Good News Agency – Year VII, n° 4



Weekly - Year VII, number 4 – 24th March 2006

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 (in charge) and Elisa Peduto. 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 3,700 media in 48 countries and to 2,800 NGOs.

It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it has been included in the web site



International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education



International legislation



Bulgaria joins the ADN Agreement

Geneva, 13 March  -- Bulgaria ratified the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Waterways (ADN) on 7 March 2006. This brings the total number of Contracting States to 5, namely: Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Netherlands and the Russian Federation. The ADN Agreement will enter into force once 2 more States have deposited their instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. The ADN aims at increasing the safety of the international carriage of dangerous goods by inland waterways and at preventing any pollution resulting from accidents or incidents during the carriage, while facilitating international transport and trade of such goods. (…)



Human rights



UN General Assembly establishes new Human Rights Council by vote of 170 in favour to 4 against, with 3 abstentions

Council Elections Scheduled for 9 May; Inaugural Meeting to Be Held on 19 June

15 March - United Nations Member States today overwhelmingly approved the establishment of a new Human Rights Council, aiming to strengthen the world body’s machinery to promote and protect fundamental rights, and deal with major human rights offenders.

Adopting a resolution by a recorded vote of 170 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States), with 3 abstentions (Belarus, Iran, Venezuela), the General Assembly decided to set up the new Council to replace the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights, which has come under fire for excessive politicization.  (For details of the vote, see Annex.)

Over objections from the United States that the resolution did not go far enough to exclude some of the world’s worst human rights abusers from membership in the new body, the 191-member Assembly approved the text, which decided “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, fully cooperate with the Council, and be reviewed under the universal periodic review mechanism, during their term of membership”.

The resolution calls for the election of new Council members on 9 May 2006, and an inaugural meeting on 19 June.  The Commission, which postponed its annual meeting earlier this week, awaiting a decision on the new Council in New York, will be abolished on June 16.  The 47 members would be individually elected by an absolute majority of 96 votes of the General Assembly’s members.  If the Council members failed to uphold high human rights standards, they could be suspended by a two-thirds majority vote by Assembly members present at the meeting. (…)


Unwto and International Business Leaders Forum announce a new Human Rights Initiative for the tourism industry

London, United Kingdom, 16 March - The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a United Nations specialised agency, and the Tourism Partnership of the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) announced today a joint initiative on human rights, the Tourism and Human Rights Initiative. The initiative will create a framework to assist the tourism industry address human rights within their own business operations.

The Tourism and Human Rights Initiative will recognise the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism as the overarching standard to guide the global activities of the project, to be reinforced through the development and adoption of a specific set of human rights principles for the industry, with appendices for individual sectors. (…)

These human rights principles will equip participating companies with a tool to respond to the full spectrum of human rights challenges confronting the industry, and specific sector dilemmas. It will enable individual companies to benchmark their human rights performance, and where necessary take steps to update or expand the scope of existing human rights strategies.(…)


Campaign launched against forced marriages

By Sanjay Suri

London, March 16 (IPS) - The British government has launched a fresh campaign to curb forced marriages. The new campaign follows the setting up of a special unit last year to prevent forced marriages. The unit was set up after several reports of Pakistani girls particularly being taken from Britain to Pakistan and forced into marriages against their will. (…) ''We've had about 250 to 300 cases reported in the last year,'' a Foreign Office spokesman told IPS Thursday. ''But we have reason to believe there may be very many more cases.''

The new campaign has been launched ''to let young people know there is help if they need it,'' he said. ''We also want to alert the adults that any attempt to force anyone into a marriage is an abuse of human rights.'' The campaign will be run jointly by the Foreign and the Home offices. (…) The campaign will involve a series of radio and press adverts, TV fillers and poster campaigns. ''It will highlight the difference between forced and arranged marriage, and make clear that forced marriage is an abuse of human rights and a form of domestic violence,'' the Forced Marriages Unit (FMU) said in a press note. (…)


Initiatives to end sex trafficking: MEPs call for a launch of an Anti-Trafficking Day

15 March - MEPs reaffirm their firm condemnation of trafficking in human beings, in particular of women and children for sexual purposes. In a resolution adopted today, following up last week's EP seminar on forced prostitution during sports events, MEPs propose strategies to combat this ghastly problem. The European Parliament calls for a European wide campaign to inform the general public and to reduce the demand.  MEPs also propose an Anti-Trafficking Day to raise awareness on the issue of trafficking in all its aspects.

The European Parliament urges the European Commission and the Member States to launch a European-wide campaign to inform and educate the general public and particularly sports people, sports fans and supporters about the growing problem of forced prostitution during big sports events. The campaign should provide the necessary information, counselling, safe housing and legal aid to women and children and other victims forced into prostitution.  MEPs agree that media and famous people from the sports world also have to be involved in the awareness raising campaign to positively influence the changes in public mentality and behaviour. They also appeal for a prevention campaign targeted at potential victims providing them with information as to their rights and where they can obtain assistance in countries of destination. (…)


MEPs take a stand against racism in football

Brussels, 14 March - Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will formally adopt a resolution on tackling racism in football at a press conference today in Strasbourg. A record 420 MEPs have signed the resolution, which strongly condemns all forms of racism at football matches, both on and off the field. It calls on all those involved in football to do more to fight racism in the game and asks for tougher sanctions for racial abuse.

The initiative for the resolution was taken by five MEPs: Emine Bozkurt (European Socialists/Netherlands), Chris Heaton-Harris (European People’s Party/UK), Cem Özdemir (Greens/Germany), Alexander Nuño Alvaro (Liberals and Democrats/Germany) and Claude Moraes (European Socialists/UK).

The five MEPs are actively involved in the European Parliament’s Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup, which promotes ethnic and cultural diversity within the European Parliament in a coalition that rallies MEPs from different backgrounds.

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) holds the Secretariat of the Intergroup. ENAR members supported the MEPs’ initiative by lobbying MEPs at national level to sign the Resolution. The initiative was also supported by the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network.


UNICEF promotes actions to ensure birth-certificate for all children in Brazil

Every year 500,000 Brazilian children are born and do not receive a birth certificate before their first birthday.

Brazil, 14 March - With the participation of the Special Secretariat for Human Rights, UNICEF launched this Monday, March 13th, a campaign about the importance of realizing all Brazilian children's right to a free birth certificate. (…).

With the campaign launched on March 13th, UNICEF expects to contribute to Brazil's efforts to fulfil the objective of reducing the under-registration rate to 6% by October 2006. Although important progress has been made over the past three years, the most recent data collected by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) reveal that every year 500,000 boys and girls still fail to be registered during their first year of life.(…)

On March 14th, the Globo TV network – the largest in Brazil – will start broadcasting at the national level a video on birth certificate produced in partnership with UNICEF.

With a 30-second duration, the video recalls that every child has the right to a free birth certificate. In order to be vaccinated, enrolled at school, or receive social benefits, a child needs to have a birth certificate. Without it, children are more vulnerable to exploitation. (…)


Participation of women in public life main focus of Tallawy trip to UK

Beirut, 17 March (United Nations Information Service)-- UNESCWA Executive Secretary Mervat Tallawy is slated to be the keynote speaker at a conference on the Political Participation of Muslim Women in the UK and Abroad. The two-day event is co-hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group at the British Houses of Parliament and the Barrow Cadbury Trust at the House of Commons on 21 and 22 March.

This conference aims to initiate a dialogue between eminent international women from the Arab region, as well as other areas of the world where there are significant Muslim communities, British Parliamentarians and representatives from Muslim women's groups in the UK. (…)  A host of British parliamentarians as well as Muslim and Arab women who have made great strides on the regional and international levels will be taking part in this conference.   


Canada Makes New Contribution to Fight Sexual Violence in Democratic Republic of The Congo

United Nations, New York, 10 March  - The Government of Canada will contribute Can$15 million (US$13.2 million) to support efforts by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and partners to fight sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The new contribution, announced by the Canadian Minister of International Cooperation, Josée Verner, yesterday, is expected to directly help thousands of victims of sexual assault in the country.

One of the 50 least developed countries in the world, the DRC witnesses sexual and gender-based violence on a large scale as a consequence of the civil war and recurrent conflicts. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people have been affected.

In 2003, UNFPA and other actors launched an initiative to address the country’s problem of sexual and gender-based violence. In addition to working on preventing this kind of violence, UNFPA and its partners provide victims with medical and health care, psychological support, economic reintegration, and legal assistance. The efforts also aim to raise awareness among leaders of the gravity of the situation.


Documentary featuring CARE's work in Bolivia awarded Top Honors

Atlanta, GE, USA, March 10 - A documentary featuring CARE's work to combat child labor in Bolivia has won a prestigious award. "Bolivia: Precious Metals, Early Death," by filmmaker John Goheen, garnered top honors from the National Press Photographers Association at the Best of Television Photojournalism 2006 Awards. The winners were announced Friday, March 10, at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Goheen's film profiles impoverished Bolivian families forced to send underage children to work under grueling conditions mining minerals and silver. Goheen interviewed children, parents, and community leaders, as well as staff of the international humanitarian organization CARE.

A documentary photographer and producer who has won multiple awards, Goheen shot the film on location in Potosi, Bolivia, in April 2005. According to CARE, an estimated 15,000 families are involved in mining in Potosi and surrounding communities, among them minor children working in life-endangering conditions. CARE is operating a four-year project with funding from the US Department of Labor to combat child labor through education and promote economic alternatives for youth.

Filmed in high definition, "Precious Metals, Early Death" was broadcast on the World Report program of the HDNet TV cable channel.


3rd Martin Luther King Week -  São Paulo, Brazil, April 2 to 8

Organized by: Palas Athena Association

The Durban Declaration on racism and related intolerance, added to the legacy of Martin Luther King, supply an agenda for human rights education and daily militancy: they expose the intolerance, discrimination, and exclusion that are ingrained in our minds and attitudes, making us blind to the acknowledgement of humankind’s common origin and destiny, And yet, without such acknowledgement, it is impossible to face racism and intolerance. The program is: 

April 2, 17h – Opening Session. Venue: Memorial da América Latina – Auditório Simón Bolívar.  April 3, 18h, venue: São Marcos University. April 4, 18h - Fórum of the São Paulo Culture of Peace Committee – a UNESCO Program.

April 8, 10h to 13h - Peace Wants Partners: Open public event at the Gandhi Square coordinated by the team of the social-educational project of Associação Palas Athena.

Activities will be carried out also in nine schools.



Economy and development



Nobel Peace Laureates and representatives of 20 million health care providers call on governments to fund the scale up of human resources needed to fight TB

Initiatives launched to address training and education needs in TB burdened countries

Geneva, 21 March – Nobel Peace Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Betty Williams will today join forces with global healthcare organizations representing more than 20 million health care providers in highlighting the need to provide the necessary human resources to fight the growing TB threat in high burden countries*. They are calling on governments to immediately commit to fund, train and scale-up the health care workforce to combat TB and help prevent  5000 daily deaths from this curable disease. (…)

According to the Stop TB Partnership, it is estimated that US$250 million is needed every year to provide technical assistance to countries to provide the training and strengthening of TB control services to millions of care providers. To address this, the International Council of Nurses (ICN), the International Hospital Federation (IHF), and the World Medical Association (WMA) will be presenting their new on-site and distance learning TB training programs for nurses, hospital managers, doctors and laboratory technicians, which are being rolled-out in the high-burden countries. The World Economic Forum and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will outline their new programs to introduce TB prevention and treatment into the workplace and communities, so that workers and families can be diagnosed correctly and the social stigma of the disease reduced. (…) Eli Lilly and Company has committed $70 million to a ground breaking global partnership to fight multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. (…) 


Did you know that half of the fish you eat comes from developing countries?

March 20 - On the one hand, world trade in fish and fishery products is growing strongly and approached US$70 billion in 2004 compared with US$35 billion in 1990. On the other hand, fishing resources are becoming depleted. Thirty-seven percent of world fishery production is now traded internationally. That is why the ongoing WTO negotiations have such a large potential impact on developing country fisheries and trade, especially the least developed countries (LDCs). For these countries, fish represents their main food security. How can we maintain the worldwide fish stocks to ensure that they last? How can we guarantee food security for the LDCs, at the same time as developing a local industry, creating jobs and providing exports? How can we supply the countries in the North with the quality they require? How do we ensure that the sanitary and phytosanitary standards of fish products do not prevent access to international markets? These questions are at the centre of discussions at a workshop on WTO and Fisheries organized by the FAO and UNCTAD on 20-21 March at the Palais des Nations  in Geneva.


Overfishing alert system: a challenge for electronic communication

FAO-EU meeting on new frontiers and projects in global knowledge exchange

Rome, 20 March - Working to bring information closer to the people who really need it, is one of the aims of a meeting at FAO headquarters from 20 to 22 March 2006, involving 65 experts in the field of knowledge technology and communications from universities, research institutions and industry partners across Europe.

Part of a Euro 14.7 million four-year project largely co-funded by the European Union, for which FAO is providing information from its access to global fisheries databases as a test case, the meeting will discuss how computers can most usefully and rapidly select from a wide amount of information only the exact information needed on any given subject.

Organizers of the NeON project (Lifecycle Support for Networked Ontologies) selected FAO’s expertise in global fisheries information systems to help develop a warning system for depleting fish stocks. The FAO case study will be one of two selected in different sectors, fisheries and pharmaceuticals, and used by NeON to test a new approach to compiling, sharing and disseminating electronic information. (…)

Using a grant of Euro 680 000 from the EU, FAO will provide not only access to its worldwide fisheries information, but FAO information specialists will also be working side-by-side with other technical experts to help develop the new systems.


New Zealand: pay parity for early childhood education teachers

March 17 - EI affiliate NZEI Te Riu Roa and the New Zealand Childcare Association/Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa have negotiated pay parity with principals and deputy principals in primary schools for more than 400 teachers in leadership positions in 181 early childhood education centres throughout New Zealand. “This represents another step forward in the extension of pay parity to qualified and registered teachers in the early child education sector,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Irene Cooper.

In 2002 NZEI negotiated pay parity for the country’s 1790 kindergarten teachers. Since then their salaries have been rising each year and in July they’ll reach full parity with primary and secondary teachers.

In 2004 the union negotiated an extension of pay parity to a thousand teachers working in the early childhood education centres, covered by the consenting parties’ agreement. Their salaries have also been rising in yearly installments and they’ll achieve full parity in July 2008.

Now more than 400 teachers, who have leadership position in those consenting parties’ centres, have gained pay parity with principals and deputy principals in primary schools. Their pay will begin rising in July and they will also reach parity in July 2008. (…)


European Commission and IFAD join forces on remittances to assist rural poor people

Rome, 16 March - The European Commission (EC) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have launched a new initiative to alleviate rural poverty in developing countries. The two organizations have established a funding facility for innovative remittance services. They announced the initiative today at the Conference on Migration and Development in Brussels. (…)

According to the World Bank, in 2005 global migrant remittances sent by formal financial institutions totalled more than US$160 billion. The actual size of remittance flows may be as much as 50 per cent higher, if unrecorded flows through informal channels are included. Today remittances represent the second largest inflow of foreign capital to developing countries, just behind foreign direct investment. 

Acknowledging the UN agency’s experience in bringing financial services to rural poor people, the EC has contributed Euro 4 million to IFAD. The money will be used to establish a Funding Facility on Remittances and to support the second phase of IFAD’s programme to promote savings and investments in poor rural areas in Latin America and the Caribbean that receive remittances from migrants. (…) For more information contact: Farhana Haque-Rahman, Chief, Media Relations, Special Events and Programmes:


Construction of social housing begins in Serbia

Belgrade, 14 March - An ambitious social housing programme with significant funding from the Government of Italy and support from UN-HABITAT kicked off in Kragujevac, Serbia on March 1.

Mr. Daniel Biau, UN-HABITAT’s Regional and Technical Cooperation Division director oversaw the landmark event in the presence of Mr. Velimir Ilic, the Minister for Capital Investments and Mr. Alessandro Merola, Ambassador of Italy in Serbia and Montenegro. Also present were the Mayor of the City of Kragujevac, representatives of the Kragujevac City Housing Agency, and mayors of the other six Municipalities who are set to benefit from the UN-HABITAT Programme. The premier site will see the construction of the first 32 social housing units of a targeted 96, which is benefiting from an Italian Government contribution of about 1.2 million euros while the contribution of the City of Kragujevac is in land and infrastructure, equivalent to approximately 30% of total costs. Construction of these apartments represents a new step in the development of the social housing system, carried on at Republic and municipal level with support of UN-HABITAT’s Settlement and Integration of Refugees Programme in Serbia (SIRP).

The first public rental apartments will be handed over to beneficiaries by the end of 2006, the same year slated for the opening of other building sites in SIRP Municipalities. (…)


96 governments recognize ‘essential role’ of agrarian reform and rural development in fight against poverty - Conference in Brazil wraps up with declaration

10 March, Porto Alegre, Brazil – Representatives of 96 FAO member countries participating in the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD) which concluded today in Porto Alegre, Brazil have recognized “the essential role of agrarian reform and rural development to promote sustainable development” of the planet.  A declaration was released at the end of the conference, which brought together 350 government delegations and representatives of over 70 farmer- and civil-society organizations from throughout the world.

During four days of talks, high-level government representatives, international experts and civil society representatives worked together to identify new opportunities for rural development and to make concrete recommendations and proposals for action.(…)

In the declaration, signatory governments committed themselves to developing mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation to reinforce processes of agrarian reform and rural development at national and international levels and to establish mechanisms for periodic evaluation of progress in these areas. (…)


Japan provides US$185m development loan to Sri Lanka

TamilNet, March 2 - Japanese Government Thursday announced a new package of loan of US$185 million (Yen 21,560m) for three projects, Galle Port Development (US$125m)), Infrastructure Development of Eastern Province (US$38m), and Tourism Resources Improvement (US$22m). This 37th yen brings the total loan provided by Japan to Sri Lanka in the last 14 months to $370m.

Full text of the press briefing held by the Japanese Ambassador, Mr. Akio Suda, follows:

Yesterday, I informed the Government of Sri Lanka that the Japanese Government had decided to provide Sri Lanka with a new package of the yen loan (to be lent by JBIC) amounting to \ 21,560 million for three projects. On this occasion of announcing another package of the yen loan, I would like to say a few words on Japan’s economic assistance in relation to the socio-economic development and the peace process of Sri Lanka. Japan, as the largest donor for development on the one hand and one of the co-chairs of the Tokyo Conference on the other, is especially concerned with both development and peace in Sri Lanka, and may be in a good position to discuss what is needed to achieve development together with the peace of this country. (…)






Increase in aid for drought-stricken Somalia

Geneva (ICRC), 17 March – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is stepping up its emergency operation to assist more than 1,200,000 drought-affected people in Somalia over the next four months. Relief is being delivered to the most conflict-ridden areas in the southern part of the country in order to avert a potential famine. The ICRC has increased its estimated expenditure in Somalia for 2006 by 61%, from 26,118,000 to 41,951,500 Swiss francs.

Severe drought following up to four years of insufficient rainfall has resulted in acute shortages of water and food, withered grazing lands, a sharp drop in cereal production and vast numbers of dead cattle in the parts of southern Somalia that have been hardest hit.

The drought has aggravated an already appalling situation in humanitarian terms. In 15 years of internal conflict, thousands of families have been forced not only to flee their homes but also to endure lawlessness and cope without basic health and education services.

In a crucial partnership with the Somali Red Crescent Society, the ICRC will deliver aid at least until the next harvest, in July, and may further boost its assistance if rains continue to be scarce.

The ICRC has been working in Somalia since 1977. It carries out over 300 water, health, agricultural and veterinary projects in the country each year.


Caritas plans to rebuild homes for Philippines landslide victims 

Vatican City, 17 March– Caritas Internationalis is calling for nearly 600,000 USD to rebuild homes destroyed by the landslide on Leyte Island in the Philippines, where the entire village of Guinsaugon disappeared under a torrent of rock, mud, and debris on 17 February. (…)

Caritas Philippines worked alongside government and other agencies to bring immediate relief to the victims, providing food, blankets, water, and other supplies to the thousands of people seeking shelter in local churches and evacuation centres in surrounding villages. Most of that aid was gathered from local donors and distributed by NASSA, as Caritas is known in the Philippines.

NASSA is now working toward getting the homeless back into permanent homes. The local Caritas organisations are urging authorities to identify a suitable, safe building location for the new housing.  NASSA plans on building 150 duplex homes to accommodate 300 families, of a total of nearly 2000 families now living in temporary shelters.

Construction will begin as soon as a site is made available. (…)


Charity shop volunteers raising DKK 15 million from second hand clothes

In 2005, DanChurchAid’s 3.700 charity shop volunteers made a profit of DKK 15 million (approx. USD 2.5 million). The money raised goes directly to DCA’s international work of helping and being advocates of the poorest of the poor.

14 March - DanChurchAid’s 111 second hand shops and 3.700 voluntary workers have made a profit of DKK 15 million - one million more than in 2004. Children in Uganda whose parents are infected or have died by HIV/AIDS are among those being helped by DCA’s income from charity shops. “Lately we have experienced an increasing interest in second hand clothes throughout Denmark – an interest inspiring us to open more charity shops. (…) We experience a deepening interest from seniors who have retired early and now wish to make a difference through voluntary work,” says Bjarke S. Petersen, project manager and day-to-day head of DCA’s second hand shops.

“The second hand shops are a great asset for DanChurchAid and we are very pleased that the shops make such a considerable profit benefiting the poorest population groups in the world. Many of the charity shops also provide the settings for productive encounters between different generations – senior and youth volunteers,” tells General Secretary of DanChurchAid, Henrik Stubkjær. To make an even better result next year DanChurchAid’s local second hand shops are always looking for new voluntary workers.


Relief to recovery: temporary schools and childfFriendly spaces

by Moussadiq Ali - World Vision Pakistan Communications

As the process from relief to return and recovery gets under way in quake-hit, rain-drenched north-west Pakistan, World Vision has started to establish 52 temporary schools and five new Child Friendly Spaces (CFS’s) in the remote mountainous areas of the Saraash and Siran valleys.

Most of the infrastructure in the Saraash valley of Balakot, and Nawazabad and Bassu area of Mandagucha in the Siran valley, was completely destroyed in the October earthquake with difficult road access to these remote areas

Richard Mukhwana, Child Protection Officer for World Vision Pakistan said, “We have targeted about 80 schools for reconstruction and expansion purposes for which negotiation is in progress with government officials. But for the time being, World Vision is working on establishing 10 temporary schools in the Saraash valley and 42 in Jabouri, Sachan Kalan, Nawazabad, Panjool, Mandagucha and Bassu areas of the Siran valley.” World Vision is conducting livelihood, child protection and education surveys in the Siran valley, while the distribution of non-food relief items continues.

Home to some 10,000 people and four tribes, the Saraash valley consists of Saraash, Saraash Moughal and Khait Saraash. Some 400 people, primarily children, from 300 families lost their lives to the earthquake in Saraash alone. (…)



Peace and security



Haiti and Dominican Republic - A non-military solution

By Marcela Valente

Buenos Aires, Mar 16 (IPS) - A proposal for producing energy from alternative sources along the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic could be a first step towards development for Haiti. "The solution for the crisis in Haiti should come from within the island" that Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, Johanna Mendelson-Forman, director of the United Nations Foundation's Peace, Security and Human Rights Programme, told IPS.

The United Nations Foundation was created in 1998 by U.S. media mogul Ted Turner, to support U.N. programmes.  Although Haiti remains the poorest country in the hemisphere, solutions are possible, said Mendelson-Forman, who was invited to Buenos Aires by the Woodrow Wilson International Centre. She recommended a focus on development that sees Hispaniola Island as a whole, noting that while the Dominican economy is much more advanced, the government in that country is afraid that if Haiti collapses, its failure would drag them both down.

On the Dominican side of the border are plantations of Jatropha curcas shrubs, which produce the physic nut (also known as Barbados nut), used to extract vegetable oil. The oil can be refined into biodiesel, an alternative fuel that could help ease dependence on costly oil imports, she said.

The idea, which has the support of Germany, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), and the private sector in the Dominican Republic, "is a development alternative that could also help restore the soil (in Haiti), which has been devastated by intense deforestation," she explained.

That is because the Jatropha curcas is a drought-resistant shrub that helps alleviate soil degradation, prevents soil erosion and serves as a natural boundary fence or live hedge.

Brazil, which heads up the international military mission in Haiti and has decades of experience producing fuel alcohol (ethanol) from sugar cane, can provide assistance in the form of know-how and experts, said Mendelson-Forman. (…)


The ICRC sponsored film series, In the Path of Conflict, airs on TV

Washington DC., 10 March - The ICRC and the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) are presenting In the Path of Conflict, a humanitarian-themed film series airing on Washington DC's UDC-TV Channel 98, starting March 13.

The series, made up of fourteen films from across the world, addresses the devastating impact that armed conflicts have on civilians, particularly women and children. In some ten ICRC-produced films, people affected by war in the Congo, Rwanda, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan tell their stories in their own voices.

The films air on UDC-TV Channel 98 at 9pm the weeks of March 13, 20 and 27 on Mondays, with repeats on Wednesdays and Fridays.


China sends police dogs to join UN landmine clearance mission in Lebanon

March 2 China will send two police dogs to help locate landmines in Lebanon for the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces' (UNPF) mission in the middle of March. "The dogs are qualified to conduct overseas missions," said inspectors from UNPF's team organization group here on Thursday, after conducting the examination of the dogs in Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan Province. Kunming police dogs were bred by Chinese scientists in the 1980s. The dogs will aid the clearance of 182 landmines and road construction soldiers in the UNPF's mission in Lebanon. "Within two minutes, these two Kunming police dogs sniffed out two landmines buried 12 inches underground in an area measuring 30 square meters," said one examiner from UNPF. "They've done an excellent job."

China has actively taken part in the UN's peacekeeping operations. It is the first time for Chinese police dogs to join in the UNPF's landmine clearance mission, said Yang Yinghui, a 22-year-old trainer in Kunming Police Dogs Training Center (KPDTC).  (…)

The center received a request from UN in December, 2005 for the police dogs. "Our trainers immediately carried out systematic training of landmine clearance," said Zhang Zhi, an officer of the police dog training center. (…)


Canadian Ambassador announces new Bosnian demining project for CIDC during ceremony to hand over community land cleared of landmines in 2005

Bosanski Brod, 1 March - Canadian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ms. Shelley Whiting, participated today in a ceremony to handover certificates marking the successful completion of demining activities near Bosanski Brod, a city on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s border with Croatia. The certificates were presented by the Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Centre (BH MAC) to Mr. Vid Ivanovic, Mayor of Bosanski Brod. The Government of Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) contributed $750,000 to the demining work that was carried out by the Canadian International Demining Corps (CIDC), a Nova Scotia-based charitable organization. Also on hand for the ceremony were representatives of BH MAC and the United Nations Development Program, as well as CIDC Chairman, Irving Schwartz, and Balkans Program Director for CIDC, Oliver Mitrevski. (…)

The contribution announced today for Ljubinje and the funding for the Bosanski Brod activities are in addition to the previously announced $4.5 million Canadian Government contribution to landmine action in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (…)






Mad cow disease on the wane worldwide - Rapid rate of decline encouraging

Rome, 23 March - Cases of Bovine Spongiform Encepalopathy (BSE) or “mad cow disease” worldwide are declining, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). They have been dropping at the rate of some 50 percent a year over the past three years, the Organization said today. Amid the current international alarm over avian flu, it is good news that the battle against another worrying disease is being won.

In 2005, just 474 animals died of BSE around the world, compared with 878 in 2004 and 1646 in 2003, and against a peak of several tens of thousands in 1992, according to figures collected by the Paris-based World Animal Health Organization (OIE), with which FAO works closely. Only five human deaths resulting from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), believed to be the human form of BSE, were reported worldwide in 2005. All of them were in the United Kingdom – the country most affected by the disease – where nine deaths were registered in 2004 and 18 in 2003.

Vigilance still needed - Andrew Speedy, an FAO animal production expert, commented: “It is quite clear that BSE is declining and that the measures introduced to stop the disease are effective. But further success depends on our continuing to apply those measures worldwide.” (…)


Minister of Health and Family Welfare announces nation-wide immunization campaign in response to polio importation

Rapid response planned to protect Bangladesh's 18 million children under five

Dhaka, 16 March - The Honourable Minister, Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, today announced that he will on 16 April kick-off a nation-wide polio immunization campaign in response to the 8 March 2006 confirmation of a polio case in the Chandpur district of Chittagong division. Two additional campaigns will follow at four-week intervals.

The case - a nine year-old girl who became paralyzed on 23 January - is the first reported case of polio in Bangladesh since August 2000. On March 10, genetic sequencing of the virus by the Global Specialized Polio Laboratory in Mumbai India, which tests all polio samples from Bangladesh, showed that the virus is closely related to viruses from western Uttar Pradesh in India. (…)


Positive news regarding Chikungunya in Seychelles

Seychelles, 9 March - For the fourth consecutive week, the Seychelles Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation have reported a continual decline in the number of cases of Chikungunya registered in the country. The latest figures (from the week of February 28 to March 7) suggest that the occurrence of suspected weekly cases of the virus has decreased by some 65 percent since four weeks ago. Health officials in Seychelles are aiming to bring down the number of new cases to zero within the next two to three weeks. The consistent decline in the number of cases has been evident in each and every district across the country, suggesting nationwide dissipation of the virus.

Chikungunya is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes, which typically brings about fever, joint and muscle pain, a rash and occasionally, nausea and vomiting. The illness is self-limiting and usually resolves within 4-7 days, but symptomatic treatment e.g. painkillers and rest is recommended.

A report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) liaison office in Seychelles from last week confirmed the above results and indicated the downward trend was expected to continue. According to the report: “The control measures have been efficient in reducing case load in Seychelles. Success was due to government, efficient partner mobilization and coordination and intensive public awareness campaigns launched all over the country.”

On March 8, the director general of the WHO, Dr Lee Jong-wook, stated publicly that the media has over exaggerated the threat of Chikungunya, and that the WHO would be putting forward a statement to reassure tourists planning to visit the region.


ACDI/VOCA and USPOULTRY team up to take on avian influenza

March 8 - ACDI/VOCA has signed an agreement with The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association to provide technical assistance to combat international avian influenza (AI) outbreaks. The two groups will assist in recruiting U.S. poultry health experts who will provide technical assistance to countries fighting AI. (…) USPOULTRY’s initial focus will be developing a pool of poultry industry experts for rapid deployment to foreign countries to assist with ever-growing AI prevention, diagnosis and response needs. According to Krushinskie, over 70 individuals have indicated an interest in participating so far, and several veterinarians have already been deployed. These individuals will be trained in cooperation with USAID and other responsible U.S. government agencies.

With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), ACDI/VOCA sends approximately 400 experts to developing and transitioning countries each year to address development problems related to enterprise development, agribusiness systems, financial services and community development. (…) ACDI/VOCA is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes broad-based economic growth and the development of civil society in emerging democracies and developing countries.


UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board: Call for nominations of NGO Delegates 2007-08

Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Europe & North America. Deadline: 14 April 2006

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has vacancies on the NGO Delegation of its Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) for two-year terms beginning 1 January 2007 and ending 31 December 2008, for the following positions: Africa Alternate Delegate,   Europe Alternate Delegate, Latin America/Caribbean Alternate Delegate,  North America Alternate Delegate. This represents a unique opportunity for committed activists and AIDS advocates to make a difference to AIDS policy implementation in their regions.

The position of NGO Delegates on the UNAIDS PCB is important to the effective inclusion of community voices in the key global policy forum for AIDS. NGO Delegates represent the perspectives of civil society, including people living with HIV, within UNAIDS policies and programming. (…) Service on the NGO Delegation is a non-paying post; it attracts no remuneration whatsoever. Delegates are expected to allocate 10% of their time to PCB duties and tasks. The Delegate’s organization is expected to facilitate and guarantee the use of office space, communications systems and facilities to its representatives when engaged in PCB duties and tasks. Nominations are invited from civil society organizations, community-based groups and networks in any of the five regions. (…) For further information: Ms Sally Smith, Partnership Adviser, Civil Society Partnership Unit, Department of Policy Evidence and Partnerships, UNAIDS



Energy and safety



22 March - World Water Day 2006: Water and Culture

Each year, a different United Nations (UN) agency is selected to coordinate events surrounding World Water Day (WWD) around the world, and a different theme is chosen to reflect the many facets of freshwater resources. World Water Day 2006 will be guided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) under the theme 'Water and Culture.'

We plan our cities near water; we bathe in water; we play in water; we work with water. Our economies are built on the strength of water transportation - and the products we buy and sell are all partly water, in one way or another. Our daily lives are built on water, and shaped by it. Without the water that surrounds us - the humidity of the air, the roughness of the river's current, the flow from the kitchen tap - our lives would be impossible. In recent decades, water has fallen in our esteem. No longer an element to be revered and protected, it is a consumer product that we have shamefully neglected. (…)

The theme 'Water and Culture' of WWD 2006 draws attention to the fact that there are as many ways of viewing, using, and celebrating water as there are cultural traditions across the world. (…) Each region of the world has a different way of holding water sacred, but each recognizes its value, and its central place in human lives. Cultural traditions, indigenous practices, and societal values determine how people perceive and manage water in the world's different regions.

As the UN's focal point for the promotion of cultural diversity, UNESCO aims to preserve and respect the specificity of each culture, bringing them all together and extending them in a more interactive and interdependent world.

Events celebrating water around the world are reported in the event calendar on the web site:


Landmark children's meeting launches at 4th World Water Forum

The Children’s World Water Forum (CWWF) is a landmark children’s meeting on water, survival and education, taking place at the 4th World Water Forum in Mexico City from 16-22 March. Over 100 young water activists from over 30 countries across the world will meet government ministers to discuss how children can help solve the world’s growing water crisis. Many of these children have amazing stories to tell leading water and hygiene projects in some of the word’s poorest communities.

Lack of safe water and basic sanitation is a crisis for over 400 million children. Ordinary diarrhoea sickens more children than any other disease, and kills more than 4,500 every day. This deprivation also costs many children their education, particularly girls.  Millions of children will miss schooldays because of waterborne illnesses or inadequate school facilities.
As children suffer, so do nations.  Illness and low education rates cost developing countries billions in lost productivity every year.

Finding solutions means starting with children.  Meeting children needs is the most certain way to reduce the high cost of water deprivation worldwide – and children themselves are already leading the way.


Walk for safe drinking water – 22 March

13 March - World Water Day, designated as Wednesday, 22 March this year, is an ideal time to raise awareness of a serious problem faced by more than 1 billion people (or 20 percent of the world's population): the lack of access to safe water for drinking. An easy way to bring attention to this critical issue is by participating in Walks for Water, which is held in conjunction with World Water Day.

Everyone's help is needed to find solutions to the problem of unsafe drinking water. "Without water, nothing can live. Our food sources all need water, yet many people have little knowledge of how critical our own water supplies can be," said Lou Marciano, assistant Rotary International coordinator for the Water, Health and Hunger Resources Group. The group was organized by RI President Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar as part of his emphasis this year on looking at the problem.

Rotary clubs around the world are working on the water problem one community at a time, from the Dominican Republic to Sudan and beyond.

In collaboration with Starbucks, Ethos Water, and other leading nonprofits, Rotary clubs in 11 major U.S. cities are helping to raise awareness and encourage people to participate in Walks for Water on 22 March. Visit the World Water Day Web site for more details.


ADRA provides access to clean water in Darfur

March 16 - On February 28, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) completed a water project that provides improved access to clean water for 35,000 people living near the capital of West Darfur, Sudan. ADRA has drilled 19 successful boreholes for new wells and installed hand pumps for wells, providing better access to clean water for families in the region. ADRA also rehabilitated 50 existing hand pumps and trained more than 40 residents as hand pump mechanics. The newly constructed wells are in community villages, public schools, mosques, and governmental compounds. ADRA has also worked closely with WES, a local government office for Water, Environment and Sanitation, UNICEF, and in partnership with several other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the region. (…)


World Telecommunication Development Conference sets agenda to connect the world by 2015

Doha, 15 March - The Doha Action Plan adopted by the World Telecommunication Development Conference sets out a road map to implement the global objectives of harnessing the power of information and communication technologies (ICT) to accelerate the pace of development.(…)

The International Telecommunication Union’s fourth World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-06) which met from 7 to 15 March at the Sheraton Convention Centre in Doha, Qatar, attracted 969 participants attending, including 820 government delegates from 132 countries and 4 representatives from Palestine, 93 representatives of public and private companies from 31 countries and 14 from national telecommunication-related entities from 9 countries, and 38 representatives from regional and international organizations. In addition, 241 media representatives from 22 countries registered with 139 covering the events on site. (…)

The Action Plan is based on a mutually reinforcing strategy for telecommunication development to be implemented at the global, regional and national levels. The Plan is based on six programmes, five global initiatives, two cross-cutting activities and a new regional approach where each region defined the framework of action for all stakeholders based on agreed categories and region-specific priorities. The Doha Action Plan offers a comprehensive package that provides the elements needed to make an impact on the ground together with clear guidance for achieving universal access. (…)



Environment and wildlife



Conserving biological diversity becomes a sacred quest

Curitiba/Nairobi, 18 March  - An international initiative to conserve ancient sacred sites is being launched in the belief that these culturally important locations may be a key to saving the world’s declining biodiversity. Experts have pinpointed several sites as pilot ecosystems of global importance such as a site in Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert where it is said the sun was born, up to a network of skull caves in the Kakamega forests in Kenya, revered by Taita and Luhya people. Other sites are Mount Ausangate in the majestic Vilcanota mountain range of Peru, the ritual area of Puntayachi in the biodiversity-rich Cayanpi region of Ecuador. A group of islands in Guinea Bissau whose beaches and mangroves are used exclusively for rituals. Sacred forest groves in the Kodagu District in India linked with art and agricultural traditions.

The project, backed by organizations including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and indigenous peoples groups such as the Foundation created by Guatemalan Nobel Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu, has secured preliminary funding from a multi billion dollar development fund, the Global Environment Facility.

Supporters, which also include a wide range of conservation organizations, other United Nations bodies and governments including Mexico, are now raising the over $1.7 million needed to start action on the ground.(…)


Better business, brighter future: Developing community forestry in Peru

By Julia Cass

17 March - Traditionally, the indigenous Shipibo-Konibo people living along the Ucayali River in the Peruvian Amazon watershed grew corn, beans, yucca and plantains on the river’s banks and hunted in the surrounding dense forests. But, their subsistence economy was always precarious — a poor year for crops or fishing meant they went hungry — and they were losing young people, who migrated to cities to find work. To make matters worse, illegal loggers were cutting down trees on the Shipibo-Konibo’s land, contributing to the near extinction of such hardwood species as mahogany, endangering precious wildlife habitat, and ultimately, threatening a way of life.

Today, through the efforts of WWF and a Peruvian non-governmental organization, the Association for Integral Research and Development (Asociación para la Investigación y el Desarrollo Integral-AIDER), five Shipibo-Konibo communities are now managing their own forests, harvesting the trees, and marketing the lumber following a long-term plan that will sustain the forest and benefit the community.

In a considerable achievement for a people with no previous business or forest management experience, 35,000ha of rainforest belonging to these communities are close to obtaining Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. When that happens, it will be one of the first rainforests in Peru to achieve the exacting FSC label that certifies the use of strict environmental and social standards. (…)


Hawaiian swordfish fishery to close over high sea turtle catch

March 16 - Honolulu, HI, USA - In an unprecedented but legally mandated action, the Western Pacific Fisheries Management Council requested the Secretary of Commerce to shut down the swordfish fishery before it exceeds its allowable "take" of critically endangered loggerhead sea turtles.  If 16 leatherback turtles or 17 loggerhead turtles are hooked by longliners in a single year, swordfishing must be closed for the remainder of the year. This year, 15 loggerheads have been killed so far. And this figure only counts the fleet based in Hawaii under US jusristiction. The deaths caused by international longling fleets is unknown. In May 2005, more than 1,000 ocean scientists asked the UN to implement a international moratorium on longline fishing in the Pacific Ocean to prevent the extinction of the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle.

The fishery reopened in 2004, after a federal Court mandated four-year closure, but with a requirement to use a new hook technology that the government claimed would drastically reduced the injury and mortality of sea turtles. (…)


2006 International Year for Deserts and Desertification: international conference, Geneva

Within the framework of the International Year for Deserts and Desertification, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in partnership with the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Graduate Institute of Development Studies (IUED) of Geneva is organizing an international conference on desertification, hunger and poverty (Geneva, 11-12 April 2006 at the International Conference Centre Geneva (ICCG), 17, rue de Varembé, CH – 1211 Geneva 20). International organizations, diplomatic missions, academic institutes and non-governmental organizations working on issues of environment, development and humanitarian aid, researchers from North and South and students are invited to the conference. The draft programme of the conference is available at: 


ZERI Certification Training Course with Gunter Pauli at Findhorn Ecovillage 17 to 26 June

“Gunter Pauli introduced the notion of industrial clustering by promoting the principle of zero emissions and making it the very core of the ZERI concept.  Zero emissions means zero waste.  Taking nature as its model and mentor, ZERI strives to eliminate the very idea of waste.” Fritjof Capra

The ZERI Certification Training is designed to provide a deep understanding of systems thinking and the development of skills in using the ZERI methodology. ZERI's emphasis is on meeting society's basic needs for food, clean water, healthcare, shelter, clean energy, and a platform that generates jobs and builds a society founded on a high quality of life.  The ZERI production and consumption model makes sustainable development possible by understanding and working in concert with natural systems.  It also shifts our concept of industry as a linear process -where waste is an expected by-product- to a concept of a system in which all by-products are used to stimulate further production.  ZERI is a system in which the use of our natural resources (forests, lands, water, minerals, agriculture, as well as our industrial processes) beneficially use all “waste” and emissions outputs as input for some other production process that adds economic and social value. (…) The ZERI Certification Training is an intense programme which includes a total of 10 days divided into the 3 modules containing a rich intellectual base that includes elements from systems thinking, economics, biology, chemistry, organizational development, business practice and industrial ecology. (…)  for successful projects internationally  for educational initiatives,   for ZERI projects emerging in New Mexico


Tiny bubbles in lake make people healthier

A project to pump more oxygen into Carvins Cove aims to make the water cleaner and tastier.

By John Cramer

Paul Gantzer will soon have his doctoral degree in environmental engineering from Virginia Tech, but to fishermen at Carvins Cove, he's the guy putting bigger fish on the ends of their lines.

"They're not so sure what I'm doing, but they just say, 'Oh, you're the guy with the bubbles,' " Gantzer said, chuckling.

At the Western Virginia Water Authority's Carvins Cove and Spring Hollow reservoirs, Gantzer oversees an oxygenation project that is making the water cleaner, clearer and tastier, meaning fewer treatment chemicals are used. The process, which puts pure oxygen bubbles into the bottoms of the reservoirs, is healthier for people, fish and the environment, Gantzer said.

A growing number of America's reservoirs and hydropower facilities are using oxygenation to improve drinking water, improve fish habitats and meet more stringent federal standards.

Oxygenation technology was developed in the early 1990s at the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's largest public power company. Discharged water from the agency's hydropower dams was low in oxygen, causing fish kills, but the oxygenation process has created a healthier downstream aquatic habitat. Oxygenation started at Spring Hollow in 1997 and at Carvins Cove in 2005.

The system was designed by Mark Mobley, a consultant who used to work for the Tennessee Valley Authority, and has been operated since then by Gantzer, a water quality engineer for the Western Virginia Water Authority. (…)



Religion and spirituality



WFP lauds Pope's commitment to humanitarianism

Vatican City, 13 March  - James Morris, Executive Director of WFP, has hailed His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s deep personal commitment to the service of the poor and hungry. (…)

“It is an honour and a blessing to meet one of the world’s greatest humanitarian leaders, the leader of one of the world’s great religious organisations – the Catholic Church,” said Morris, head of the world’s largest humanitarian organization. “All of the world’s great religions call on their believers to reach out to the poor, to feed the hungry. The World Food Programme is profoundly grateful for the extraordinary work that Catholic organisations and individuals perform across the globe,” said Morris.

Together with WFP, Catholic Relief Services help hundreds of thousands of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Daughters of Charity, who follow in Mother Teresa’s footsteps, provide solace and aid to the poorest of the poor together with WFP in Cambodia and Mozambique. WFP works with the Jesuit Refugee Service in its service of people returning home to southern Sudan, and with people displaced by violence in Colombia. The International Catholic Migration Commission was a valued partner in Afghanistan, Albania and Pakistan. In addition, many hundreds of parish churches, schools, convents and hospitals help WFP provide food to the hungry. On 21 May, the Caritas movement will join WFP when we take to the streets of the world’s major cities, including Rome, to ‘Walk the World’ in solidarity with the hungry.


URI multi-faith relief efforts + Peace Pole in Pakistan

by Fr. James Channan OP

The United Religions Initiative in Pakistan made a successful 4-day trip to help the victims of the earthquake in Muzaffarabad, Rawalpindi, Gohari and Mir Pur. It was a four days trip. Some members had traveled 15 to 20 hours to reach Rawalpindi and Mascaraed to help the survivors of earthquake. The trip started on 21st of February as a group of 11 persons  gathered at Christian Study Center, Rawalpindi. (…) We started our journey with a prayer next to the Peace Pole which was planted at Christian Study Center on 18th of January. Our truck loaded with the following items such as:  quilts, bed sheets, mattresses, pillows, pillow cases, shawls, Jerseys, jackets, socks, sugar, wheat flour, cooking oil, washing powder, children' school bags, lunch boxes, colored pencils and pens, soap, match boxes, candles, cups and plates etc. We had made packages of all these items for 100 families. We offered these packages to the following families:

10 Baha'i families in Rawalpindi and Muzaffarabad; 30 Christian families in Muzaffarabad.

30 Muslim families in Gohari and Muzaffarabad. 30 Muslim families in Mir Pur. (…) We shared with the recipients that all  of the relief that these items are donated by the generosity of the URI members  in USA, Pakistan and elsewhere. Part of the  donation was given by the Dominican friars, friends and benefactors as well. (…)

A beautiful Peace Pole was planted at Domal, Azad Kashmir, on 22nd of February in a grace-filled ceremony with members of the United Religions Initiative MCC and WPPS. (…)



Culture and education



Rebuilding Aceh and Sri Lanka through Education for All

March 8 - Education International is pleased to report that good progress is being made with the development and rebuilding of schools in Aceh and Sri Lanka, the areas which were destroyed by the tsunami of December 2004.

Nicolas Richards, Coordinator of Education International’s Assistance Programmes Unit, recently returned from a mission trip to the regions, where he was able to assess progress being made by the EI/NOVIB Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme. “The progress is not just in the construction of schools. Each building site is respecting the health and safety of construction workers and labour standards are high. Women are also working on the programmes and the programmes are having a positive impact in the communities. Teachers have been involved through their unions. Parents and students see the real progress being made as their schools are extended and reconstructed.”


Visionary Middle Schools

New book looks at successful reform practices at three inclusive urban schools

March 3, Boston, MA, USA - What are the best ways to educate an ever-more diverse adolescent student population? A new book, based on four years of research, provides detailed portraits of three urban middle schools in different parts of the country that developed unique and effective local solutions responsive to students, their cultures, and to school district and state mandates.

Visionary Middle Schools: Signature Practices and the Power of Local Invention, written by researchers Catherine Cobb Morocco, Nancy Brigham, and Cynthia Mata Aguilar of Education Development Center (EDC), draws on lessons learned from in-depth case studies of three urban schools. (…)


Elisa and Tina Turner: voices of the "Invisible Children"

Rome, 2 March  - UN agencies WFP and UNICEF, together with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department for Development Cooperation, have welcomed the release of "Teach Me Again" by Elisa and Tina Turner, the theme song of the film "All the Invisible Children". The film, a great success at the last Venice Biennale del Cinema (Biennale Film Festival), will be shown in Italian cinemas from 3 March, just ahead of its international release in countries ranging from Germany to Brazil. The theme song and video, directed by Stefano Veneruso and award-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, can be downloaded at

Proceeds from the song, like those from the film, will go to the All the Invisible Children Fund, a special fund created by the Italian Development Cooperation to support joint WFP-UNICEF projects designed to fight child malnutrition in Africa. (…)


ADRA participates in Reading Across America Day

March 8 - In celebration of The National Education Association's (NEA) 9th Annual Read Across America day on March 2, members of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) staff spent the afternoon reading and sharing the joys of reading with the children of the Spencerville Adventist Academy in Silver Spring, Maryland. ADRA staff members chose their favorite books from their childhood, read several stories, and spent time talking to the children about the importance of reading. (…)

150 children took part in the festivities ranging from Kindergarten to 6th grade. “We are so appreciative of the time that ADRA spent with our students,” said Lisl Sukachevin, co-president of the Spencerville Academy’s Home and School Association. A contest was also held in each classroom to see who could read the most books, with prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. (…)



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Next issue: April 14


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