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Good News Agency

In spite of everything, a culture of peace is emerging in all fields of human endeavour

monthly, year 15th, no. 231 –  16 January 2015


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. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 3,000 NGOs and 1,500 high schools, colleges and universities.

It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, an educational charity associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information It is a supporter of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace. In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) provided to the UN Secretary-General for presentation to the UN General Assembly, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing an active role in the field of Information through Internet.* 




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

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International legislation


Palestine accedes to Convention on Cluster Munitions

January 6 – On 2 January Palestine became the 116th nation to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions, after depositing its instrument of accession with United Nations authorities in New York. This makes Palestine the first nation to join the Convention in 2015, and the fifth to do so since states met in Costa Rica in September 2014 to assess treaty progress and to call for universal adoption of the ban on cluster munitions.

In December 2014, the Costa Rica Chair of the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, called on states to join the Convention in the run up to the First Review Conference taking place September 2015 inDubrovnik, Croatia.

Palestine is the fourth state in the region – following Iraq, Lebanon,and Tunisia – to ban cluster munitions. To date 116 countries have joined the Convention of which Palestine is the 89th State Party; the remaining 27 states are signatories and have yet to ratify the Convention.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions will enter into force for Palestine on 1 July 2015.



USA - CARE applauds congressional passage of the Water for the World Act

18 December - The poverty-fighting organization CARE applauds the passage of Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act. The legislation was approved by Congress on Tuesday. The legislation addresses the needs of 2.5 billion people in the world who still do not have access to a toilet and 750 million people who lack access to safe drinking water. Just as importantly, the bill prioritizes water and sanitation as an essential piece of promoting sustainable development.  The bill allows for a greater chance for improved food security and nutrition of families.




Human rights


Holocaust Remembrance Day - January 27

2015 Theme: Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors

On this day every year the United Nations commemorates the memory of the victims of the holocaust. Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations General Assembly, in designating this International Day, affirmed that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.

This years Day marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations. Reflecting how deeply the Organization was shaped by the experience of the Holocaust, the principle of human rights for all was enshrined in both the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.



UN and partners seek US$8.4 billion for new Syria programme in 2015

18 December - As Syria's war heads towards a fifth year, the United Nations and partners today launched a major new humanitarian and development appeal, requesting more than US$8.4 billion to help nearly 18 million people in Syria and across the region in 2015. The appeal includes two main elements: support for more than 12 million displaced and conflict-affected people inside Syria, and addressing the needs of the millions of Syrian refugees in the region and the countries and communities hosting them.




Economy and development


World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland - January 21 - 24

2015 Theme: The New Global Context

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos provides an opportunity for leaders of corporations and business to consider global issues together with politicians and civil society representatives.

Complexity, fragility and uncertainty are potentially ending an era of economic integration and international partnership that began in 1989. What is clear is that we are confronted by profound political, economic, social and, above all, technological transformations. They are altering long-standing assumptions about our prospects, resulting in an entirely "new global context" for decision-making.



Mobile phone application helps smallholders plan, avoid waste

Weather app gives farmers in Ghana timely information

January 9 - Smallholder farmers in northern Ghana, who are major food producers for the country, depend heavily on rainfall for crop cultivation. However, climate change is causing a shift in weather patterns, resulting in farmers seeing less rainfall in recent years. This makes it difficult for the smallholders to plan farming activities. Most have limited access to irrigation equipment. Given this situation, it is particularly important for these farmers to have reliable weather information to better manage their farms.

USAID’s Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE II) program, which is implemented by ACDI/VOCA, supports the scaling up of agricultural investments to improve the competitiveness of key agricultural value chains. The service, which has tested well for accuracy since its launch in 2013, helps farmers plan their daily activities based on the weather information received.



WFP’s productive safety nets for families in drought and flood-stricken areas of Sindh

January 7, Islamabad - The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) has begun projects to improve livelihoods and reduce communities’ susceptibility to disasters in Tharparkar, Sanghar and Mirpurkhas districts of Sindh, thanks to a grant of US$2.78 million from the Government of Australia. Around 13,200 families will receive cash payments for participation in disaster risk reduction activities.
Following assessments to identify the communities’ needs, WFP has identified a series of activities related to water conservation, rain water harvesting, water pond construction in grazing areas, food and fodder storage and repair of culverts and access roads. Each participant will receive PKR 5,400 (about US$53) per month for 15 days of work.

In Mirpurkhas district, WFP is working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNWOMEN on an integrated programme to assist communities through agri-based and labour-intensive activities. The WFP project will include some 2,000 participants from villages where the other three UN agencies are already working together, in order to support ongoing activities with the cash grants.



Democratic Republic of the Congo: Agricultural projects that keep hope alive

7 January – Recurring armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is leaving thousands of people destitute by depriving them of many of the resources necessary for survival. By means of agricultural projects, the ICRC is helping them to recover the ability to provide for themselves and, ultimately, to regain their financial independence. In January, rural communities in North Kivu province will be about to receive the first results of the sowing that took place in September, when the rains and the growing season began. This harvest will mainly consist of maize, beans, peanuts and other vegetables for which the ICRC provided seed. Cassava cuttings were distributed at the same time as the seed, but the harvest will take place at the end of 2015.

Because the two varieties of cassava that were distributed are resistant to cassava mosaic virus disease, they can produce more tubers – sometimes as many as four kilograms per stem, which is enough to feed four people for three days. For families living mainly from farming who have just returned to their villages after months or even years of displacement, the cuttings represent an opportunity to relaunch farming activities and make a fresh start. In order to make things more efficient, the ICRC provides training in farming practices that will optimize timing and productivity.



Brazil offers an extra $17 million to FAO projects as new government takes helm

December 31, Rome - Brazil has added $17 million in funding to projects undertaken in its ongoing partnership with FAO, highlighting the Latin American country's role as a key regional and global contributor to the fight against hunger.

The decisions, added to ongoing projects has increased the portfolio of Brazil-funded projects through FAO to over $100 million. The recent funding pledges made by Brazil include $5 million to support a new project for fisheries in Africa, US $4 million from for a new Regional Project for Africa, designed to promote exchange and dialogue on family farming policies; $3.5 million to expand the geographic coverage of the ongoing school-feeding project in Latin America and the Caribbean; and $4.3 million for a project focusing on promoting small-scale aquaculture to achieve food security and alleviate poverty risks around Latin America.

FAO is poised to sign a new memorandum of understanding with the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), a key public research agency in Brazil's evolution from food importer to major agricultural producer. The agreement will further FAO's sponsorship of South-Sout cooperation. Brazil is currently supporting over 27 projects with FAO for a total amount of almost US $ 100 million and is one of the top 10 contributors to the Organization, along with the Group of Seven advanced industrial nations, Norway and Saudi Arabia.



Germany donates US$30 million for nutrition, safety nets & girls’ education in Yemen

December 22, Sana'a - The German government has donated US$30 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Yemen to support nutrition, protective safety nets and girls’ education.

A total US$5.5 million of the contribution will support monthly food distributions or cash disbursements to severely food-insecure Yemeni families under WFP’s protective safety net operation, while US$14 million will go to treating and preventing malnutrition among young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women. The girls’ education component amounts to US$10 million and will also include take-home rations for 25,000 children released from child labour. The remaining US$500,000 will support capacity development and innovation in the Yemen government.

All these activities are part of WFP’s two-year Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation, which started in July. This operation, with a budget of around US$500 million, aims to reach 6 million people through a range of interventions including helping to develop agriculture, rural infrastructure, rainwater conservation and rural employment.  Germany is the largest donor to WFP Yemen so far this year, having contributed more than US$43.5 million in 2014.



Afghanistan’s first soy milk factory to be built with Korean contribution

December 11,  Kabul - The Government of the Republic of Korea has announced a contribution of US$12 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) to build the country’s first soy milk factory. WFP will work with the non-government organization Nutrition Education International (NEI) to build the factory in Parwan province, north of Kabul, which will produce protein-rich, sterilized soy milk from soybeans. WFP and NEI will also collaborate over the next three years to increase local soybean production.

The residual soybean pulp from the milk-making process will be turned into chicken feed. This feed will be provided to vulnerable local women to encourage them to raise poultry to generate income. The factory will begin operating in 12 months.

Recently, the Republic of Korea has become a strong supporter of WFP activities in Afghanistan. They generously supported WFP and NEI’s activities to enhance agricultural productivity including soybean promotion among local farmers with a donation of US$13 million in 2013. Also in 2013, US$9 million was provided to support WFP’s asset-creation projects with the aim of boosting food security in Afghanistan.






CRS working for a prosperous and independent Haiti

By Michelle Hough

9 January – Catholic Relief Services (a US member of the Caritas confederation) has been working in Haiti for 50 years. The morning after the 12th January 2010 earthquake, CRS staff members who had lived through the disaster themselves were aiding survivors.

Our long experience in the country, and hand-in-hand partnership with the Catholic Church in Haiti, has enabled CRS to make great strides in the past 5 years:

Haiti presents immense and complex challenges that require a firm grounding in faith and long-term commitment to sustainable actions that achieve meaningful results. We have one goal: a prosperous, independent, whole Haiti. (…)



N.Y. Festival nonprofit beefs up giving

9January – The organization that runs the Feast of San Gennaro in New York’s Little Italy announced Wednesday that it gave $149,500 to charity last year, a hefty boost from recent years when little or no proceeds from the popular street festival were donated, writes the New York Daily News.

The newspaper reported in September that the nonprofit Figli di San Gennaro, which puts on the annual feast, gave away less than 5 percent of some $4.4-million in revenue from 2007 through 2012. The organization acknowledged Wednesday that it also made no charity contributions after the 2013 event but said it has now donated $72,500 raised that year and $77,000 from 2014.

Figli has said in the past that almost all of its revenue, which comes mostly from charging rent to vendors, goes into putting on the festival. The group did not say how much it earned from the 2013 and ‘14 events but said the recent donations support churches, Catholic schools, and community groups serving children and seniors.



Winter kits help refugees in Lebanon cope with cold

January 8 – Winter has hit Lebanon full force with its freezing temperatures, bone-chilling wind and snow. Refugee camp residents across Lebanon face the harsh conditions with little heat or proper clothing. Palestinian families fled their homes in Syria, leaving everything behind except a few articles of clothing and a pair or two of summer shoes.

ANERA has partnered with Najdeh Association to respond with a winter kit distribution to 1,300 families in northern Lebanon’s Beddawi Camp. Each kit consists of blankets, children’s clothes, an insulating straw mat and an emergency light unit. Families also receive assistance in properly managing winter illnesses. Funding for the kits came from UMCOR (The United Methodist Committee on Relief) and Johnson & Johnson.  In nearby Nahr El Bared camp and in Burj El Barajneh camp outside Beirut, ANERA has distributed 4,000 blankets, thanks to the generosity of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) Charities that wanted to provide winterization support to Palestinian refugee families. The two camps host thousands of Palestinian families who fled the war in Syria, which has been raging for four years.



UNICEF uses electronic vouchers to give Syrian refugee children access to winter clothes

7 January - As Jordan braces for a winter storm in the next few days, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in partnership with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), today launched a winter cash assistance programme to provide vulnerable Syrian refugee children in Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps with monetary assistance to allow their families to buy them winter clothes. A UNICEF statement said that approximately 41,000 vulnerable children under the age of 14 will be targeted with the one-time cash assistance, worth about 14 Jordanian Dinars – almost $20 each – and they will be able to buy winter clothes, such as boots, gloves, trousers, coats and scarves using the existing WFP electronic food voucher programme (e-cards).



Jordan: helping Syrian families get back in touch

2 January – War and harsh living conditions in Syria have driven thousands of families into Jordan where 12,000 refugees have settled in Azraq camp, 100 km east of Amman. Since mid-September the ICRC, through its tracing services, has helped more than 2,500 people to contact relatives in Syria or elsewhere.

Many Syrian refugees in Azraq camp lack the means to stay in touch with their relatives in Syria or abroad. Through its tracing office, the ICRC gives refugees the opportunity to contact their relatives by telephone or hand-written Red Cross messages. It also registers and keeps track of vulnerable individuals, such as unaccompanied minors, with a view to informing their families of their whereabouts. Where feasible, the ICRC helps the more vulnerable people to reunite with their families, whether in or outside the camp.



Joe Cocker’s Kids Foundation has given $1 million to his community

By Karen Bliss – www.samaritanmag.com

December 30 – The family of music legend Joe Cocker is asking for memorial donations to The Cocker Kids’ Foundation in lieu of flowers. The gravel-voiced singer of Beatles cover “With A Little Help From My Friends,” Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful” and Grammy-winning duet “Up Where We Belong” (with Jennifer Warnes), lost his battle with small cell lung cancer on Dec. 22.  He was 70-years-old. “Cocker Kids’ Foundation is a non-profit, community supported foundation dedicated to supporting and aiding area youth up to the age of 21 in areas of education, recreation, the arts and athletics,” it reads on the web site. It has contributed over $1 million to youth-related programs and children of the North ForkValley in Delta County, Colorado. (...)

CKF has “an active and involved board of directors,” which along with the Cockers “have made sure that the funds have impacted the kids who need it most.” (…) The million dollars that has been granted to youth, to date, has been raised by numerous initiatives, such as “house tours, yard sales, and other happenings, including an occasional benefit concert by you-know-who.”  Sadly, you-know-who will not be performing anymore, but his legacy will live on in more than just music — Joe Cocker Kids Foundation continues in his name. (…)



Government donors enable WFP to resume full rations for refugees in Kenya

December 30, Nairobi - The U. N. World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it will resume providing full food rations to refugees in Kenya in January, thanks to new donor contributions. WFP distributes food twice a month to around half a million refugees in both the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in northern Kenya. In mid-November, insufficient funding forced WFP to reduce the size of their food rations by half. Thanks to substantial support from government partners, US$45 million has been raised since WFP launched an urgent appeal in October alongside the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

Kenyan government policy prevents refugees them working outside the camps, leaving them highly dependent on international assistance. Each month, WFP distributes 9,700 metric tons of food for 500,000 refugees in Kenya, at a cost of almost US$10 million. The refugees are provided with cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, salt and a nutrient-rich maize-soya flour blend, together providing 2,100 kilocalories per person per day, the recommended daily caloric intake. In addition, WFP provides specialized nutritional support for mothers and young children.

Throughout 2014 WFP has responded to an extraordinary level of humanitarian suffering globally, as millions of people have been forced to flee their homes. This will likely continue in the new year. WFP’s work was possible because of strong donor support. As needs increasingly exceed funds made available, more donor backing will be essential in 2015.



African Development Bank supports Sierra Leone Ebola response

December 24, Freetown - The U. N. World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a US$1 million grant from the African Development Bank (ADB) to help fight Ebola in Sierra Leone. The contribution will be used to support the Government of Sierra Leone and WFP in meeting the essential food and nutrition needs of vulnerable people and communities affected by Ebola. With this grant, WFP will provide food assistance for two months to 30,000 people.

A joint report by WFP and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization released in mid-December warned that by March 2015, 280,000 people in Sierra Leone will be severely food insecure due to the negative impact of Ebola on agricultural production and market activities.

Since the outbreak of the disease, WFP has provided food and logistical assistance to support the medical response to stop the spread of Ebola. Over 11,700 metric tons of food have been distributed to more than 1.1 million people in Sierra Leone. Through WFP assistance, specialized nutrient-rich meals are provided to people receiving medical care. Take-home packages are provided to survivors of the disease to ensure continued nutrition support during recovery. WFP also provides food to villages and communities in quarantine or isolation.

WFP programmes are coordinated and implemented with the full involvement of health and government authorities, NGO partners, and community and traditional leaders to avoid large gatherings and mitigate risk of contamination during food distributions.



UK helps hungry & conflict-affected in Sudan

December 22, Khartoum - The U. N. World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a contribution of US$17.7 million from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development.

The UK is committed to standing by the millions of people in Sudan who are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Our new contribution will support the work WFP is doing to develop new approaches which are more cost effective.

In 2015, WFP plans to reach some 646,000 beneficiaries across Sudan through a vouchers programme that will amount to US$ 60 million, a 30% increase on its size in 2014.

The United Kingdom is one of WFP’s strongest supporters in Sudan, having already contributed US4.8 million earlier this year in support of the agency’s vouchers programme and another US$1.1 million in support of the emergency food response to the South Sudanese refugees in South Kordofan and White Nile states. In total, the UK has contributed some GBP 17.7 (US$28.7 million) to WFP programmes in Sudan in 2014, making it the agency’s second largest bilateral donor.

WFP is currently providing assistance to more than 4 million people throughout Sudan, 15% of whom receive support in the form of cash vouchers.



Hilton Foundation approves record number of new grants totaling $50 million

Funding supports 42 organizations, furthering the foundation’s priority areas

Los Angeles, December 19 – The board of directors of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded nearly $50 million in grants to a record 42 organizations working in key program areas, including Catholic Sisters, foster youth, homelessness, substance use prevention, access to safe water, disaster preparedness, Catholic education, hospitality, Multiple Sclerosis research, safeguarding vision, and other areas of priority.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts strategic initiatives in six priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance abuse, helping children affected by HIV and AIDS, supporting transition-age youth in foster care, and extending Conrad Hilton’s support for the work of Catholic Sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $1.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering.



Russia & WFP seal partnership to end hunger; Kamaz Trucks rolled out in Red Square

December 16, Moscow - Recognising a solid and growing relationship, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the government of the Russian Federation today signed an important strategic partnership agreement that will spearhead joint efforts on many fronts to end global hunger and malnutrition.

Russia is among WFP’s top 20 donors, contributing more than US$60 million this year alone. The financial contribution, supported by in-kind donations and expertise, assists WFP’s global response to multiple emergencies, notably for the Syria operation, as well as other locations in the Middle East and Africa and in the CIS countries. Meetings were held today with high-ranking officials from the three key line ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Emergencies to discuss future humanitarian efforts.

One of the highlights of Cousin’s first visit to Russia, was the ceremonial handover, on Red Square, of 15 KAMAZ trucks. The Ministry of Finance has donated a total 218 trucks, provided to WFP with the support of the Ministry of Emergencies. Many of the KAMAZ trucks have already been delivering life-saving assistance in the “deep field” to millions of people whose access to food has been cut off by conflict or disaster. The trucks are equipped with GLONASS navigation system and they are especially suitable for reaching remote areas in countries ranging from Afghanistan to the Central African Republic.



Norway helps provide nutritious food to malnourished families in Sudan

December 14, Khartoum - The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a substantial donation from Norway’s government towards emergency operations in Sudan.

Norway’s contribution of US$1.9 million will enable WFP to treat 50,000 pregnant women, nursing mothers and children aged under five affected by moderate acute malnutrition in Darfur, with 900 metric tons of specialised nutritous food (SuperCereal Plus). Each year, an estimated 2 million children under five are affected by acute malnutrition in Sudan. Children suffering this condition are between three and twelve times more at risk of dying than well-nourished children.

Providing adequate nutrition to mothers and children among vulnerable people across Sudan is a key priority for WFP. Since the beginning of 2014, nearly 88,000 children under five, pregnant and nursing women have received supplementary food from WFP-supported nutrition centres for the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition. So far, almost 87% of them have been cured. In 2014, WFP aims to assist a total of 275,000 people suffering moderate acute malnutrition across Sudan.

Earlier this year, Norway contributed US$400,000 to assist WFP’s response to the influx of South Sudanese refugees in Sudan. Since 2010, Norway has contributed a total of US$8.8 million to WFP’s emergency operations in Sudan.



WFP welcomes substantial and timely assistance to refugees from the Kingdom of Saudi


December 10, Rome - The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a generous and timely contribution of US$104 million to assist refugees sheltering in countries neighbouring Syria, in Ethiopia and in Kenya, provided by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. The contribution includes US$52 million to assist about 1.7 million Syrian refugees who had faced suspension of their food assistance this month, just at the start of another harsh winter; US$42 million for refugees sheltering in Ethiopia, many from South Sudan; and US$10 million to provide nutrition to refugees in Kenya.

Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, WFP has been assisting up to 1.7 million refugees in the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt as well as providing food assistance to up to four million displaced people inside Syria, despite fighting and problems of access.

In Ethiopia, WFP is supporting some 650,000 refugees, nearly a third of whom have arrived from South Sudan in the last year, since the crisis erupted there. In Kenya, WFP supports nearly half a million refugees – mostly Somalis – in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps.



Pilot village in India

December – In India a pilot Village is under construction by the non profit Sri Prema Charitable Trust, created exclusively with charitable aims and based on the assumption that water, home, education, health and a job are a birth right for every human being. In July 2013 was bought a ground in a very poor area of Karnataka in South India. In only six months on this ground a well has been created which provides drinking water for the village, a power generator has been set up, and walls, sewerage, pipes for clean water, accomodation offices, the ground floor of a building for volunteers and guests and first aid have been built.

At present the first floor of the fore-mentioned building, a canteen, an orphanage, a school and a multifunctional hall are under construction. Since beginning last year, even if the village is still an open building site, every Thursday many poor families are housed to offer them food, medicines and a loving support. All the Trust work is supported exclusively by funds and donations offered by private citizens and businesses.



Government partners help WFP resume food assistance to Syrian refugees

December 10, Rome - Following an unprecedented social media campaign, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) announced today the tally of contributions by government donors towards the reinstatement of food assistance to nearly 1.7 million Syrian refugees.

Thanks to substantial support from government partners in donor countries, a total of US$88.4 million has been raised to date. As this exceeds the goal of US$64 million required to fund the refugee programme in December, it allows WFP to cover some of the refugees’ food needs in January.

Over recent days, the following (in alphabetical order) have announced contributions: Belgium (US$138,000), European Union (US$6.2 million), Germany (US$5.4 million), Ireland (US$1.1 million), Netherlands (US$7.5 million), Norway (US$10.2 million), Qatar (US$2 million), Saudi Arabia (US$52 million) and Switzerland (US$2.1 million). The total also includes US$1.8 million from individuals and private sector donors.

WFP’s donation page is still up and running on http://www.wfp.org/ForSyrianRefugeesand the public can continue to contribute to WFP’s life-saving assistance for displaced Syrians.




Peace and security


Gandhi, King, Gyatso Season for Nonviolence - January 30 - April 4

2015 Theme: Inspiration, Education and Action

The annual Season for Nonviolence is now in its 18th year. Spiritually guided citizen leaders in 900 cities in 67 countries have participated since the campaign began in 1998.

Through events organised locally educational and media attention is devoted to the power of nonviolent change as exemplified by Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, and HH the Dalai Lama.



Congo: 152 former child soldiers reunited with families

9 January - Families living in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Orientale are due to be reunited with their children today after months or even years apart. The 147 boys and five girls all belonged to armed forces or groups until recently. CRC staff collected the information they needed to trace their families and have been working with the children in the centre to gradually prepare them to return to their communities. Youth workers run awareness-raising sessions to encourage the children to resist any further attempts to recruit them. This is an important part of social reintegration.



Protecting schools and universities from military use

16 December - At an event at the United Nations in Geneva, the ambassadors of Norway and Argentina unveiled a set of six new “Guidelines” aimed at better protecting schools and universities from being used for military purposes during times of armed conflict. They are intended to respond to the practice of government forces and non-state armed groups converting schools and universities into bases or barracks, or using them as firing positions or places to cache weapons and ammunition. This practice endangers students and teachers by turning their schools into targets for enemy attack.



5,000,000 Voices for Nuclear Zero

Soka Gakkai Youth in Japan gathers 5 million signatures in support of Nuclear Zero

Vienna, Austria, December 2014 – In a remarkable show of strength and unity, the Youth Division of Soka Gakkai in Japan presented to Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, more than 5,000,000 signatures in support of the Nuclear Zero campaign. The presentation took place in Vienna at the Civil Society Forum sponsored by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

The Nuclear Zero petition is part of a global campaign calling for a world free of nuclear weapons. The petition states, “To protect humanity’s future, we support the Marshall Islands, a small island nation that is courageously seeking to enforce the Nuclear Zero promise – a world free of nuclear weapons.” The petition goes on to call upon the nuclear-armed nations to fulfill their moral and legal obligations to begin negotiations for complete nuclear disarmament.






Alumni recognized for expanding mental health services and supporting Rotary’s work

By Dan Nixon, Rotary News

13 January - Dr. Geetha Jayaram has dedicated her life to helping people in her native India and the United States overcome the torment of severe depression, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, and other mental illnesses.Jayaram is a psychiatrist and associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. Her work expanding access to mental health services is much needed. (...)

In 1997, a year after joining the Rotary Club of Columbia, Maryland, USA, Jayaram founded the Maanasi Clinic in Mugalur, Karnataka, India, "as a way of giving back to the country of my origin," she says. The clinic, whose name means "sound mind," provides mental health services to indigent women in the region. Over the years, she has been deeply involved in the clinic's development, supplying it with medications, training health care staff and caseworkers, and raising funds. The clinic has also become a gateway to primary care, affording patients access to comprehensive health services.

In 2004-05 Jayaram taught psychiatry at St. John'sMedicalCollege in Bangalore and at the clinic through a Rotary Grant for University Teachers. The Rotary Foundation Trustees have chosen to recognize Jayaram with the 2014-15 Rotary Foundation Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award. She will be honored at the Rotary International Convention in São Paulo, Brazil, on 8 June.

The clinic, which operates in partnership with St. John'sMedicalCollege, has received funding from the Columbia club and Rotary grants. It has become sustainable through the efforts of the Rotary Club of Bangalore Midtown, which provides administration and oversight. (...)



Dispatch from the Ebola frontline in Liberia

By André Stelder

8 January – Liberia seems to be getting Ebola under control. Large numbers of new cases are only found in GrandCapeMountCounty, bordering Sierra Leone. In the capital city of Monrovia, with its 1.2 million inhabitants, there are a few suspected new cases every day.

Schools are expected to reopen on 2 February. Even football may resume in a few weeks. The danger is that people relax their guard or revert to more risky behaviour. It’s true that in every shop, hotel or office building you enter, you have to wash your hands with chlorine and your temperature is taken with a thermo-gun. In a culture where handshaking was frequent and elaborate, it doesn’t happen anymore. But slowly things are going back to normal. 2014 was a terrible year for Liberia. (...) The Catholic hospital was closed, but with the help of the American Caritas organisation CRS, they are trying to restart–training the remaining and newly recruited staff, then reopening the maternity ward.

On 2 January the Dutch Naval vessel Karel Doorman arrived in the port of Monrovia. On board among other things were 15 metric tonnes of aid items from Cordaid (Caritas Netherlands) and a pickup truck destined for Caritas Liberia. Caritas Liberia, with support of Cordaid and other European Caritas members, is going to bring its Ebola prevention efforts to the most remote rural areas in Liberia. Quarantined families will receive food support and trauma support. (…)



Rotary’s innovative tribute to polio eradication in India breaks Guinness world record

By Adam Ross, Rotary News

8 January – To eradicate polio in India, Rotary members displayed impressive coordination and commitment. So it should come as no surprise that Rotary members in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, were able to mobilize more than 40,000 people to create the world’s largest human national flag. The tribute to the polio eradication effort qualified as a Guinness World Records-breaking achievement.

“What impressed me most was that all of Rotary was represented: Rotaractors, Interactors, and Rotarians,” says RI President Gary C.K. Huang, who participated in the event along with his wife, Corinna, and other Rotary senior leaders. “They brought their classmates, friends, and co-workers. I think that says a lot about how important it is to the people that India is polio free.”

Participants from all walks of life holding placards stood together on a local fairgrounds to form the Indian flag. Their display broke the record set last year by the Sports Club of Lahore, which organized nearly 30,000 people to form the Pakistani flag.(...) The organizers, led by District 3230, estimate that another 50,000 people showed up to watch on large TV screens set up outside the event. (...)



Save the Children’s Sierra Leone Ebola Center discharges its 60th survivor

Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, December 24 - Save the Children has discharged the 60th cured Ebola patient from its Sierra Leone treatment center, as survival rates at its health facility continue to rise.

Six-year-old Lamine was discharged back to the care of his family on Monday, four days after he was admitted to the Save the Children-run treatment facility. “Children can be particularly vulnerable to Ebola, and their condition can either improve or deteriorate very rapidly,” said Save the Children’s Oliver Behn. “Our teams, which include medical teams from Sierra Leone, Save the Children, Cuba and the UK, provide high quality care 24 hours a day, and are making a real difference in increasing Ebola patients’ chances of survival, and ensuring more children like Lamine recover.”

Lamine was picked up at Kerry Town by his maternal aunt and uncle on Monday, and reunited with his mother and baby brother that afternoon. On Monday and Wednesday, five other survivors, including six-year-old Aminata who was critically ill with Ebola and malaria when she was admitted, were also discharged from the center. Six others are being discharged today, on Christmas eve. These successes brought the total number of Ebola survivors at Save the Children’s treatment center, so far, to 61.



Liberia: Welcoming the U.S.$6 million for counties

December 23 - The Ministry of Health yesterday entered into an agreement with at least three international Non-Governmental Organizations and one local Non-Governmental Organization for the management of US$6 million intended to revive routine health services in five counties considered most affected by the Ebola virus across the country. The amount to be managed was provided by the Government of Liberi. The International Rescue Committee (IRC), Africare, Africa Humanitarian Action (AHA) and MERCI are the organizations in that partnership.

Under the partnership, the fund will take care of routine services such as maternal newborn and child health, communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, diabetes and hypertension.

According to the implementers of the GoL fund, it will be distributed based on the sizes and numbers of healthcare centers in each of the targeted counties and the amount of patient in-take and at the same time jump-start the restoration of the basic healthcare process in the health delivery sector so that gains made cannot be eroded.




Energy and safety



Columbia Water Center receives a 3-year grant from Norges Bank to study water risk in the mining industry

New York, January 8 - The Columbia Water Center, a center of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, announced today that it has received a 3-year grant from Norges Bank to develop a modeling platform to quantitatively assess mining-related water and environmental risks and their financial implications.

The ColumbiaWaterCenter’s new modeling platform will allow investors access to targeted analyses of water-related mining risk. A comprehensive database will be developed as part of the project to support these analyses. Norges Bank has initiated and actively supports this academic research project to increase understanding of environmental risks and their financial implications as part of its responsible investment strategy.

Researchers will develop statistical modeling tools to address elements of specific risks, including: meeting water requirements for mineral processing, energy production and community needs; treatment and disposal and re-use of wastewater; mine dewatering operations; and addressing accidents and spills. The model will also address water allocation, trading, regulation and related governance issues.



China forms $32 billion energy company to help clean up Beijing

December 30 - China’s government said it merged Beijing Energy Investment Holding Co. and Jingmei Group into a new 200 billion yuan ($32 billion) business in line with its policy to improve efficiency in the energy industry and reduce pollution. The merger of Beijing Energy and Jingmei, a coal supplier based in the capital, will improve electricity supply, Lin Fusheng, head of Beijing’s Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, said in a report by the official Xinhua News Agency today.

The merger took place yesterday, Beijing Energy, which invests in electricity projects, said on its website. The new company, Beijing Energy Group Co., will manage coal-fired power plants, renewable energy projects, heating supply and coal mine development, Xinhua reported.

China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, has said it will fight pollution amid record smog levels in cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, mostly from coal-fired power plants. President Xi Jinping in a pact with U.S. President Barack Obama agreed to cap China’s carbon emissions by 2030 and use renewable sources for 20 percent of the country’s energy.



“We Mean Business” creates critical mass for making serious change

John Howell, Editorial Director

December 30 - In a year-end message, Aron Cramer, President and CEO of Business for Social Responsibility, writes about two upcoming events in 2015-the UN’s new sustainable development goals and the COP21 climate talks-as major markers for progress in global sustainability. Cramer also notes a less heralded but equally momentous event: the forming of We Mean Business, a coalition of seven business organizations focused on sustainability. Co-founded by BSR, the group includes Ceres, The B Team, CDP, The Climate Group, WBCSD, and the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group.

These associations collectively represent thousands of companies and investors who are urging governments to create incentives for businesses to move to low-carbon strategies. Like their well-chosen name, We Mean Business looks to make serious change. That’s good news to start off a New Year.




Environment and wildlife


Holland America Line develops program in partnership with Marine Conservation Institute to support marine protected areas

Seattle, Wash., USA, January 2 - As part of its “Our Marvelous Oceans” partnership with Marine Conservation Institute, Holland America Line has created a new program that highlights and educates guests and crew about marine protected areas around the world.  Developed with the team at Marine Conservation Institute, the program will educate guests and crew through on-board presentations by shipboard personnel. Topics will cover what a marine protected area is and how to visit one without causing harm to the habitat and wildlife.

In the Caribbean the program will largely focus on marine life and a variety of tropical ecosystems. For example, in Key West, Fla., guests can go snorkeling in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to see the area’s beautiful coral reefs. Or in San Juan, Puerto Rico, cruisers can embark on a unique nighttime kayak adventure into the bio-luminescent bay at Laguna Grande of Fajardo to learn about the water’s organisms and see how they “light up” at night.

In Australia and New Zealand, regional programs include a nature cruise to observe Hector’s dolphins at the Akaroa Marine Reserve at Akaroa, New Zealand. These are just a few of the excursions offered by Holland America Line that feature marine protected areas.




Religion and spirituality


Standing in solidarity: "Je Suis Musulman, Je Suis Juif"

January 14 - The rally of 3 plus million demonstrators across France including 40 world leaders on Sunday is the voice of interfaith solidarity boldly calling the world to reclaim the heart of our humanity. Devastating events unsettle everything we hold dear. Extremist acts shake up the foundations of society and force us to think about very difficult questions. This is where we are.

Amidst the controversy, however, we must be careful to not stereotype and condemn an entire race or religion because of the acts of a few outliers. Broadcasting messages of love and understanding, transforming strangers into neighbors, and promoting positive human relationships is the only way forward in our efforts for global healing. May the interfaith movement now arise stronger, fuller, and more energized to answer this call.



Pope breaks ground in seeking abolition of nuclear weapons

by Douglas Roche (article originally published by Western Catholic Reporter)

December - Pope Francis, who has already broken new ground in his outreach to a suffering humanity, has put the weight of the Catholic Church behind a new humanitarian movement to rid the world of nuclear weapons. The pope sent a message to the recent conference in Vienna, attended by more than 150 governments, to advance public understanding of what is now called the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of any use of the 16,300 nuclear weapons possessed by nine countries.

In his message, delivered by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, a leading Holy See diplomat, Pope Francis stripped away any lingering moral acceptance of the military doctrine of nuclear deterrence: “Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence. He called for a worldwide dialogue, including both the nuclear and non-nuclear states and the burgeoning organizations that make up civil society, “to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all to the benefit of our common home.” (...)

The Pope’s stand was supported by a remarkable Vatican document, Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition, also put before the Vienna conference. The document did not mince words: “Now is the time to affirm not only the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, but the immorality of their possession, thereby clearing the road to abolition.” (...)



Jerusalem - Launch of "East & West" - Young Women reading literary texts

The first encounter of the reading group of young Jewish and Palestinian women from East and West Jerusalem took place on Wednesday, November 12th, in the Swedish Institute in Jerusalem. The group was intimate and the encounter was very fruitful and happy. We discussed the nature of expected encounters, meeting's language, thought of ways to invite additional Palestinian participants and agreed on the days and hours that are suitable for the following sessions.

We form and maintain on-going interfaith encounter groups, or centers, that bring together neighboring communities across the country.  Each center is led by an interfaith coordinating team with one person for each community in the area.

The goal of this group is to develop into a “mini-community” that exemplifies the desired relations of mutual respect and friendship while respecting and reinforcing the unique identity of each community. These groups then act as models for the surrounding community of how multiple faiths can live side by side in peace while becoming growing islands of coexistence communities.

The backbone of the groups’ process is the monthly session of joint study.




Culture and education


Developer gives MIT $118-million for sustainability lab

9January – Hong Kong property mogul Samuel Tak Lee has donated $118-million to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to establish a laboratory for the study of sustainable real-estate development, Bloomberg and The Boston Globe write. The new year’s first nine-figure gift funds fellowships for U.S. and international students and support research on development, urbanization, the environment, and related issues.

The Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab will be housed in the school’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Center for Real Estate. Mr. Lee earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Cambridge, Mass., campus in the 1960s before joining Prudential Enterprise, his family’s Hong Kong-based real estate firm.



Kids in Kenya are ending violent mistrust between tribes

By Arnold R. Grahl, Rotary News

23 December – For decades, the small, pastoral communities in northern Kenya have been caught in a cycle of violence. Tribes have shed blood over distrust, scarce resources, and the theft of livestock.

Rotary Scholar Monica Kinyua founded the Children Peace Initiative (CPI) Kenya with her twin sister, Jane Wanjiru, to end the fighting by building friendships between children from different tribes.

Earlier this year, the sisters used a global grant sponsored by Rotary members in San Diego, California, and the Rotary Club of Nairobi to conduct a peace camp for children in Baragoi, SamburuCounty, one of the most dangerous in northern Kenya. Forty police officers investigating a report of cattle rustling had been killed there a few years prior. During the peace camp in May 2014, Turkana students from three community schools and Samburu students from three schools along with their teachers mingled for five days of ice-breaking and bonding activities. At the end of each camp, every child is strongly encouraged to make a friend with a child from another tribe.

CPI Kenya volunteers also organized events in Marsabit County where children who had formed friendships with children from neighboring communities invited their parents to meet their friends, and in the process the two families formed friendships.(...) Monica, who serves as executive director of CPI Kenya, says her Rotary scholarship helped her become a better leader and form a wider network of support. She got to know Interactions for Peace, a nonprofit based in San Diego, through a Rotary member, and is now partnering with the group. The University of San Diego has also lent support.

“Rotary exposed me to a world of possibilities and opportunities,” she says. (...) “I see Rotary’s commitment to education and to world peace as a great asset to peace and understanding in the world.”



IIPT World Symposium, South Africa, February 16-19

A milestone event in building a culture of peace and sustainability

The interactive and action oriented IPT World Symposium: Cultivating Sustainable and Peaceful Communities and Nations through Tourism, Culture and Sports being held in Ekurhuleni, South Africa, February 16-19, 2015 promises to be a groundbreaking event for the travel and tourism industry.

The Symposium will honor the legacies of the world’s three champions of Peace and Non-Violent Resistance: Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Symposium, which is endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, will also commemorate the 50th Anniversary of African Union, 20 years of South African Democracy, and 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Legislation in the United States. Venue for the Symposium is EmperorsPalace adjacent to O.R.TamboInternationalAirport, Johannesburg. Aim of the Symposium is to build on the legacies of Mandela, Gandhi and King in building bridges of tourism, friendship and peace in regions throughout the world  - and in this  process, cultivating sustainable and peaceful communities and nations. 

Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) “Peace through Tourism” will be a featured keynote speaker at the Symposium in continuing support of the long standing relationship between UNWTO and IIPT beginning with IIPT’s first Global Conference: Tourism – A Vital Force for Peace, Vancouver, 1988 which first introduced the concept of sustainable tourism development and a new paradigm for a “Higher Purpose of Tourism.” The Vancouver conference has been credited with the launch of the “Peace through Tourism Movement.”

The International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) is a not for profit organization founded on a vision of the world’s largest industry, travel and tourism – becoming the world’s first global peace industry; and the belief that every traveler is potentially an “Ambassador for Peace.”




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Next issue: 13 February 2015.


Good News Agency is published monthly (except August) in English, Italian and Portuguese. Past issues are available at www.goodnewsagency.org . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi (sergio.tripi@goodnewsagency.org). Editorial research by Fabio Gatti (fabio.gatti@goodnewsagency.org), Isabella Strippoli, Elisa Minelli. Webmaster, media and NGO coverage: Simone Frassanito (simone.frassanito@goodnewsagency.org


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations in 54 countries,  to 3,000 NGOs, 1,500 high schools, colleges and universities, as well as over 25,000 Rotarians in the world.


It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered, not-for-profit educational charity chartered in Italy in 1979 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. It is based in Via Antagora 10, 00124 Rome, Italy. The Association is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.


* http://decade-culture-of-peace.org/2010_civil_society_report.pdf - In section A - International Organizations, page 12, the Report says: ”Diffusion and exchange of culture of peace information via the Internet has become the major instrument for several international organizations, notably the Culture of Peace News Network, the Good News Agency and the Education for Peace Globalnet.”

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