Good News Agency – Year IV, n° 7



Weekly - Year IV, number 7 – 23 April 2003

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. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti. Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next.  It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 2,400 media  in 46 countries, as well as to 1,000 NGO.

It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education



International legislation



UN, Nigeria to create Regional Drug Law Enforcement Training Centre

Vienna, 16 April (UN Information Service) -- The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime are working on a project aimed at upgrading the Jos Academy, located in the Plateau State, into a training centre for the entire West African region.

This new initiative will help create a sustainable drug control effort in the region through the training and enhancement of human capacities in drug law enforcement and related organised criminality, including money laundering and asset forfeiture.

To that end, the Jos Academy is to be fully equipped, staffed and managed to meet modern training  standards and deliver high-quality training curricula to both Nigerian and other English- and French-speaking West African drug law enforcement officers. It is also expected that the centre will substantially contribute to removing the remaining obstacles to a full co-operation among West Africa drug law enforcement agencies. The Federal Government of Nigeria has already allocated about US$ 2 million (out of an overall project budget of US$ 5 million) as its cost-sharing contribution to this project. (...)


UNODC and Morocco announce major cannabis survey in 2003

Vienna. 16 April (UN Information Service) -- The Government of Morocco and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime have signed a technical cooperation agreement in support of the Moroccan authorities' fight against organized cannabis cultivation, illicit trafficking and related organized crime.

The first joint action will be the conduct of a comprehensive cannabis survey in the summer of 2003 that will map the extent, locations and patterns of cannabis cultivation in Morocco, predominantly in the Northern Rif region. Based on the survey's results, the Government can implement and redirect action under the National Development Programme for the Northern Rif Region, so as to achieve lasting reductions of illicit cannabis cultivation. The Government has allocated a substantial amount of money to this National Development Programme, which is to ensure lasting and sustainable development for the Rif region, the poorest and most underdeveloped area in Morocco.

Other project activities include the provision of expertise, advisors and support to the Moroccan Government for the development of appropriate national legislation and action plans against international organized crime, including illicit drug trafficking, money laundering, and trafficking in human beings. (...)


UN intensifies support for African Union's drug control effort

Vienna, 16 April (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has just opened an Office in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), which will be operational from next July. This new office will operate in the framework of a regional project (worth US$ 1,000,000), aimed at assisting the African Union in the implementation of its new Drug Control Action Plan for Africa for the years 2002-2006, adopted at the ministerial meeting on Drug Control in Africa in Cote d'Ivoire in May 2002. This plan commits African Union Member States and African regional organizations to take concrete actions in identified drug control priority sectors and to integrate these measures into development, as well as social and health programmes.

The current project is an expansion of the previous cooperation between UNDCP and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which started a few years ago and resulted in the creation of a Drug Control and Crime Prevention Unit within the African Union Secretariat. Under this project, this unit will receive expertise, advisory services and financial support for the launch of Africa-wide drug control information and publicity campaigns.

A UNODC liaison and advocacy capacity with Governments, UN Agencies and development partners will be established in Africa that aims at the integration of drug control elements into main broad regional development initiatives, such as the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa (IPAA) and other UN System programmes in Africa.



Human rights



Global Unions (*) ask for strong UN involvement in Iraq's reconstruction

Brussels, April 17 (ICFTU on line) – (...) As Iraq emerges from the horrors of war, the possibility now exists to realise the fundamental goal of developing a democratic society, based on the rule of law. Global Unions have consistently upheld the role of the United Nations and multilateral system based on the application of international law concerning human rights, disarmament, sanctions, the use of military force and all other aspects of international action on Iraq. These same principles apply now and in the future, and UN leadership is vital in the process of reconstruction. (...)

Democracy in Iraq, as in any country, must be supported and sustained by the guarantee of human rights in full, based on international standards. In particular, the fundamental rights of Iraq's working people must be fully respected throughout the reconstruction process and beyond.  The development of a free and democratic trade union movement is essential for this and for the future of democracy, and Global Unions are ready and willing to play their part to support the efforts of the working people of Iraq to achieve this. The UN's International Labour Organisation has a central role to play in the reconstruction process. The ILO can help to ensure that international labour standards are respected and provide much needed technical assistance (...)

(*) Global Unions is the grouping of international trade union organisations comprising the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the Global Union Federations, and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD.


2003 Nansen Refugee Award to Italian Humanitarian

Nairobi / Geneva, 15 April -- Annalena Tonelli, an Italian woman who has devoted more than three decades to helping Somalis in remote corners of the Horn of Africa, has been named this years Nansen Refugee Award winner. Announcing the award, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers said Tuesday that the Nansen Award Committee had picked the 60-year-old Italian humanitarian in recognition of her selfless dedication in the service of the Somali community, the majority of them returned refugees and displaced people. A lawyer by profession, Dr. Tonelli also has diplomas in tropical medicine, community medicine and control of tuberculosis. The Nansen Refugee Award is given annually to individuals or organizations that have distinguished themselves through work on behalf of refugees.

Dr. Tonelli has spent the last 33 years working with the Somali people in Kenya and Somalia the last six years with returnees in Borama, a remote corner of north-west Somalia also known as Somaliland. She currently runs a 200-bed hospital in Borama.

Single-handedly, Dr. Tonelli has set up outreach clinics to support her 30-year-old fight against tuberculosis among the nomadic Somali communities. She has raised funds, on her own, to run the clinics, care for the patients, and raise awareness on HIV/AIDS and the harmful effects of female genital mutilation (FGM) practiced by Somali communities. Fluent in Somali, she has also established a school for the deaf in Borama and organizes visits by surgeons from a German charity who have so far restored sight to more than 3,700 people.

High Commissioner Lubbers noted that the Italian doctor had chosen to live simply and humbly, taking no payment for her tireless work. (...)


Government and LTTE agree on action plan to address the needs of children affected by war in the Northeast

Colombo, 11 April - The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Government of Sri Lanka, local and international organisations met in Kilinochchi on the 10th and 11th April 2003, to agree on an Action Plan to address the needs and care of children affected by war in the North East. The workshop was jointly inaugurated by Mr. Sutha Thangan, Deputy Head of the LTTE Political Wing and Dr. John Gooneratne, the Deputy Director General of the Secretariat for co-ordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) and was facilitated by UNICEF.

The workshop participants developed the operational aspects of the Action Plan to ensure and restore normalcy to children affected by war, including those children engaged in hazardous labour, street children, underage recruits and children seeking recruitment.

The Action Plan is based on the Guiding Principles of the best interest of the child, of children being with their families and of adopting an integrated approach to programming for the welfare of children. It further spells out the role of civil society in enhancing programme effectiveness and sustainability. The need to recognise cultural diversity and to ensure that all programmes are culturally appropriate was acknowledged. The assurance that all agencies involved in the Action Plan will maintain their neutrality in political, religious or ideological issues was reinforced. (...)



Economy and development



UNECE promotes policies conducive to industrial restructuring April 23

The daunting task of industrial restructuring has come to the forefront of market reforms in transition economies, especially in the countries of South East Europe and the former Soviet Union. Hundreds of uncompetitive enterprises providing employment and incomes to thousands of people need to be either dismantled or modernized.

To assist Governments in handling the process of industrial restructuring, on 23 April 2003 the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) will hold a Workshop on Policy and Regulatory Options for Promoting Industrial Restructuring in the ECE Region. The Workshop will assemble experts from western and eastern European countries representing Governments, international organizations, trade unions and academia. They will exchange views and experiences on Government policies to create favourable conditions for restructuring non-competitive industries and sectors. (...)

The Workshop is organized by the Team of Specialists on Industrial Restructuring, which was created by UNECE to assist member Governments to elaborate policies in this topical area. The exchange of views at the Workshop will enhance the capacity of the Team to advise the relevant Government agencies in transition economies.


IFAD to support agricultural development in Senegal to enable rural people to overcome poverty

Rome, 17 April - A loan agreement was signed today at the headquarters of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) by H.E. Momar Gueye, Ambassador of the Republic of Senegal to Italy, and Mr. Cyril Enweze, Vice-President of IFAD. The loan, for USD 12.5 million will help fund phase two of the Agricultural Development Project in Matam, which has a total cost of USD 24.3 million.

The project will help the rural inhabitants of about 26 village communities in the Walo area and about 50 herder communities in the Ferlo area to take steps to overcome poverty. About 150 000 people in about 20 000 rural households are expected to benefit.

In this area of Senegal, households headed by women are particularly vulnerable to poverty. The weak resource base in these areas limits opportunities to improve productivity and incomes. Illiteracy also limits the capacity of the poor to obtain and use technical and managerial know-how and to access markets and financial services. (...)


IFAD Board approves USD 66.4 million for microfinance, development and technical support projects

Rome, 10 April 2003 The Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today approved loans for five microfinance, development and technical support projects and programmes totaling USD 66.4 million in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Chad, Nicaragua, and Senegal. In addition, the Board approved four new technical assistance grants.







WFP opens first humanitarian lifeline to Baghdad

Rome/Amman, 17 April The United Nations World Food Programme today opened its first humanitarian lifeline into Baghdad since the start of the Iraq crisis, when a food aid convoy rolled out of Jordan headed for the Iraqi capital. Some 50 trucks loaded with 1,400 metric tons of urgently needed wheat flour crossed the Jordanian-Iraqi border at Al-Karama early this morning and are expected to reach Baghdad later on Thursday.

The convoys departure establishes WFPs second and, potentially, most important humanitarian corridor into Iraq in less than two weeks. Food aid is already flowing into the Northern Governorates through Turkey, but Aqaba in Jordan is expected to become a key port of entry for food being shipped to central and southern Iraq. (...)


UNICEF Iran prepares first trans-border aid shipment to Iraq

Tehran, 14 April - A convoy of trucks carrying 120,000 litres of potable water is due to cross from Iran into southern Iraq tomorrow (Tuesday 15 April), marking UNICEF's first cross-border shipment of aid from Iran. Seventeen lorries carrying 5,500 jerrycans full of clean water are scheduled to leave Ahwaz in Iran Tuesday morning, heading for the Shalamcheh border crossing point. The water is intended for distribution to hospitals and health centers in Al-Fao peninsula.

The UNICEF Representative in Iran, Kari Egge, said the peninsula had been chosen because no UN relief aid had so far reached the area, and conditions on the ground were largely unknown.

 (...) Over the past six months, UNICEF Iran pre-positioned medical kits, nutritional food for malnourished children, water bladders and other relief material along the border with Iraq in order to respond rapidly to the humanitarian needs of children inside Iraq or in refugee camps in Iran.

This latest aid shipment opens up a new front in UNICEF's efforts to reach the children of Iraq with vital aid supplies. Iran's long border with Iraq means that aid can reach all major regions in the country. This makes it a strategic centre for UNICEF's emergency response.

Iran is the host country to more than 200,000 refugees from previous wars in Iraq, and has played a critical role in the provision of humanitarian assistance over recent years.


ADRA to Operate Camps in Iraq

Silver Spring, Md, USA, April 14 - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) office in Spain has received a grant of $538,442 (500,000 Euros) from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the government of Spain for humanitarian relief operations in northern Iraq. The funded project will enable ADRA to organize and operate camps for 2,700 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP's) in the districts of Atrush 1 and Sarsink. (...)

ADRA Spain began its work in northern Iraq in 1993 with an aid shipment. In 1995 it constructed a school in Shindokha and continued aid with the provision of medicines in 1996. Since then ADRA Spain, through funding from the government of Spain, has reconstructed the villages of Qassara, Garrade, Sartang, and Bastava. Due to conflict, these villages were destroyed, but ADRA constructed 50 houses, a health center, school, water system, and roads for each village.


Prince Charles praises Rotarian efforts at RIBI conference

April 16 - Rotarians welcomed a royal guest at this year's annual conference of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI). Prince Charles of Wales, who is president of the British nonprofit organization WaterAid, attended the 11-13 April event in Blackpool, England, at the special invitation of RIBI President Tony de St. Dalmas. This year, WaterAid is the preferred international charity of the RIBI president.

In a keynote address, Prince Charles, who is an honorary Rotarian, noted that while nobody needs reminding that water is essential for life, affluent societies easily forget that in much of the world many people do not have access to a safe, clean, and reliable water supply. (...)

WaterAid has enjoyed a successful relationship with RIBI since 1984. Rotary clubs have donated more than GB£2 million (US$3.1 million) in that time. This year, Rotarians have set a target of providing 21,000 people with safe water, sanitation, and hygiene education in the Dodoma and Kiteto regions of Tanzania.


Ethiopia: Rain, at last!

April 11 - "Let it rain!" exclaimed Steve Williams, poking his head around the door to his small room, "let it pour!". The ICRC delegate in charge of assistance programmes in western Hararghe province had been waiting for this moment for a long time. Like his four colleagues, all based in the small town of Mechara, Steve had awakened early that morning to the deafening sound of rain beating down on corrugated iron roofs.

A distribution of 400 tonnes of maize, bean and sorghum seed has just been completed in this part of Ethiopia, home to over 100,000 people particularly hard hit by the persistent drought of the past few years. The short rainy season, expected to last three to four weeks, should enable farmers to grow just enough seedlings for the planting season in July, which, in ordinary times, suffices to feed the population.

Two of five distributions of food rations have also been completed, providing the population with some 7,000 tonnes of maize flour, beans and cooking oil. This means that people will not have to dip into their seed reserves to survive, a serious risk during lean periods.


WFP opens global crisis supply centre in Asia

Phnom Penh, 11 April The United Nations World Food Programme announced today the creation of a ground-breaking supply base for emergency response, located in Cambodia, which will serve WFP and other aid agencies working in humanitarian crises anywhere in Asia.

The WFP Asia Regional Response Facility will receive store and dispatch stocks that can be rushed to a humanitarian crisis within hours of its outbreak. The equipment will include items such as pre-fabricated offices, telecommunications and computer equipment, forklifts, generators, light vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, tools, spare parts, and fuel pumps.

The warehouse, launched at a signing ceremony between WFP and the Government of Cambodia, is the first in a four corners network of shared facilities near the epicenters of likely humanitarian crises. The centers, linked electronically, will cover the four corners of the compass: north (Europe and the Middle East), south (southern Africa), east (Asia) and west (Latin America).


WFP praises timely japanese donation for Africa, Asia and Latin America

Rome, 11 April The United Nations World Food Programme today expressed its gratitude to the Japanese Government for a donation of US$84.5 million for refugees, internally displaced people and victims of natural disasters in Africa, Asia, the Near East and Latin America.

We are particularly encouraged by the timeliness and magnitude of this donation, WFP Executive Director James T. Morris said. At a time when the worlds attention is focused on Iraq, it is vital that the needy in other parts of the world are not forgotten.

The funds will be used to buy wheat, wheat flour, maize, maize meal, pulses, corn soya blend and sorghum, as well as Japanese-procured rice and canned tuna. The donation comes at a time when WFP is especially concerned about the danger of the Iraq conflict diverting attention and funds from other regions of crisis particularly in Africa. (...)

Total Japanese Government donations to WFP already amount to US$104.3 million this year, following US$92.6 million of assistance in 2002. (...)


UNICEF convoy brings relief to forgotten children in Côte d'Ivoire's stricken Northeast district

Abijian, April 10 - After seven months of isolation due to fighting, a UNICEF convoy delivered a consignment of medical supplies and relief food for children in the severely-stricken north-eastern district of Bouna, 600 km north-east of Abidjan.The supplies consisted of basic health kits, water purification tablets, mosquito nets, soap, disinfectants and plastic buckets, as well as four tons of rice, soya beans and cooking oil. The food is destined for a school children's cantine run by Roman Catholic missionaries and were sourced from World Food Programme stocks in government-controlled Bondoukou, 160 km south of Bouna.

UNICEF also provided a refridgerator and three gas cylinders to revive the "cold chain" system and restart vaccination for children at Bouna Hospital. Also, two water pumps and spare parts to rehabilitate the town's broken down water supply system were delivered, as well as education and recreation kits for 1,300 school children receiving recreational care at the Catholic mission compound and at two other locations. The normal schools closed when most of the teachers fled in the heat of the fighting.  (...)


Safeguarding food security in the Caribbean

FAO Trust Fund for Food Security launches first project - Italy donates 50 million euros

7 April, Rome - A $5 million project to promote food security in the Caribbean has been jointly launched by the Caribbean Community, the CARIFORUM, the Government of Italy and FAO.

The project is the first technical cooperation project to be launched from the FAO Trust Fund for Food Security, created during the 2002 World Food Summit: five years later, to increase the flow of resources to fight hunger.

The project was signed by FAO Deputy Director-General David Harcharik, the Italian Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mario Bacinni and the Assistant Secretary-General of CARICOM Byron Blake, during a March meeting held at the Milan offices of the Inter American Development Bank.

Funded by the Italian government, the project is the first of its kind to focus on regional food security with support from the Trust Fund. Further projects for developing countries are in the final stages of preparation. (...)



Peace and security



Iraq: Restoring family links - Press kit

April 17 - The ICRC has set up a special tracing unit for Iraq at its training centre near Geneva to centralize data on prisoners of war and information needed to restore family links.

Photos in high resolution for media use

On 26 March the ICRC set up a special tracing unit for Iraq at its training centre in Ecogia (20 km from Geneva) to centralize data on prisoners of war and information needed to restore family links. The unit comprises more than 50 people, mainly English/Arabic translators, data entry operators, IT technicians and specialists in detention-related and tracing activities. "Our two priorities - to collect data on prisoners and missing persons and to restore contact between relatives separated by the conflict - are closely linked," said Pierre Barras, who heads the unit. (...)


CARE restores generator power in Baghdad hospitals

Disorder and chaos continue to hamper relief efforts

April 15 - CARE staff in Iraq are addressing key needs in Baghdads hospitals, and distributing clean water and other supplies to communities despite disorder and chaos. But large-scale relief efforts cannot take place to meet escalating needs until a minimum of security is guaranteed.

The health situation is absolutely critical, said Margaret Hassan, CARE country director from Baghdad. The most urgent need in hospitals is for electricity to be restored. Without electricity, operations cannot be performed and refrigerated vaccines will spoil.

Hassan confirmed that CARE staff have resumed work in Baghdad after a week of lying low, distributing relief supplies there and in three nearby towns some 30 miles outside of the capital.

Today, CARE staff restored power to one of Baghdads largest hospitals, Al Yarmuk General (1,200 beds). Last week, the hospital was hit directly by shells, which destroyed the third floor. Of the four hospitals visited today, CARE reports all had been looted to some degree. While Al Yarmuk General still has some supplies, Al Kindi hospital doesnt even have beds. Tomorrow, two teams of CARE engineers will do their utmost to help restore power and distribute disinfectants to hospitals throughout Baghdad. (...)


Sierra Leoneans exchange small arms for development support

9 April - The disarmament and peace process in Sierra Leone is getting new impetus from a pilot programme in four chiefdoms that encourages communities to turn in small arms in return for support for local development projects. The initiative will also strengthen national weapons control measures. (...)

When the participating chiefdoms are certified by the police as having turned in all weapons, they are entitled to receive US$20,000 for a development project. The communities select and carry out the projects, such as building a school or health clinic or setting up a job training programme.

The weapons-free certification will pave the way for further development activities by donor agencies and civil society groups. UNDP Sierra Leone and the UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery are providing funding for the programme.

If the six months pilot phase is successful, UNDP and its partners will consider expanding it into a national programme. The initiative will also support steps to strengthen weapons control legislation, establish a firearms licensing process, and conduct a survey on the extent and sources of small arms proliferation. (...)






Rotary presents Polio Eradication Champion Award to Former Prime Minister of Japan

Tokyo, 17 April - In recognition of significant and ongoing support from the government of Japan in the fight against polio, Rotary International today presented Former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto with the Polio Eradication Champion Award.

Over the course of the initiative, which began in the mid 1980s, the Government of Japan has contributed nearly US$200 million toward polio eradication efforts worldwide. Much of these funds have gone toward the purchase of oral polio vaccine and other assistance.

The award, presented by Bhichai Rattakul, President of Rotary International, was established in 1995 to recognize world leaders who have made outstanding contributions toward the goal of eradicating polio by 2005. "On behalf of our 1.2 million Rotary volunteers worldwide, I am honored to give this award in recognition of the significant support by the Government of the Japan," said Rattakul. "As we stand on the brink of victory over polio, financial assistance from governments are urgently needed." (...)

Great strides have been made in polio eradication. When Rotary began its polio immunization program in the mid 1980s, approximately 1,000 children were infected by this crippling disease every day. At the end of 2002, less than 2000 children contracted polio in seven countries (India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Niger, Somalia and Egypt), down from the 350,000 cases estimated in 125 countries in 1988. The Americas were declared free from polio in 1994, as well as the Western Pacific region in 2000, and Europe in 2002.

Despite this success, the greatest challenges to reaching every child are high density populations, civil unrest, and most critically, a US$275 million funding gap. (...)


Hospital Maternity Ward Reopens

8 April - A baby boy weighing 2.85 kilograms was the first infant delivered at the newly rebuilt maternity ward of Kabuls Khair Khana hospital, which reopened at the end of March. The mother, 40, was in good shape and proud to be the first woman to give birth in the new facility. It was her sixth pregnancy and second child, following four miscarriages. The small maternity and childrens hospital, serving a large, impoverished area of Kabul, was renovated and refurbished by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. Work was carried out by the Italian NGO Intersos.

During the eight months that the maternity ward was closed for badly needed improvement, UNFPA supported the operations of a Danish Emergency Mobile Hospital near Khair Khana. The hospital treated 200-300 patients a day with trauma care, selective surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology; and trained over 100 local staff members. Between July and December, almost 1,500 babies were delivered at the facility. (...)

UNFPA is participating in Afghanistan's reconstruction as part of the integrated United Nations assistance mission. Priorities identified together with the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Women's Affairs include strengthening maternal health services and girls education, with an initial focus on rebuilding health and education infrastructure. (...)


Luxembourg increases contributions to UNFPA by 33 per cent

United Nations, New York, 3 April  UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, today welcomed Luxembourgs decision to increase by nearly 33 per cent its allocation to the Funds regular resources. This would take Luxembourgs contribution to about 727,000 euros for 2003.

This substantial increase is a profoundly appreciated response to rising demands for resources to keep the worlds promise to prevent maternal deaths, unwanted pregnancies and HIV/AIDS infections, said UNFPAs Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. (...) This is another example of the generosity of the Government and people of Luxembourg, who provided the entire $4.5 million UNFPA sought in 2001 to assist women and men in Afghanistan, Ms. Obaid added.

In a recent address to the United Nations Commission on Population and Development, Ms. Obaid said that resources for the Cairo Programme of Action from developing countries and donors have dropped from $11.2 billion in 2000 to $9.4 billion in 2001. She urged greater efforts to fulfil the commitment to invest $17 billion a year for reproductive health and other population needs.

UNFPA is the worlds largest multilateral source of population assistance. Since it became operational in 1969, the Fund has provided sustained assistance to developing countries to address their population and development needs.


MSF expands SARS intervention in Vietnam

Brussels - MSF is re-enforcing its team in the Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam. The team, in place since March 19, is helping to contain the illness known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which has already killed 75 people and infected over 1,800 worldwide.

The 6-strong MSF team has set up an isolation wing in the hospital with a capacity for 100 patients. They are also providing training in isolation and protection techniques for the local medical staff and will give psychological support to staff and patients. "MSF has a great deal of experience in the isolation of diseases, and our presence has been important for the local staff, many of whom are understandably apprehensive about treating this mysterious illness," explains William Claus, who set up the emergency intervention in Hanoi for MSF. (...)



Energy and safety



Geothermal Power Boost for Kenya and Eastern Africa

Experts Draw Up Action Plan for Environmentally-Friendly Energy from the Earth's Hot Rocks

Nairobi, 11 April - A plan to dramatically increase the levels of electricity generated from "hot rocks" in Eastern Africa has been drawn up at a key conference held at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Geothermal, which harnesses steam produced by hot rocks deep in the Earth to generate electricity, is a highly promising form of renewable energy. But until now its potential in the Eastern African Rift Valley region has remained largely untapped.

Government energy experts, scientists, engineers and members of the private sector, today set a "challenging yet achievable target" to develop 1,000 MW of geothermal across Eastern Africa by 2020, equivalent to the electricity needs of several million people in the region. In total, Africa has a potential of up to 7,000MW of untapped geothermal energy resources.

Currently Kenya, which has pioneered geothermal energy in the region, generates 45 MW of electricity from "hot rocks". The delegates, in a final declaration, said: "Geothermal power has proven very reliable. Kenya has used geothermal energy for power generation for 22 years at greater than 97 per cent availability". The experts emphasized that geothermal energy was clean and, unlike hydro-electricity, was not vulnerable to droughts. It also is not prone to unpredictable price fluctuations as can be the case with oil-fired power generation.

The meeting, called the Eastern African Geothermal Energy Week, has been aimed at overcoming some of the technological and financial hurdles that have held back geothermal development.  (...)


U. N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) participates in Workshop on Renewable Energy Resources and Potential

The Energy Team of the Sustainable Development and Productivity Division participated in a joint Lebanese-Syrian Workshop on Renewable Energy Resources and Potential that was organized by the National Council for Scientific Research in Lebanon and the Supreme Council of Sciences in Syria in collaboration with the Lebanese - Syrian Supreme Council.

The workshop was held at the National Council for Scientific Research, Beirut on 27 - 28 March 2003 (...) The workshop aimed to overview the renewable energy research status in the two countries, the state-of-the-art renewable energy technologies and applications, and the joint Lebanese Syrian research projects. ESCWA staff presented two research papers on:

Large-scale Renewable Energy Electricity Generation and Potential for Export, by Ms. Anhar Hegazi; The Role of Architecture Design, Thermal Insulation and Solar Heating Systems in Achieving Energy Efficiency in Buildings, by Mr. Mohamad Kordab.

This workshop is a part of a series of seminars "Syrian - Lebanese Research Days" organized for scientific interaction between Lebanese and Syrian universities, research centers and concerned authorities.



Environment and wildlife



WWF honours Deh Cho First Nations and government of Canada for major conservation move Yellowknife, Canada

17 Apr The Deh Cho First Nations and the government of Canada received an international conservation honour today for withdrawing over 10 million hectares of land from industrial development in the Northwest Territories Mackenzie Valley. WWF officially recognized this as a Gift to the Earth, as representatives of the government of Canada and the Deh Cho First Nations met in Fort Providence, NWT, to sign the Land Withdrawal and an Interim Resource Management Agreement. This major habitat and cultural conservation step is especially important because it comes in advance of finalizing plans for a natural gas pipeline along the Mackenzie Valley.

The Mackenzie is one of the worlds last remaining great rivers still in its natural state. Its vast watershed covers 180 million hectares, one-sixth of Canada. This pristine sub-arctic region is home to several aboriginal peoples, including the Deh Cho First Nation, as well as to huge populations of wildlife including caribou, grizzly bears, and migratory birds. These intact wildlife habitats are important watersheds and hunting, trapping and fishing areas for the Deh Cho resources that have sustained them for thousands of years. The entire Deh Cho region occurs within two of WWF's Global 200 ecoregions, Canadian Low Arctic Tundra and Canadian Boreal Forests. (...)


Cuban city of Bayamo gets new urban revival plan

April 16 - Cubas second oldest city, Bayamo, has signed up to a new Urban Pact supported by UN-HABITAT and the government of Belgium designed to tackle a range of environmental problems that have been slowing its development.

An estimated 200 local officials joined Mayor Adrian Gorgoso Suárez and other national and international dignitaries in the usually placid Plaza de la Revolución in the historic centre of Bayamo on Friday, 11 April to sign the pact and publicly commit themselves to take concrete measures to curb the citys urban degradation and build the foundations of a more sustainable future for the city first established nearly 500 years ago.

The pact formally endorses the work of a four-day Consulta Urbana, a city consultation which focused on issues of the pollution of the Río Bayamo, solid waste management, public transport, and the quality of public spaces.  (...)


Husband and wife team win WWF Arctic tourism prize

Oslo, Norway, 5 April - WWF has awarded its prestigious WWF Arctic Award for Linking Tourism and Conservation 2002, and 10,000 Swiss francs, to Svalbard Villmarkssenter, Svalbard, Norway.

Svalbard Villmarkssenter, based in Longyearbyen, Svalbard is a small, family-run business based around dogsledding and hiking trips. The company, run by husband and wife team Karl and Berit Hole Vatvik, are active campaigners for conservation: for the last ten years they have campaigned for non-motorised tourism in Svalbard in response to the increased use of snow-mobiles by other tour operators. They have also opposed plans to build a road to link two mining communities on Svalbard. The road, which would have ruined Reindalen, a beautiful and biologically-rich valley, is now set to become a protected area within the next year.

Samantha Smith, director of WWFs Arctic Programme, said: We are delighted to award our 2002 Arctic Award to Svalbard Villmarkssenter. They are an excellent example of how tourism can work in harmony with conservation. They serve locally produced food, use hand made sleds, tents and clothes, are committed to recycling, and work hard to share the local culture as much as local nature with their guests. They show that with commitment and hard work, small businesses can survive in a larger commercial setting and stake out the path for future sustainable tourism. (...)


The Earth Charter is the backbone for an environmental ethics course

April 4 - The Environmental Ethics Course is one of the regular courses taught within the Dual Masters Program in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, implemented between University for Peace and the American University in Washington D.C. The Earth Charter provides the backbone of this course. The introductory lecture to the course is actually given by Earth Charter staff who explain the origins and scope of the Charter and discuss with the students its applications. An important element of students research is finding out and analyzing the contribution of the Earth Charter to particular topics of the course. In this way, the Charter provides a unifying concept for the content of the course. More information on the overall Masters program can be seen at :



Religion and spirituality



Thirty-fifth anniversary of the founding of Auroville

April 11 - Yesterday, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, participated in celebrations at UNESCO Headquarters marking the thirty-fifth anniversary of the founding of Auroville, a unique model city near Pondicherry, India. Opening an exhibition on Auroville, Mr Matsuura said that as an intellectual and ethical organization, UNESCO cannot fail to be fascinated by this experience. Inspired by the great Indian spiritual master Sri Aurobindo, Auroville has developed into a full-fledged city of over 1500 inhabitants and enjoys close links with surrounding communities.  

Noting that UNESCO had supported the foundation of Auroville and, over the years, has continued to show interest in its unfolding development, the Director-General stressed the similarities between UNESCOs ideals, values and principles and those underpinning this unusual community. He pointed to the way in which key aspects of the Auroville experiment resonate strongly with some of UNESCOs major priorities and concerns such as dialogue among civilizations, cultures and religions; cultural diversity and culture as a factor for development; poverty eradication; quality education and lifelong learning; and renewable energies.

The Director-General expressed his appreciation of the cooperation with the Indian Permanent Delegation in organizing the Auroville celebration at Headquarters.



Culture and education



“The Media and Armed Conflict” – UN, New York, 2 May

An event highlighting World Press Freedom Day observed on 3 May 2003

Organized by UNESCO and the Department of Public Information for the 25th session of the Committee on Information, Friday, 2 May 2003, 10 a.m. – 12 noon, Conference Room 2

New York, April 23 - Highlighting World Press Freedom Day, the Committee on Information will dedicate its morning session of work on 2 May to the Day with a two-part event. The opening segment will begin at 10:00 a.m. featuring addresses by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other UN officials and the President of the United Nations Correspondents Association. It will be followed at 10:50 a.m. with a panel entitled “The Media and Armed Conflict” comprised of media representatives and experts.  They will speak on the role and responsibilities of the world media in their coverage of armed conflicts, including conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation. Special attention will be given to the emerging policies and best practices that ensure responsible coverage while encouraging the widest press freedoms.


Women among first computer specialists trained in Afghanistan

17 April - Afghanistan is now producing internationally certified information technology specialists, one third of them women so far. Six women and 11 men graduated this month from the University of Kabul's new Cisco Networking Academy, earning the first industry-standard certification for computer networking ever offered in the country. The event was a milestone for Afghan women, shut out of public life by the former Taliban regime and its radical interpretation of Islamic law. (...)

The new academy fills a critical void for women and men alike. A severe shortage of people trained in information and communications technology cut the country off from much of the high-tech transformation of the global community over the past two decades. (...)

UNDP and network hardware vendor Cisco Systems launched the academy last October to create a core of Afghan specialists who can help move the country onto the digital highway. Cisco Systems trained the Afghan teachers and provided networking equipment for the academy. UNDP supported the training, supplied computer hardware and forged the partnership with the university. (...)


“Youth and Globalisation”: European students raise their voice on the effects of globalisation

17 April - Youth and Globalisation is the name of the AEGEE Yearplan Project launched within the framework of Europe in the World the leading topic for AEGEE activities in the year 2003. (...)  The Youth and Globalisation project aims at raising awareness among students on current issues related to globalisation in Europe; surveying and evaluating the opinion of students on globalisation and its effects on European society; disseminating the opinion of European students; contributing to the clarification of the role of the European Union concerning issues connected to globalisation with the help of a position paper drafted on the basis of the results of the project. We would like to stress that this project does not intend to support any of the views on the issue, neither pro- nor contra-globalisation. The project starts with a survey, which will be distributed in universities all over Europe, in order to get an overview about students knowledge on and interest in the phenomenon of globalisation. Its results are intended to form the backbone of all later events and discussions. (...)

AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l'Europe - European Students' Forum)   is one of Europe's largest interdisciplinary student associations, which promotes a unified Europe, cross-border co-operation, communication, integration among students and strives to create an open and tolerant society of tomorrow. AEGEE is a voluntary, non-profit organisation that operates without being linked to any political party. It is represented in 271 university cities, in 40 countries all around Europe and has about 17 000 members.


4th Global Action Week: over 1 million took part in World's Largest Simultaneous Lesson!! 6-13 April 2003

Let this be a lesson the world will never forget" - Kofi Annan

On April 9, over 1.3 million students, educators and community leaders in 180 countries joined forces for the worlds largest teach-in about girls education. The lesson highlighted the promises for girls within international agreements and the role of governments worldwide in making these promises a reality. EI (Education International) and the Global Campaign for Education have organised the teach-in on girls education to raise international awareness among every-day people and international leaders. EI thanks all participants for their support! - 14 April 2003


GEMUN (Global Elementary Model United Nations) - May 16 & 17, 2003

Global Elementary Model United Nations is what the name implies -- elementary (and middle school) students role-playing the assemblies of the United Nations! This enriching, exciting opportunity has been available in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.A. since 1990.

GEMUN is an excellent hands-on approach to learning in a global context. By role-playing delegates to the United Nations, young people from varied backgrounds learn about other countries, cultures and international relationships, while developing a global perspective on real issues confronting the world community today, and acquiring many transferable skills.
During the school year, elementary and middle school children and their sponsors receive help through workshops and printed materials. This preparation will culminate in a two-day Model United Nations session.

Students immensely enjoy the collegiate setting while participating in GEMUN. Due to the authentic nature of the material and assignments, they see direct application of the information to their daily lives, the problems in the world and their surrounding environment.

GEMUN is sponsored by: The Robert Muller School 6005 Royaloak Dr. Arlington, TX 76016 USA


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Next issue: 9 May 2003


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