policies on sourcing tuna plus increasing consumer demand for responsibly-caught seafood have made it difficult for small-scale fishers in impoverished tuna producing countries to stay on par with global standards, oftentimes losing out on profitable market opportunities.

“Through this partnership, we aim to create enabling conditions for small-scale fisheries to move towards a more sustainable management regime and generate more equitable market benefits in the long term,” says Dr Jose Ingles, WWF Coral Triangle Programme Tuna Strategy Leader.

The project, which focuses on handline-caught Yellowfin tuna, will be implemented in identified pilot sites in the Philippines for four years, in partnership with the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and relevant local government units. It will guide fishers to move towards meeting the sustainability criteria of the Marine Stewardship Council—the world's leading certification and ecolabelling program for sustainable seafood.


The twenty two month food facility project of DCA-Ethiopia is funded by the European Union as a rapid response to the soaring food prices in Ethiopia

20 March - Taking into consideration food security through increased crop production amongst the highest priorities of the Ethiopian government, the project was launched in January 2010 in the three districts located in Amhara Region of Ethiopia. These districts; Ambassel, Werilu and Meket are amongst the highly affected districts by food insecurity and soaring food prices in the country. The project, with a title Capacity Enhancement Program to Promote Food Security in Amhara Region, targeted a total of 23,750 beneficiaries in the three districts. The overall objective of the project is to contribute to the improvement of food security status at household level. The specific objectives are; increased crops productivity, enhanced accessibility to improved seeds, better implementation capacity of the safety net program as well as improved market access for small holder farmers.

Key stakeholders are food insecure farmers with small farmlands including female headed households, who are exposed to drought, dependent on natural resources that are already degraded and lack essential inputs. Farmers’ cooperatives and unions, agricultural and rural development offices at the district and regional levels are also amongst the stakeholders.

The project has been realizing its objectives through implementation of different activities related to improvement of soil fertility, improved soil moisture, agricultural extension services, water development/rain water harvesting, income generating activities and Marketing.


Save the Children announces $400,000 Walmart grant for women’s empowerment in El Salvador

Tanya Weinberg

Westport, Conn., USA, March 18 - Impoverished women in El Salvador whose community was badly damaged by a hurricane in 2009 will have new opportunities to improve theirs and their families’ well-being though a new partnership between Walmart and Save the Children.

Save the Children announced today that it will use a $400,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to provide new economic opportunities to up to 3,000 women in San Pedro Masahuat, which suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Ida.

Save the Children plans to use the Walmart Foundation’s grant to work with 3,000 women over the next two years. The project will identify women who are recognized as community leaders and provide them with the economic, marketing and technical skills they need to start small businesses. The women will then serve as mentors and will help other women start their own income-generating activities. Save the Children anticipates that 10,800 women and their family members will directly benefit from the project. (...)






Japanese Rotarians use district grant to meet humanitarian, educational needs

By Dan Nixon

Rotary International News, 1 April - During the first year of the Future Vision pilot, many clubs and districts have gained experience with the new, simplified grants structure offered under The Rotary Foundation’s Future Vision Plan. District 2650 (Japan) has supported more than 40 projects this year alone.

District leaders got a head start by asking clubs to identify projects they would like to carry out and applying for a 2010-11 district grant in June. After the US$271,000 grant was approved and paid in July, the district immediately distributed funds to 42 club projects. (...) With the grant, clubs carried out projects such as providing computers, sewing machines, and other vocational training equipment to a village in the Philippines and repairing an elementary school damaged by an earthquake in China’s Shaanxi Province. They also helped fund many local initiatives, including scholarships. (...)


Libya: ICRC team in Tripoli to expand humanitarian response

Geneva,1 April – Delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arrived in Tripoli on 30 March at the invitation of the Libyan authorities. The aim is to discuss the expansion of the organization's humanitarian activities to the entire country, in particular to areas hardest-hit by the armed conflict. "The first discussions were substantial and encouraging", said Jean-Michel Monod, who is heading the ICRC team in Tripoli. The organization stands ready to assess the situation from a humanitarian viewpoint in some of the worst-affected areas in order to meet the most pressing needs of vulnerable people.

The ICRC first sent delegates to Benghazi on 26 February, and now has an office there with some 40 international and national staff. It also has a logistical base and a warehouse in the eastern city of Tobruk and has been working in the city of Ajdabiya, where it has provided about 15,000 people with food and essential household items, and supplied the main hospital with surgical instruments and dressing kits to treat wounded patients. The ICRC has so far visited over 80 Libyan servicemen and other people held by the armed opposition in Benghazi.


Niger: Red Cross opens centre for migrants

Niamey (ICRC), 1 April – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in cooperation with the Red Cross Society of Niger, is opening a temporary shelter and transit centre this Friday in Agadez, northern Niger. The centre will take in the most destitute migrants from Libya and Algeria. "The centre will accommodate between 150 and 200 people and be managed by the Niger Red Cross," said Jürg Eglin, head of the ICRC delegation in Niamey. "It's for nationals of the Niger and foreigners arriving in Agadez who have nowhere to spend the night." Migrants who had lost touch with their families would, he said, be able to contact them by telephone or by sending a message.

The city of Agadez is located on what has long been a transit route for migrants headed north, as well as a corridor for people returning from Libya or Algeria. They often face a lack of shelter, along with other hardships. "The purpose of the transit centre is to provide temporary shelter for vulnerable people who are returning to their place of origin," Mr Eglin emphasized. "It's certainly not to encourage migrants to stay in town while waiting for a new opportunity to cross the border."

Independent, neutral and impartial, the ICRC is one of the few international humanitarian organizations in northern Niger, where it works in close cooperation with the Niger Red Cross.


Rotarians respond to Japan earthquake, tsunami

By Ryan Hyland and Dan Nixon 

Rotary International News, 25 March -  Rotarians have been finding a number of ways to help victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan that killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands more homeless.

In response to the disasters, The Rotary Foundation established the Rotary Japan Disaster Recovery Fund , which will support long-term recovery projects in the affected areas. More than US$500,000 has been donated since the fund opened on 11 March. “It is encouraging to know that our overseas Rotary friends care about us,” says Yuzaburo Mogi, president of the Rotary Club of Tokyo. “I am confident that the people of Japan will overcome this great disaster, and we are hopeful that we can get over the various difficulties soon.”

District governors in Japan are running a fundraising campaign to send money to the governors in affected areas. Mogi says that Rotarians who wish to help Japan should contribute to the Foundation's recovery fund . (Rotarians and non-Rotarians can donate online )

The first Matching Grant project to receive support from the fund was approved a week after the disaster. Clubs in districts 3350 (Cambodia and Thailand) and 2820 (Japan) are using a total of $65,650 to help provide food and drinking water for 15,000 people at an evacuation center in Ibaraki. - Other responses have included:

Three Rotary districts in Japan are using district funds to help. District 2610 (Ishikawa and Toyama) has developed an emergency relief project to support people evacuated from the disaster areas. District 2840 (Gunma) shortened its presidents-elect training seminars from two days to half a day and donated the remaining funds earmarked for the seminars to relief efforts. And District 2680 (Hyogo) set up a contribution box during its district conference, raising about $7,500 for recovery efforts. 

The Rotaract Club of Tokyo launched the Cheer Tohoku project to rally the support of Rotaractors around the world, asking them to use Twitter to send messages of support to survivors in northeast Japan. (...)

The Rotary Club of Akashi, Hyogo, sent a private airplane carrying a load of medical supplies to the Rotary Club of Sukagawa, Fukushima, which delivered them to a hospital near Fukushima Airport. The governor of District 2640 (Wakayama and parts of Osaka) and six Rotarians also brought 1,000 blankets to Rotarians in the Fukushima region.


Sierra Leone 20 years on - Land Rover and Red Cross rebuilding lives

31 March – Kalie Kamara, like thousands of young Sierra Leoneans, was caught up in the atrocities of the civil war which raged for 11 years.  Kalie explains “After all the soldiers were disarmed, I was living an awful life. I was drinking and stealing and pretty miserable. Even though my friend tried to persuade me to go to the Red Cross I refused, because I was so unhappy.”

Eventually, Kalie enrolled in the child advocacy and rehabilitation (CAR) programme run by the Sierra Leone Red Cross, which helps young people like Kalie to recover from their experiences and reintegrate into society. Supported by Land Rover through a global partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the programme provides young people with counselling support, basic education and vocational training, as well as ensuring they are accepted and reintegrated within their community.

The five CAR centres in Sierra Leone have helped 12,600 young people just like Kalie regain a sense of direction in their lives after the suffering they have endured. This has been made possible through Land Rover and IFRC’s global partnership entitled ‘Reaching Vulnerable People Around the World’, which was launched in 2010. Building upon Land Rover’s commitment to the IFRC, which has seen the company pledge over £3.5 million in support since 2008, the partnership ensures support for programmes in 15 countries such as Sierra Leone and China, as well as the UK, South Africa, Brazil and Austria.


Save the Children teams up with Music for Relief on ‘Download to Donate for Tsunami Relief’ campaign

Eileen Burke - Lane Hartill

Westport, Conn.,USA, March 23 - Artists such as Linkin Park, Enrique Iglesias and Counting Crows have contributed new songs to the nonprofit group Music for Relief to support Save the Children’s emergency response efforts in Japan. The exclusive and growing catalog of songs can be downloaded at for a donation of $10 or more. All contributions will go to Save the Children for the duration of the campaign, which runs through May 11. (...)

Save the Children has been working in Japan for 25 years. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Save the Children deployed emergency response teams to assess the needs of children and their families. In addition, the organization has set up multiple child-friendly spaces that service evacuation centers in Sendai City where displaced families are staying.  Child-friendly spaces provide children with an opportunity to play with other children while freeing up parents to work on the recovery. More child-friendly spaces will be set up in the coming days. (...)

Music fans and people who want to help Japanese in need are encouraged to share the program through their own social networks to help spread the word. (...)


Bolivia: Towns destroyed in seconds by landslides, ADRA responds

22 March, Silver Spring, Md., USA – Weeks of heavy rains triggered massive landslides, destroying hundreds of homes in the capital city of La Paz, Bolivia. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is on the ground, distributing emergency supplies to families now homeless.

ADRA’s response is targeting the region of Kupini in eastern La Paz, an area that has experienced considerable destruction in light of the recent landslides. As part of the intervention, ADRA will distribute non-food items to over 230 families, approximately 1,150 individuals. ADRA’s distribution is targeting female-headed households, families in shelters, and families with two or more children.

ADRA Bolivia has been in communication with Bolivia’s Emergency Operation Center to coordinate emergency response efforts.


Namibia braces for worst floods in history: ADRA responds

Silver Spring, Md, USA, March 22 - A dangerous combination of heavy rains and overflows from the Kavango and Zambezi Rivers are threatening tens of thousands of people in Namibia to flee their homes. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is responding, proving emergency supplies to people who are in danger of potentially facing some of the worst floods in Namibia’s history.

Additionally, ADRA is distributing basic emergency supplies, such as mosquito nets and blankets. Priority will be given to families with young children or chronically ill persons as precautionary measure to reduce the risk of exposure to malaria. (...)


EU responds quickly to Japan's call for help as the country struggles with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March, including the crisis at some of its nuclear plants

17 March – On 15 March Japan asked the European Union for help with the unfolding humanitarian crisis - hundreds of thousands of people are in immediate need of medical care, shelter and food after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country's north-eastern coast. The EU activated its emergency response system which helps its 27 member countries coordinate assistance when domestic and international crises occur.

This led to immediate offers from several countries to help with Japan's request for blankets, mattresses, and water bottles, tanks, and purification units.

The EU is providing additional help, such as:

  • setting up an online information exchange for EU citizens affected by the earthquake
  • putting together a team of 10 experts who are standing by to go to Japan to coordinate EU assistance - supported by specialists in radiology, nuclear technology and other technical fields
  • sending a humanitarian expert to join a UN team and a liaison officer to coordinate communication with the Japanese government.


CARE to send relief items to northern Japan

Atlanta, USA, March 16 – CARE will send a convoy of three vehicles packed with relief items to Iwate prefecture in northern Japan to assist people affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck the country on Friday. The CARE convoy will drive from Tokyo to the city of Kamaishi in Iwate prefecture Thursday evening.

The roads from Tokyo to Kamaishi are reported to be clear, but it will still take approximately eight or nine hours to reach the area.  More than 550,000 people are living in temporary shelters. 1.4 million households remain without water. CARE is coordinating closely with other agencies and local government to respond to the needs of the people.


Handicap International to receive $1.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize

International jury selects largest NGO that aids and advocates for people with disabilities

Los Angeles, March 15 - The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation today announced that Handicap International, the largest non-governmental organization providing assistance and advocacy for people with disabilities, will receive the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize of $1.5 million. The Hilton Foundation presents the annual award, the world's largest humanitarian prize, to an organization that is doing extraordinary work to alleviate human suffering. Handicap International was selected for the 2011 Prize by a prestigious independent international jury.

Formed in 1982 by two French doctors to help Cambodians seriously injured by landmines, Handicap International now provides crucial assistance to acutely vulnerable people around the world including those disabled from natural disasters, injury, armed conflict, disease and poverty. It currently manages 300 projects in 60 countries and has become a major first responder for persons with disabilities in emergency situations.



Peace and security



UN official inaugurates anti-piracy information centre in Kenya

31 March – The head of the United Nations maritime agency today in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa commissioned the first of three planned information-sharing centres designed to help fight the growing scourge of piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

The centre in Mombasa, which was opened by Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, the Secretary-General of the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), is co-housed with the Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), which operates on a 24-hour basis and covers extensive areas of the western Indian Ocean.

The code of conduct, which took effect in 2009, is designed to strengthen cooperation in the fight against piracy. It provides for the creation of the three information centres in Mombasa, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Sana’a in Yemen, as well as a training centre for anti-piracy units in Djibouti. It also calls for States in the region to make the necessary changes in their legislations to facilitate the arrest and prosecution of piracy suspects.

The information-sharing centres will ensure coordinated, timely, and effective flow of information, according to IMO. They will be capable of receiving and responding to alerts and requests for information or assistance at all times. (…)


Ban welcomes transition to constitutional order in Niger

30 March – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has telephoned the key players in the recent elections in Niger to congratulate them for the dignity, leadership and statesmanship they have shown in the transition to constitutional order. In February last year, renegade soldiers stormed the presidential palace and deposed then President Mamadou Tandja, who had been accused by opposition figures and others of anti-democratic practices. A military ruling council subsequently dissolved the Government and suspended a contested constitution that would have allowed Mr. Tandja to remain in power beyond the stipulated term.

Mr. Ban called Lieutenant General Salou Djibo, Head of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy, on Monday and voiced his satisfaction at the successful way in which Niger had managed the transitional process to constitutional order.

He also spoke to Mahamadou Issoufou, proclaimed winner by the Independent Electoral Commission, who will be inaugurated as President on 7 April, and to Seini Oumarou, who has conceded defeat. He praised both contestants for the dignity, leadership and statesmanship displayed by them and for their efforts to promote national reconciliation. (…)


Ban lauds transfer of police responsibility from UN mission to Timorese force

28 March – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the transfer of responsibilities for all police operations in Timor-Leste from the United Nations mission to the country’s national force, calling it an important step for the young nation.

The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and the Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL) have worked together for more than four years to build the capacity of the national police to maintain law and order. The UN police assumed security functions following the deadly violence that broke out in 2006 in which dozens of people were killed and 155,000 others, or 15 per cent of the population, were driven from their homes.

The handover of responsibility from UNMIT to the PNTL that took place on Sunday in the capital, Dili, marked the culmination of a process that began two years ago, when the PNTL resumed policing responsibilities in the district of Lautém. (…)


Reduction in landmine accidents in Cambodia

18 March - Norwegian People’s Aid’s work in Cambodia has reduced the number of landmine accidents, the Secretary-General of the Cambodian Mine Action Authority told the Norwegian ambassador during her visit to Norwegian People’s Aid’s programme in the country.

The Cambodian Mine Action Authority also told the ambassador that they are very positive to the possibility of the Cambodian government signing the Convention of Cluster Munitions. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports Norwegian People’s Aid’s mine action programme in Cambodia with 3.7 million NOK in 2011.;action=Article.publicShow;ID=17069


Benin: Ban welcomes successful staging of first round of presidential ballot

14 March - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today commended the “peaceful and orderly” conduct of the first round of presidential elections in Benin, saying the West African country had set a positive example by organizing the ballot without major incident.

The election’s first round – twice delayed because of concerns over the credibility of the process – took place yesterday, with media reports indicating that President Boni Yayi and opposition candidate Adrien Houngbedji were likely to advance to a run-off round.

In a statement ssued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said the successful staging of the first round was “a testament to the patience and civic responsibility of the people of Benin,” particularly given the challenge posed by the recent introduction of a new voter registration system.


IRAQ: conventional weapons destroyed to support international trade

MAG has destroyed more than 430 deadly weapons that were threatening the lives of truck drivers and blocking development at one of the biggest trading points between Iraq and Turkey.

The items, which included unexploded shells, mortars and rockets, were removed by MAG Iraq’s Conventional Weapons Disposal teams from a trading complex in the border village of Kharabadar. They had been preventing access to land that could be used for construction of offices and stores, as well as threatening the lives of goods transportation drivers from both countries.

"In coordination with local authorities in the area, and the local workers and owners in the Kharabadar trading complex, we were able to identify the location of most of the hazardous items in the area," said Vadar Mustafa, MAG Iraq's Community Liaison Coordinator in Dohuk.

"MAG's Community Liaison teams delivered risk education sessions to the villagers and trade workers in the area, to teach them about the risks posed by the weapons. We distributed different materials, such as booklets and leaflets, to the villagers and trade workers in support of our risk education activities.”






Indian philanthropist donates another US$1.12 million to polio eradication

By Antoinette Tuscano

Rotary International News, 29 March - Rajashree Birla, of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, has donated another US$1.12 million to The Rotary Foundation in support of Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge. Including this contribution, Birla has given a combined total of more than $4.2 million to the Foundation for polio eradication. Foundation Trustee Ashok M. Mahajan says that Birla's extraordinary generosity stems from her belief that giving to others is the best way to make a lasting change in the world. As a mother, she has compassion for the young victims of polio and wants to help Rotary achieve its goal of eradicating the disease, he says. (...)

Birla's late husband, Aditya Birla, made the Aditya Birla Group into a Fortune 500 company and one of the largest in India, employing more than 100,000 people in over 20 countries. Her eldest son, Kumar Mangalam Birla, is chairman of the board, and she serves as a director.   The family has a longstanding commitment to business accountability and community service. Birla continues that legacy through her leadership in the Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development, where she oversees projects that address education, health care, and other social issues.

Among her many awards and honors, Birla is an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Bombay, which presented her with the Citizen of Bombay Award in 2003. In 2004, she received the Pride of India Award from the Rotary Club of Mulund, where she is also an honorary member.

The Aditya Birla Centre has helped immunize about three million children against polio in 3,200 villages in India, one of the four remaining polio-endemic countries.


Massive international effort to stop polio epidemic across west Africa

With west Africa on the verge of success, experts caution that complacency could breathe new life into outbreak

25 March - Health experts today confirmed that a devastating polio epidemic in west African countries is on the verge of being stopped - but warned that complacency could breathe new life into the outbreak.  Since mid-2009, polio has re-infected eleven countries across west Africa, claiming many lives and leaving hundreds of children paralyzed for life.

A series of synchronized, multi-country immunization campaigns in the second half of 2009 and 2010 have now succeeded in all but wiping out this outbreak.  A further multi-country campaign on 25 March and again on 28 April across 15 countries will aim to immunize more than 38 million children, by a network of more than 180,000 volunteers armed with 48 million doses of polio vaccine, to extinguish any remaining chains of polio transmission.  At the same time, polio eradication efforts are further intensifying in Nigeria, the only endemic country in Africa; over the past 12 months, the number of new cases in the country has been slashed by an impressive 95% in 2010 compared to 2009.

But while the region stands on the threshold of a public health success, experts warned against complacency, cautioning that any pockets of unimmunized or under-immunized children could result in the outbreak gaining a second wind.  This risk was further underscored with confirmation of a new case reported in March in Niger, across the border from northern Nigeria.


MSF: support to health facilities in the Middle East and North Africa

23 March – Ever since civil unrest and violence erupted in countries across North Africa and the Middle East, teams from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have been supplying and assisting hospitals and health structures where medical staff are facing increased numbers of injured people. Teams are also assisting people who are fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Libya – Although MSF continues to work tirelessly to enter Libya to tend to medical needs in the areas where there is conflict, the teams are currently unable to work on Libyan soil. Last week the teams in Benghazi were forced to leave as fighting was moving their way and travel in eastern Libya became increasingly insecure.

Egypt - Nine MSF staff are in Alexandria and are delivering emergency medical supplies across the border, including dressing materials, medical kits for treating the wounded and surgical supplies. They also deliver drugs, including for chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiopathy, which have been identified by Libyan doctors as medical needs. More than 33 tons of supplies were donated.

In Tunisia, at the border with Libya, a team of 25 MSF staff provide care to people who have fled the conflict. They have set up tents at the entry point at Ras Ajdir and the Choucha transit camp, seven kilometres inland and housing 6,000 people who await either resettlement or repatriation, for giving mental health support to people who have been subjected to, or witnessed, varying degrees and forms of violence and who now face an uncertain future.

Similar support is given to people in Dehiba, 150 kilometers from Ras Ajdir. In all three locations, MSF psychologists offer individual consultations and group sessions, from which to date 4,062 people have benefitted. A total of 501 refugees and migrants have had individual consultations at one of the MSF tents, while the psychologists have organised 323 group sessions so far in Choucha camp.


Gift of Life

A Rotary project to save the lives of children suffering from heart ailments

Its bjective is to arrange ‘free heart surgery’ for children suffering from congenital heart diseases who cannot afford high cost of surgery and have no access to quality medical care. The project goes on full steem; its March activity includes the following cases:

Nenwachu Seb, 2 months old from Dimapur, Nagaland came to Delhi and got admitted for open heart surgery on 7 March 2011. He underwent surgery on 10 March 2011. Child is still in hospital recuperating. Seb was referred by Rotary Club of Dimapur and coordinated by Rotarian (Rtn) NRC Nair / President Rtn Sanjay.

Pushkar, 3 ½ years, male, from Uttranchal was admitted to Escorts Hospital on 14 March 2011 for open heart surgery. This was coordinated by Rtn K K Vij. Pushkar was operated on 17 March 2011. Child is recuperating in hospital.

Pabitra Pariyar, 12 years, female from Gangtok, Sikkim arrived at Delhi on 17 March 2011. On the same day of arrival, Pabitra was admitted for open heart surgery at AlChemsit hospital, Gurgaon. She was operated on 18 March 2011. Rotary Club of Gangtok South referred this case. Pabitra is studying at class 7. Rtn Kiron Joshi (Coordinator GOL Eastern India) and Rtn Bina Sharma (President Rotary Club of Gangok South) coordinated the case. Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim located in the Shivalik Hills of the eastern Himalayan range, at an altitude of 1,437 metres (4,715 ft). The town has population of 40/50 thousand belonging to differentethnicities such as Nepalis, Lepchas and Bhutia.

Vishmi, 3 years old, from Sri Lanka will reach Delhi on 28 March 2011 for open heart surgery. Her father is 22 years old and mother is 20 years old. They are from the Central Country Nawalapitiya - close to the Kandy region of Sri Lanka. Father earns a living by selling plastic coated canvas, mainly used on the Indian Three Wheelers - Bajaj.



Energy and safety



Secretary Chu announces over $110 million in SunShot projects to advance solar photovoltaic manufacturing in the United States

April 5 - As part of the SunShot Initiative, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the selection of up to $112.5 million over five years for funding to support the development of advanced solar photovoltaic (PV)-related manufacturing processes throughout the United States. The Department’s SunShot Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships will help the solar power industry overcome technical barriers and reduce costs for PV installations, help the U.S. regain the lead in the global market for solar technologies, and provide support for clean energy jobs for years to come.

This program is modeled in part on SEMATECH (Semiconductor Manufacturing TECHnology). Faced with falling U.S. market share for the domestic semiconductor industry from 57 % in 1982 to 38 % in 1988, SEMATECH began working with domestic equipment suppliers to improve their capabilities. As a result of SEMATECH’s work to solve common manufacturing problems by leveraging resources and sharing risks, within ten years the domestic semiconductor industry had grown by 16 percent. Through this award, SEMATECH will now apply similar ingenuity to helping


Conrad N. Hilton Foundation pledges $50 million to improve global water conditions, building on 20-year commitment to its safe water mission

Unsafe water is the greatest crisis of our time; 900 million people globally have no access to clean water and 3.4 million die as a result every year

Washington, D.C., March 22 - The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation today on World Water Day announced a pledge of $50 million to address the water needs of more than one million people in sub-Saharan Africa and water stressed areas of India and Mexico. The pledge of $50 million over five years will fund a three-part strategy that will deliver access to sustainable safe water; increased advocacy and capacity; and expand knowledge on global water best practices for communities, governments, NGOs and donors. Hilton announced the pledge today at a World Water Day event sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the World Bank.

900 million people (14% of the world population) do not have access to adequate clean water. More than 2.5 billion people (38% of the world population) live without basic sanitation.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation works to increase sustainable access to safe water for people in severe need within developing countries. By building appropriate water systems, training people, and supporting water treatment research, the Foundation has created local capacity for ongoing water quality testing and management.



Environment and wildlife



Forests and climate change in the Mediterranean

New partnership established to address threats to forests

Rome/Avignon, 6 April - A new partnership for Mediterranean forests has been established to address major threats to the region's forests being exacerbated by the severe impact of climate change. The partnership was announced at the Second Mediterranean Forest Week, which is taking place in Avignon, France (5-8 April).

"The Collaborative Partnership on Mediterranean Forests will help raise awareness on the wealth of vital functions Mediterranean forests provide. These include soil and water protection, landscape values, carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation. It is urgent that we join efforts to restore and preserve their functions for future generations," said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant Director-General of the FAO Forestry Department.

The partnership involves 12 institutions and organizations including FAO and will focus primarily on six countries in the southern and eastern Mediterranean: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey. The new partnership offers a way for stakeholders in the region to address the mounting challenges facing Mediterranean forests and draw greater attention to their value and the urgent need to protect them.

The Mediterranean Basin every year loses between 0.7 and one million hectares of forests due to fires, corresponding to an economic loss of an estimated €1 billion.

The Mediterranean region is confronted with a considerable increase in longer and more frequent drought and heat waves, resulting in the growing risk of large scale forest fires as well as more water scarcity, affecting both rural and urban populations.


India releases tiger numbers as experts convene

New Delhi, India, posted on 28 March – The Indian Government today released new tiger population numbers for the first time since 2007, indicating that numbers have increased in the country that has half of the world’s remaining wild tigers.

The government estimated current tiger numbers in India at 1,706, up from 1,411 during the last count in 2007. However, the 1,706 figure includes an additional tiger reserve in the count, the Sundarbans, that contained 70 tigers. This area was not counted in 2007. Therefore, when comparing the previous survey with the current one, the official estimate stands at 1,636 when leaving out the Sundarbans, or an increase of 225.

Figures were broken down by site with some populations showing increases, and others falling.

The figures marked the opening of the International Tiger Conservation Conference, a three day meeting following on the heels of the groundbreaking Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP), a worldwide plan to bring the species back from the brink of extinction which was forged in November 2010 at an international tiger conservation meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia organized by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The count was conducted by India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority with key partners, including WWF, in the largest tiger population survey ever undertaken.

In its detail, this tiger estimation exercise shows the importance India attaches to this prime conservation issue,” said WWF India CEO Ravi Singh. “The results indicate the need to intensify field based management and intervention to go beyond the present benchmark, bringing more people and partners into the process.”



Religion and spirituality



3rd Annual International Conference on "Religion, Conflict, and Peace:" Walking The Talk to Compassion and Harmony -

April 8-10, Henry Ford Community College Dearborn, Michigan USA

An inclusive, interactive 3-day public forum promoting Inter-religious and Intra-religious dialogue to explore the challenges of Social Paranoia, Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping, Scapegoating, and Islamophobia, and the promise of Reason, Understanding, Compassion, and Cultural Harmony.

Join over 40 Presenters and Facilitators as we explore:

  1)  The mutual dilemmas of religious ignorance, extremism, intolerance, negative stereotypes, prejudice, demonization and dehumanization, scapegoating, and fear of "the other," that can lead to toxic divisiveness, polarization, and social paranoia targeting any religious/cultural communities, including the current example of Islamophobia and it's impact on the Muslim community, and

  2)  The power of personal engagement through dialogue and practical applications in promoting a shared consciousness of peace - and in doing so promoting the religious experience as a healing remedy rather than problem.

An Official Partner and Event of the Charter For Compassion and the Parliament of World's Religions, sponsored by Common Bond Institute; co-sponsored by: Pathways To Peace, Henry Ford Community College, Parashakti Temple, Bharatiya Temple, Hindu American Foundation,  International Humanistic Psychology Association; supported by: Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan; endorsed by over 100 universities and organizations internationally.


Brussels to host the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2014

Brussels - the capital of the Belgians and of 500,000,000 Europeans - has been chosen as the host city of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2014. The selection of Brussels was made by the Board of Trustees of the governing organization at its March 13, 2011 meeting in Chicago.

Brussels to host the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2014

Brussels - the capital of the Belgians and of 500,000,000 Europeans - has been chosen as the host city of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2014. The selection of Brussels was made by the Board of Trustees of the governing organization at its March 13, 2011 meeting in Chicago.

More than 10,000 people from diverse religious, spiritual and convictional traditions will participate in the 2014 Parliament, which will last for 7 days and will comprise more than 500 programs, workshops and dialogues, alongside music, dance, artistic exhibitions and related events hosted by religious communities and cultural institutions.

Since the historic 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions was held in Chicago, modern Parliaments have been held in Chicago (1993), Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004) and Melbourne (2009). These periodic Parliament events are the world’s oldest and largest interreligious gatherings.

 Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions - 70 East Lake Street, Suite 205 -Chicago, Illinois 60601 USA -



Culture and education



Social media to help Nigerian poll

31 March - Social media will play a major role in ensuring that Nigeria's upcoming national elections are transparent, analysts and youngsters from the West African country predict. Expectations are that the techno-savvy young Nigerians will monitor the 2011 elections civic journalism-style via their accounts on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and blog sites. When citizens of the country vote in presidential and parliamentary elections between 2 and 9 April, young participants will tweet, update their statuses and post videos of activities at polling stations. They will disseminate real-time and first-hand accounts of their voting experiences.

An increasing number of youngsters have jumped onto the social media networking bandwagon in recent years, thanks to improved mobile internet connectivity in the country. Elections results will be posted on the internet as soon as they become available. There are almost 300 local and international groups that will monitor the elections.


Young Afghans, many of them girls, benefit from UN-backed computer courses

28 March – Hundreds of young Afghans, many of them girls, are getting free computer and English training under a United Nations-backed programme that is free and prepares them for future employment by assisting them with resume writing and preparing for job interviews. The ICT4Youth a programme, created by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Deputy Ministry of Youth Affairs, trained some 300 young Afghans in 2010, nearly 40 per cent of them girls. In the first quarter of 2011, about 400 students have signed up. Students are trained by a qualified teacher for one hour every day in basic computer software and Internet skills in classes that are timed so as not to conflict with regular school, and flexible enough to allow participants to continue with their activities at home. (…) The programme is part of UNDP’s National Institution Building Project to develop comprehensive and sustainable capacities in government of Afghanistan.


Teachers are indispensable for the promotion of health and safety in schools

This conclusion was drawn by Professor Davison Munowadawafa at a meeting on school health and safety, evaluating the outcome of the EI EFAIDS programme. The meeting, which took place in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 22-25 March, was attended by representatives of the following teacher unions: ZIMTA (Zimbabwe Teachers Association), GNAT (Ghana National association of Teachers), KNUT (Kenya national Union of Teachers, UNATU (Uganda National Teachers’ Union), NANTU (Namibia National teachers’ Union), and SADTU (South African Democratic Teachers’ Union). Also present were representatives of ministries of health, ministries of education, and UNESCO. Convened by WHO, participants shared experiences and consolidated lessons learnt from the implementation of HIV/AIDS prevention in schools through the EFAIDS programme – a project conducted by the teacher unions under the auspices of EI, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Education Development Centre (EDC). Based on the EFAIDS experience and the context of the WHO Agenda for School Health, the participants of the meeting agreed to broaden their action beyond HIV/AIDS prevention. They agreed to form national associations and a regional network with key partners being the ministries of education and ministries of health, WHO, and the teacher unions.


UNESCO launches new web portal on Education for Sustainable Development

From climate change to teacher education to new green technologies, UNESCO's new Web portal on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) demonstrates how education helps societies and individuals to achieve sustainability.

The web content has been entirely updated to set out UNESCO's priorities for the remaining half of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005-2014). It presents the aims and focus of the DESD and highlights UNESCO's work in relation to major sustainability themes like climate change, consumption and biodiversity. In addition, it explains how education can bring about the societal change needed to build sustainable societies. Also on the web portal is information related to the ESD work of DESD major partners.  

ESD is a key means through which education can engage people, as conscious consumers and responsible citizens, in redefining their lifestyles to address current sustainability issues.


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Next issue:  6 May 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.

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Arianna Cavallo, Azzurra Cianchetta. Webmaster: Fabio Gatti. Media and NGOs coverage: Maurizio Palazzoni.  


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