Good News Agency – Year VIII, n° 8



Weekly - Year VIII, number 8 – 15th June 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



Human rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education



Human rights



Central African Republic: ICRC boosts aid amidst growing clashes

Geneva (ICRC) 5 June – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is stepping up its humanitarian activities after months of growing hostilities in the Central African Republic. In particular it is increasing its aid for people forced to flee their homes and for the communities hosting them. In the coming months, almost 100,000 people will receive relief items (mosquito nets, blankets, tarpaulins, mats, cooking kits, buckets and soap) and farming implements. All ICRC distributions will be carried out in conjunction with volunteers from the Central African Red Cross Society. (…)

The ICRC will also boost its efforts to secure protection of the civilian population and people deprived of their freedom. It will remind all the parties concerned of their obligations under international humanitarian law. "The situation is deteriorating from a humanitarian viewpoint," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, head of the ICRC delegation in the capital, Bangui. "Given the needs of tens of thousands of people in distress, the ICRC has increased its field presence in order to come to the aid of civilians living in the conflict zone." This, he said, had enabled the organization to establish a constant dialogue with all the warring parties, who recognized its neutrality and independence.

The ICRC has been working in the Central African Republic since 1997. In 2006 it considerably increased its presence in the conflict zones so as to be able to quickly adapt its operations to the nature, scale and urgency of the needs. ICRC offices have been set up in Paoua and in Kaga-Bandoro, in the north-west of the country, and another office will soon be opened in Birao, in the north-east. At present the ICRC has 17 expatriates and 80 locally recruited staff working in the Central African Republic.!OpenDocument


Guinea: Roadmap for sustainable development adopted

Brussels, 30 May - The International Trade Union Conference to Promote Sustainable Development, held from 23 to 24 in Conakry, ended with the adoption of a roadmap reflecting the demands of the trade union movement and civil society, both Guinean and international, marking a first step down the long path towards the consolidation of peace, democracy and development in Guinea. The Conference, organised by Guinea's four main trade union centres, CNTG, USTG, ONSL and UDTG, with the support of the ITUC and the African regional organisations AFRO and DWATU, addressed three key issues:  social and economic development, governance and institutions, and human rights. (...)

After the ITUC mission to Guinea last January, the international confederation and its affiliates see this Conference, which once again highlighted the widespread solidarity with the workers and people of Guinea, as a turning point, having given rise to very concrete proposals. (...) The document calls on the Guinean authorities, all the forces of the nation and the international community to take every step needed to ensure genuine democratic reforms and a peaceful transition in Guinea. To read the roadmap in full, click: ; 



Economy and development



IFAD unveils new fund to stimulate business innovation in rural Africa

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund

Rome, 13 June – IFAD today announced details of a new multi-donor challenge fund that will help poor rural people in Africa by supporting innovative new businesses. The announcement was made in Cape Town at the World Economic Forum on Africa.

The African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) represents an important partnership between members of the international development community. Donors involved so far include the African Development Bank, the Consultative Group for Assist the Poor (CGAP), IFAD and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a member of the Donor Steering Group. (…)

Challenge funds, such as AECF, have a proven track record of stimulating pro-poor economic growth. The AECF will be the first challenge fund to be based in and designed for rural Africa. It will encourage the development of agricultural and financial markets in rural Africa by offering matching grants on a competitive basis of up to US$1.5 million to projects which meet its development goals.

The fund is designed to encourage businesses to think of poor rural people as potential entrepreneurs, consumers and employees. Challenge funds have proven effective in stimulating business innovation. The grants provide a powerful incentive to encourage the private sector, which often has substantial expertise and financial resources, to risk branching out into areas they might not have otherwise considered. AECF will run for seven years, starting in 2008. It has already secured most of the capital needed to start operations on schedule.

Contact information: Farhana Haque-Rahman, Chief, Media Relations, Special Events and Programmes, tel: +39 0654592485, e-mail: 


Qatar hosts Niger donor conference: IFAD announces US$20 million grant

Rome, 12 June – IFAD will provide an additional US$20 million in grant funding to combat food insecurity in Niger during the period 2007-2012. Matthew Wyatt, IFAD’s Assistant President for External Affairs, announced the grant today at the International Donors’ Conference on Consolidating Food Self-Sufficiency in Niger. It is being hosted by the Government of Qatar in the capital city of Doha. The donor conference is a joint initiative by the Government of Niger, the Government of Qatar and the General Secretariat of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to encourage donors to support programmes that will enhance food security in Niger. (…)

Unfavourable climatic conditions and widespread poverty have resulted in chronic food insecurity that affects more than 24 per cent of the rural population in Niger. Locust attacks in 2004 and poor rains in 2005 resulted in an eight-month dry season that created food shortages and severely affected food supply. (…)

IFAD currently finances a project that has created cereal and pre-harvest supply banks in Maradi, one of Niger’s hardest-hit provinces during the 2004-2005 food crisis. Previous IFAD-funded cereal banks in Niger were used to store crops immediately after harvest to sell during the dry season when market prices tend to rise. But the Project for the Promotion of Local Initiatives for Development in Aguié has tested a new type of bank that provides poor farmers with access to cereals when they are unable to feed themselves and their families at least two meals a day.

These banks, known as soudure, are operational from mid-July to mid-September on the basis of exchange. Farmers can take food as a credit during the planting season to ensure proper nutrition while they work in the field. Then farmers “pay back” this loan with the cereals they harvest, with 25 per cent interest to replace the stock and cover the cost of storage and maintenance.

At the end of last year, there were 111 soudure banks in Maradi containing more than 680 tons of cereal, which can reach about 200,000 people during the harshest period. 

For more information, Farhana Haque-Rahman, Chief, Media Relations, Special Events and Programmes,


The next frontier in genetic research: under water

Countries to discuss managing the world's aquatic genetic resources

Rome, 11 June - Improved international policies are needed to conserve aquatic genetic resources and improve global food security, FAO stated today at the start of the biennial meeting of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA, 11-15 June). A lack of coherent management of the world’s fish genetic resources is becoming a serious problem, the agency warned.

"The rapid expansion of aquaculture and the overexploitation of many capture fisheries have created conditions where irresponsible use of natural resources can result in adverse environmental and social impacts, intersectoral conflicts and unsustainability," according to a paper by FAO's Fisheries and Aquaculture Department to be presented to the Commission on Wednesday. (Click here to read.) The paper argues that a successful transition to more responsible, sustainable and productive aquaculture and capture fisheries will depend in large measure upon effective management of fish genetic resources. The CGRFA is well situated to address this need, it says. "However, the large and increasing contributions from aquaculture to world fish supply and the problems of effectively managing capture fisheries stocks that are not well characterized genetically have not yet been recognized in terms of increased investment in fish genetic resources management policies," cautions FAO.


New Project Won–Honduras: Farmer Access to Credit    Millennium Challenge Corp.

30 May - The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has awarded ACDI/VOCA a two-year $2,893,663 Honduras Farmer Access to Credit (FAC) project to increase the supply of credit and the availability of other financial services to program farmers, agribusinesses and rural enterprises. This is ACDI/VOCA’s second MCC award and will also develop building local capacity to ensure sustainability. ACDI/VOCA will provide technical assistance to build capacity within local financial institutions to offer credit and other services to a broad range of farmers and rural entrepreneurs who lack access. Strengthening the supply of credit to farmers in the short term will be facilitated by financing under the project’s farmer loan fund, and ACDI/VOCA will promote the sustainable expansion of financial services to farmers and other rural enterprises on strictly commercial terms. (…)

ACDI/VOCA has also won an $18.4 million MCC award for its Armenia Water-to-Market Activity to accelerate the transition of the Armenian economy to more profitable agricultural production through irrigation rehabilitation.






ADRA supports farming efforts of post-war returnees in Liberia

June 5 - As war-weary, displaced Liberians journey back into their homeland, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is supporting their efforts to restart their lives. Through an extensive initiative called the Household Food Security Recovery project, ADRA is improving food availability in 3,300 returning farming households (approximately 17,100 individuals) in Lofa County, Liberia. The one-year project is slated for completion in August 2007.

The peace and improved security that followed Liberia’s democratic elections in fall 2005 have led a significant number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and former refugees to return to the towns and villages they had fled during the nation’s brutal civil war. However, many Liberians are returning to war-devastated homes and are without basic necessities such as health care, education, clean drinking water, or sufficient food supplies.

ADRA’s initiative assists IDPs and refugees currently living in the war-ravaged Kolahun and Foya districts in Lofa County. Many of the returnees and resident small-scale farmers, who have no assets and limited access to quality farm tools, seeds, and other agricultural materials, are facing difficulties in re-establishing their livelihoods and food sources. (…)

By project’s completion, the 3,300 beneficiary families should be able to produce at least 50 percent of their household food and at least 80 percent of families will have increased the number of meals eaten per day from one to two. (…)


Volunteer physicians depart for Afghanistan

Twin surgeons from  New York City depart June 1 for Kabul hospital

June 1 - Amid rising volatility in the region, two physicians with Medical Teams International are headed to Kabul, Afghanistan to treat Afghan children suffering from landmine blasts and other traumatic injuries. The New York City twin surgeons—a cardiologist and an urologist— are making their second trip to the country in 17 months.

Drs. Vince and Vance Moss are scheduled to spend four weeks in Kabul, performing reconstructive surgeries at the Tanghi Saidan Community Health Clinic and training healthcare providers in updated surgical procedures. The doctors have been instrumental in setting up a rehabilitation unit at the Kabul medical clinic. The Moss brothers raised more than $10,000 in donated medical supplies—including splints, bandages, crutches and collapsible wheelchairs—which they will carry in when they arrive June 2. Medical supplies, equipment and medicines are nonexistent in the region and patients often lose limbs and mobility because of the critical shortages. (…)  Medical Teams International is partnering with Morning Star Development for this mission, a relief agency based in Kabul whose goal is to rebuild Afghanistan and its families through community development. (…)


CARE helps refugees caught in Lebanon crossfire

Lebanon, May 31 - CARE is providing aid to civilians caught in an ongoing confrontation between the Lebanese Army and militants of the Fatah al-Islam faction.

Fighting between Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam  erupted on May 20, after Lebanese authorities tried to arrest suspects in a bank robbery.  The fighting quickly escalated and spread to the Naher al-Bared refugee camp, which is home to 28,000 Palestinian refugee..  An estimated 23,000 people have fled the camp.  Some 16,000 have found temporary shelter in a neighboring refugee camp, Al Bedawi, while another 3,000 have gone to Tripoli and 4,000 have gone further to Beirut and camps in the South nearby areas.

CARE is primarily concerned with moving supplies to civilians displaced by the fighting, and with opening up humanitarian access to up to 5,000 people still trapped in the camp.  Electricity to the camp stopped when the fighting broke out,  and much of the camp's water system was damaged. Continued fighting has made getting  food and water into the camp a hazardous proposition, and with garbage piling up inside the camp there is danger of an outbreak of disease. (…)

Working in close coordination with UNRWA and other local agencies, CARE is focusing on providing mattresses and bedding for 3,000 of the displaced people.

CARE has been active in Middle East since 1948 and in Lebanon since 2006. It has provided health and nutritional support to pregnant women, nursing mothers  and infants affected by the July War. CARE provided emergency support to waste water treatment in southern Lebanon and rehabilitation to rainwater storage facilities, and currently gives economic support to fishermen whose livelihoods were affected by the war and environmental damage in southern Lebanon.


Chad: Vital aid for displaced people

25 May - Faced with a growing human catastrophe in eastern Chad, the ICRC has begun distributing urgently needed food, seed and agricultural implements as well as essential shelter and other household items to some 67,000 displaced people in Dogdoré and the Dar Assoungha and Dar Sila areas bordering Sudan.

The operation aims to help displaced families plant crops before the imminent onset of the rainy season. Once the rains start, poor roads and the remoteness of the area will make access by humanitarian workers to the displaced people and their host communities virtually impossible.

A recent nutritional survey conducted by the ICRC shows a serious food shortage in the area caused by displacement of families and the resulting difficulties accessing farmland. "The purpose of this operation is to prevent the worst from happening", says Thomas Merkelbach, head of the ICRC delegation in Chad. "The lack of security due to inter ethnic strife, combined with the internal armed conflict over the past year and a half has made it impossible for people to store enough food, which is why we need to ensure their food needs are covered during the planting season."

The ICRC remains present in all conflict-affected areas of Chad and continues working mainly along the volatile border between Chad and the Darfur region of neighbouring Sudan, where several aid agencies have limited or suspended their operations owing to security concerns. (…)


Heartbeat International reaches into Bangladesh

Nobel peace laureate and founder of Grameen Bank, Professor Muhammad Yunus, inaugurated the first Pacemaker Bank in Bangladesh on March 1, 2007 at the National Heart Foundation in Mirpur, Dhaka. Speaking at the inaugural function as chief guest he said, "Heart disease is on the rise in Bangladesh. Modern treatment of heart disease is so expensive that the poor cannot afford the treatment. The Heartbeat International Pacemaker Bank will provide an opportunity for poor patients to get pacemakers free of cost. This pacemaker bank would extend the horizon of service of the Rotary Clubs." Professor Yunus thanked the National Heart Foundation for providing such a platform through their good organization to serve the people of his country. (…)

Heartbeat International recently approved the new pacemaker bank, which will receive 50 or more new cardiac pacemakers and related cardiac devices annually from HBI for implantation among underserved heart patients in Bangladesh through direct involvement of cardiologists of the country's National Heart Foundation. The new pacemaker bank is a joint collaboration of Rotary Clubs of Dhaka, Dhaka Buriganga, Dhaka Cosmopolitan, Dhaka Midcity and Dilkusha with the assistance of the National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh.



Peace and security



Peace Bureau deplores military spending rise, urges investments to counter poverty and climate change

Geneva, June 12 - The International Peace Bureau has expressed profound concern at the announcement yesterday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute at the launch of its annual Yearbook ( that world military expenditures in 2006 reached a new high of $1204 billion. This represents an increase of 3.5% over the 2005 figure, and is 37% more than a decade ago. The USA accounted for nearly half the total, with $529 billion. These amounts constitute a huge treasury that should be re-directed to the fight against mass poverty and the threat of climate change.

The UN's Millennium Project (2005) has estimated that the annual costs of meeting the Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015 are of the order of $135 billion per year, little more than 10% of the money currently allocated to the military sector.  In a year in which public awareness of the accelerating impacts of climate change has rocketed, the continued investment of human brainpower and financial resources in narrow, weapons-system 'security' on this gargantuan scale is nothing short of scandalous”, said IPB Secretary-General Colin Archer. (…)

The IPB, whose main programme is entitled Sustainable Disarmament for Sustainable Development, is working to build an international civil society alliance to bring together peace, anti-poverty and environmental organisations. The purpose is to press for an end to the over-funding of military establishments and for the creation of new funds to tackle human insecurity and common threats to the planet. IPB will organise a seminar on this theme at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt, on November 11-12, 2007.

The International Peace Bureau is dedicated to the vision of a World Without War. We are a Nobel Peace Laureate (1910) and over the years 13 of our officers have been recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. Our 280 member organisations in 70 countries, and individual members, form a global network bringing together expertise and campaigning experience in a common cause.


UAE demining team clears 28 Lebanese villages

June 8 - A demining team from the UAE Armed Forces working in Lebanon has handed over 28 villages in southern Lebanon to the local authorities after successfully clearing the villages of landmines, cluster bombs and other dangerous explosives left behind by the Israeli army.

Areas cleared by the team, which is part of the UAE Project for the Support and Construction of Lebanon, include farmlands and fields in a number of villages in South Lebanon. The cleared areas were handed over to the Lebanese authorities in a short ceremony attended by heads of the municipalities of the affected areas, officials of the Coordination Centre for the Demining of South Lebanon, which operates under the supervision of a United Nations team and the Lebanese Army.

According to Captain Abdullah Butti Al Shamsi, who toured the cleared area, about 766,433 square metres have been cleared of mines since the beginning of the project, bringing the total areas cleared to 4,861,581. He said 4,304 landmines and cluster bombs have been unearthed during the operations.

Reacting on the achievement, Lebanese officials expressed profound gratitude to the UAE and its leadership for their “great humanitarian services worth emulating”. They also expressed gratitude to all the personnel of the UAE demining team.


Dutch Rehab Hospital signs agreement to support landmine survivors on the Thai-Burma border

Posted by: Imbert Matthee

Arnhem, Netherlands, June 6 - Stichting Groot Klimmendaal (, a major physical rehabilitation center in the Netherlands, has agreed to help Clear Path International's landmine survivor assistance efforts along the Thai-Burma border. Under a two-year agreement, the Dutch hospital will provide $30,000 in funding and facilitate the involvement of its professional rehabilitation specialists as volunteers in eastern Thailand where CPI has an active program fabricating prosthetics, offering physical therapy and providing full-time care for landmine accident survivors from Burma. (…)

Groot Klimmendaal's funding will be used to help cover CPI's two-year $130,000 budget for its survivor assistance activities along the border, including the training of new prosthetics fabrication technicians, continued support for existing fabrication workshops, creation of new workshops and fulltime care for severely disabled survivors in one of the largest refugee camps (..)


ANERA responds to crisis in Lebanon

May 31 - Fighting in the Nahr al-Bared camp in northern Lebanon has displaced thousands of Palestinian refugees over the past week. Approximately 20,000 people have fled horrific scenes of conflict and devastation, including over 500 infants and preschoolers, and 100 elderly with chronic illnesses. Many left home without clothing, food, medication and other necessities, and have taken sanctuary in the camps of Baddawi, Chatila and Bourj el Barajneh.

People are in great need and ANERA is responding to the emergency. On May 30, we routed a container of medical supplies from AmeriCares to our local Lebanese partner, the Health Care Society, to help displaced persons. With the assistance of the Society and non-governmental organizations such as the Palestine Red Crescent Society, we distributed pain relief medications, hand sanitizers, surgical implements such as syringes, surgical sponges and examination gloves, wheelchairs, and first aid cream, and medicine to treat hypertension. Most of the medical relief was directed to the Safad Hospital and the Health Center in the Baddawi Camp. In addition, some aid went to clinics maintained by Popular Aid for Relief and Development.

A second shipment of medical supplies, valued at $1.3 million, will be sent this week. (…) ANERA will continue to distribute aid to those in need through our Lebanon-based partners. 

American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) was founded in 1968 in the aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, to help the hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians.


Lebanon: Mine Risk Education to protect children

25 May - Southern Lebanon is littered with landmines and explosive remnants subsequent to the July/August 2006 war. With the support of the Family Praz in Lausanne, the Haut-Lac Bilingual School in Vevey and the University of Balamand in Beirut, a special edition of the interactive magazine "Nour & Noura" will be printed with the aim of educating children about the risks caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war. This project is initiated by Caroline and Pierre-Alain Praz in memory of Jeanie Waddell-Fournier, a delegate who has been tragically killed while on a medical mission in Casamance, Senegal, for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).






China diabetes education program extended

June - Project HOPE and its corporate partners, BD, Lilly and Roche Diagnostics, announced from Bejing, a two-year extension to the China Diabetes Education Program (CDEP).  This multi-collaborative program, which started in 1998, established diabetes training centers, introduced a state-of-the-art training model, and developed diabetes education and training materials that have won strong support from the Ministry of Health and government at various levels. 

CDEP provides comprehensive diabetes training to local medical and healthcare providers – also known as Trained Trainers. To date, outreach efforts by Trained Trainers across 800 local hospitals and community care centers have successfully trained nearly 37,000 medical professionals and about 170,000 patients with diabetes.

“Project HOPE’s China Diabetes Education Program continues to be one of the most successful collaborative programs in our 24-year history of service to China,” said John P. Howe III, M.D., President and CEO of Project HOPE. “It is an excellent example of a collaborative partnership between industry, a non-profit health education organization, local doctors and hospitals, and the Ministry of Health – all with a positive impact on the health of the people of China.”

As in other regions of the world, diabetes incidence in China is increasing due to the greater prevalence of obesity and physical inactivity. More than 30 million Chinese citizens are currently estimated to have diabetes, a figure forecast to rise to as many as 100 million by 2010. (…)


Counterpart supplies pharmaceuticals to 9,200 Haitians

Conflict and poverty create a deadly mix on the island of Hispaniola, shared with the Dominican Republic.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, June 1 – With a generous donation of US$10,000 from the Community of Christ, Counterpart International procured more than a million dollars worth of pharmaceuticals in partnership with Medicines for Humanity and airlifted them to Haiti for use in clinics run by the United Nations and Doctors Without Borders. "The pharmaceuticals will benefit about 9,200 of Haiti's most vulnerable, particularly women and children, through an outreach effort by international aid organizations and local clinics," said Dr. Thoric Cederström, Counterpart's Vice President of Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture. (…)

As violence persists, the current United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is working to maintain civil order in the streets and to treat the sick in hospitals and clinics. Thanks to the airlift, Counterpart and UN medical workers will alleviate the stress on medical supplies in Haiti's resource-poor medical facilities. Building on relationships developed through Counterpart's school feeding program in Senegal, West Africa, Counterpart's shipment was processed by its Community and Humanitarian Assistance Programs (CHAP), and was received and managed by the Senegalese MINUSTAH contingent. (…)


Navy missions: Project HOPE volunteers to set sail in June

June - In just a few weeks, volunteer doctors, nurses and other health care professionals from Project HOPE will begin boarding two separate U.S. Navy ships, as part of our public/private humanitarian initiative to reach under-served communities in two separate regions of the world.

Between June 19 and October 8, the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort, will embark on a health education mission to the Caribbean and Central and South America, visiting coastal communities in Belize, Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Surinam. Project HOPE will send 88 volunteers on this mission, in four rotations, each lasting approximately 23 days, to help treat an expected 85,000 patients – including 55,000 children. 

Between July 10 and September 14, the USS Peleliu will visit Southeast Asia including coastal communities in Vietnam (where the SS HOPE sailed during the second half of its maiden voyage in 1960), Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Marshall Islands. HOPE will send 63 volunteers on this mission, serving in three rotations, each lasting up to 19 days.

Along with the volunteer support, Project HOPE is seeking to provide an estimated $6 million worth of donated medicines (including vaccines, antibiotics and basic supplies) in support of each operation. (…)


Eradicate polio rather than control it, Harvard researchers say

by Joseph Derr, Rotary International News

11 May - The battle to eradicate polio has been expensive and difficult. But ditching the current eradication plan in favor of a policy that aims to control spread of the disease would be far more costly, a new report says. A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), which was published in the 21 April issue of the leading medical journal The Lancet, found that despite the relatively high short-term costs, global polio eradication is a better option than trying to control the disease to a certain number of cases per year. (…) Researchers used a mathematical model to weigh financial and human costs and health outcomes of control and eradication options. Researchers factored in the number of expected polio cases for the next 20 years and a range of controlling options to come to their conclusions.

Through its PolioPlus program, Rotary and its global partners have been working toward polio eradication for more than 20 years, contributing to a 99 percent drop in the number of cases since 1988. The global effort has invested some $5.3 billion in the cause so far, of which about $650 million will have come from Rotary by the time the world is certified polio-free.

Concerns of the high perceived costs of eradicating polio surfaced last year in scientific journals, when skeptical experts proposed that the focus shift from eradication to effectively controlling the disease’s spread, pointing to several challenges that stand in the way of reaching the last one percent of cases of polio in four countries.

Yet accepting a certain number of cases per year in favor of perceived lower costs also poses difficult ethical questions, says Robert Scott, chair of the International PolioPlus Committee. "What’s the acceptable [level of] control? There are the human suffering costs, too," Scott says. "How do you put a dollar amount on pain and the suffering of lifelong paralyzed limbs?"

Learn more about the study at the Global Polio Eradication Initiative Web site


HKI Announces $2.7 million multi-partner public/private initiative to produce vitamin A-fortified cooking oil in eight countries in West Africa.

“Faire Tâche d’Huile en Afrique de l’Ouest”

Dakar, Senegal, May 21 – Helen Keller International (HKI) announces a new $2.7 million multi-partner public/private initiative to produce vitamin A-fortified cooking oil in eight countries in West Africa. Controlling vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a cost-effective intervention to ensure the sight and survival of children, and to reduce maternal mortality. (…)

This new partnership covers the eight countries of West Africa that share the same currency and are members of the Monetary and Economic Union of West Africa (UEMOA): Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. HKI has helped bring together the key private sector, public sector and not-for-profit stakeholders to ensure mandatory vitamin A fortification of industrially-produced cooking oil throughout the UEMOA zone.

The funding of the initiative is led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is contributing $1.3 million. Other financial partners include the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation ($750,000), the Government of Taiwan ($300,000), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN - $200,000) and the Micronutrient Initiative (MI - $173,775). The initiative is enhanced by major contributions from private cooking oil industries, governments, consumers, and the ongoing investments by GAIN, MI and USAID in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal. (…)'Huile.html



Energy and safety



Connectedness and communion in meditation

by Ervin Laszlo

June 2 - The reality of the feeling of connectedness and communion was confirmed by a scientific experiment carried out by Dr. Nitamo Montecucco, head of the Club di Budapest Italia. The experiment was timed to coincide with the meditation/prayer events in Europe and Africa on the 20th of May.  Two groups of meditators were equipped with electrodes on their heads, connected to an electroencephalograph that measured the electrical activity (EEG waves) of their brain. Eight of the meditators were in Bagni di Lucca, headquarters of the Italian branch of the Club of Budapest, and eight in the city of Milan, 200 km away. The measurements were synchronized to the hundredth of a second through the Global Position System and examined for correlation between the two groups. Since the meditators in Bagni di Lucca and in Milan were not in any ordinary form of contact with each other, the “normal” expectation was that the value of the correlation would be zero.  Yet the average level of synchronization between the two groups proved to be 0.64% with the peak values rising to 5.4% -- findings that exclude mere chance and coincidence. Further scientifically controlled tests have been carried out, testing among others the effect of the meditations on random-number generators in various parts of the world. (…)

The subjective experience, as well as the objective results of the Global Peace Meditation/Prayer Day give us warrant to affirm that human consciousness has a real effect on people and the world. The Club of Budapest is dedicated to the proposition that when many people join together to focus their consciousness on peace in the world, the outcome is likely to be highly significant: the combined power of their consciousness will help heal our war- and violence-torn world and overcome the sense of helplessness and separateness that is the root cause of people’s frustration and the conflict and violence that results from it. For further information:



Environment and wildlife



First national park established in Russian Far East

Moscow, Russia, 7 June – A new national park has been created in the Russian Far East, following years of advocacy work by WWF and local environmental groups.The Zov Tigra (Call of the Tiger) National Park encompasses 82,152 hectares in the forest area of the Sikhote-Alin mountain range in the far eastern Primorye region. It is the third of 21 protected areas planned for Russia by 2010.

The park is home to abundant wildlife, including the endangered Siberian (or Amur) tiger. In the 1940s the Siberian tiger was on the brink of extinction, with no more than 40 tigers remaining in the wild.  Thanks to vigorous anti-poaching and other conservation efforts by the Russians authorities, with support from many partners including WWF, the tiger population has shown signs of recovery, remaining stable throughout the last decade with some 500 individuals.

“The main purpose of the national park is to conserve biodiversity and develop eco-tourism in the region,” said Yurii Bersenev, protected areas coordinator for WWF-Russia’s Far Eastern office. “Thanks to the positive cooperation between WWF and the Russian authorities, we were successful in establishing the park. We are happy to see this unique natural area finally getting the protection it deserves.”


United Nations and International Federation leaders share common humanitarian concerns

by Marie-Françoise Borel

7 June - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and International Federation President Juan Manuel Suárez del Toro shared common humanitarian concerns during their first-ever meeting, in Madrid, on 6 June. The UN Secretary General stopped in the Spanish capital, on his way to the G-8 meeting in Germany. The leaders exchanged views on three major issues: the challenges facing the African continent, the effects of climate change and the consequences of world migration flows. President Suárez del Toro explained the Federation’s commitment to fighting the spread of killer diseases such as AIDS, malaria, and measles in Africa as well as the scaling up of programmes to reduce poverty and significantly strengthen the capacities of African Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He pointed out that the Federation’s Global Agenda, based on Red Cross Red Crescent core areas of activity, is also aligned with the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, in order to contribute to their achievement. (…)

They also broached a subject that is a “personal priority” for the UN Secretary General - climate change, and its impact. The Federation President added that the Federation is strongly committed to helping communities around the world meet this new challenge and is “fine tuning” its disaster management systems – which include risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response – to help people be better prepared to face the impact of disaster and become more resilient.

Both leaders agreed that the challenge is global, and that better and closer cooperation between the two organizations is vital to meet it. (…)


World’s largest tiger photo mosaic unveiled

The Hague, The Netherlands, 7 June – A two-storey-high photo mosaic of a tiger, created from personal photos of nearly 25,000 tiger lovers worldwide, was unveiled here today to urge world leaders to end all trade in tigers.

The International Tiger Coalition, comprised of 35 organizations working to save wild tigers, including WWF, assembled the world’s largest photo mosaic of a tiger in front of the convention centre where hundreds of delegates are attending a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). (…)

Wild tigers face an emerging threat from Chinese tiger farms, which now house nearly 5,000 captive-bred tigers. The farm owners are pressuring the Chinese government to lift its successful 14-year ban on domestic trade in tiger bones and products. The Chinese delegation to CITES distributed a position paper this week saying it was maintaining the ban for now, but listing the supposed benefits of trading products made from farmed tigers.

The International Tiger Coalition — an unprecedented alliance of environmental, zoo and animal protection organizations as well as the traditional Chinese medicine community — is calling on the Chinese government to reject the pending petition by tiger farm investors that seeks to overturn the country’s ban, close down the country’s numerous tiger farms, and destroy the stockpile of carcasses being stored on these farms so they cannot enter illegal trade. The coalition is also asking China to make its successful 14-year tiger-trade ban permanent.

Close to 25,000 people from at least 146 countries have submitted their photos online to create the International Tiger Coalition’s photo mosaic. Of the 146 countries represented on the mosaic, 142 are members of CITES. Additionally, 32,000 signatures have been collected for a message of appreciation to China, urging the country to keep in place its successful ban on domestic tiger trade.


Commercial whaling ban strengthened at Anchorage whaling meeting

Anchorage, United States, 1 June - Following last year's "St. Kitts Declaration", which mumbled that the moratorium on commercial whaling might not be necessary anymore, the anti-whaling countries have bounced back with a 37-4 vote for a resolution strengthening the commercial whaling ban. This was a major victory for the voices of whale conservation worldwide.

At last year's meeting, 33 countries - led by pro-whaling Japan - voted in favour of the "St. Kitts Declaration," essentially an attempt to restart commercial whaling, which has been banned since 1986. That temporary, one-vote whaling majority was a wake up call, and as Japan continued to recruit votes in support of their position, often with lucrative aid packages, Greenpeace and other conservation organisations, like-minded countries, and whale supporters all over the world responded with their own efforts to ensure that the true opposition to whaling worldwide was reflected at this year's meeting. (…)



Religion and spirituality



The 20th of May, 2007: the first Global Peace Meditation/Prayer Day

On the initiative of The Club of Budapest, a million people meditated and prayed for Peace on the five continents

by Ervin Laszlo

June 2 - On Sunday, the 20th of May an estimated one million people participated in the first Global Peace Meditation-Prayer Day in 64 countries on the five continents. This was a historic first. Never before have so many people in so many countries and from so many faiths and cultures come together to direct the power of their meditation and prayer to peace on Earth: the first truly common cause of all of humanity.

The Global Day was created to reduce the level of conflict and violence in the world, and to help create deeper understanding, tolerance, and readiness to live in peace with our neighbors both near and far, as well as with nature. (…) The organized meditations of May 20th followed the same procedure wherever they took place and regardless of the culture, faith, and religion of the participants. The events began with initial speeches, music and dance, and were followed by meditation or prayer guided by a spiritual master. They ended with five-minutes of silence when the participants stood and held hands, and then silently repeated a phrase such as “may peace prevail on Earth.” The one-hour meditations/prayers were carefully synchronized to reinforce each other and produce the maximum effect.  (…) 


International Festival of Cinema and Religion: a journey in the differences

Trento, Italy, 21 May - Born in Trento in 1998 as the first cinematographic festival focused on the inter-faith dialogue, the International Festival of Cinema and Religion “Religion Today” this year will reach its tenth edition. Through cinema and art, Religion Today during the past years has undertaken a “Journey in the differences” aiming to discuss our false believes on religions, to deepen our ‘faith’ and show it without fears, to get to know in a non-homologated way our “close ones”, so deeply ignored or misunderstood, to build bridges for a dialogue between men and women of different religions.

The journey of the Festival, hence, becomes a challenge to listen and an invitation to not banalize and confuse, to promote a richness of differences that no ‘easy dialogue’ logic can ignore or guiltily do away with. Within this general theme, every year the Festival depicts a subject to help in the investigation on the different approaches of faiths and cultures. For the tenth edition, the choice fall on the big theme “Compassion - conflict and compassion in the paths of the faith”, while for the 2008 the film makers are invited to work on “The scandal of evil”.



Culture and education



Culture-Finland: 'Living Books' help fight prejudice

By Linus Atarah

Helsinki, June 8 (IPS) - Books cannot talk back to a reader and answer all of their questions. So if one is seeking concrete information on, say, a gay person, the library is perhaps the wrong place to visit. But the Finnish Youth Cooperation (Allianssi) has a better idea. Instead of a library full of abstract information, it runs a living library made up of real people who can be "borrowed" and who provide instant feedback.

"We believe that discrimination and intolerance in society are based to a great extent on prejudice, and with the living library concept we aim to increase awareness and bring about constructive dialogue between people in order to diminish prejudice, if not remove it altogether," said Riikka Jalonen, coordinator of the Allianssi campaign "All Different, All Equal".

The living library concept was demonstrated at the World Village Festival, an annual meeting of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) aimed at informing the general public of their activities, held in late May in the Finnish capital. In a spacious tent sat a group of people, or "living books" ready to be borrowed, chatting lively with one another and with "readers." "All the 'books' here represent categories of people who face prejudice in Finnish society, such as immigrants, gays and lesbians or Muslims. The aim of the living library method is to break down such prejudices and give faces to real people," said Jalonen. There were 40 "living books", including a policeman, an immigrant, an engineer and a heavy metal rock musician.

"All the 'books' here have been borrowed more than once already, but the immigrant attracts the most 'readers'," said Jalonen, adding that "we are constantly busy." There is a catalogue of the kinds of "books" available, which also contains a list of common stereotypes about that "book." Readers go through the catalogue and make their choices from the ones that have not been loaned out. Each reader is allowed to check out one "book" at a time for only twenty minutes, explained Jalonen. However, extensions are possible if a discussion was left incomplete. Only one reader can check out a "book," said Jalonen, in order to maintain equal power relations between the reader and the "book." Just as readers must not give shabby treatment to library books, so a "living book" must be returned in good mental and physical condition.

The living library avoids collecting only members of obvious groups, such as cultural or sexual minorities, because the aim is to provide a wider perspective on how different categories of people get pigeonholed in society, said Jalonen.  It thus includes people such as engineers, police officers and priests, who may not face discrimination but are nevertheless stereotyped. (…)


Creative LEGO® building event to provide family entertainment at the World Children’s Festival

5 June - The International Child Art Foundation announced today its collaboration with LEGO Systems, Inc. to enhance the free activities at the World Children’s Festival to be held on the National Mall, Washington DC on June 23-25, 2007. LEGO Systems will host an interactive, creative family building event throughout the 3-day festival from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm daily at the festival site on 4th to 7th Streets of the National Mall.

LEGO Systems will join child artists, young performers and musicians, parents and teachers, and creative leaders and lawmakers to create a complete synesthetic experience – a total work of art that transforms the National Mall. The festival will become a turning point in their lives, a touchstone to guide them in the future.

“We are thrilled to bring a LEGO building experience to the world’s largest celebration of creativity and imagination on the National Mall,” says Michael McNally, brand relations direction, LEGO Systems, Inc. “What the International Child Art Foundation does to encourage a child’s inner creator is something we passionately admire and are proud to support, because we believe children who are exposed to creative activities from a very young age go on to become the world’s most meaningful contributors.”

“LEGO is one of the most respected brands in the world and a great company that celebrates and nurtures a child’s pursuit of lifelong creativity,“ said Dr. Ashfaq Ishaq, founder and executive director of the ICAF. “The children will be thrilled to see LEGO entertainment on the National Mall at the World Children’s Festival. We appreciate their support.”

The ICAF serves as the national art and creativity organization for American children and the only international art for the world’s children. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization registered in April 1997 in the District of Columbia, the ICAF integrates the art with science, sport and technology to nurture children’s creativity and develop empathy - preconditions for a more just, prosperous and nonviolent world. (…)


Corruption in education: breaking the taboo

“Corrupt Schools, Corrupt Universities: What can be done?”, a report published by UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) will be launched on 6 June. Read the interview with authors Jacques Hallak and Muriel Poisson.

The IIEP will hold its first international Summer School on “Transparency, accountability and anti-corruption measures in education” from 6 to 15 June 2007. Bribery in teacher recruitment, embezzlement of funds destined for education, faked calls for tender, illegal registration fees, academic fraud - the list goes on and on. Based on six years of research and the experience of over 60 countries, “Corrupt Schools, Corrupt Universities” analyses the problem, points the way forward and outlines anti-corruption strategies, illustrated by success stories. The IIEP Summer School on “Transparency, accountability and anti-corruption measures in education” will use the findings of the report.


International Summer University:"Global Campus" - July 19 - 28, Monte Cerro, Portugal

This year the International Summer University, from the 19th to the 28th July, will go under the heading 'Global Campus'. The idea of the 'Global Campus' was born in the international Summer University 2006 together with our co-operation partners in Israel/Palestine (The Holy Land Trust),  India (Barefoot College)  and Colombia (Peace Village San Jose).  It is an initiative that will provide education, training and research in all aspects of peace work for the future - community building and social dynamics, sustainable technology, truthful reconciliation between the genders, the connection between the spiritual and political.

The Campus gains its 'Globality' in 2 ways: by creating a synergy between organisations and individuals within all continents of the world, and by revealing the synergy between ourselves and the world. Its aim is to be a global education initiative that knows no borders.  For the Global Campus to succeed a major new global infrastructure must be built up and developed - a Globalisation with the motive of supporting a positive transformation. To do this we must re-think and re-act in the basic pillars that form our contemporary social structures; Finance and Economy, Spirituality, Information Technology and Sustainable Technologies.

There will be daily keynote speeches given by experts and co-workers of Tamera on these subjects.

Also in the Summer University will be: Common study times using the books "Future without War" by Dieter Duhm and "Grace" by Sabine Lichtenfels, Theatre workshops, Capoeira, Art, and Music.


“How Can Regional Integration Contribute to Social Equity?”

UN Headquarters, New York, 19 June, 1:15 pm – 2:45pm

The United Nations University, Office at the United Nations in New York (UNU-ONY), in cooperation with the United Nations University Programme on Comparative and Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS), is organizing a Panel Discussion entitled “How Can Regional Integration Contribute to Social Equity?”  The event is scheduled to take place on 19 June 2007, from 1:15pm to 2:45pm, at Conference Room 6, UN Headquarters, New York. 

The panel will showcase the following presentations:

§         “Thinking, Debating and Shaping the Social Dimensions of Regional Integration”, by Luk Van Langenhove, Director, UNU-CRIS

§         “Regional Social Policy for Equitable Development”, by Isabel Ortiz, Senior Interregional Adviser, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)

There will be two discussants:

§         Elizabeth Gibbons, Chief, Global Policy Section, Division of Policy and Planning, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

§         Esa Paasivirta, First Counsellor, Legal Affairs, Delegation of the European Commission to the United Nations

The event will conclude with twenty-minute discussion session. You are invited to attend and contribute to the conversation. If you are interested in attending this event, please register online at


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Next English issue: 6 July 2007.

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