Good News Agency – Year VIII, n° 6



Weekly - Year VIII, number 6 – 4th May 2007

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



UN adopts new International Agreement to protect world’s forests

28 April  – After 15 years of discussions and negotiations on a global approach to protect the world’s forests, countries meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York have adopted a landmark agreement on international forest policy and cooperation following two weeks of intense negotiations. The final agreement was reached after delegates to the UN Forum on Forests worked through the night, concluding just after dawn this morning. Exhausted delegates nevertheless called the agreement a milestone, noting it was the first time States have agreed to an international instrument for sustainable forest management.(…)

The resulting agreement, however, is considered a reflection of a strong international commitment to promote on the ground implementation of sustainable forest management through a new, more holistic approach that brings all stakeholders together. In addition, the agreement is expected to reinforce practical measures at the country-level to integrate forests more closely with other government policies. Another area of disagreement that has long plagued forest negotiations concerned a financing mechanism to mobilize funding for sustainable forest management. The agreement calls on countries to adopt, by 2009, a voluntary global financing mechanism for forest management.   



Human rights



Top UN human rights official to wrap up Central Asian tour in Turkmenistan

2 May - On the final leg of her four-country Central Asian tour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour will arrive in Turkmenistan tomorrow to meetings with Government authorities and representatives from various groups. “The visit will provide and opportunity to exchange views on human rights related issues with the Government of Turkmenistan and to engage in discussions about future cooperation and continued dialogue on issues of mutual concern in the region and the country,” according to a press release issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Ashgabat, the country’s capital. During her visit from 3 to 5 May, Ms. Arbour will meet with President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and other officials, representatives of regional and international organizations and diplomats.


The European anti-racist movement adopts its strategic orientations for 2007-2010

Brussels, 26 April - From 20 to 22 April, the 27 national coordinations of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), federating more than 600 NGOs across the European Union, gathered in Berlin for their Strategic Congress under the motto ‘Driving the future of the European anti-racist movement’. They adopted the strategic plan of the network for the next three years.

“ENAR’s future policy orientations reflect the challenges ahead with regard to EU public policy and the EU political environment more generally. As well as concentrating on the ‘traditional’ areas of ensuring the implementation of EU anti-discrimination legislation and fighting racist crime, NAR has a role to play in newer policy fields, such as social inclusion and migration.” said Bashy Quraishy, ENAR President, adding “the Strategic Congress also coincided with an important agreement on the EU framework decision on racism and xenophobia, and we welcome the German Presidency’s efforts in making sure it was adopted. ENAR regrets the watering down of the original Commission proposal and the introduction of escape clauses, however it is a first step in the right direction.”

ENAR agreed on four key objectives to be achieved during the 2007-2010 period:

- Combating discrimination, promoting equality and redressing disadvantage (…)

- Promoting the development of progressive migration and integration policies (…)

- Increasing recognition of anti-racism in equality and fundamental rights (…)

- Enhancing the capacity of the network to deliver its strategy (…)



Economy and development



Meeting the food security challenge through organic agriculture

States should integrate organic agriculture objectives within national priorities, FAO says

Rome, 3 May – “Organic agriculture is no longer a phenomenon in developed countries only, as it is commercially practiced in 120 countries, representing 31 million hectares and a market of US$ 40 billion in 2006,” FAO underlines in a paper Organic Agriculture and Food Security presented here at an International Conference on Organic Agriculture and Food Security (3-5 May 2007).

The paper identifies the strengths and weaknesses of organic agriculture with regards to its contribution to food security, analyzes attributes of organic supply chains against the Right to Food framework and proposes policy and research actions for improving the performance of organic agriculture at the national, international and institutional levels.

“The strongest feature of organic agriculture is its reliance on fossil-fuel independent and locally-available production assets; working with natural processes increases cost-effectiveness and resilience of agro-ecosystems to climatic stress,” the paper says.

“By managing biodiversity in time (rotations) and space (mixed cropping), organic farmers use their labour and environmental services to intensify production in a sustainable way. Organic agriculture also breaks the vicious circle of indebtedness for agricultural inputs which causes an alarming rate of farmers’ suicides.”

The paper recognizes that “most certified organic food production in developing countries goes to export” and adds that “when certified cash crops are linked with agro-ecological improvements and accrued income for poor farmers, this leads to improved food self-reliance and revitalization of small holder agriculture.” (…) Organic Agriculture website:


UN food agency welcomes $55 million contribution from Southern Sudan

28 April – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a $55 million contribution from the Government of Southern Sudan for the agency's rebuilding projects in the region, which is recovering from a 21-year conflict. In a meeting between WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran and southern Sudan's Minister of Roads and Transport, Rebecca Garang Nyandeng, the minister announced that the Government would donate $41 million to the agency's Road Building and Demining Programme plus an additional $14 million towards refurbishing several airstrips in southern Sudan. “Now that peace has been restored to the south, WFP is moving from emergency programming to helping people restore their independence and livelihoods. Rebuilding roads destroyed during the war is critical to that effort,” Ms. Sheeran told the transport minister during their meeting in Juba on Friday. “Where we have been able to rebuild roads, food costs have gone down 50 per cent and the cost of transportation has gone down as much as 60 per cent,” she said. (…) 


Foreign investment in Latin America and the Caribbean 2006

The annual publication, one of ECLAC's flagship reports, contains a special chapter on Korean investments in the region.

26 April - José Luis Machinea, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), will offer a press conference to present the Foreign Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean 2006 report on Thursday 3 May at 11:00 a.m. at ECLAC's Santiago, Chile headquarters (Raúl Prebisch Conference Hall, Av. Dag Hammarskjöld 3477, Vitacura).(…) In addition, on Friday, 4 May at 11:30 a.m., ECLAC's José Luis Machinea will give a special presentation of the chapter on Korean investment in Latin America and the Caribbean. Organized in conjunction with the Korean embassy in Chile, the presentation will take place at the Santiago headquarters of the UN regional commission (in the Celso Furtado Conference Room) with the participation of Korean authorities, including Korea's Ambassador in Chile, Kee Hyun-seo. The event is part of the project "The Republic of Korea's Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean" conducted by ECLAC with the support of the Korean government. 


The Brazilian Government and ECLAC agree to promote economic, social and environmental development

Agreement will support research and studies on issues such as biofuels, climate change, intellectual property, and the financing of sustainable industrial processes, among others.

26 April - On the occasion of his visit to Chile, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of the Federal Republic of Brazil, held a working meeting today with high-level officials of the United Nations, based in Latin America and the Caribbean. President Lula and José Luis Machinea, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), exchanged views on various issues related to regional development and participated in the signing of a memorandum of understanding to promote economic, social and environmental development. (…) The document emphasizes that science and technology play an important role in the promotion of economic development and social inclusion, and that cooperation and research & development lead to the creation of new technologies, knowledge and business opportunities that result in an improved quality of life. The goal of this agreement is to seek support for program activities defined in the strategic plan of Brazil's Ministry for Science and Technology, particularly in the area of sustainable development, and including the production of biofuels, studies on climate change, the comparative analysis of innovation policies and intellectual property, as well as financing instruments and capital risk financing. Under this memorandum, studies will be undertaken on the viability of biomass as a clean and sustainable energy source, particularly in small communities. It will also foster research, training and information-exchange in relevant areas in order to facilitate their adoption by environmentally sustainable industrial sectors. (…) 


ECLAC and the Government of Germany deepen their cooperation program

New resources allocated for the study of biofuels, fiscal policy, rural use of firewood, etc.

25 April 2007 - Yesterday in Berlin, discussions concluded between Germany's Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in which both institutions agreed to deepen their Cooperation Program "Towards a Sustainable and Equitable Globalization," currently underway in Latin America and the Caribbean. Both institutions expressed their satisfaction with the positive evolution of their association, ratifying the mutual desire to forge ahead with future work on: Governance, fiscal policy, equality of opportunities and social policies; energy efficiency and renewable energy to confront climate change; and regional integration, fostering technology and innovation. They also agree to take advantage of the synergies of this Cooperation Program through other bilateral cooperation projects in the region and by collaborating with new actors. The dialogue held 23 - 24 April 2007 was frank and positive, and reflected the spirit of friendship and confidence which has characterized the collaboration between these institutions. The ECLAC delegation was headed by its Executive Secretary, José Luis Machinea, while the delegation from the Federal Republic of Germany was led by Reinhard Tittel-Gronefeld, Head of the Division of Regional Cooperation, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, for BMZ, the organism on which the German Cooperation Agency (GTZ) depends. (…) The scope of BMZ's activities covers the whole of Latin America and a large part of the Caribbean. In partnership with ECLAC, various technical assistance projects and activities have been elaborated under a wide range of development themes, from budgetary policies to sustainable use of natural resources. 


Shrimp scampi without the guilt

FAO partnership working to establish guidelines for certification of farmed fish

20 April, Rome - Where did that shrimp scampi you're about to tuck into come from? Do you know? Was a sea turtle accidentally killed when the shrimp were netted? Were the shrimp grown in a pond where once a biodiverse mangrove swamp stood? What about the bouillabaisse you just ordered? Is the farmed-raised salmon it contains healthy? Does the sea farm it came from pollute, or produce responsibly? Who'd have ever guessed that eating seafood could be so complicated? But as the world's appetite for seafood increases and greater amounts of it are farmed in captivity by humans rather than raised in the wild (45% of all fish eaten today), retailers and consumers alike are paying lots more attention to where their fish fry comes from and if it's safe to eat.

One way through the maze, experts say, is certification. Essentially, certification of a seafood product indicates if it was produced in a sustainable, healthy, socially responsible and environmentally-friendly way. The practice is being used in both capture fisheries and aquaculture with growing frequency. Retailers and consumer groups alike support certification, but still the issue is not without its controversies.(…) FAO recently began collaborating with the non-profit Network for Aquaculture Centres in the Asia Pacific (NACA) to hold consultations with a large group of certification bodies, producer groups, processors and consumer organizations in order to draw up global guidelines on how aquaculture certification standards ought to be established and applied.(…) A follow-up workshop is scheduled to take place later this year in Brazil, following which FAO and NACA will undertake a series of public consultations with various stakeholders on the issues with the goal of presenting a draft set of international guidelines for consideration by governments at the next meeting of the UN Agency's Subcommittee on Aquaculture, to be held in November 2008 in Chile.

FAO has already developed similar guidelines for eco-labelling of fish products from marine and inland capture fisheries.


Sultanate of Oman provides UN-ESCWA with financial support

The Sultanate of Oman provided UN-ESCWA with financial support of USD 50,000 to fund development projects and technical cooperation and support activities for member countries. The Sultanate is considered one of the most prominent supporters of UN-ESCWA in recent years since it has already provided USD 300,000 in funds. The amount provided will be deposited in the UN-ESCWA Trust Fund, which is an expression of support by the member countries for the Commission's efforts to strengthen the technical, managerial and organizational capacities of its clients to plan and deliver more effective policies and programmes, particularly in support of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and international agreements dating back to 1992.

The Trust Fund is also the medium through which member countries as well as regional organizations and institutions directly contribute to furthering regional cooperation and integration. (…) UN-ESCWA Trust Fund was established in 1976 and aims to support activities and projects that achieve regional cooperation and integration in the following priority areas identified by UN-ESCWA member countries: water and energy, integrated social policies, globalization, and information and communication technology. The Commission also addresses three cross-cutting priority issues: the advancement of women; statistics; and the environment.     






Colombia: half of EU aid to go directly to victims

Constanza Vieira

Bogota, April 16 (IPS) - Half of Europe's aid for Colombia over the next seven years will go directly to victims of the civil war and civil society organisations that provide them with assistance. The European Union (EU) decision "is a political triumph for the victims," Jorge Rojas, director of the Consultancy on Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES), a respected local human rights group, told IPS.

During her three-day visit to Colombia, which ends Tuesday, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner announced that Colombia's aid for the 2007-2013 period would be increased from a total of 105 million euros (142 million dollars) to 160 million euros (216 million dollars), for all of the EU programmes in Colombia. The issues of greatest concern to the EU in Colombia are social cohesion, regional economic integration linked to competitiveness, the fight against drug trafficking, "and of course respect for human rights," said the commissioner. (…) The proportion of aid that will go through the government and directly towards the communities and civil society is "fifty-fifty," Adrianus Koetsenruijter, ambassador-chief of the European Commission team to Colombia and Ecuador, told IPS.

The EU is the world's single largest aid donor, and Colombia is suffering the worst humanitarian crisis in the western hemisphere, with a decades-long armed conflict in which the state security forces and far-right paramilitaries are fighting leftist guerrillas. (…)


Colombia: ICRC assists over 2,000 displaced persons

16 April - During the weekend of 14/15 April, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) mounted a new operation to help people who have fled their homes to seek safety in El Charco (Nariño), Guapi (Cauca) and Buenaventura (Valle del Cauca).

After evaluating the situation, the ICRC shipped in 21 tonnes of food and over 700 hygiene items, to cover the most urgent needs of the 470 families staying in hostels or with family and friends.

Since the first aid delivery 15 days ago, ICRC has supplied 45 tonnes of food in two shipments.

“People displaced by fighting in the region are in a very difficult situation. In some cases, four families are sharing a two-room house. In addition, they are short of food and water. Most of the displaced persons are women and children,” says Cornelia Genoni, an ICRC delegate involved in the operation.

As part of its mandate to protect and assist the victims of armed conflict, the ICRC will continue to monitor the situation, and will decide what further assistance to provide on this basis of its assessments and its criteria.



Peace and security



Blue helmets in Haiti return school once used by drug gangs to local authorities

26 April – Brazilian peacekeepers working with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) have handed back to local authorities in a notorious district of the capital a school that was seized from drug gangs earlier this year. The Ecole Nationale de Cité Soleil, from the slum district of the same name, will be rehabilitated with funds from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN spokesperson Michele Montas said today.

The hand-over took place during a short ceremony yesterday involving Col. Barrosso Magno, commander of the Mission’s Brazilian contingent, which had been using the site its temporary headquarters. The return of the school “is a sign of change for Cité,” Col. Magno said, referring to the district of the capital, Port-au-Prince, where crime and gang activity has been most rampant in recent decades.

MINUSTAH has been working actively with UN Police (UNPOL) and Haitian National Police (PNH) to locate and arrest key gang leaders and to disrupt and reduce their criminal activities.

Elected officials in Cité Soleil yesterday also returned to work at the bullet-scarred town hall, which has become functional again, thanks to a joint effort by the Haitian Government, the PNH and the Brazilian contingent in MINUSTAH.


India: Vizag engineering students invent a landmine-detecting robot

From our ANI Correspondent

Vishkhapatnam, April 23: Students of St. Teresa Engineering College here have developed a robot that can detect and diffuse landmines. Operated through a laptop, the robot can work upto a range of 100 kilometres. It can also be operated through a high-end mobile phone within a range of 100 feet. "It mainly works on the principle of FM (Frequency Modulation) transmitter and receiver. We transmit signals in the air through a laptop, which are caught by the FM receiver attached to the robot. It will then decode the signal and would work according to it," said G. Srinivasulu, one of the inventors.

Fitted with a web camera, the robot helps in detecting metals by sending high-frequency wavelengths through a FM transmitter, within a radius of 150 yards. The students said that with some more investment, the range could be increased to half-a-kilometer.

This multi-purpose robot, can be used in various fields, ranging from helping geologists and farmers, for detecting metals, for assisting security personnel in identifying landmines. "It (the robot) will find many applications. In the police department, in the Border Security Force and for searching landmines and claymores," said L. Joga, Rao, a senior professor, in the mechanical department of the college. The robot which costs12,500 rupees has won awards at several national-level science fairs. The students now plan to patent their invention.(ANI)


Ethiopia: EU to step up efforts to rid Africa of landmines (Angola)

The European Union will step up efforts to rid Africa, the world poorest continent and one of its most conflict-prone regions, of landmines and small arms

Addis Ababa, 21 April - The European Union will step up efforts to rid Africa, the world poorest continent and one of its most conflict-prone regions, of landmines and small arms, officials said Friday. “We are aware that the problems caused by landmines and the illicit proliferation, circulation, accumulation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons constitute a serious impediment to social and economic development,” said Tim Clarke, the EU representative at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa. “These problems cannot be resolved unless there is tighter and better coordinated international cooperation.”

Speaking at the end of a three-day meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Jeffrey Mugumya, director of the AU’s peace and security department, made an impassioned plea for help. “Africa is the continent worst affected by the scourge of landmines. We should move from policy formulations to active implementation of these policies. We want to ensure that within 10 years, Africa becomes a landmine-free continent. We are well aware that we cannot do this alone,” he said. The meeting also marked the 10th anniversary of the Ottawa Convention, the most comprehensive international instrument for ridding the world of antipersonnel mines. The treaty deals with everything from mine use, production and trade, to victim assistance, mine clearance and stockpile destruction and has been ratified by 153 nations.

According to the United Nations Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Somalia and Sudan are Africa’s worst landmine-affected countries.


Three ethnic armed groups from Burma/Myanmar commit to a ban on anti-personnel mines Geneva, 16 April  - The Lahu Democratic Front (LDF), the Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF) and the Pa-O People's Liberation Organization (PPLO), today committed to a total ban on anti-personnel mines by signing Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment. The signing took place in the historic Alabama Room, in the Town Hall of Geneva.

Both the Burma/Myanmar Government - known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) - and a number of armed ethnic opposition groups continue to use anti-personnel mines, particularly in conflict areas along the country’s borders. The consequences of the use of mines on affected populations are dramatic; though exact numbers are not available, it is estimated that up to fifty percent of landmine victims are civilians. (…)

The LDF, PSLF and PPLO join three other ethnic armed groups from Burma/Myanmar in agreeing not to use anti-personnel mines and to facilitate mine action. Of the new signatory groups only the LDF were until making this commitment still utilising anti-personnel mines, whilst the PSLF still possess stockpiles of the weapon. Both the LDF and PSLF have declared themselves ready to destroy the stockpiles that they possess, whilst the LDF have pledged to remove the mines that they had laid previously. (…) It is hoped that as the number of armed groups rejecting the use of mines increases, the government will also consider banning them.

The LDF, PSLF and PPLO now calls on the government and other armed groups to also ban the use of antipersonnel mines and to cooperate in mine action.

Geneva Call is an international humanitarian organisation dedicated to engaging armed Non-State Actors in relation to mine-ban action. (…)


Mine risk education in Lebanon

11 April - Life is slowly returning after the traumatic 34-day Israeli-Hezbollah conflict last summer that left Lebanese villages bombed, roads destroyed and thousands injured and dead. DanChurchAid is currently clearing mines and unexploded ammunition in Lebanon and is right now engaged in four mine risk education events in Southern Lebanon.

Despite the threat of cluster munitions hidden in the ground, children and adults in mine-contaminated areas still must live their lives. They have to farm land, walk to school, conduct business, visit neighbors and play with friends. And they need to know how to take the proper precautions.

The National Demining Office (NDO) is right now in the process of implementing four Mine Risk Education (MRE)/Mine Victim Assistance (MVA) Events in Southern Lebanon. The main funding agency is the European Commission for Humanitarian Operations (ECHO) funding the four MRE/MVA events through DanChurchAid. Other donors are Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), UNICEF and Balamand University. (…)


Consultative meeting to enhance peaceful coexistence in Iraq

Within the framework of addressing the growing threat of ethnic and sectarian tensions in the region, UN-ESCWA held a consultative meeting to discuss a project entitled "Enhancing the Peaceful Coexistence in Iraq through Informal and Non-Formal Education" in Beirut on 19-20 April 2007. The meeting brought together representatives of the Iraqi Ministries of Education, Human Rights, Youth and Sports, as well as representatives of a number of Iraqi non-governmental organizations and other United Nations entities. The meeting aimed to receive input, comments and suggestions from the participants on the project that was formulated by UN-ESCWA, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the Office of Human Rights at the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

At the conclusion of the meeting, participants stressed the importance of the project and the dire need for such an initiative in Iraq. They affirmed that this is a pioneering project that could lay the groundwork for wider movement within Iraq that would in turn contribute to strengthening peaceful coexistence. The deliberations of the meeting also resulted in upholding the project's purpose, objectives, activities, and target beneficiaries, namely youth between 12 and 18 years old. Participants suggested a number of amendments, ideas and additional activities that would contribute to developing the project in concordance with Iraqi society and its needs, as well as reinforcing it so that it becomes more systematic in dealing with ethnic and sectarian tensions in Iraq.






UN health agency launches nine solutions to save patients’ lives

2 May - Since mistakes made in health care affect one out of every 10 patients in the world, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today launched a new programme called “Nine patient safety solutions” to reduce the harm done to people during medical treatments. “Implementing these solutions is a way to improve patient safety,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan of the nine effective methods, determined by the agency’s World Alliance for Patient Safety and the Collaborating Centre, to curtail errors made in health care.

The solutions are based on interventions and other actions taken in some countries that have reduced harm done to patients, and are aimed at redesigning the processes undertaken to care for patients and improve their safety. The nine solutions are: look-alike, sound-alike medication names; patient identification; communication during patient hand-overs; performance of correct procedure at correct body site; control of concentrated electrolyte solutions; assuring medication accuracy at transitions in care; avoiding catheter and tubing mis-connection; single use of injection devices; and improved hand hygiene to prevent health care-associated infections.

“Patient safety is now recognized as a priority by health systems around the world,” said Liam Donaldson, who chairs the Alliance and is England’s Chief Medical Officer. “Clear and succinct actions contained in the nine solutions have proved to be useful in reducing the unacceptably high numbers of medical injuries around the world.”

Over the past year, WHO has brought together over 50 recognized leaders and experts in patient safety from around the world to identify and adapt the nine solutions to meet different needs. The solutions were tested in the field in order to gather feedback from leading patient safety organizations, Governments’ health ministries, international professional health organizations and other bodies.


New study finds marked improvements in Afghanistan's health sector

Independent evaluation suggests 40,000 fewer infant deaths per year compared to 5 years ago

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)

Kabul, 26 April – Infant mortality rates in Afghanistan declined from an estimated 165 per 1,000 live births in 2001 to about 135 per 1,000 in 2006, according to preliminary findings of Johns Hopkins University (JHU) household survey. This means that 40,000 fewer infants are dying each year compared to during Taliban rule. A health facility assessment, also commissioned by the Ministry of Public Health, indicates a 25 percent improvement in overall quality of health services since 2004. The JHU assessment - which surveyed more than 600 health facilities each year since 2004 and used a Balance Score Card (BSC) to measure different aspects of quality of services - found improvements in virtually all aspects of care in almost every province.

“Despite many challenges, there are clear signs of health sector recovery and progress throughout the country,” said HE Dr. Mohammad Amin Fatimi, Public Health Minister of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. “The JHU evaluations give us some encouragement that the Government has achieved real successes, but there is a long way to go to provide access to basic health services for Afghans in far remote, underserved and marginalized areas across the country. Continuing progress will be difficult without a firm commitment by the international community to increased and secure financing for the sector.”

JHU conducted the community survey of more than 8,000 households nationwide to measure access and utilization of health services. It found that the proportion of women receiving antenatal care increased from 5 percent in 2003 to 30 percent in 2006. The proportion of couples who were using a modern form of family planning increased from 5 percent to 15 percent in 3 years. Similarly, the proportion of pregnant women who received attendance by a skilled health worker increased 5 percent to nearly 19 percent. (…)


Afghanistan and Pakistan vaccinate over 40 million children against polio

25 April - Two of the four remaining countries which have never stopped polio vaccinated over 40 million children between them this week. The two countries share a long border with regular travel and are considered a single block of transmission for the poliovirus.

Since the introduction of new tool – including more potent vaccines – and new tactics in both countries in 2006, both appear to have stopped the bulk of their indigenous polio. Authorities are now focusing on the inter-country reservoirs, where access is complicated by security and population mobility, among other factors. Stopping polio in these reservoirs requires careful international coordination and real synchronization of activities at borders, as well as concrete  help to improve safety, even temporarily. In both countries, vaccinators aim to reach all children under the age of five: in Afghanistan, this means 7.3 million children; in Pakistan, 33.5 million.

Only two other countries have never stopped polio – India and Nigeria, both with larger populations and much more intense transmission of virus than Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2006, Afghanistan and Pakistan reported 31 and 40 cases of polio respectively; India and Nigeria had 674 and 1127 respectively. The independent advisory group to the global eradication effort concluded last year that 2007 presents the best chance for Afghanistan and Pakistan to be the next countries to stop poliovirus. Afghanistan has had no cases of polio since November 2006.

The global drive to eradicate polio, which has reduced the number of polio cases worldwide by over 99%, is predicated on reaching all children under five years of age with oral polio vaccine multiple times.


Iranian Red Crescent volunteers take to the roads to save lives

Hossein Sharifara, International Affairs Department, Iranian Red Crescent Society

23 April - More than 50% of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are active in road safety and the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) is particularly well-organized to provide emergency services to road victims. In Iran, the toll of road crashes is high - between 28,000 and 30, 000 people die on the roads, and 300,000 are injured each year. In response, the Iranian Red Crescent offers first aid courses – more than 12,300 in 2006 alone, to people from many different walks of life, and organizes country-wide road rescue operations carried out from 530 fixed and mobile posts set up on Iranian roads. These operations include the distribution of brochures, road maps, the provision of temporary shelters for travellers in need, the distribution of food in emergencies, relief and rescue services when road crashes occur, as well as evacuation of the injured and transferral to the nearest medical institution.

More than 1,500 volunteers and hundreds of medical personnel are mobilized on the roads at particularly “sensitive” times, such as the celebration of the Iranian New Year. (…)

The Iranian Red Crescent Society is committed to ensuring the health and safety of travellers by addressing road accidents both as part of its overall disaster preparedness and emergency response responsibilities and as an auxiliary to the governmental emergency medical services. Its trained volunteers are on alert in 530 fixed and mobile road posts across the country to assist the victims of road accidents and to provide relief services wherever there is need. (…)


22,000 new children a day protected from malaria by Red Cross/Red Crescent societies and their partners in 2006

23 April - Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies and their partners protected some 22,000 new children per day from malaria in Africa in 2006. This results from the distribution of 8.3 million long lasting insecticidal nets to mothers of children under the age of five, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Africa Malaria Day which will be marked on 25 April. “Despite this spectacular achievement, malaria is still one of the most devastating global public health problems with more than one million deaths every year. Some 3,000 children die of malaria every day,” says Jean Roy, Senior Adviser at the International Federation Health and Care department in Geneva. More than 80 per cent of cases occur in Africa, south of the Sahara.

In 2006, Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies distributed 2.2 million nets in Niger, 875,000 in Sierra Leone and also supported large distribution campaigns in Kenya (3.4 million nets distributed) Angola and Rwanda. Approximately another 7 million children under the age of five are expected to receive nets in 2007. (…) Keep Up programmes started in Togo in 2005. They were extended later to Mozambique and Kenya. Similar plans are being developed in Ghana, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda. 

Besides the massive distribution of nets and the mobilization of volunteers to make sure the nets are used, the International Federation is also involved in rapid response to emergency situations in Africa, for instance by making nets available during the recent floods that affected eastern and southern Africa to prevent an increase in malaria cases. It is also working with governments to ensure that appropriate malaria treatment is available. Access to nets for people living with HIV is also a priority, as they are among those at higher risk for developing malaria, just like young children and pregnant women. The International Federation is working with more than 25 partners representing international agencies, institutions and non-governmental organizations.


MSF responds to outbreaks across Africa's "Meningitis Belt"

April 5 - Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been quick to respond to meningitis epidemics in several countries in Africa's "meningitis belt." In the four countries–Burkina Faso, Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)–where the epidemic threshold has been reached- MSF's first response was to evaluate the outbreak, identify the strain of meningitis, and treat people infected with the disease. Now in the second stage of treatment and prevention, MSF has also been carrying out mass-vaccination campaigns to prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease.

The outbreak was first recorded in late 2006. Since then 27,650 cases and 1,840 deaths have been reported in the four countries worst affected.

In the last few weeks, teams in Uganda and DRC have successfully assisted in the vaccination of more than 700,000 people and case numbers appear to be dropping. In Burkina Faso, MSF vaccinated 475,000 people in the capital Ouagadougou and plans to vaccinate an additional 500,000 in rural areas of the country. In southern Sudan nearly 491,000 people have been vaccinated by MSF and an additional 290,000 will be vaccinated in the coming weeks. Teams in other countries where outbreaks are feared are on the alert. (…)  After several years of low incidence in the belt, the 2006 epidemic season saw a marked rise in meningitis outbreaks across the region and the WHO considers it highly likely that a new epidemic wave will emerge in the coming years. (…)


Youths kick AIDS out of Burkina Faso

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, April 5 – (…) Africare, in conjunction with the North Region Department of Sports, held the regional Kick AIDS championship in Ouahigouya last March 30th. This highly anticipated event also served as the closing ceremony for the Kick AIDS pilot project, running from April 2005 to March 2006 with funding from USAID/West Africa Ambassadors’ AIDS Fund (WAAF) through U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou. UNICEF and UNAIDS provided additional funding for project equipment as well as monitoring and evaluation of the project. (…)

Two youth teams were crowned regional Kick AIDS champions: “FC Olympic”, a boys’ team from Gourcy, and “The Queens of Yatenga”, a girls’ team from Ouahigouya. These teams were awarded first-rate equipment (soccer uniforms, warm-up suits, and sports bags) donated by an American youth soccer team, “The Cavaliers” from McLean, Virginia. To qualify for this regional Championship game, these teams had to first triumph at the provincial level, not only by win soccer games, but also by accumulating points through team visits to their local HIV testing centers and team meetings with and donations to people living with HIV/AIDS. Teams also received points for with signing individual Game Plans for Life, in which players pledged to either Abstain, to Be faithful, or to use Condoms. Furthermore, players had to answer questions about HIV/AIDS at the end of each match and points granted for correct answers were added to the total score of the game. (…)

The Kick AIDS tournament was the culminating stage for these youths, who had been learning vital HIV prevention and care information during prior months through the Sports For Life Coach’s Guide. Developed by Johns Hopkins University’s Health Communication Partnerships, the Sports For Life Coach’s Guide is a participatory life skills curriculum, which enables youths to learn and practice healthy behaviors through sports drills, games and discussions. (…)



Energy and safety



UNECE launches EUR 250 million Eastern European energy efficiency and renewable energy investment fund

Geneva, 27 April - The UNECE Energy Efficiency 21 Project (EE21) is to assist in the development and launching of an Investment Fund to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and South-Eastern Europe. The UNECE has received grants totalling US$ 7.5 million from the United Nations Foundation (UNF), Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) for ‘Financing Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Investments for Climate Change Mitigation’. This technical assistance project will launch a public-private equity Fund under the auspices of the Global Environment Facility, assist local experts to develop investment projects for financing and work with local authorities on the energy policy reforms to support these investments. The Energy Efficiency 21 Project promotes the formation of an energy efficiency market in Eastern Europe so that cost-effective investments can provide a self-financing method of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

During the last few years, the UNECE has demonstrated that it is possible to identify, develop and finance energy efficiency investment projects in Eastern Europe. But it has also shown that this is a time consuming and labour intensive process that needs to become much more fluid or business-as-usual in order to succeed on any meaningful scale. The market for energy efficiency projects with a payback period of less than five years is estimated to be between EUR 5 and 10 billion. But the capital investment requirements needed to tap this potential are so large that only commercial sector finance on a significant scale can actually deliver meaningful results. This market will need to provide opportunities for the commercial sector to make large investments with low transaction costs that make adequate returns at acceptable risk within a reasonable period of time. The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Investment Fund is designed to provide a bridge between demonstration investments financed under special conditions in selected Eastern European locations to the establishment of an investment fund that can serve as a vehicle for the large scale participation of private sector investors in partnership with public entities including current and planned GEF projects. (…) 


Rotary International: Water Day activities include launch of new action group

Rotarians around the world celebrated World Water Day on 22 March by calling attention to water issues that affect some 2.6 billion people worldwide.

By Joseph Derr, Rotary International News

During a World Water Day press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Ron Denham announced the launch of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group. Denham, a past RI district governor who also chairs the Water Resource Group for 2006-07, said the newest Rotarian Action Group will help strengthen ongoing Rotary water initiatives. It also will enhance networking and collaboration between Rotary clubs and districts working on water initiatives as well as foster cooperative water projects with other organizations. Visit the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group’s Web site to learn more and sign up for the action group.

More Water Day activities

• In a joint project with the office of the Belgian Senate and nongovernmental organizations, three districts in Belgium (1620, 1630, and 2170) sponsored an exhibit of photos of water issues by photographer Dieter Telemans in the federal parliament building in Brussels. 

• Belgian Rotarians helped organize a youth forum on water in which secondary school students from around the country participated. Belgium’s Prince Laurent also attended one of the workshops. 

• Past RI President Glenn E. Estess joined local Rotarians in Columbus, Georgia, USA, to raise awareness of water issues during a World Water Day walk. 

• In Canada, the Rotary Club of Ancaster, Canada, sponsored a Water for Life Walkathon to help raise funds for ongoing well projects in Haiti. Learn more.


UNEPs India Solar Loan Programme wins prestigious Energy Globe

Brussels, 12 April  - After helping more than 100,000 people in 18,000 Indian households finance clean energy from their PV solar electric home systems, the United Nations Environment Programme's Indian Solar Loan Programme has been honoured with a prestigious Energy Globe. The Energy Globe ( is the "World Award for Sustainability" and considered today's most prestigious and acknowledged environmental award bestowed on projects from all over the world "which make careful and economical use of resources and employ alternative energy sources". "The award shows that improving access to finance can help to influence the shift towards cleaner energy in the developing world," says UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner. "In the past there has been a lot of investment in market development schemes, particularly subsidies to lower capital costs, but with little success."

Launched in 2003 with support from the UN Foundation and Shell Foundation, the four-year Indian Solar Loan Programme is a partnership between UNEP, the UNEP Risoe Centre, and two of India's largest banking groups to establish a consumer credit market for financing solar home systems (SHS) in Southern India where the conventional electricity grid is absent or unreliable. The innovative financing arrangement involves an interest rate reduction, market development support, and a process to qualify solar suppliers. The interest rate reduction was phased out during the Programme and today the market for financing solar home systems is on purely commercial terms. (…)



Environment and wildlife



Build a tiger online: Web campaign seeks photos to stop tiger trade

23 April - Thirty conservation groups have launched a worldwide campaign to collect supporters’ pictures online to create the world’s largest photo mosaic of a tiger. The mosaic, built with thousands of photos from tiger supporters submitted around the globe, will be unveiled to world leaders in June as they gather to discuss wildlife trade at a meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Visitors to the mosaic can zoom in on the larger tiger picture and find images submitted of themselves and family and friends.

The mosaic campaign launches as China considers lifting its ban on trade in tiger bones and other body parts, a move that would be disastrous for wild tigers since an increase in poaching would likely follow. “Your photos and actions could help save tigers,” said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF’s Global Species Programme. (…)


Recent findings on mountain gorillas show hope for species’ survival

Nairobi, Kenya/Gland, Switzerland, 20 April – After a decade of conservation efforts, the mountain gorillas in Eastern Africa are showing a slow but steady comeback, says WWF, the global conservation organization. Results of a survey released today indicate that there are now 340 gorillas within the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in south-western Uganda, a 12 per cent growth over the past decade. Although this translates to an annual growth rate of about 1 per cent, it is indicative of a healthy and well protected population. The park is home to almost half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.

“This is indeed great news for the survival of the mountain gorilla,” said Marc Languy of WWF’s Eastern Africa Regional Programme. “However, with only about 720 individual mountain gorillas surviving in the wild, more efforts are still needed to ensure these beautiful animals do not become extinct.” WWF notes that both the eastern and northern sections of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park have had high levels of human disturbance in the past, such as hunting, habitat encroachment and civil unrest in the region. (…)

The survey in Bwindi was conducted by several conservation organizations, including WWF. To avoid double-counting, genetic analysis of faecal samples of the gorillas in each group was used. (…) Mountain gorillas are the main tourist attraction in the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, earning these countries about US$5 million every year. Of the 30 gorilla groups found in Bwindi, five are habituated - a total of 76 individuals. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is planning to habituate two more groups as part of efforts to boost tourism.


2007 UNEP Champions of the Earth Awards Make Big Splash at Gala Ceremony in Singapore

Inspirational Winners from Algeria, Brazil and Jordan to the Philippines, Sweden and the United States Lauded for "Extraordinary" Leadership in Environment and Sustainable Development

Singapore, 19 April - Hollywood star and environmental campaigner, Daryl Hannah was among the high and the humble in Singapore last night to honour the 2007 Champions of the Earth. Ms Hannah, famous for films like 'Splash' and her support for renewable energies, received the trophy on behalf of Al Gore - the former US Vice President and climate change campaigner was awarded the regional North America Champions prize.

The awards, presented at a gala ceremony in Singapore recognize individuals whose extraordinary action and personal commitment to the environment are deemed outstanding and exceptional by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The other winners are His Excellency Mr. Cherif Rahmani of Algeria; Elisea 'Bebet' Gillera Gozun of the Philippines; Viveka Bohn of Sweden; Her Excellency Ms. Marina Silva of Brazil; His Royal Highness Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan and Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee. (…)

The seven trophies, made by the Kenyan artist Kiko from recycled metal, were presented to the winners and their representatives by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director. (…) Mr Steiner said: "If we are to shape a new partnership between human-kind and the natural environment upon which all life ultimately depends then we need leaders, we need champions-champions in public life, champions in business and champions in our communities".  (…) 



Religion and spirituality



How can global consciousness respond to the cry of the Least Developed Countries?

Seminar at the United Nations Headquarters, New York - Thursday, May 31, 2:00—4:30 p.m.

Join us for an afternoon of keynote talks, sacred art, discussion and meditation.  We are using the occasion of this gathering to raise awareness of the plight of the world’s least developed countries, whose populations suffer inordinately under the weight of the present global economic imbalance.  At this time of planetary crisis all spiritual workers can contribute to building a thoughtform of solution to world problems. 

This meeting is held in observation of The Festival of Humanity, also known as The Festival of Goodwill and World Invocation Day—recognized worldwide as a day of prayer, meditation and invocation. By joining together with men and women of goodwill throughout the world we can contribute towards the healing of the nations and the fostering of world unity.

Guest Speakers and Keynote Talks:

1) Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, addressing the plight of the 50 Least Developed Countries through a multi-media presentation;

2) Janosh, Computer Graphic Design Artist, presenting sacred art in the form of brilliant holograms, accompanied by music;

3) Ida Urso, Ph.D., President, Aquarian Age Community and Spiritual Psychologist, addressing the theme, “How Can Global Consciousness Respond to the Cry of the Least Developed Countries?”

Everyone is required to register. Those without a valid UN Pass may request a One-Day Guest Pass. The website for registration is accessible from the home page of the Aquarian Age Community (address below) or you can go directly to the following address: 


World Congress on media and religion: risk or opportunity?

The impact of modern media on religious experience and social conscience

3 - 10 June 2007, Bishop's University, Lennoxville, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada

The contemporary religious situation is commented on every day by the media. Whether it is about its contribution to peace, its constitutional nature, inter-religious connections, or its public presence, religion in life is deeply influenced, indeed formed by the media. Can it be asserted that this virtual space has become the inevitable place where religious contemporaneous phenomena are conceived? Can we think that media treatment of religious phenomena contribute to awakening the social conscience of various cultural communities? Do we believe that religious realities and the values they bear might influence the world of the media? 

For this to happen, let us consider three important angles which will help us measure the merger between the world of the media and the religious realities of today's world.

1. The media and the making of contemporary religious phenomena. 

2. Ethics and the media. 

3. Religious journalism and the awakening of a social conscience.

The Congress is open to all those interested in the theme, those involved in print and electronic journalism, professors, publishers and other media specialists and experts.


German town re-erects monument

Bad Mergentheim, Germany, 25 April (BWNS) - A Baha'i memorial removed when the Nazis were in power has been restored by municipal authorities in this resort town in southern Germany. The stone commemorates the visit in 1913 of 'Abdu'l-Baha, the successor of Baha'u'llah as head of the Baha'i Faith. The original memorial was erected in 1916 but removed in 1937 at a time when the Baha'i Faith was outlawed by the Nazis. (…)

The new memorial was unveiled earlier this month, on 7 April, by Mayor Lothar Barth accompanied by Bahman Solouki, a representative of the Baha'i community of Germany.

"Bad Mergentheim can be proud that 'Abdu'l-Baha came here," the mayor said at the ceremony. "The Baha'i Faith is one of the six major world religions -- there is no other way to put it -- and this should be honoured accordingly."

He continued: "I consider this a good sign. It shows that in Bad Mergentheim we are a tolerant society, that we integrate people of different faiths in our town and are cosmopolitan enough for that." (…)



Culture and education



4th Annual Youth Assembly - August 12-15, UN Headquarters, New York

The Youth Assembly is an annual gathering of outstanding individuals and young leaders from around the globe at the UN Headquarters. The Youth Assembly is about showing how one person can make a difference by engaging with the challenges of the present and being an educated and active citizen. In 2007, the 4th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations will take place from August 12-15, with a Leadership Training extension August 8-12. The Assembly has grown to become a major gathering of young people at the United Nations. Every year, the Assembly provides avenues for students and young professionals (18-26 years old) to learn about and become involved with programs that address global and local issues.  Endorsed and supported by the Permanent Missions to the United Nations  and affiliated NGOs. All participants reside at Pace University, Manhattan for the entire program and optional, post-program activities.

Registration is now open for:

• The Youth Assembly at the United Nations (Dr. Elaine Valdov, Secretary General; Free, after registration): August 13-15, 2007, UN Headquarters

• The U C Peace arts festival in the UN and around NYC: August 8-16, 2007

• The Leadership Seminar (cost) - Developing practical skills on building campaigns and NGOs: August 8-12, 2007, Pace University and includes a participation certificate upon completion and all Youth Assembly programming and  special events

• The Youth Achievement Award, open to youth 16-18 for recognition of work done toward humanitarian goals, worldwide

A project of Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, Inc.


The United Nations and Freedom of the Press: What more can be done?

In Observance of World Press Freedom Day  – 3 May ,Conference Room 1, 10:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

World Press Freedom Day reminds us all – governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations as well as civil society – of the crucial role a free press plays in strengthening democracies and fostering development around the world. Proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1993, the Day has been observed on 3 May ever since.

Opening Segment:10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. Message from the General Assembly President, (delivered by Vice- President of the General Assembly); Message from the Secretary-General (delivered by the Under-Secretary-General of Communications and Public Information); Rudolf Christen, Chairman, Committee on Information; Message from the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), (delivered by Helene-Marie Gosselin, Director, NY Office of UNESCO); Tuyet Nguyen, President, United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA)

Panel Discussion:   11:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Evelyn Leopold, Chief of Bureau, Reuters, UN Office; Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, Publisher, El Universal, Mexico; Laura Trevelyan, Correspondent, BBC;  Abderrahim Foukara, Chief of Bureau, Al-Jazeera Arabic, for the Americas; Josh Friedman, Director of International Programs, Columbia School of Journalism

Source: NGO Section, DPI United Nations


ESCAP Film wins Bronze Prize at UN Documentary Film Festival

Bangkok (UN Information Services), 30 April - The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) won the Bronze Prize for short documentary at the 3rd Annual United Nations Documentary Film Festival for its film ‘A Future Within Reach’. Over two hundred films competed for the awards at the film festival held in New York on 21-22 April 2007 to showcase documentaries that reflect the Millennium Development Goals. The film highlights the often forgotten ‘human face’ behind the MDGs. It draws findings from the second regional MDG report, a tripartite initiative of ESCAP, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). ‘A Future Within Reach’ looks at how Asia-Pacific region, characterized by much diversity and disparity, is creating better living conditions, livelihoods and choices for its people. (…) 


Teachers and students around the world join up to demand education rights now

27 April – (…) Education International (EI) is working with the Global Campaign for Education to raise awareness of the enormous gap between the right of children to learn and the harsh reality of ignorance and poverty for so many millions. Today marks the beginning of Global Action Week, April 23-29, when hundreds of thousands of concerned teachers, students, parents, and activists all over the world will join together to demand that governments and international agencies live up to their promise of ensuring that all children receive the free quality education to which they are fundamentally entitled.

In 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, 191 governments committed to provide Education for All by the year 2015. Many developing countries have made significant progress, but continue to need assistance and solidarity. Some developed nations that are signatory to the agreement still fall far short of the target of 0.7% of Gross National Income committed to Overseas Development Assistance, which includes education aid. “We are at the halfway point to meet the Education for All goals,” noted EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “The deadline is looming and millions of children should not have to wait any longer for their chance to go to school. Now is the time for governments to deliver on the promises made in Dakar.” To send that message loudly and clearly, education advocates all around the globe have organized an event-filled week of lobbying, artwork and activities to urge governments to take action. (…)


Distribution of the Green Lane Environment Diary, 2007, is underway

April 24 - The theme for the 8th edition of the programme is focused on the question, " What we can do in our daily life?" 100,000 diaries have been printed and are being given to school children in primary schools, municipal education committees, children's day care-centres, and private companies. A Sri Lankan version will also be made available by Green Cross Sri Lanka, of which 40,000 copies have already been set aside for those who applied for the diary.

Over the course of the eight year programme it is estimated that 400,000 kids have participated, with each year around 200 children being shortlisted to go to the Award Ceremony and receive certificates for their hard work. Contact : Mr. Tsunehiko Kawamoto, Green Cross Japan,


ADRA empowers internally displaced women in Colombia

April 23 - Female heads of household and women who have been displaced by war in Colombia are becoming more empowered through vocational training and personal development classes provided by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). ADRA’s one-year project, which began in March of 2007, will benefit 240 displaced women and female heads of households between two training centers, one in Cartagena and one in Bogotá. Beneficiaries will receive training in tailoring and cosmetology, providing them with income-generating job skills with which they can support their families. (…)

With more than 3.5 million internally displaced persons, Colombia is second only to Sudan in number of IDPs. Colombia’s long-standing civil conflict figures as the primary reason behind the displacement. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an estimated 49 percent of IDPs in Colombia are adult women, with more than a third of IDP families headed by women. Bogotá and Cartagena have the highest rates of displaced population in the country. (…) Beneficiaries will also participate in health education, women’s rights, and personal development classes designed to improve their quality of life and self-esteem. The project is funded in partnership with ADRA Spain and the Generalitat Valenciana, the local government of Valencia, Spain. (…)


World Children’s Festival - June 23-26, Washington DC

The world’s largest celebration of creativity and imagination – the World Children’s Festival -- will showcase children’s talents, equip them with communication and collaboration skills, and promote mutual respect and trust for the next generation of global leaders.

The World Children’s Festival culminates the Arts Olympiad, in which more than three million children from 100 countries produced artwork on the theme “My Favorite Sport” to celebrate the artist-athlete ideal of a creative mind and healthy body.

Children performance groups from around the world will join the visual artists and artist-athletes on the National Mall on June 23-25. The World Festival will occupy 4th to 7th Streets of the National Mall, between the National Gallery of Art and the National Air and Space Museum. The Festival is free and open to the public, and based on previous festivals in 1999 and 2003 is estimated to attract more than 10,000 visitors and attendees. (…)

“Art and sport have the powers to change the world, the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else can. Art and sport speak to people in a language they understand. Art and sport can create hope where there was once only despair. They are instruments for peace, even more powerful than governments,” said Nobel Laureate Nelson R. Mandela.


11th Education for World Citizens Congress - 27-30 June, Turgoyak Lake, Chelyabinsk Region, Russia

In the framework of the "Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence", we invite you to the 11th International "Education for World Citizens" Congress. It coincides with the 11th "Ural-Planet Youth Festival of Social Creativity", so it will be a great opportunity to integrate youth and adults' visions, models and actions for civil human education to create a New World- a culture of peace. These two events will be a bridge from the 10th "Education for World Citizens" Congress (17-21 October 2005, Samara , Russia) and the 2nd Planetary Congress of Biospheric Rights (22-26 September 2006, Brasilia , Brazil).

We will pay attention to creating "Education for World Citizens" as a mechanism to change the civilization vector of social development from competition to cooperation, from conflict to peace, from terrorism to consent. People from different countries, cultures, and ages will come together as one big family in a loving atmosphere for effective collective work. Our main goal is to integrate our possibilities for creating conscious humanity to take total responsibility for life. Our task is to learn to cooperate as a planetary team. We will all keep our individuality and uniqueness, yet we will strengthen our best individual and collective qualities. We will establish a program of integrated actions for realizing the "Education for World Citizens" project, thereby positively influencing the development of humanity and creating a culture of peace. (…)


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Next issue: 25 May 2007.


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