Good News Agency – Year IX, n° 5



Weekly - Year IX, number 5 – 4th April 2008

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 4,000 media in 49 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 development

SolidarityPeace and securityHealthEnergy and Safety

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation



Conference to propose landmark cybercrime guidelines to increase co-operation between law enforcement and internet service providers

Strasbourg, 28 March - To reinforce the fight against internet-based crimes - from child pornography and racism to identity theft, fraud and cyber terrorism - a Council of Europe conference in Strasbourg on 1 and 2 April will gather experts from all over the world, as well as representatives of governments, police forces and the Internet industry - including Microsoft, eBay, Symantec and McAfee.

In a series of workshops, participants will review the effectiveness of current cybercrime legislation, identify new threats and trends and discuss ways to improve international co-operation and the functioning of the 24/7 contact points.

Over 200 participants at the conference will be invited to adopt groundbreaking guidelines, the first ever between private industry and the public sector including the police and criminal justice authorities. The draft guidelines build on the existing Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime - to which many countries in Europe and beyond have acceded - and call for formal partnerships between internet service providers (ISPs) and law enforcement. (…)

The draft guidelines and other information are available at


E-Government policies and programmes to address specific needs of African women

21 March - A one-day workshop on Gender and E-government was opened today, 21 March 2008 in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. Over forty participants are in attendance at the workshop drawn from Ministries of Information and Communication Technologies, National Gender Machineries and representatives of Regional Economic Communities. (...)

Opening the roundtable, Ms Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director of ICT, Science and Technology Division (ISTD) said that “the main objective of the workshop is to encourage dialogue among ICT and gender experts in countries with the aim of analyzing and evaluating the efforts put in place by African countries to include a gender dimension in e-Government policies and programmes that address the specific needs of African women”. Ms Opoku-Mensah invited participants to look at the challenges in developing gender sensitive e-Government strategies with a particular focus in:

-                  Establishing the right institutional framework;

-                  Operationalising the elements of the action plan;

-                  Mobilising resources needed for implementation of e-Government programmes;

-                  Enshrining e-Government in national ICT policy.


Safeguarding the right to healthy water    

Geneva, 14 March - Water from the tap is taken for granted in the developed world, but the reality is that over 100 million Europeans still do not have access to safe drinking water. More worrying is that in the pan-European region 37 children die of diarrhoea each day due to the lack of access to safe water. The basic human right of access to safe and healthy water clearly continues to be a problem in the pan-European region.

At the United Nations Office in Geneva, a special independent body has started work under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization (WHO/Europe). The Compliance Committee was created to supervise and ensure compliance with the London Protocol on Water and Health to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. This Protocol aims to improve access to safe water as a fundamental human right in the pan-European region, which covers 56 countries. The environmental authorities involved in this effort are now working to expand participation to the global level. (…)

As a first step, the Committee adopted rules allowing for communications from the general public - be they NGOs or individual citizens - concerning failures by Governments and their administrations to meet the requirements of the Protocol.



Human rights



Gender Matters – A manual on addressing gender-based violence affecting young people

April 2 (Peace It Together, UNOY News no. 37) - Gender Matters is a manual aimed to assist educators and youth leaders work on issues of gender and gender-based violence with young people. Violence is a serious issue, which directly affects the lives of many young people. It often results in lasting damage to their well-being and integrity, putting even their lives at risk. Gender-based violence, including violence against women, remains a key human rights challenge in contemporary Europe and worldwide. Working with young people on human rights education is one way of preventing gender-based violence from occurring. Gender really does matter, to women, to men, to young people - to all of us. This manual serves to explore these human rights issues and act upon them. For more information on this publication please refer to    (Council of Europe Publishing).


“Early and inclusive education is the key to the promotion of Roma rights”

Strasbourg, 31 March - Quality education is essential for promoting Roma rights and eradicating antiziganism, according to the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg. In his latest Viewpoint article, the Commissioner calls for greater efforts to ensure early and non-discriminatory schooling for children, as well as more inclusive education programmes.

The full text of the copyright-free article is available in English, French and Russian at


UNHCR-assisted refugee repatriation to South Sudan tops 100,000

Geneva, 28 March (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency announced Friday that it has helped more than 100,000 refugees from South Sudan return home under an organized repatriation programme launched in December 2005.

“The 100,000 milestone was passed this week as the pace of return convoys picked up from countries neighbouring South Sudan to get refugees home ahead of the rainy season in May, and for those who want to return for the national census from April 5-30”, UNHCR chief spokesman, Ron Redmond, told journalists in Geneva.

“We are now helping some 4,500 refugees return each week to South Sudan - an increase from 3,000 a fortnight ago”, added Arun Sala-Ngarm, Geneva-based head of UNHCR’s South Sudan desk. “By mid-April, that figure is expected to jump to 6,000 returnees a week as we increase transport for returnees from Uganda and Ethiopia.” (…)

In all, a total of 251,000 refugees have returned to Sudan - 100,000 in organized repatriations and the rest on their own since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005 that ended 21 years of civil war between the north and the south of the country. Some 260,000 Sudanese refugees remain outside Sudan’s borders.


Kofi Annan and Simone Veil to receive 2008 Council of Europe North-South Prize

Strasbourg, 18 March - Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the first directly elected President of the European Parliament, Simone Veil, will receive the 13th Council of Europe North-South Prize at a ceremony in Lisbon on 1 April.

“These two exceptional individuals will receive the prize for their tireless and courageous work in the field of human rights throughout the world,” said Claude Frey, President of the North-South Centre. “Their efforts to raise awareness of human rights violations and help victims of injustice are an inspiring example of commitment and social responsibility.”

The President of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, the President of the Portuguese Assembly, Jaime Gama, Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis and the President of the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly, Lluís Maria de Puig will also take part in the ceremony, which is being organised by the Council of Europe’s North-South Centre in collaboration with the Portuguese Assembly.


International rights bodies call on politicians to lead fight against intolerance and discrimination

Warsaw/ Strasbourg/Vienna, 18 March - In a joint statement issued on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March, three leading human rights agencies call on political leaders to assume their responsibilities in fighting intolerance and discrimination.

“Racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic political discourse is no longer the sole preserve of extremist political parties, but is to be found in the overall political culture in many states,” warns the statement issued by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. (...)

“By speaking out against racist acts and incidents, political representatives can play a positive role in the promotion of mutual respect and understanding in society, and can have a significant impact in defusing tensions,” the statement says.

In the joint statement, the three organisations condemn all discourse that spreads ideas of superiority on grounds of race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin. They call on political leaders and parties to deal responsibly with these sensible issues and refrain from providing simplistic explanations with racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim connotations to complex social, political and economic problems.

They also urge political parties to adopt concrete policies against all forms of intolerance in their party programmes, and to ensure fair representation of minorities at all levels of their party systems. (mgdd)

The full statement is available at:


UNHCR begins programme to resolve situation of 1972 Burundian refugees

Dar El Salaam (Tanzania), 11 March - UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres left here late Monday after meeting Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and launching a landmark two-year programme to end one of the world's most protracted refugee situations - the exile of some 218,000 Burundians who fled their country in 1972.

The Burundian refugees have been living in three settlements in western Tanzania and, during Monday's meeting, Kikwete reiterated his government's commitment to finding durable solutions for them through voluntary repatriation and local integration.  (...)

"It is the moment for the international community to show solidarity with the government and people of Tanzania to solve the long-standing problem of Burundian refugees from 1972," the High Commissioner said in Katumba on Sunday before sending off a first group of 255 refugees, who were heading by train to the port of Kigoma and thence by road to Burundi.

He added that the programme, especially its local integration component, could become a "showcase" for other nations faced with protracted refugee situations.

This is one of UNHCR's most important operations in Africa this year, which will see the agency assist the return of more than 46,000 Burundian refugees and locally integrate a further 172,000. The latter will include an estimated 76,000 aged over 18 years and eligible to register and apply for citizenship in accordance with Tanzanian laws, rules and procedures.



Economy and development



FAO expects rice production to rise by 1.8 percent in 2008

Market situation remains difficult in the short-term – lower rice trade

Rome, 2 April  - World rice production is expected to increase in 2008 by 12 million tonnes or 1.8 percent, assuming normal weather conditions, FAO said today. Production increases would ease the current very tight supply situation in key rice producing countries, according to the first FAO forecast for this year. International rice trade is expected to decrease, mainly due to restrictions in main exporting countries.

Sizable production increases are expected in all the major Asian rice producing countries, especially Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand, where supply and demand are currently rather stretched. Governments in these countries have already announced a series of incentives to raise production.

Production outlook is also positive in Africa, where high world prices may sustain a two percent growth, particularly in Egypt, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Concerns about food import dependency in the region have led to a mobilization of resources towards the rice sector. Production is expected to recover strongly in Latin America. Rice production in the European Union is also expected to rise while it may contract in Japan, one of the few countries where producer prices fell last year.

In the rest of the world, a dismal production is forecast in Australia, reflecting extremely low water availability. A reduced crop is also expected in the United States, mainly as a result of a cut in area caused by mounting competition from more profitable crops. (…)


Kuwait donates $1.5 million to UNRWA’s General Fund

27 March - The government of Kuwait has contributed $1.5 million to UNRWA’s regular budget, the General Fund. The donation will be used to finance UNRWA’s core programs in the areas of health, education, social services, micro-finance, infrastructure and camp improvement. The donation comes at a time of growing pressure on the Agency, due to restrictions on access in Gaza and the West Bank and soaring food and fuel prices. The cost for example of delivering flour to refugees in the West Bank has doubled in the last year.

UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd thanked the Kuwaiti government. “This donation is a further sign of the support and engagement by the government of Kuwait in the work UNRWA is doing at this very difficult time”, she said. “We deeply appreciate the continuous support of Kuwait, which in most years is the biggest Arab contributor to our regular budget”.

In the last ten years, Kuwait has contributed more than $20 million to UNRWA.


Maria Sharapova and LeBron James team up against poverty

London, 28 March - Maria Sharapova, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador, has invited National Basketball Association star LeBron James to “Team Up Against Poverty” on a new UNDP advertisement to garner support for achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). World-renowned photographer Patrick Demarchelier photographed both stars for this new series of UNDP pro bono advertisements.

The new advertisements the centerpiece of a campaign revolves around the concept of “Teaming Up Against Poverty” to achieve the MDGs - feature celebrities from the worlds of sports, arts, fashion or business portrayed in teams of two by top professional photographers. Fifty celebrities, including UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors and soccer greats Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane, have agreed to participate in the initiative to promote the MDGs and to undertake specific anti-poverty activities, ranging from supporting educational activities and HIV/AIDS projects to funding water and sanitation initiatives and promoting safe drinking water campaigns.

The advertisements are being produced thanks to the time and talent donated by photographers and celebrities to the fight against poverty. Hundreds of newspapers and magazines across the globe published an earlier series of anti-poverty advertisements. (…);jsessionid=aANBkicgOZOc


New Project Won: Haiti - USAID Title II Multi-Year Assistance Program (MYAP)

26 March - ACDI/VOCA recently was awarded a five year P.L. 480 Title II Multi-Year Assistance Program for Haiti funded by the USAID Office of Food for Peace valued at approximately $37 million. ACDI/VOCA will work with key partners, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), an international development agency specializing in health promotion and health systems, and Bureau de Nutrition et Developpment (BND), a Haitian organization, that has worked for over 20 years to improve food security throughout Haiti. ACDI/VOCA and its partners will utilize an integrated approach to food security that includes the promotion of sustainable livelihood strategies as well as a focus on health and nutrition in the Southeast Department of the country.

The project will reduce vulnerability to food insecurity via three main program components:

·            agricultural and off-farm livelihood improvements;

·            mother-child health and nutrition enhancement;

·            development of an early warning system for food security-related crises and increased emergency preparedness. (…)


ACDI/VOCA helps Georgian wineries sell to Whole Foods

20 March - With help from ACDI/VOCA, two Georgian wineries - Vinoterra and Tsinandali Old Cellar - have signed contracts to export wine for sale in the United States at Whole Foods Market, the world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods. ACDI/VOCA’s $23 million USAID-funded AgVANTAGE project recently organized a tour of the two wineries in the Kakehti region for top U.S. and Georgian officials and supported the wineries in securing the contracts with Whole Foods distributors.

Applauding the achievement, U.S Ambassador to Georgia John Tefft said, “I am happy that U.S. citizens will also have the chance to taste high-quality Georgian wines”. (…)

ACDI/VOCA will continue to assist Georgian wineries with their participation at the International Wine, Spirits and Beer Event held by the National Restaurant Association Show held in Chicago in May 2008. Events like these are an integral part of ACDI/VOCA’s strategy to stimulate Georgia’s economy through increased export promotion.


Japan contributes $5 million to multi-stakeholder UNIDO project on youth employment in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire

Vienna, 19 March - The Government of Japan has contributed US$5 million to UNIDO for a multi-stakeholder Programme to be implemented under the banner Productive and Decent Work for Youth in the Mano River Union (MRU) countries (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) and Côte d’Ivoire.

The international community pays a great deal of attention to ensuring peace and stability in West Africa. The general strike in Guinea in January 2007 and the resulting casualties prompted the proclamation of martial law. UN Peacekeeping missions have been deployed in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. The UN Peacebuilding Commission, of which Japan has been Chair since June 2007, selected Sierra Leone as a target country and identified youth employment as a priority area for peace-building in the country. (...) The multi-agency programme aims to create employment opportunities for youth in the MRU countries and Côte d’Ivoire, and to contribute to social and political stability, and economic growth in the region. (…)

Many African countries have been experiencing relatively high economic growth rates. Taking advantage of the tide of economic growth, the Government of Japan hopes that UNIDO, through this programme, will contribute to giving hope and opportunity to the youth in MRU countries and Côte d’Ivoire.


Kenya’s low income earners poised to get housing

Nairobi, 18 March - Under an innovative scheme started by UN-HABITAT, a group of Kenyan low income earners last week moved a step closer to achieving their dreams of owning their own homes. Operating as housing cooperatives, three groups with 180 members drawn from low income residential areas in Nairobi have been faithfully making monthly contributions towards getting the houses.

Under the aegis of the Kenya Women’s Land Access Trust, the cooperatives rely on UN-HABITAT as a vehicle with which they can access banks for mortgage loans for the one and two bedroom houses. (...) As part of implementation of the UN-HABITAT gender policy and in fulfilment of commitments to gender equality within the UN System, UN-HABITAT is supporting a range of programmes in various regions of the world. These include so-called, Women’s Land Access Trusts which are designed to act as financial intermediary organisations between low income women’s housing cooperatives and financial institutions, governments, local authorities and others, to access housing finance and to acquire land and housing. (…)






Rotary reaches out to Kenya’s orphans

By Aretha Fouch Price

28 March (Rotary Internationa News) - After a disputed presidential election in Kenya in December caused riots and a national emergency, Rotary clubs in Nairobi, along with clubs in Sweden and the United States, increased their support for projects that help orphaned children.

The Rotary Club of Stockholm International has contributed more than US$5,500 to the Phyllis Wambui Memorial Children’s Home and School near Nakuru, Kenya. Since December, the number of orphaned children there has increased threefold. (…) The Stockholm International club, which attracts expats and diplomats, is particularly interested in projects that address poverty, health, and children’s rights in developing countries, says Nicholas Thompson, the club’s president-elect. “This cause fits well with what we stand for”, he says.

Less than 100 miles from Nakuru, a joint effort of the Rotary clubs of Dayton, Ohio, USA, and Muthaiga (Nairobi) is helping children orphaned by AIDS in the Mathare Valley. The Maji Mazuri Education Center Project relocates children from an overcrowded slum that has a 70 percent AIDS-infection rate to a self-supporting farm and education center near Kiserian. The center is supported by clubs in District 6670 (Ohio, USA) with help from a $25,000 Rotary Foundation Matching Grant, according to Jim Beerbower, the Dayton club’s international service chair.


Rwanda: ICRC supplies drinking water to 22,000 people

Kigali, 27 March (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has completed its water-supply project in Cyuga-Gihogwe, a rural neighbourhood on the outskirts of the town of Kigali. Around 22,000 people are now enjoying better access to vital drinking water. (...)

The project was inaugurated today, at an official ceremony attended by Rwanda’s minister for the environment, water and mines, the head of the ICRC delegation, the managing director of Electrogaz (the national water board) and the district mayors, in addition to other local authorities and people from the neighbourhood in question.

Launched by the ICRC in April 2006 in conjunction with Electrogaz, this project has demanded an investment of over US$ 200,000. By providing a better supply of drinking water, it will improve the living conditions of people in the area.

The ICRC has worked with local authorities to set up water management committees in the neighbourhoods benefiting from this project, to ensure that the systems last. It has also funded training sessions and provided accounting equipment to help inhabitants run three rural water sources.

The ICRC is planning to complete three other water-supply projects in the east and south of the country this year. The total number of beneficiaries of these projects is estimated to be over 49,000 people.


Cristiano Ronaldo named Ambassador of UEFA EURO 2008™ charity campaign

Geneva/Nyon, 26 March - Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo has been named ambassador for the UEFA EURO 2008™ Score for the Red Cross online fundraising campaign that kicks off today. Internet users will be able to help their favourite side win the title of “Most Humanitarian Team” by purchasing virtual goals on They will have the chance to win attractive prizes including tickets to UEFA EURO 2008™ games. The winning team will be announced on 6 July.

The Score for the Red Cross campaign, jointly organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), will benefit landmine victims in Afghanistan by providing them with artificial limbs, physiotherapy and vocational training. (...) “The great thing about this campaign is that everyone is a winner when it comes to giving and receiving”, said Ronaldo. “The website offers football fans a chance to have fun, while making a difference. What could be better than that?”. (...)

A series of friendly football matches are due to take place across Europe tonight. Before the matches, many national football teams, together with their National Red Cross Societies, will publicly show their support for the Score for the Red Cross campaign.

UEFA will also donate €4,000 to the ICRC for each goal scored during the UEFA EURO 2008™.


CARE distributes tools and seeds in Bolivia to boost recovery from disaster

25 March - CARE is distributing farming tools, seeds and fencing materials to nearly 30,000 people in the Bolivian province of Chuquisaca in order to boost recovery from the severe floods that have swept the nation, killing 73 people and affecting nearly half a million others.

The central province of Chuquisaca has been particularly hard-hit, losing more than 60 percent of its agricultural production to the floods. More than 13,500 acres of corn crops have been destroyed (5,508 hectares), devastating the lives and livelihoods of the majority of the people in the province. (…)

On Wednesday, March 26, CARE will travel to those communities to distribute tools such as pick-axes, hoes, spades, and wheelbarrows, as well as onion and carrot seeds and fencing materials so that families can begin planting again. The organization will reach nearly 6,000 people with this emergency assistance. In addition, another 1,095 people - who have been identified as extremely poor - will also receive a household kit comprised of blankets, a cooking pot, and kitchen utensils. (…)


Burundi finishes stockpile destruction

Author(s): Site Admin

20 March - On 17 March, Burundi completed the destruction of its antipersonnel mine stockpile, just two weeks ahead of its 1 April deadline under Article 4 of the Mine Ban Treaty. The final destruction ceremony took place at the Permanent Destruction Center of the National Defense Force (FDN) in Mudubugu in the province of Bubanza.

The ceremony was attended by the President of the Republic of Burundi, the Minister of Public Security, the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General, as well as representatives from the international community including Ambassadors, representatives of UN agencies, and ICBL members Handicap International Belgium and Mines Advisory Group (MAG).

In this final ceremony, a total of 664 antipersonnel mines - 591 POMZ-2M and 73 TS 50 mines - were destroyed. Burundi is retaining four mines (2 POMZ-2M and 2 TS 50) for mine clearance training purposes under Article 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty. (…)


Japan donates $5.5m to UNRWA Emergency Appeal for northern Lebanon

Beirut, 17 March - Today the Government of Japan concluded an agreement with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in which Japan will contribute Yen 588 million ($5.5 million) to the Agency’s Emergency Appeal for Northern Lebanon.

A signing ceremony was held today at UNRWA’s Lebanon Field Office in Beirut in which UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Karen AbuZayd, and the Japanese Ambassador, Mr. Yoshihisa Kuroda, signed an Exchange of Notes.

This Japanese contribution will support the construction of temporary shelters for the displaced from Nahr El Bared camp, as well as two prefabricated schools in Northern Lebanon, the provision of psycho-social support for traumatized children and hygiene kits.

This contribution will promote peace-building and help improve living conditions for displaced families by providing them with secure housing pending their return to the reconstructed camp. It will also ensure access to formal education for Palestine refugee students for the upcoming 2008-2009 school year and will help the displaced children recover from the trauma of the war. (…)


WFP food distributions begin for Afghans hit by high food prices

Kabul, 6 March - The World Food Programme has begun providing emergency food assistance to millions of Afghans who can no longer afford to buy wheat and wheat flour, staples of the Afghan diet. WFP distributions in rural, urban and semi-urban areas were due to start this week. (…)

In and around the capital, Kabul, WFP will distribute wheat to 650,000 people, with beneficiaries including households headed by women, very large households with single-wage earners and the disabled.

The food distributions in Afghanistan come as rising commodity prices push basic foodstuffs out of the reach of poor people in many countries and also threaten to cut into planned food assistance by organizations like WFP.

With global food prices up 40 percent since last June, WFP says the cost of projects already approved for 2008 has risen by US$500 million to reach a total of US$3.4 billion. (…)


Food aid: Commission allocates €160 million to help alleviate world hunger

Brussels, 4 March - The European Commission has adopted a €160 million food aid decision targeting an estimated 18.7 million people living in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East and North Africa. This funding decision, the largest ever launched by the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department, aims to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people facing food shortages due to natural catastrophes, economic and political crises, and armed conflicts. It is the first food aid decision for 2008. More funds will be allocated later in the year. (...)

As with other forms of humanitarian assistance, food aid is given on the basis of need. Following a detailed assessment of levels of food insecurity, a list of 17 priority locations has been established: Sudan, Chad, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Burundi, the Sahel countries, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Colombia and the Palestinian Territories (West Bank and the Gaza Strip).

It is estimated that around 18.7 million people will benefit directly from this new Commission decision. Beneficiaries will include refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and host communities in areas affected by population displacement. Children and young mothers will be given priority. (...)



Peace and security



Azerbaijani musician Franghiz Ali-Zadeh to be nominated UNESCO Artist for Peace

Paris, 3 April - UNESCO Director General, Koïchiro Matsuura, will nominate the Azerbaijani musician Franghiz Ali-Zadeh UNESCO Artist for Peace, in a ceremony on 3 April (6 p.m.) at Organization Headquarters.

Ms Ali-Zadeh will be designated in recognition of “her efforts to raise public awareness on musical education for orphans and children in need, her contribution to spreading UNESCO’s message of peace and tolerance and her dedication to the ideals and aims of the Organization.”

Trained as a pianist, Ms Ali-Zadeh compositions combine modern music and the musical traditions of her country, in particular the Mugham, a musical genre proclaimed Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2003.

Ms Ali-Zadeh has performed works of Olivier Messiaen, John Cage and George Crumb in her native Baku while her own compositions have been played in festivals and concerts all over the world. The Kronos Quartet (San Francisco) has recorded a CD of her works.

Appointed for two years, Ms Ali-Zadeh will lend her support to UNESCO’s programmes in the field of musical education.

UNESCO Artists for Peace are well-known international figures who give a particular form of resonance to the Organization’s messages and programmes, through their influence, charisma and notoriety. (...)


N1kD 2008

27 March - International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) together with the American Chamber of Commerce organized for the seventh time the event “Night of a 1000 Dinners” to support the demining activities and mine victim rehabilitation. On charity dinner co-hosted by the Embassies of United States and Canada the amount of 47.500 EUR was raised to support two demining projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The amount raised will be matched with the same amount by the United States of America.

According to official data, there are still 83 mine affected countries at this moment in the world. In South Eastern Europe alone, there are still more than 3.5 million people affected by these hidden killers. That is why every single humanitarian event, like the Night of a Thousand Dinners, is so important for contributing our share to reduce the danger posed by landmines to the people living in mine-affected areas and to show and express our care for our fellow-human beings.

The proceeds of this year’s event - the final amount 47.500 EUR - shall be matched by the United States of America. The donation raised is earmarked for the USA-UNA organisation program, called Adopt-A-Minefield®, implemented by the ITF in the region of South Eastern Europe. (…)


World Harmony Run to enlist youth to fight hunger and poverty

Over one million people involved running start at FAO

Rome, 27 March - The World Harmony Run, expected to involve over one million people worldwide, took a running start from FAO headquarters today at a ceremony at which Africa’s first New York City marathon winner and UNICEF Ambassador Tegla Loroupe and FAO Goodwill Ambassador Gina Lollobrigida and other celebrities participated.

Founded two decades ago by the spiritual leader and peace activist Sri Chinmoy to promote world peace, the World Harmony Run is now the world’s longest global relay. The run is a non-profit event organized entirely by volunteers involving in particular children and students. (…)

Over a period of seven months, relay teams will carry the World Harmony Run torch through 100 countries, covering over 24 000 km and 49 countries in Europe and also involving North Africa, Australia and the United States “in a bid to demonstrate that the world is one family for which peace and harmony are essential to its survival”, said event organizer, Stefano Cenni.

After the opening at FAO where the torch was lit, runners proceeded to Rome’s Colosseum and the Campidoglio. From there runners will cover 100 to 150 km a day in teams of 10 to 12 volunteers, stopping at towns throughout Europe to arrive at the final destination of Prague by 6 October. In parallel, similar events will take place in other regions with the aim of involving as many people as possible in this global event. (…)






Women leading the AIDS response in Latin America

28 March - The Coalition of First Ladies and Women Leaders of Latin America on Women and AIDS held its IV meeting in the Dominican Republic on 27 and 28 March 2008. The meeting, supported by UNAIDS and UNFPA, brought First Ladies and women leaders from around the region together to discuss ways of moving the AIDS response forward. The newly created Caribbean Coalition on Women, Girls and AIDS also participated in the event bringing vital impetus in addressing the challenges faced by women and girls in the Caribbean. (…)

The Coalition was set up in 2006 under the leadership of the First Lady of Honduras, Mrs. Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, to promote political commitment and mobilization of regional and national resources to strengthen and enhance HIV prevention, treatment and care services and reduce the impact of the epidemic on women and girls. (…)

A project to implement a system of micro-credits for women living with HIV in the region was presented during the meeting which was an initiative, supported by the Nobel peace prize and UNAIDS Special Representative Mr. Mohamed Yunus. The project focuses on ways of empowering women to stand up to violence, protect themselves against HIV and achieve greater respect among their families and communities.

A study on gender violence and HIV in several countries in the region produced by UNFPA was also presented at the meeting.


Afghanistan presses ahead to end polio

by Dan Nixon 

26 March (Rotary International News) - Afghanistan’s relentless effort to finish polio has succeeded in cornering the virus in the country’s southern region, according to a World Health Organization report in February. The region is part of a larger zone of virus transmission that includes southern Pakistan. Strong immunization coverage of children living in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan is critical to both countries’ efforts to end polio. “This is a virus that does not respect borders”, said Dr. Rudolf Tangermann, a medical officer with WHO’s polio eradication initiative, following Afghanistan’s National Immunization Days (NIDs) in 2007. “These two countries cannot eradicate polio in isolation.”

Dr. Ali Ahmed Zahed, a prospective member of the Rotary Club of Jalalabad, heads up polio immunization efforts in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, where WHO considers endemic transmission of the virus unlikely. He has played an instrumental role in helping to carry out his country’s NIDs, including those held 9-11 March.

Stephen Brown, past governor of District 5340 (California, USA), and Fary Moini, a fellow member of the Rotary Club of La Jolla Golden Triangle, have led several humanitarian projects in Afghanistan and participated in NIDs there. Brown is impressed with the Afghan medical community’s high level of organization in support of polio eradication. (…)

Afghanistan’s March NIDs reached about 6.9 million children. However, fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces prevented immunization of all children targeted by the effort.

Vaccinating children and keeping track of who has been immunized is a challenge in a country without a census and where families, especially in the southern region, are constantly on the move to avoid danger. “In the morning you can go in [a village], but in the afternoon you can’t”, says Dr. Rahmatullah Kamwak, who works in support of WHO efforts in southern Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, courageous volunteers armed with oral polio vaccine do an extraordinary job of finding children and ensuring they are protected against the crippling disease. The volunteers create a kind of mobile medical record as they work, staining children’s fingers with colored markers to verify they’ve received the vaccine and writing notes in chalk on the doors of mud-brick dwellings to indicate households that have been reached. (…)


10,000 health workers stop polio in one of most dangerous places on earth

Geneva, 25 March - Somalia is again polio-free, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) announced today, calling it a ‘historic achievement’ in public health.  Somalia has not reported a case since 25 March 2007, a major landmark in the intensified eradication effort launched last year to wipe out the disease in the remaining few strongholds.

Against a backdrop of widespread conflict, large population movements and a dearth of functioning government infrastructure, transmission of poliovirus in the country has been successfully stopped.  This landmark victory is a result of the efforts of more than 10,000 Somali volunteers and health workers who repeatedly vaccinated more than 1.8 million children under the age of five by visiting every household in every settlement multiple times, across a country which is one of the most dangerous places on earth.

The use of innovative approaches tailored to conflict areas was pivotal in stopping polio in the country.  These included increased community involvement and the effective use of monovalent vaccines to immunize children in insecure areas with several doses, within a short period of time. (…)


UW-Madison, Lentigen to collaborate on influenza research project

Madison, Wis., 25 March - The University of Wisconsin-Madison has received a $1.3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support research aimed at understanding the molecular features that lead to influenza pandemics. UW-Madison will collaborate with Maryland-based Lentigen Corp. on the project.

As part of the grant, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and Lentigen Corp. have agreed to broadly disseminate the knowledge generated in this project to the scientific community. This means that key pieces of the intellectual property created during the project will be donated by WARF to the international research community in an effort to improve human health across the globe.


Niger: ICRC organizes three surgery workshops

Niamey, 20 March (ICRC) - Workshops on bullet wounds and other injuries caused by weapons were held by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from 18 February to 7 March.

The workshops were the first of their kind and were held in the towns of Agadez, Arlit and Niamey. They were attended by 62 health professionals including surgeons, other doctors and nurses.

Instruction on both theoretical and practical issues was provided in hospital facilities by ICRC specialists. The aim was to boost the capacity of civilian and military medical staff of the Niger to care for people wounded by such weapons as mines, bullets and shrapnel.

Among the subjects covered were trauma surgery, weapon wounds, first aid, coping with massive influxes of casualties, and the rights and obligations of medical personnel under international humanitarian law.

After assessing health-care facilities in January, the ICRC considered it important to introduce training of this sort. “The ICRC hopes that these workshops will increase the knowledge of care providers in the Niger so that wounded people will receive proper treatment on the spot, thus avoiding complications arising in connection with medical evacuations”, says Regula Frei, an ICRC health delegate based in Agadez.

ICRC medical aid programmes providing support for health authorities are part of the neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian work carried out by the organization for the benefit of civilians.


Serving with love: Caritas Medical Centre in Somalia gives hope to a devastated people

17 March - (...) The centre provides free health care, without which the life of many people in this region would be much worse. It is to this medical facility that Pope Benedict XVI donated through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum last year’s collection of Holy Thursday Mass in the Basilica of St John Lateran.

All donations collected during the Mass were earmarked for this medical dispensary run by Caritas Somalia, a member of the Caritas Internationalis network, working under the authority of Msgr. Giorgio Bertin, Bishop of Djibouti and Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Mogadishu.

One year after the Pope’s contribution, this outpatient facility run by Caritas Somalia has increased its service up to almost 170 patients a day. In an average month, the centre serves more than 4,000 patients.

Many of them have travelled long distances, while many are living in camps improvised for people who have fled the conflict in Mogadishu. It is normal for people to travel up to 75 km to receive the care.

With so many patients the facility had to develop a mechanism of helping people with absolute impartiality. They worked on a first-come, first-served basis. Anybody showing up at the gate will be attended with love and care, regardless their clan belonging or their social status. (…)


World Tuberculosis Day: integrating tuberculosis control in HIV programmes is essential to curb co-infection

14 March - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is committed to the systematic integration of tuberculosis control in Red Cross and Red Crescent HIV programmes at community level, particularly in countries where co-infection has become a public health emergency. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 250,000 people living with HIV develop tuberculosis (TB) every year. Some 14 million adults are co-infected with TB and HIV - and 70% of them live in Africa. (…)

Every day, more than 6,000 people worldwide die of AIDS and some 4,400 die of tuberculosis. WHO estimates there are nearly nine million new TB cases every year, and, of the 1.6 million who die of the disease every year, some 195,000 are HIV-positive. (…)

Currently, more than 25 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Africa are caring for some 30,000 TB patients, many of whom are also HIV-positive. With the highest HIV/TB prevalence rates in eastern and southern Africa, Red Cross Societies in Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa - among others - are increasingly integrating TB to HIV and AIDS home-based care projects to address co-infection and the rising number of TB cases. In Mozambique alone, 48% of adult TB patients are HIV-positive.

In addition, Federation programmes to fight multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) will be increased eight-fold over the next four years, in more than 10 countries, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Romania, Russian Federation, Georgia, Kenya, Mozambique, and South Africa. (…)



Energy and safety



Trash today, ethanol tomorrow

UMD invention may lead to a major advance in biofuel production

Maryland (United States), 28 March - University of Maryland research that started with bacteria from the Chesapeake Bay has led to a process that may be able to convert large volumes of all kinds of plant products, from leftover brewer’s mash to paper trash, into ethanol and other biofuel alternatives to gasoline. The process, developed by University of Maryland professors Steve Hutcheson and Ron Weiner, is the foundation of their incubator company Zymetis, which was on display earlier this month in College Park for Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and state and university officials. (...)

The Zymetis process can make ethanol and other biofuels from many different types of cellulosic sources including plants and plant waste. Cellulosic biofuels can be made from non-grain plant sources such as waste paper, brewing byproducts, leftover agriculture products, including straw, corncobs and husks, and energy crops such as switchgrass. When fully operational, the Zymetis process has the potential to lead to the production of 75 billion gallons a year of carbon-neutral ethanol. The secret to the Zymetis process is a Chesapeake Bay marsh grass bacterium. Hutcheson found that the bacterium has an enzyme that could quickly break down plant materials into sugar, which can then be converted to biofuel.

The Zymetis researchers were unable to isolate the Bay bacterium again in nature, but they discovered how to produce the enzyme in their own laboratories. The result was Ethazyme, which degrades the tough cell walls of cellulosic materials and breaks down the entire plant material into bio-fuel ready sugars in less steps, at a significantly lower cost and with fewer caustic chemicals than current methods.


The IEA praises Finland’s commitment to balanced and realistic energy policy, and urges the government to continue to be vigilant on energy security

Helsinki, 26 March - “Through sound electricity market integration and despite its small size and relative isolation from continental Europe, Finland is harnessing to the extent possible the benefits of its position next to Russia and Scandinavia. The country is also building the world’s first nuclear power plant in a competitive electricity market. This enhances its security of supply and strengthens its economic competitiveness”, said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Mr. Tanaka is in Helsinki at the launch of Energy Policies of IEA Countries - Finland 2007 Review. “It is not easy for any country to balance the competing concerns of energy security and economic competitiveness in the face of the challenge of ensuring environmental sustainability, but the government of Finland is tackling these issues in a sound and balanced manner.”

“Recognising the already solid foundation of Finnish energy policy, our report provides guidance on how to further improve both existing and developing policies”, Mr. Tanaka said. “We urge the government to take some specific actions in the field of electricity market design, peat use, energy efficiency in buildings and energy R&D, among others.” (...)


Solar Electric Light Fund tackles Benin’s arid land

by Robert A. Freling

Benin (Africa), 26 March - The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is working to install low-cost micro-irrigation and solar water pumps in two villages in Kalalé District. This will create a reliable and economical means of irrigation and enable families in these villages to grow crops during the six month dry season for significant improvements in family income and nutrition. At least 20 families (100-200 people) will directly benefit from the solar-irrigation project and approximately 4,500 people living in two communities will benefit from the added supply of clean water during the rainy season. The first phase of the project, which was funded in part by the $100,000 seed money that SELF won in the World Bank’s Development Marketplace Competition, began in August of 2007.


New energy technologies entice investors

A report from Clean Edge looks at developments in the clean energy markets and forecasts clean energy sectors will continue their rapid rate of expansion.

by Anne Moore Odell

18 March - Although clean energy is currently only supplying a fraction of the world’s energy, investors are rushing to put their money into clean energy, according to the new report “Clean Energy Trends 2008”. Produced by Clean Edge, who has been following the clean-energy markets for the past eight years, the report examines clean energy trends for the upcoming year and beyond. With a 40% increase in clean energy markets from 2006 to 2007, the report puts clean energy and technology squarely into the mainstream. In 2007, G.E. reaped $4.5 billion in revenues from its wind turbines the report offers as one example of mainstream corporate involvement in clean energy. (…)

The four clean energy sectors-solar photovoltaics, wind, biofuels, and fuel cells-saw an increase in revenue growth from $55 billion in 2006 to $77.3 billion in 2007. Solar, wind, and biofuels each had more than $20 billion is revenues. The Clean Energy Trends 2008 report’s authors Joel Makower, Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder project revenues from clean energy technologies will grow to $254.5 billion by 2017. (…)


Green power for rural areas in India

4 March - Today, Mr. Kemal Derviş, UNDP Administrator and UN Under Secretary General commissioned a biomass gasifier plant, which uses carbon neutral biomass to produce electricity for rural villages, in Boregunte village in Karnataka. The project is supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF)/UNDP, India Canada Environment Facility (ICEF), and the Government of Karnataka and managed and run by the community. (...)

The plant in Boregunte, Madhugiri cluster, is funded by the Global Environment Facility, and supported by the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Government of India, the Government of Karnataka, and UNDP.  It is the second plant commissioned under this project and has the capacity of delivering 250-kilowatt electricity. This will enhance the reliability and quality of electricity in these villages and generate additional livelihoods. The Gram Panchayat has signed an agreement with the Bangalore Electric Supply company to sell excess power.

A biomass gasifier converts wood or agriculture residues into a combustible gas mixture. Biomass, such as wood or coconut shells, are sized to small pieces and burnt in a reactor that converts it to combustible gases, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. This so-called ‘producer gas’ runs the engines, which produce power. The Boregunte power plant will be entirely managed by the community. (...)

The first plant under this project was inaugurated in Kabbigere on 24 January 2007 and has provided around 10,000 Kilowatt-hours of electricity to 4 villages until today. A third plant with 250 kWe in Seebirayanapalya will be commissioned shortly and another in Chinnenahalli is proposed to be commissioned by the end of 2008. (…);jsessionid=aANBkicgOZOc



Religion and spirituality



2008 Council of Europe Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue

Strasbourg, 31 March - The “Council of Europe Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue” will take place on Tuesday 8 April at the Palais de l’Europe (Room 1) in Strasbourg. This experimental event - which aims to promote and strengthen the Council of Europe’s fundamental values and to foster mutual respect, recognition, tolerance and understanding in European society - will focus on:

“Teaching religious and convictional facts - A tool for acquiring knowledge about religions and beliefs in education; a contribution to education for democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural dialogue.”

The event will bring together around a hundred participants from across the Council of Europe area, including representatives of religions which are traditionally present in Europe, non-religious beliefs and other sections of civil society - such as international non-governmental organisations, experts and the media - as well as representatives of the Council of Europe’s member and observer states. (...)

Further information is available at


Religious leaders hail Saudi King’s call for interfaith dialogue

Historic call helps advance multi-religious cooperation for peace in Middle East and around the world

New York, 26 March - Leaders of different faiths in Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, today hailed Saudi King Abdullah’s powerful plea for dialogue among Muslims, Christians, and Jews. The King’s call for dialogue was all the more remarkable given the absence of Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic ties to Israel.

The King’s call builds on his historic meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in November 2007, a visit the Vatican recognized as advancing a broad discussion on the need for multi-religious and cultural dialogue “for the promotion of peace, justice and spiritual and moral values.” King Abdullah made clear that his call for dialogue addresses the entire world. (...)

Religions for Peace has been advancing multi-religious cooperation for peace since 1970. In December, its leaders in the Middle East took steps to form the Religions for Peace Middle East Council of Religious Leaders and the Religions for Peace Inter-religious Council of Palestine. Religions for Peace is present in Israel as the Israeli Inter-religious Coordinating Council.


SIGNIS Film Seminar to Give a “Face for the Faceless” – April 14-15, Buenos Aires 

World Catholic Associationfor Communication

Brussels, 18 March (SIGNIS) - The 4th of a series of SIGNIS film seminars will be held from April 14 to 15 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The seminar, entitled “Face for the Faceless”, will gather coordinators of the several SIGNIS juries in the Latin American film festivals.

Following previous events held in Mar del Plata, Leuven and Lyon in 2005, the seminar will serve as a platform to exchange experiences and perspectives, with the objective of training the SIGNIS jurors and improving the organisation and visibility of the SIGNIS juries in international film festivals. The criteria for participation to a festival, the awarding criteria or the promotion of the juries’ activities will be among the topics discussed in Buenos Aires, in order to define practical and spiritual guidelines for the SIGNIS jurors.

The Buenos Aires seminar will be followed by similar events in Rome in 2008 and Zanzibar in 2009, in preparation of the SIGNIS World Congress 2009.


Catholic-Muslim Forum to be held in Rome in November

Vatican City, 5 March (VIS) - In the light of the open letter “A Common Word” signed by 138 Muslim scholars, and of Benedict XVI’s response through Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., a delegation of five signatories of that letter met with five representatives of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue in the Vatican on 4 and 5 March.

A communique made public today and signed by the heads of the two delegations, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and by Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad, states that, “in order to further develop Catholic-Muslim dialogue, the participants agreed to establish the ‘Catholic-Muslim Forum’ and to organise the first seminar of the forum in Rome from 4 to 6 November 2008”.

That meeting will be attended by 24 religious leaders and scholars from each side. The theme will be “Love of God, Love of Neighbour” and the sub-themes “Theological and Spiritual Foundations” and “Human Dignity and Mutual Respect”. The seminar will conclude with a public session on 6 November and the participants will be received by Pope Benedict XVI. (...)


Sound of the Soul - A film of Stephen Olsson

Music has no religion, no borders no boundaries. Music is the sound of the soul”

Sound Of The Soul is a glorious homage to the remarkable Fez Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco, which brings together a unique array of musicians from Muslim, Christian and Jewish backgrounds. All connected through their artistry by profound expressions of love and longing. In a world increasingly polarized by religious conflicts and fundamentalist forces, SOUND OF THE SOUL is a timely and profound experiential journey, reverberating with unity, understanding and most of all, hope. Read More


Conference “Theory and practice of inter-religious dialogue in the Philippines”

La Salle University -  Manila, 24-26 April

The Conference, jointly organised with the International Peace Foundation Bridges, non profit organisation started in Vienna and sponsored by 21 Nobel Peace Prize winners, aims to identify and analyse possible points of encounter at the theoretic and practical level in the field of interreligious dialogue, encouraging bonds between academics and also between operators.

The Goals of this Conference:

1.      To bring together local/national practitioners and theoreticians dealing with Interfaith Dialogue;

2.      To identify, analyze, and indicate possible links/convergences of emerging field practices of and theoretical/academic approaches to Interfaith/Religious Dialogue;

3.      To encourage conversational exchanges among practitioners in order to document the diversity of practices both in the field and academic settings;

4.      To fortify relations among practitioners across regional, linguistic and religious boundaries.



Culture and education



15th EUROCLIO Professional Development Course 2008: Exploring Identity, Diversity and Values through History Teaching

Bristol (United Kingdom), 31 March to 6 April - Each year in a different country EUROCLIO, in cooperation with one or more of its European member associations, organizes a major professional training and development course open to history, citizenship and social studies educators from Europe and beyond, on topical themes in history education.

This year, the Conference’s aims are to:

·  share the English experience of teaching history in a multi-ethnic society via conference briefings, active workshops, school visits and papers;

·  discuss and develop guidelines and present examples of good practice in teaching multi-ethnic history and educating teachers to support the values of inclusion, mutual respect within diverse societies and anti-racist approaches;

·  establish discussion, sharing and networking opportunities for history teachers from the UK and different countries and traditions;

·  assist EUROCLIO Member Organizations in setting up and implementing national and international initiatives regarding multi-ethnic and multiple perspectives in history teaching.

(...) This event is organized by the History Teacher Education Network (HTEN) with the support of The Historical Association and the University of the West of England, Bristol.


Swedish teens help educate and empower female refugees in Rwanda

By Anna Leer

Stockholm (Sweden), 26 March (UNHCR) - Some US$900,000 raised by Swedish teenagers is giving young female refugees in Rwanda the chance to become more independent and to lead productive lives. Two young Swedish women, Nadia Chakir and Enna Gerin, recently visited Gihembe camp to see how the UNHCR-run education project was being implemented with the funds raised during the annual “Operation a Day’s Work” campaign by 80,000 students in 250 high schools across Sweden. Chakir and Gerin work for the Swedish Student Organization, which stages the day’s work campaign to fund an educational project in a developing country. This year’s project in Gihembe and three other Rwandan camps is being implemented by UNHCR partner FAWE (Forum for African Women Educationalists). (…)

The young women saw how the Swedish funds were being used to pay for the primary and secondary school fees, books and uniforms of 3,500 girls in Gihembe, Kiziba, Nyabiheke and Kigeme camps. The project also helps more than 500 school drop-outs - some of them young mothers - by teaching them how to read and write and providing classes in skills such as knitting, tailoring, hairdressing, cookery and handicrafts.

FAWE has established Tuseme (Speak Out) clubs in the camps, where teachers, students - both male and female - gather to identify and dismantle barriers to female education. These clubs help empower the girls and sensitize others to the importance of education for all. (…)


Spring Day for Europe 2008 at a glance        

Bridging cultures through dialogue

by Petru Dumitru

23 March - 30 June - Spring Day for Europe is an annual event that encourages schools to book one or many days in their calendar to organise events that focus on debate, interaction and reflection on European themes. Spring Day for Europe is an opportunity for young people to express their views and make their voices heard in Europe.

The Spring Day for Europe campaign has a different focus every school year. In 2008, it joins the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue initiative to promote intercultural dialogue and help raise awareness of cultural diversity with young people, as a major asset to our common European cultural heritage. Now in its sixth year, the main goal of the campaign in 2008 is to prepare and assist schools in planning, organising and running their own events as part of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. A wide range of activities and events are expected to take place at local, national and European level.

Spring Day for Europe runs this year from 25 March to 30 June 2008, with a particular focus on 9 May, when Europe Day is celebrated. Spring Day for Europe is open to all pre-primary, primary, lower and upper secondary schools in Europe as well as the rest of the world. It is also open to classes from organisations in charge of extra-curricular activities whose goals are to develop and strengthen skills related to school curriculum. During this period, the Spring Day for Europe team, both at central and national level, will encourage and facilitate visits by local, national and European public figures in schools. Such visits are an opportunity to discuss European themes and issues, and to make the voices of young Europeans heard by decision makers.

Spring Day for Europe was first launched in 2002 as a campaign to: raise awareness about the European Union, its citizens and institutions; promote European citizenship education at school through traditional and ICT curriculum-based activities.


Launch of No Ghetto, E-Magazine for Young People

No Ghetto is an interactive online magazine dealing with the issues of cultural diversity and dialogue for young people from different cultural backgrounds. No Ghetto explores questions related to UNESCO’s key themes of dialogue, diversity and development (cultural and artistic expression, HIV and AIDS, migration and minorities, history, poverty, interreligious dialogue, etc.). The magazine targets primarily young people in Africa and the Arab world, as well as those from industrialized countries, especially any individual suffering from exclusion and discrimination (indigenous peoples, ethnic/cultural minorities, immigrants, etc.).

The website No Ghetto seeks to involve young people by gathering their opinions about their daily lives, their dreams or any problems they face regarding cultural diversity. In the future, this website could serve as a platform for youth forums aimed at developing policies designed for and by young people.

No Ghetto is an initiative of the Culture Sector, created in close cooperation with Respect Magazine, which seeks to adopt a contemporary style and open tone that young people can relate to. Initially launched in French, this website will be progressively translated into English. In addition, Arabic, Chinese and Russian versions are under study. (mgdd)


The European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (EYID) 2008

The European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (EYID) 2008 recognises that Europe’s great cultural diversity represents a unique advantage.

The European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (2008) was established by Decision N° 1983/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council. (18 December 2006).

It will encourage all those living in Europe to explore the benefits of our rich cultural heritage and opportunities to learn from different cultural traditions. More

European Union and Intercultural Dialogue


Global Harmony Association project: "World Harmony/Peace Academy and General Harmonious Education in an Information Society"

Global Harmony Association (GHA), created by the authors of the International site "Peace from harmony" ( and uniting the hundreds of scientists, artists and peacemakers from 42 countries of the world, discusses its new project: "World Harmony/Peace Academy and General Harmonious Education in an Information Society": GHA invites to discussion of this project and participation in it the peace educators of the world. The project main idea is: the consciousness of a new peace and harmonious society can come only through general harmonious education, which the beginning and generator in the world should become "World Harmony/Peace Academy" (WHPA). (…)

The WHPA project is unique, not having of analogues and competitors in the world. At the same time, it is in an equal measure  acceptable for all nations, religious, cultures and civilizations of the world. It truly gives a real hope for rescue and survival of humankind through general harmonious education. Therefore this project deserves all-round support of all progressively thinking educators and educational organizations of the world.




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Next issue: 25 April 2008.


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Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to over 4,000 editorial offices of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations with an e-mail address in 49 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway,  Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to over 2,800 NGOs around the world and it is available in its web site:

It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered non-profit educational organization chartered in Italy in 1979 and associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations.

The Association operates for the development of consciousness and promotes a culture of peace in the ‘global village’ perspective based on unity in diversity and on sharing.         

Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. E-mail:


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