Good News Agency – Year XII, n° 196



Weekly – Year XII, number 196 – 13th January 2012

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. In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) presented to the UN General Assembly, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information via Internet*.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



Dominican Republic ratifies cluster bomb ban

December 23 - The Dominican Republic has become the 67th State Party to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of the indiscriminate weapon. Officials in New York deposited the Caribbean nation’s instrument of ratification on 20 December 2011. The Dominican Republic signed the Convention in November 2009, less than a year after it was opened for signature, and was its 102nd signatory.

“We are delighted to welcome the Dominican Republic to the growing list of countries banning cluster bombs, recognising the devastation they cause to civilians,” said Amy Little, Campaign Manager of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). “With every new country joining the treaty the stigma against this weapon grows and we are strengthening the global norm against any country ever using these indiscriminate weapons again - saving lives, limbs and livelihoods for generations to come,” Little said.


Key organizers of Rwandan genocide jailed for life by UN tribunal

21 December 2011 – Two key organizers of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 were today sentenced to life in prison by the United Nations tribunal dealing with war crimes in the country which resulted in the deaths of some 800,000 people in just 100 days.

Édouard Karemera and Matthieu Ngirumpatse, both senior members of the ruling party in Rwanda during the genocide, were found guilty of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, extermination as a crime against humanity, rape and sexual assault as crimes against humanity, and killings as causing violence to health and physical or mental well-being.

Mr. Ngirumpatse was the chairman of Rwanda’s then-ruling National Revolutionary Movement for Development (known by its French acronym, MRND) party while Mr. Karemera was his deputy at the time. The International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) delivered its judgment after finding that both men were members of a “joint criminal enterprise” to destroy the Tutsi population of Rwanda.



Human rights



UN Human Rights chief welcomes lifting of state of emergency in Fiji

New York, January 9 - The United Nations human rights chief today welcomed the lifting of a state of emergency in Fiji, more than two years after it was imposed, calling it a “step in the right direction” for the Pacific island nation. “The emergency law has seriously restricted the right to public assembly and freedom of expression, and given the authorities broad powers of arrest and detention,” said Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a <>  statement.

Fiji had committed to lifting the emergency regulations before the UN Human Rights Council during its Universal Periodic Review in 2009, a pledge the South Pacific island nation has now fulfilled, Ms. Pillay noted. Ms. Pillay, however, expressed concern over recent developments in which critics of the Government have faced criminal charges, arbitrary detention and other forms of intimidation. She said the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) regional bureau for the Pacific remains ready to support national efforts to further the promotion and protection of human rights in Fiji.


More than a million children set to return to school in Libya – UNICEF

6 January – At least 1.2 million Libyan pupils are set to return to school tomorrow, almost a year after they evacuated their classrooms during the country’s popular uprising against the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today.

The agency said about 27 million textbooks are being printed by Libya’s education ministry and 10 million have already been distributed in anticipation of the return to school. But a shortage of both books and desks remain, and transport to and from school is also lacking for many children.

Libyan authorities, supported by UNICEF and others, have worked to clear rubble, landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) from schools and to rehabilitate many of the buildings and other infrastructure. Children who have been distressed by the conflict have been given psycho-social support and mechanisms are in place to ensure that vulnerable children are enrolled in classes. A survey will also take place later this month to amass data on equipment, supplies, teaching materials, teachers and enrolment. UNICEF reported that Libya has relatively good education indicators, but the country’s school system needs to be more responsive to minorities, children with disabilities and gender disparities.



Economy and development



US$24.9 million IFAD loan to Liberia to revitalize cocoa and coffee production sectors Rome, 10 January – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$24.9 million loan to the Republic of Liberia to improve food security and reduce post conflict poverty in rural communities.

Development of the agriculture sector is a top national priority of the Liberian government. Although agriculture is the largest employer in the country, it is facing major challenges. This new project will aim to increase the incomes of cocoa and coffee producers by raising the quantity of produce sold. The project will revitalize 50 per cent of existing plantations and restore 315 kilometres of rural road networks to improve access to market centres for more than 280,000 people. In addition, the project will strengthen both the private sector and extension services to smallholder farmer cooperatives by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The project will reach out to the most vulnerable rural farming households in Lofa County, where the highest number of smallholder cocoa and coffee producers live; most of Liberia’s poor people live in this area. More than 15,000 smallholder cocoa and coffee farmers, of which half are women, will benefit directly from the project.

Contact: Jessica Thomas, IFAD Communications Division,


Newmont outlines community investment programs for Conga project in Peru

Denver, Co, USA, January 5 - Newmont Mining Corporation (NYSE: NEM) today outlined a number of community investment programs – developed in conjunction with local communities – that have been implemented or are under development in the Conga project’s area of influence in Peru. The programs include efforts to advance health and education, critical infrastructure and economic development in Peru’s Cajamarca region.

In addition to community investment programs, Conga is expected to generate more than US$2 billion in taxes over the life of the operation, half of which would be directed to the Cajamarca region through the mining canon. And while the project would replace four lagoons with four engineered reservoirs, downstream users would benefit from a reliable, year-round water supply, something they don’t currently have due to the lagoons not continuously overflowing into the natural streams during the dry season.


Rotary Scholar aims to link small farmers to international food markets

By Ryan Hyland 

Rotary International News, 4 January – Alex Dalley believes that impoverished communities in developing countries can sustain economic and social growth if small farmers are connected to global agricultural supply chains. Dalley, a Rotary Scholar from Australia, is earning his master's degree in business administration at the Erasmus University Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands. His scholarship, funded by a Rotary Foundation Global Grant, supports Rotary's economic and community development area of focus. (...)

Dalley says the resurgence of private-sector interest in small-farm agriculture will help lower poverty levels in emerging markets. "The function of economic and community development has always been a public-sector issue. [But] the private sector and big businesses are beginning to take over," he says. "If you can establish a modern, sustainable distribution and supply chain between small farmers and various food markets, governments will be more inclined to improve roads, power, and infrastructure." Before his scholarship, Dalley worked as an agribusiness adviser on private-sector development programs in East Timor funded by USAID and AusAID, identifying and developing market opportunities for small farmers. (...)


USAID turns to EDC to assist youth in Guyana

Waltham, MA, USA, January 3 - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has asked Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) to help expand education, skill-building, and employment for at-risk youth in the South American nation of Guyana, with the goal of reducing youth crime and violence by strengthening economic participation and civic engagement. As part of the Skills and Knowledge for Youth Employment (SKYE) project, EDC will also work directly with youth offenders in the juvenile justice system to re-integrate them into the workplace and community. SKYE is a key piece of the Obama administration’s Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.

The two-year, $2.6 million project will provide targeted detention prevention, work-readiness training, and livelihood coaching activities for youth ages 15–24. Over the next few weeks, EDC and its partners will conduct an assessment of livelihood options and other opportunities for Guyanese young people. EDC is working closely with a team of local partners that includes Catholic Relief Services, Youth Challenge Guyana, Volunteer Youth Corps, and Guyana Youth Business Trust. EDC is a global nonprofit organization that addresses urgent challenges in education, health, and economic development. EDC manages 350 projects in 35 countries.


Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of WFP,  will be the new Vice Chairman of the World Economic Forum

3 January, Rome - In April, Josette Sheeran will conclude her current term as WFP ​​Executive Director and will assume a new position  as Vice President of the World Economic Forum, the world’s leading platform for engaging corporate and government leaders in solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Klaus Schwab,

Executive Chairman of the Forum says :Josette Sheeran has shown in her career (…) a true commitment to address major global issues in a visionary and pragmatic way. She has won the trust of global decision-makers across the spectrum of politics, business and civil society ". Under her leadership, WFP has increased its donor base with the BRIC nations as major donors and the Gulf States and brought the private sector to one of WFP’s top ten donors.


FAO and European Union help strengthen Mozambique’s seed sector: better seeds for better crops

Rome, 28 December - FAO has assisted Mozambique in stepping up quality seed production to increase crop yields, something that is crucial to unlocking the country's vast agricultural potential. "Increasing agricultural production in a country whose yields are among the lowest in the world starts with boosting productivity," said José da Graça, who coordinates FAO's European Union-funded effort in Mozambique, explaining FAO's priority support for the seed value chain.

Mozambique has the potential to feed itself, owing to its abundant and largely unexploited land and water resources.

The gains stemming from the EU-supported FAO project are significant - although most smallholder farmers, an estimated four million, continue to need support. Much more is needed to offset Mozambique's yearly deficit of around one million tonnes of food.  Producing improved seeds will continue to be a priority for the government, he says. "At least 15 percent of our farmers should have access to quality seeds in five to six years time," he states. In a country where only 10 percent of arable land is cultivated and most farmers still use substandard seeds, this will be one of the keys to unlocking Mozambique's agricultural potential.


New project won: Indonesia – AMARTA II

ACDI/VOCA has won the $20 million, five-year agribusiness productivity (AMARTA II) program.

December 23 - Funded by USAID, the program will improve the competitiveness of the horticulture, coffee and cocoa sectors in Indonesia. Throughout the program, the ACDI/VOCA team will use gender-inclusive and natural resource management-sensitive practices.

According to the CIA World Factbook, much progress has been made in Indonesia in fighting poverty over the last decade. However, the global recession and increasing inflation—particularly higher and more volatile food prices—have created significant challenges. The program will disburse $2 million in small grants as a smart-subsidy pool to mitigate the risk to AMARTA II beneficiaries of adopting new technologies and practices.

By the project’s end, AMARTA II will assist approximately 120,000 beneficiaries through interventions in increasing competitiveness. Activities will focus on firms’ efficiency, product quality and integration into high-value domestic and regional markets.


$100 million IFAD loan and grant to Ethiopia to improve financial services in rural areas

21 December, Rome - IFAD will provide a $50 million loan and $50 million grant to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to help poor rural households gain access to financial services and reduce rural poverty in the country. While there has been significant growth in Ethiopia over the past decade, the rural financial markets are largely under-developed., only about 15 per cent of rural households have access to savings and credit services: the micro insurance market is not developed. This programme will enhance outreach of the microfinance institutions (MFIs) through institutional development and provision of equity and credit funds: approximately 3.6 million poor rural households living with less than $2 per day, of which nearly 50 per cent are women, will gain access to improved and reliable financial services.


IFAD Member States announce US$1.5 billion new funds for food security in developing countries

16 December, Rome - Member States of  IFAD, meeting in Rome for Consultations on the Ninth Replenishment of the Fund’s resources , announced a target of US$1.5 billion in new contributions: this represents a 25 % increase over IFAD’s Eighth Replenishment.  IFAD’s work fills an important niche, with almost 2 billion rural people depending for their livelihoods on the 500 million smallholder farms in developing countries.  The injection of new funds from Member States is a confirmation of IFAD’s vital role in international development:  40 to 50 % of these resources will be channelled to Sub-Saharan Africa for development projects. President Kanayo F. Nwanze  says : “This significant support from IFAD’s Member States, especially during these challenging global economic times, demonstrates extraordinary resolve and political will to give agriculture a major boost and help the world’s small farmers find their way out of poverty” .


Innovative solutions conference gives new hope to poverty challenges

Rome, 9 December - The Fourth Annual Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo) concluded Friday at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome having spotlighted and showcased over 100 partnerships and solutions to poverty challenges that have been developed by developing countries themselves.

Of the many examples of success highlighted at the Expo, the Programme for South-South Cooperation on Sustainable Development (PSC), in just three years, has improved people's lives in Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica: the programmes have improved the lives of 26,000 direct beneficiaries in 477 communities. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the UN General Assembly, remembers: “I urge you to continue to overcome any differences between our countries, between our regions, between the North and the South, between our organizations, and even between us, as individuals, in order to maintain unity of purpose.” 






Two years after earthquake, CARE supporting haitians on long road to recovery

CARE helps with long-term needs, sounds call for greater women‘s role

Port-Au-Prince, January 12 - Shortly after the earthquake, CARE made a five-year, $100 million commitment to help Haitians rebuild their lives and communities. Working closely with the Haitian government and community leaders, CARE is focused on efforts to improve shelters, water and sanitation, health, education, livelihoods and the economic development. Our economic development activities focus on women because they were disproportionately affected by the earthquake and its aftermath.

In the wake of the disaster, CARE's emergency response team delivered life-saving food, water, shelter and other vital services to 290,000 Haitians most in need in Lêogâne and Carrefour. CARE also built 2,400 transitional shelters to house roughly 13,400 people and built and rehabilitated 2,500 latrines and showers.

CARE still offers life-saving supplies and services to Haitians most in need, but many of CARE's programs have transitioned from earthquake recovery to long-term rebuilding. CARE's Neighborhoods of Return program, for example, is working with 5,000 households in Carrefour to improve sanitation, education, safety and income opportunities.


Haiti rebuilds

United Nations Foundation reports on recovery in Haiti

Washington, DC, January 9 - As we look forward to a year filled with new possibilities, let’s take a moment to remember Haiti, two years after the earthquake. The devastating quake killed more than 300,000 people, including 100 UN staff, and over a million people were left homeless. Since day one, the United Nations has been on the ground working with partners to help Haitians rebuild and transform, and as we near the second anniversary of this disaster, we can see clear signs of progress:

1.5 million people now have shelter, clean water, emergency kits, and access to latrines

750,000 children are receiving a free education

50% of the debris produced by the earthquake’s destruction has been removed

Solar lights have been installed to help keep women and girls safe from violent attacks

The United Nations Foundation continues to help the UN in Haiti. In the past two years, we have raised close to $4 million to help fund relief and reconstruction efforts, and worked closely with the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to provide food, water, shelter, medication and health kits, solar lights, and temporary jobs for Haitians after the earthquake. Nearly half a million Haitians are still living in camps without a permanent place to call home, making security a top priority.

By Kathy Calvin:


Imprint Plus(TM) donation yields $35,505.72 in food distribution to the Richmond Food Bank Society

Company exercises generosity in the spirit of the holidays

Richmond, B.C., January 6 - For the fourth consecutive year, the employees of Imprint Plus™, manufacturer of the Reusable Name Badge System and the Mighty Badge®, have combined their creativity and generosity to raise cash donations for the Richmond Food Bank Society, amounting to $5,916.27 in 2011. Each dollar donated allows the Richmond Food Bank to distribute $6 worth of food, meaning Imprint Plus'™ donations yielded $35,505.72 in food distributed to people needing help.

"We are a grassroots, non-profit organization that relies entirely on the contributions of our community. We are lucky to have such a broad range of support from all sectors of our community, including individuals, schools and churches, service groups, and businesses making donations from modest to large" said Margaret Hewlett, Executive Director of the Richmond Food Bank Society. Imprint Plus™ is very proud of their fundraising efforts and the contributions of their dedicated employees. Having just met their yearly budget, Imprint Plus™ says "Kudos" to the silent and humble volunteers at the Richmond Food Bank Society.


A New York Food Bank sees success with a virtual food drive

By Cody Switzer

January 5 – Food drives are a popular activity for companies and community groups that take part in service projects. But they are often costly and inefficient for food banks, which often have to provide materials, plan pick-ups, and process the donations. The Food Bank for New York City has found a way around that problem by moving its food drives online, allowing donors to shop in virtual grocery aisles, give cash donations, and even start their own food drives.

“Holding a virtual food drive doesn’t add any cost to the Food Bank for New York City; it only helps provide food,” said Dan Buckley, the food bank’s senior online communications manager.

The concept isn’t new to food banks, or even to the Food Bank for New York City, which has had a similar site for some time. But a redesign of the site last summer added features that made its online food drives more closely resemble the experience of online shopping. And the change has made a significant difference in how donors use the site.

The food bank has already seen a 120-percent increase in donations through the site this fiscal year, Mr. Buckley said, well surpassing its goal of 20 percent. That number is expected to grow, as the food bank’s fiscal year ends in July 2012.

Much of the early growth has come through small donations. (...)


Rotary Foundation Trustees approve Turkey earthquake fund 

Rotary International News, 28 December - In response to the two recent earthquakes in eastern Turkey, The Rotary Foundation has established the Rotary Turkey Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, which will support relief and recovery projects in the affected areas.

The two powerful quakes, which struck within three weeks of each other in late October and early November, have claimed more than 660 lives. Tens of thousands of people have been left homeless. Dropping temperatures and heavy snowfall have worsened conditions for those affected.

An international committee of Rotarians close to the situation will oversee the fund. They will identify the needs of the affected communities, manage the distribution of funds, oversee project implementation, report on projects, and ensure proper stewardship.


Philippines: Red Cross delivers vital aid

23 December – Like a thief in the night, Tropical Storm Washi (also known as Sendong) has caused flash floods in the southern Philippines and taken the lives of an estimated 1,000 people while heavily damaging infrastructure. Food and water emerged as the most urgent needs as entire villages were swept away and water networks destroyed in the hardest-hit provinces in Mindanao and Visayas regions. Many people were left with only the mud-drenched clothes on their backs, as they mourned those who did not survive.

To support the relief operations led by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and in cooperation with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the ICRC immediately dispatched 3,000 relief kits, that reached 18,000 people in three of the worst-affected areas – Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Bukidnon – within the first 48 hours.

A second batch of 3,400 relief kits for a further 20,400 people has been sent to reinforce the initial aid to Cagayan de Oro and Iligan and to help people in other areas affected by both disaster and the ongoing internal armed conflict, such as Negros Oriental and Surigao del Sur.


ITF donated two vehicles to sitting volleyball club Oki Phantoms

Sarajevo, 22 December - The International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance – (ITF) donated two vehicles to sitting volleyball club “Oki Phantoms”. This is donation from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Government of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnalijek d.o.o. and Marshall Legacy Institute through ITF.

The ceremony to hand over of keys was held at the premises of the “Club Fantomi” as well as Press Conference for media. Mr. Dorijan Maršič handed keys of two vehicles to Mr. Ševko Nuhanović, Coach of Club Phantoms from Sarajevo. This donation will help the Club Phantoms to make full contribution to the project “Let’s play with the heart”, whose main goal is to get young athletes draw attention to the danger of mines.

Sitting Volleyball Club “FantomiSarajevo is one of the most successful clubs both in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Europe. Sports have an important role for people with disabilities, in process of rehabilitation and re-socialization.


Somalia update: ADRA remains committed to alleviating the suffering of Somalis affected by famine

December 20, Silver Spring, Md., USA - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) continues to respond to the needs of Somali's affected by the drought that has spread across the Horn of Africa. Through the local ADRA Somalia office, ADRA remains active in distributing food, water and non-food items, rehabilitating boreholes and berkads, and promoting basic sanitation activities throughout Central Somalia and Somaliland.

Southern Somalia, and much of the eastern region of the Horn, continues to receive rainfall that is exceeding average accumulation from previous years. However, the increased rains have stirred up a heightened threat of flooding, increasing the risk of disease from spreading, and furthermore hindering the timely delivery of humanitarian aid.


Philippines: tropical storm slams Philippines, ADRA distributes supplies of emergency aid

December 19 - Silver Spring, Md., USA - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is on the ground in eastern parts of Mindanao, Philippines, distributing emergency supplies of food to some of the hardest-hit families in response to flash floods brought by recent tropical storm Washi (locally referred to as Sendong).

An estimated 1,440 families in the affected areas are receiving much needed emergency food kits comprised of rice, noodles, canned fish, dried fruits, beans, peanut butter, milk, oil, salt, and sugar. Implemented by ADRA Philippines, the distribution will last four days and will be carried out in close coordination with the City Social Welfare Office and Adventist Community Service volunteers.

The Agency is working to broaden its response, which plans to provide flood victims with essential health services, in addition to increased access to clean water.



Peace and security



Libya: UN official impressed by pace of returns to cities emerging from conflict

New York, January 6 - A senior United Nations official who has visited the Libyan cities of Bani Walid, Sirte and Misrata, which saw some of the most intense fighting during last year’s military campaign to oust Muammar al-Qadhafi’s regime, said today he was impressed by the rate of return of displaced residents to their homes.

Georg Charpentier, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, who visited the cities on Tuesday and yesterday, noted that an estimated 60 per cent of the population displaced by the fighting had returned to Bani Walid and Sirte. He voiced his admiration of the strong resilience amongst residents and the local council’s striving to tackle the prevailing humanitarian challenges.

“Following the liberation of Bani Walid and Sirte in October and the progressive return of their populations over the last months, the two cities now need more attention and concrete action to accelerate their full return to normalcy,” said Mr. Charpentier, who is also the deputy head of the UN Support Mission for Libya (UNSMIL). “Public infrastructure, housing, education and health facilities need to be rehabilitated, reconstructed and reactivated, intense and focused reconciliation efforts also need to be encouraged in these two cities.”


Cyprus: Leaders to continue UN-backed talks on core issues

4 January – The leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities will continue to make efforts to reach agreement on core issues when they meet near New York later this month for talks aimed at reunifying the island of Cyprus, a United Nations envoy said today.

Alexander Downer, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, told reporters in Nicosia after today’s meeting between Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu that there are outstanding core issues to be thrashed out on governance and power-sharing, property rights, territory and citizenship. Those issues will be the focus of the 22-24 January talks at the Greentree Conference Center outside New York, Mr. Downer said.

The UN-facilitated talks began in 2008 with the aim of eventually setting up a federal government with a single international personality in a bi-zonal, bi-communal country, with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot constituent states of equal status.


UN welcomes move enabling Arab League monitors to visit Syria

20 December 2011 – The United Nations said today it is encouraged by the signing of a protocol paving the way for monitors from the League of Arab States to go to Syria as part of efforts to end the violence that began earlier this year in the Middle East country.

Syria reportedly signed the protocol in Cairo yesterday, the same day that the General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the country to immediately implement the plan of action proposed by the Arab League to resolve the crisis.

Earlier this month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the Council in a closed-door meeting that more than 5,000 people have died since the start of the public uprising in Syria, including at least 300 children. (…) The uprising in Syria is part of a broader popular protest movement that has engulfed North Africa and the Middle East this year and led to the toppling of long-term regimes in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.


Departure of US forces from Iraq a chance to foster a better future – Ban

20 December – The completion of the withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq opens a new chapter in the country’s recent history, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, adding that he strongly believes it is an opportunity for Iraqi leaders to demonstrate their capacity to steer the nation towards a better future.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he is closely following the political situation in Iraq and urged the country’s leadership to engage in inclusive and constructive dialogue to resolve their differences, and build on the achievements that have been made so far in laying the ground for a democratic State. Iraqi leaders owe it to the people of Iraq who elected them to work together in spirit of partnership and national unity to address the pressing challenges facing the country.






A fortified future for Mali

Bamako, Mali, January 6 – The West African country of Mali has taken a major step forward in providing essential micronutrients to its citizens by passing legislation that requires fortification of wheat flour with iron, zinc, and several B vitamins including folic acid. An estimated 4.7 million people are likely to receive enhanced nutrition from their staple foods because of this action. Mali is the 64th country to require adding at least iron or folic acid to flour, and is considering adding vitamin A to edible oils to prevent vitamin A deficiency, the leading cause of childhood blindness.

Helen Keller International (HKI) has been a staunch advocate for food fortification in Mali, and West Africa as a whole, since fortifying staple foods provides nutritional benefits without requiring consumers to change their habits or purchase additional items. In West Africa, HKI collaborates on large-scale efforts in partnership with the private sector to fortify essential cooking ingredients with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, iron and folic acid.


Pakistan - In 2011, MSF provided medical care to 20,440 patients in Hangu

5 January – Though the security situation in Hangu remains tense, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to work inside the Hangu Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) hospital, where it has been since May 2010. In 2011, MSF provided medical care to more than 20,088 patients in the emergency room and conducted 955 emergency surgeries in the hospital’s operating theater.

Throughout 2011, the MSF medical team also referred more than 452 patients to Peshawar for specialized surgical and medical care. From July to October—the rainy season—MSF treated 1,526 patients with acute watery diarrhea. In light of the area’s ongoing medical needs, MSF will continue to provide free emergency medical care in 2012.

MSF has also established a mass casualty preparedness plan in the hospital, in order to be able to quickly respond and provide emergency life-saving medical care to the victims of bomb blasts, clashes, and other trauma cases.

In the hospital's Mother and Child Health Center (MCH), MSF has had one expatriate midwife assisting in handling complicated deliveries and providing training since May 2011, while the daily services inside the MCH are run by Ministry of Health (MOH) staff. So far, MSF has assisted more than 761 complicated deliveries free of charge.


Mobile health clinic aids homeless children in Indonesia

By Megan Ferringer 

Rotary International News, 5 January – A Rotary Foundation Matching Grant project that grew out of a Group Study Exchange (GSE) has provided basic mobile medical and dental care to thousands of children who lost their families in the 2006 eruption of Mount Merapi in Indonesia.

During a District 1200 (England) GSE visit to District 3400 (Indonesia) in 2008, team leader Hugo Pike discovered that many homeless children living in Yogyakarta, Java, needed medical care. His district developed a plan to outfit a vehicle as a mobile clinic that would be staffed by medical teams from a major hospital in Yogyakarta. (...)

The US$20,000 project got underway in September 2010, funded by clubs in both districts and a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant. A month later, the project came to a sudden halt when Mount Merapi unexpectedly erupted again, killing more than 350 people and forcing the evacuation of nearly 350,000 residents. The medical teams assigned to the mobile health clinic were redirected to assist the hard-hit hospitals.

Last February, the medical teams were reassigned to the mobile clinic. With the relaunch of the project came an expansion; by partnering with various hospitals, the clinic was able to reach children at 22 locations. By the time the project ended in June, it had provided health care to 3,636 children -- more than three times the number originally envisioned.   (...)


Somalia: ICRC sends urgently needed medical supplies to Middle Juba

Nairobi/Geneva (ICRC) 30 December 2011 – In response to ongoing armed clashes in the Middle Juba region of southern Somalia, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has sent urgently needed emergency medical supplies over the past few days to various medical facilities on both sides of the front line in Kismayo, Afmadow and Dhobley.

"More than 100 wounded people, mainly civilians, reached the medical facilities during the most recent phase of the fighting," said Randi Jensen, an ICRC nurse. "It has become very dangerous for patients to reach the few clinics available to them and we just don't know how many more wounded are still out there, desperately waiting to get help."

The ICRC provided Kismayo Hospital with one tonne of supplies for the surgical treatment of casualties. In addition, it delivered a total of 300 kilograms of other medical supplies to the hospital and to local clinics in the Dobley and Afmadow areas.

In cooperation with local treatment facilities, the ICRC will continue to closely assess surgical and other medical needs in the coming days and weeks.


Conclusion of the five-year project “Access to physical, medicine and rehabilitation services in Albania

21 December - The five years project (2006-2011) “Access to Physical and Medicine and rehabilitation services in Albania” implemented by Handicap International (HI) has been carried out under the responsibility and in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE)  and the Nursery Faculty of Tirana University .

After the implementation of the five year PMR project of HI in Albania, important accomplishments have been made and the overall results can be considered satisfactory. The development of services and national capacities will allow Albanian stakeholders to continue with the process. The project results have had a sustainable impact of introducing crucial steps in the development process of comprehensive system of PMR services in Albania.

The final 15-month phase was designed to consolidate the achieved results and has taken into consideration two important disparities still present in the country: the shortage of specialized personnel and the shortage of available services.

Donors for the project were the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs  and Handicap International through International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance.“Access_to_physical_medicine_and_rehabilitation_services_in_Albania_393.aspx


Not my child

Addressing the challenges of resistance to polio immunization in Nigeria

Kano, December 2011 - In Kano State, continued community resistance to the polio eradication programme is profoundly impacting progress. Caregiver refusals, or non-compliance, to immunize their children still make up a significant proportion of the total number of children missed during campaigns, and refusals are on the rise in some high-risk areas. According to the latest data analysis, non-compliance accounts for more than four (4) out of ten (10) of missed children in Kano State and in ten (10) Local Government Areas (LGAs), non-compliance accounts for fifty percent (50%) of missed children.

To address the issue of resistance to polio immunization, local government and polio eradication partners organize regular community dialogues with the support of traditional leaders. In fact, according to the latest data analysis, almost eight out of ten of resolved non-compliance cases were due to traditional leaders’ interventions.



Energy and safety



DOE announces guide for 50% more energy efficient retail buildings

January 10 - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the release of the third installment in a series of four 50% Advanced Energy Design Guides (AEDGs). This latest guide will help architects, engineers, and contractors design and build highly efficient retail buildings, helping to save energy and cut store operational costs. The 50% AEDG series provides a practical approach for designers and builders of retail stores, and other major commercial building types, to achieve 50% energy savings compared to the building energy code used in many parts of the nation. These commercial building guides support President Obama's goal to reduce energy use in commercial buildings 20% by 2020. The Advanced Energy Design Guide for 50% energy savings in retail buildings is now available for download.


Green funds that merit the name 

By Ellie Winninghoff

January 6 – What do the California Institute of Technology and Weber State University have in common? Both universities are using a portion of their endowment to invest in capital-intensive energy efficiency efforts on campus.  These schools are among 50 other colleges and universities that have created green revolving funds (GRFs) as a mechanism for financing investments in energy efficiency and thereby reduce carbon emissions and cut energy costs. Savings achieved in utility bills are reinvested to support additional green projects.

According to “Greening the Bottom Line,” a study by the Sustainable Endowment Institute (SEI,) a nonprofit based in Cambridge, Mass., annual returns to date for GRFs have ranged from 29% at Iowa State University to more than 47% at Western Michigan University. The median annual return is 32%.  "This is a real and very significant opportunity to transform energy efficiency upgrades from perceived expenses to high return investment opportunities," says Mark Orlowski, SEI’s executive director.

The nonprofit launched a "billion dollar challenge" in October encouraging educational institutions and nonprofits to invest a total of $1 billion in similar revolving funds.

SEI’s study found that GRFs are growing fast, with nearly three-quarters of the funds created since 2008. GRFs range in size from $5,000 at the College of Wooster in Ohio to more than $25 million at Stanford University. (...)


ENEL and WFP: an important partnership to fight hunger and climate change

6 December, DurbanDuring  the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban  an agreement was signed between ENEL and WFP that provides investments up to 8 million Euro. Following a strong concern about the effects of global warming  that will cause an increase of 20% of undernourished by 2050,  collaboration between ENEL and WFP will lead to the distribution in developing countries of  high-efficiency cooking stoves (green kitchens ) that reduce the use of biomass, main cause of deforestation. In addition, ENEL will install solar panels to cut greenhouse gas emissions at UN Humanitarian Response Depots (UNHRD)   and  will support WFP’s activities in Latin America in countries where the Enel Group is present.



Environment and wildlife



Conference: Towards democratic environmental governance at the global level

January 31, Paris, France

As a contribution to the build-up to the United Nations Rio + 20 Sustainable Development Summit in June the French government is hosting this one-day conference to explore 'A New Global Governance on the Environment'. The goal of the event is to gather civil society representatives to consider development of a World Environmental Organization (WEO) as a UN Agency to drive effective global governance of the environment.


Mekong leaders new 10-year plan signals support for green economy

December 21 - Leaders from the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion have affirmed their commitment to realize a more integrated, prosperous and equitable region, while respecting the environment, at the conclusion of their summit Tuesday in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

Leaders and senior officials from China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam attending the 4th Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) summit endorsed a new 10-year Strategic Framework guiding economic cooperation in the Subregion.

GMS countries agreed, as endorsed in their new Framework, to focus more attention on the linkages across different sectors, notably between energy, agriculture and food security, and the environment, and recognised climate change not only as an environmental concern but also a broader development issue.

“Leaders from the Greater Mekong Subregion are showing progress towards restructuring their economies to reflect the true role natural capital plays in underpinning their economies and the well-being of about 320 million people,” said Dr. Geoffrey Blate, WWF Greater Mekong’s Senior Advisor on Landscape Conservation. “The new Framework does signal a commitment to green the region’s economies.”



Religion and spirituality



World Spirituality Day / Universe Day - December 31

Think of World Spirituality Day as The Earth Day for the Spirit. Just as Earth Day is celebrated worldwide now, in an infinite number of ways, since its inception in 1970, World Spirituality Day has the same potential to expand into a boundless kaleidoscope of worldwide gatherings and events, big and small, year after year.

Universe Day is a day of educational, social connection and celebration events all over the planet. Universe Day begins each December 31 at noon and ends at noon January 1st. This year Universe Day focuses on increasing awareness of the severe climate change caused by carbon pollution. This years Universe Day highlights the urgent need for reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere, which are directly contributing to the severe climate changes on the planet.

Reducing planetary carbon emissions is truly Job One for Humanity! Universe Day advocates for creating a sustainable planetary biosphere and reducing atmospheric carbon pollution by using a science-grounded universe-scaled, progressive evolutionary perspective.


Martin Luther King Day - January 16

A national holiday in the USA (Day of Service) and Sweden, Martin Luther King Day is also observed around the world with gatherings and activities to mark the birthday of this great modern pioneer of Non-Violent Action

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. … This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren't going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality. — Martin Luther King Jr  



Culture and education



UNESCO Chief stresses need for innovation to ensure quality, equitable education

Global Summit for Education Ministers is under way in London

January 10 - The head of the United Nations agency tasked with promoting education today underscored the role that information and communications technologies can play in ensuring quality education and equal opportunities to learning even in countries that lag behind because of limited resources. “Progress is more than a question of money – it is all about matching. Matching capacity with needs,” Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO), told delegates at the Global Summit for Education Ministers under way in London.

“This means making the most of innovation, notably in technology. It means building innovative partnerships with the private sector, such as through the Global Alliance of Corporate Partners for Education that we are aiming to establish this year,” Ms. Bokova told the forum, whose theme is ‘Learning from the Best for a World of Change."

The framework, which can be downloaded from the UNESCO website, is a collaboration between private sector partners, such as Cisco, Intel and Microsoft, as well the International Society for Technology in Education and experts from the Commonwealth of Learning.


UN leadership camp aims to empower youth through sport

New York, January 9 - Thirty young people from nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the occupied Palestinian territory will participate in a United Nations leadership camp which kicks off today in Doha, Qatar, and aims to empower underprivileged youth through sports-based activities. The camp consists of 10 days of experiential learning activities addressing themes such as health, gender, disability, education and peace, and seeks to invoke greater change in communities driven by young leaders.

The participants, aged 18 to 25, have already made significant contributions to their communities through grassroots projects that use sport as a method to foster peace and development. At the camp, they will develop an action plan to implement in their local community with the support of camp organizers and partners to ensure the legacy of the project.

The initiative was led by the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) in close collaboration with the Canadian-based non-governmental organization (NGO) Right to Play and the Aspire Zone Foundation based in Doha. Other partners include the English Premier League, the German Agency for International Cooperation, the International Paralympic Committee and Liverpool Football Club.


Youth Assembly at the United Nations - January 19-20

2011 Theme: The Unwired Generation — Youth Leveraging Technology for the MDGs.

This annual conference at UN Headquarters brings together young professionals and youth leaders from around the world. Youth Assembly Overview:

•Focus:  Youth Led Development toward the Success of the 8 U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGS)

•Theme:  The UNWIRED GENERATION – Youth Leveraging Technology for the MDGs

•Program:  Two days at the U.N. Headquarters in New York

•Platform:  Plenary sessions, workshops, round table discussions, networking

•Leadership:  Renowned speakers and expert workshop facilitators; U.N. Staff participation at all sessions; Young leaders like yourself from around the world

•Special Events:  Tours of UN Headquarters and Evening receptions



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Next issue: 3rd February 2012.


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

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Arianna Cavallo, Azzurra Cianchetta, Isabella Strippoli. Webmaster: Simone Frassanito. Media coverage: Maurizio Palazzoni  


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*In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) presented to the UN General Assembly (, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing a major role in the field of Information.  In section A - International Organizations, the Report says:

"Participatory Communication and Free Flow of Information and Knowledge has been advanced largely through use of the Internet by civil society corresponding to para 6 in the 1999 Programme of Action calling for the promotion of a culture of peace through sharing of information among actors in the global movement for a culture of peace (p.7). Diffusion and exchange of culture of peace information via the Internet has become the major instrument for several international organizations, notably the Culture of Peace News Network, the Good News Agency and the Education for Peace Globalnet (p.12).