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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. 235 –  15 May 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

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation


Vatican to officially recognize Palestinian statehood

By Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor

13 May (CNN) - The Vatican announced Wednesday that it had brokered a treaty with the "state of Palestine," upsetting Israeli advocates and propelling Pope Francis into the heart of yet another geopolitical fray.

The treaty is expected to be signed "in the near future," the Vatican said. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, is scheduled to visit Pope Francis on Saturday, the day before the church canonizes two Palestinian nuns.

The treaty is thought to mark the first time the Holy See has formally recognized Palestinian statehood in a legal document. Vatican policy, however, has long held that a two-state solution is the best road to peace in the Holy Land. The Vatican has referred to Palestine as a state since November 2012, when the United Nations voted to recognize it as a nonmember observer state, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, told CNN. At the time, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI led the Catholic Church.

"Therefore there is a coherent continuity," Lombardi continued in an email. "Obviously this is an international agreement with the State of Palestine and this reaffirms the recognition."

According to Palestinian officials, as many as 135 states now recognize Palestine as a state. Few political leaders, though, have the moral authority and popular appeal of Pope Francis. (...)



UN envoy announces start of talks aimed at achieving return to political track on Syria

5 May – A series of consultations that began today in Geneva aim to redouble international efforts in search of a political process to resolve the conflict in Syria, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told journalists today.

Rather than producing their own outcome document, the talks, which began today, are aimed at ‘operationalizing’ the Geneva Communiqué, he said, adding that “as many actors … as possible” had been invited in order to establish whether it might be feasible to start a new round of formal negotiations further down the line. Today, Mr. de Mistura said that 40 Syrian groups, in addition to the Government of Syria, will participate in the fresh talks, along with about 20 regional and international actors, including the neighbouring countries and the five permanent members of the Security Council.




Human rights


Iran: a Kurdish armed movement commits not to use children in hostilities

30 April – After four years of dialogue with Geneva Call, the East Kurdistan Defence Forces (YRK) and the Women’s Defence Forces (HPJ)—also known as the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK)—have signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict. On 25 April 2015, in the Kurdish region of Iraq, a delegation from Geneva Call met with the highest representatives of the YRK–HPJ to formalize this commitment.

The YRK–HPJ has activated a provision in the Deed of Commitment: a new category of non-militarily active YRK–HPJ membership will be created; youths aged between 16 and 18 will only be allowed to join this category and solely on a voluntarily basis. (…)




Economy and development


IFAD and the Solomon Islands invest in rural communities

May 7, Rome – A US$62.5 million national programme supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will reduce poverty and help to develop the agriculture sector in the Solomon Islands. The programme will revitalise the agricultural sector, build small-scale infrastructure and create income opportunities for over 68,000 poor, rural households.

IFAD is providing $4.5 million to finance the Rural Development Programme (Phase II).

The national programme will cover all nine provinces. Specifically, it will support smallholder farmers who produce commodities, such as cocoa and coconut, to partner with agri-businesses to add value to agricultural products and create jobs.  

It will also invest in community-managed small-scale infrastructure to provide basic services such as roads, bridges and docks. The financing agreement includes funds specifically designated for disaster recovery assistance.  These will be used to rebuild the Guadalcanal communities that were heavily affected by flash floods in 2014. All infrastructure investments will incorporate measures to mitigate future effects of climate change and natural disaster. The 550,000 people living in the country face huge constraints as they are scattered over 90 islands and far from neighbouring countries. 



With Australian support, WFP & Disaster Management Authority open fourth humanitarian facility in Pakistan

May 7, Lahore - – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Punjab Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) today inaugurated the fourth humanitarian response facility for Pakistan in Lahore. WFP and the Pakistan government have been working together since 2013 to establish a network of humanitarian hubs in eight strategic locations across the country, as part of broader emergency preparedness activities. These relief hubs will allow both the government and the rest of the humanitarian community in Pakistan to respond more swiftly and efficiently to a sudden emergency.

The Pakistan government has provided land to WFP to build eight humanitarian facilities in the country’s most disaster-prone areas. The government is responsible for the management and staffing of the facilities. WFP provides training for staff in managing the facilities, as well as in humanitarian supply chain and emergency response. The project is being implemented in coordination with the national and provincial disaster management authorities, with generous funding provided by Japan, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United States of America.



EU calls for paradigm shift in development cooperation

By Ramesh Jaura

Brussels, May 5 - In the run-up to the international Conference on Financing for Development from July 13 to 16 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the European Union has called for a “true paradigm shift” in global development cooperation. The Addis Ababa conference will be followed by the U.N. post-2015 Summit in New York and the Climate Change conference in Paris in December. (...)

The European Commission, which represents the interests of the 28-nation European Union, believes that the sustainable development goals (SDGs) to be agreed in New York in September should not only cover “traditional” development challenges such as poverty, health and education, but go much further and address poverty eradication and sustainable development together in three dimensions – economic, social and environmental.(...)

The E.U. Development Commissioner is backed by an eminent group of experts from Finland. France, Germany and Luxembourg, who have authored the fifth edition of the European Report on Development (ERD), which focuses on ‘Combining Finance and Policies to Implement a Transformative post-2015 Development Agenda’. (...)



Smallholder farmers in focus as UN Rome agencies event zeroes in on financing

30 April - The panel discussion, organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – the Rome-based agencies of the United Nations, brought together multiple voices to explore the policies and investments needed to successfully implement SDG2 of the July 2014 proposal of the intergovernmental Open Working Group (OWG) of the UN General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Identifying investments that go beyond business as usual, financing mechanisms from a global partnership perspective and the challenges countries will face in financing SDG2 as an integrated package stood out among lively exchanges between panellists and participants from member states, civil society, the private sector and research institutions in the discussion chaired by Tekeda Alemu, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations.



Somalia registers record export of livestock in 2014 due to trade boost with Gulf States

29 April – Somalia in 2014 exported a record five million livestock to markets in the Gulf of Arabia thanks to heavy investments in animal disease prevention backed by the European Union and the United Kingdom, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today. This is the highest number of live animals exported from Somalia in the last 20 years.

Livestock is the mainstay of the Somali economy, contributing 40 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Buyers from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and United Arab Emirates have all taken advantage of Somalia’s thriving livestock scene and its improved disease surveillance and control mechanisms.

Every year, FAO vaccinates an average of 12 million animals in Somalia against peste des petits ruminants (PPR) – a highly contagious and often deadly viral disease of goats.



Renewed global development partnership vital to post-2015 agenda, Ban tells top finance institutions

20 April – Kicking off a high-level meeting with global financial institutions and development agencies at United Nations Headquarters this morning, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on governments, the business sector and civil society to work closely together to push forward the post-2015 development agenda. “Strong engagement from all sectors here today illustrates the unprecedented cooperation that is critical to forging ahead on a sustainable development agenda,” Mr. Ban said in his opening remarks.

The annual high-level meeting – organized by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) included representatives from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

This meeting comes ahead of July's Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conference will include Heads of State and ministers and will aim to result both in a negotiated and agreed outcome and in summaries of the plenary meetings and other deliberations of the Conference.






Bright Funds harnesses workplace giving for Nepal emergency response

San Francisco, CA, USA May 8 - Bright Funds, the company that enables employee-empowered workplace giving, announced that six disaster response Funds have been launched in support of Nepal disaster relief that can be accessed exclusively at brightfunds.org.  Shortly after the devastating earthquake struck Nepal, Bright Funds began to amass donations from employees at partner companies and individual donors using the Bright Funds platform. Bright Funds enables both companies and employees to take a more strategic approach to workplace giving through the option of giving to individual non-profits or exclusively available “funds” comprised of multiple, strategically-selected nonprofits.

Bright Funds established the Nepal Earthquake Disaster Response and Recovery Fund on the same day the news broke about the disaster, incorporating strategies of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Through a single donation to this fund through the Bright Funds platform, Oxfam America, Doctors Without Borders USA, Care, Save The Children, Direct Relief, and American Red Cross will all receive needed financial resources for both short-term and longer-term disaster relief. Within days, Bright Funds customers Box, Cloudera and Delphix used its exclusive “Start a New Fund” capability to raise money and awareness for Nepal relief in their own ways, supporting several other nonprofits providing disaster relief.



Nepal: Danchurchaid intensifies the emergency response

DanChurchAid has received additional 2 mio. DKK from the Danida DERF funds for the emergency response in four Nepalese districts, among these the Gorkha district, epicenter of the earthquake.

by Jutta Weinkouff

May 7 – In Nepal the UN, the Nepalese Government and many NGOs struggle to come to the rescue of the disaster affected Nepali people. DanChurchAid has been assigned to four districts, among these Ghorka district, quake epicenter. In the rural areas people are trying to get an overview over the numbers of casualties, wounded, destroyed houses, roads, health clinics, schools etc.

In emergencies coordination is an absolute necessity to ensure that all affected people get help.

As part of the coordination of the emergency response in Nepal DanChurchAid has been assigned to relief work in four districts: Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Dhading - and Ghorka district, quake epicenter. The emergency response will focus on five core objectives: temporary shelter - safe water - safe sanitation - hygiene promotion - food and livelihood. (…)



WFP to receive 3 million nutrition bars for Nepal's quake victims

May 6, Kathmandu - The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) is to receive 3 million urgently-needed nutrition bars in Nepal in the coming days to help support those people left without food in the aftermath of the recent earthquake.

The food bars, nutritionally-fortified cereal bars called “high-energy biscuits,” or HEBs, will arrive by air from Dhaka, Bangladesh. They are being provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Due to weight restrictions at Nepal’s Tribhuvan International Airport, the bars will arrive on multiple flights. WFP has distributed HEBs and rice to some 267,000 people, and has positioned supplies to feed about half a million people in the worst-affected areas, but time is of the essence for those who have lost everything. WFP is boosting its air and land assets to reach more people with both food and shelter in the coming days. WFP urgently needs US$116.6 million to provide food for 1.4 million affected people for three months. You can support WFP’s work in Nepal by making a donation at www.wfp.org/nepal.



USAID contribution ensures vital support for poor families in Niger

May 4, Niamey – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed in-kind and cash donations from USAID’s Food for Peace Program totaling US$40 million to support WFP’s assistance to very poor households and build community resilience to withstand recurrent shocks especially drought. More than 2.5 million people are food insecure as this year’s harvest showed a cereal deficit of some 230,000 metric tons. Niger is also hosting around 150,000 refugees from Nigeria and Mali, placing additional strain on already stretched communities and services.

WFP currently supports local communities by distributing monthly cash and food to poor families.

During the June to September lean season, WFP’s response will prioritise very poor and vulnerable households who will receive unconditional cash or food assistance together with an integrated nutrition response. WFP’s intervention in Niger aims to respond to emergencies and build community resilience in rural areas. However, the lack of funding is a big challenge to improving livelihoods, building resilience to future shocks and breaking the cycle of chronic poverty.



ADRA distributes tarps in hard to reach villages in Nepal

By Natalia López-Thismón

Kathmandu, Nepal, May 4 - ADRA Nepal staff are working around the clock to deliver much-needed tarps and food to families in remote villages in Dhading and Kavre. Tough road conditions, including rubble from houses destroyed by the earthquake is making distributions more difficult. ADRA workers are driving up to five hours and walking long distances in the mountainous regions of Nepal with tarps and materials to be distributed to communities.

“We are going to great lengths to ensure that even those who are hard to reach receive the urgent assistance that they need as soon as possible,” says Robert Patton, ADRA Emergency Response Coordinator. Over the last week, ADRA has distributed 1,278 tarps in Dhading district, 900 tarps in Kavre, 50 tarps in Kathmandu, and 64 tents in Lalitpur. There are plans to begin food distributions in addition to continuing shelter distributions later this week. Families in remote villages are relieved to see they have not been forgotten. (...)



First ShelterBox aid distributed to hospitals in Kathmandu

30 April - After Nepal’s worst earthquake in 80 years, hospitals in the country’s capital Kathmandu were devastated, forcing medical staff to treat their patients outside with dwindling supplies. However, ShelterBox has been able to provide tents to four hospitals in the city creating safe, covered spaces where patients can be treated in privacy. They will be used for carrying out minor operations, changing dressings and as mobile health clinics too.

ShelterBox is also sending further aid to Nepal, starting with an initial 500 shelter kits, which can be used to mend structures and create temporary shelters. However, our pre-positioned stocks of equipment in the country meant that the response team was able to start helping people whose lives have been shattered by the earthquake as soon as they arrived in the country.



EU supports people in Guatemala & Honduras affected by drought and coffee rust

April 24, Panama City -  The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$3.1 million from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) to provide food assistance to approximately 73,000 people affected by the drought in Guatemala and Honduras.

Through ECHO funding and in coordination with the governments, WFP will assist some 52,500 people in Guatemala and 20,500 people in Honduras to meet their immediate food and urgent needs through cash and voucher transfers for a period of 90 days. Cash and vouchers will be distributed among people who participate in asset creation activities to help them rebuild their livelihoods.  Most of the beneficiaries who will receive cash and vouchers live in Western Guatemala, South-Western Honduras and the Dry Corridor –a drought-prone area also shared with El Salvador and Nicaragua.  



U.S. food contribution arrives in Sudan ahead of the approaching lean season

April 21, Khartoum – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a contribution of food commodities from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) valued at US$135 million to help WFP provide assistance in Sudan during the lean season. The U.S. contribution will help WFP support food-insecure people across Sudan, including 1.8 million internally displaced people in Darfur. It will also support, for a six-month period, more than half a million school children in Darfur and around 262,000 in central and eastern Sudan through WFP’s school feeding programme.

In 2015, WFP plans to assist 3.7 million people across Sudan through direct food assistance, cash vouchers and nutrition programmes, as well as recovery and resilience-building activities that help communities to become self-reliant. This includes 2.8 million people in the conflict-affected region of Darfur and close to one million vulnerable people in the Central, Eastern and Three Areas, including South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.




Peace and security


2015 Women’s walk for peace in Korea

On May 24, thirty international women peacemakers from around the world will walk with Korean women, north and south, to call for an end to the Korean War and for a new beginning for a reunified Korea. We will hold international peace symposiums in Pyongyang and Seoul where we can listen to Korean women and share our experiences and ideas of mobilizing women to bring an end to violent conflict. Our hope is to cross the 2-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) that separates millions of Korean families as a symbolic act of peace.

2015 marks the 70th anniversary of Korea’s division into two separate states by Cold War powers, which precipitated the 1950-53 Korean War. After nearly 4 million people were killed, mostly Korean civilians, fighting was halted when North Korea, China, and the United States representing the UN Command signed a ceasefire agreement. They promised within three months to sign a peace treaty; over 60 years later, we’re still waiting.



Nigeria: aid reaches hundreds found in Sambisa Forest

May 7 - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Nigerian Red Cross have delivered aid to a group of 275 people, mainly women and children, who had been found in Sambisa Forest, in north-east Nigeria. The group was found during military operations in the region last week. The group was taken to a camp in the town of Yola and yesterday received clothing, bed-sheets, jerricans and hygiene articles. The ICRC also provided medical supplies to the federal hospital in Yola to help treat the wounded and sick.



Caritas aids victims of political unrest in Burundi

By Caritas Internationalis

29 April – Caritas is mobilising to help thousands of people who have fled political violence in Burundi. Demonstrations about the country’s presidential election led to clashes between police and protesters, with families seeking refuge in parishes and other sites. “The situation is still confused, but an urgent priority is to help the wounded and people who have been displaced,” said Abbé Jean Bosco Nintunze, Secretary General of Caritas Burundi. “Some of the seriously injured are young people.”

Even before the demonstrations in the capital, families in the country’s north began running from the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the governing political party. Many have fled to Rwanda, with the most affected dioceses being Muyinga and Ngozi. The leaders of opposition parties and civil society have been imprisoned by the police and private radio stations have been shut down.

The Caritas network is working to provide food and other help to people flocking to parishes. But “the safety of the parishes is not at all assured,” said Abbé Nintunze.



Horn of Africa: New effort to reunite families caught up in South Sudan violence

April 27 – The ICRC has launched a new initiative to help thousands of people fleeing the violence in South Sudan. A new web page (http://familylinks.icrc.org/south-sudan) has been set up which enables people to trace family members with whom they have lost contact.

“The web page will allow South Sudanese people living abroad in places like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and France, look for relatives displaced by the violence,” said the ICRC's Marc Studer, who is heading the project. Photos of individuals are uploaded to the website. When visitors of the page recognize a photo of a close relative they can click on the picture and send a message. That message is then delivered by the ICRC or the national Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies to the person on the photo. “I hope the web page and its promotion on social media will help refugees and displaced people who are desperately searching for their families,” said Mr Studer.

Following the recent violence, hundreds of thousands of people left South Sudan and crossed into neighbouring Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan and Kenya. More than 1,600 photographs of displaced people have been taken in refugee camps in Gambella, Ethiopia, and in Juba, South Sudan. The pictures, of adults and unaccompanied children, were taken by the Ethiopian Red Cross and the South Sudan Red Cross, supported by the ICRC.



UNICEF welcomes final release of child soldiers by armed group in South Sudan

24 April - Militants in South Sudan have handed over to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) a final group of 283 children in what the agency described as “a small piece of good news in what is otherwise a terrible situation for children in other parts of the country” where many boys and girls have been abducted and forcibly recruited as child soldiers. During the release ceremony, the children handed in their weapons and uniforms in exchange for civilian clothes. The boys and the one girl will stay at the interim care center where they will receive food, shelter, medical and psychosocial support until their families are traced and they can return home.






MSF reinforces its search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean

9 May, Augusta, Sicily – Médecins Sans Frontières  (MSF) is launching an additional ship to carry out search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea to assist people who are risking their lives trying to reach Europe by boat. The ship is carrying a crew of 26 people, including an experienced search- and rescue crew as well as medical staff to provide emergency medical care.

The Bourbon Argos, leaving the port of Augustaon 9 May, will provide additional search and rescue support in the Mediterranean. The ship will work in parallel with the MY Phoenix,  a boat jointly operated by MSF and MOAS (Migrant offshore Aid Station), which launched on 2 May. The MY Phoenix has so far rescued 591 people and assisted in the rescue of 101 more in operations over the past 6 days. All 692 have received medical screening and assistance as required from the MSF medical team on board.

The Bourbon Argos will have the capacity to carry 300 to 350 rescued people, and will be able to maneuver quickly to follow up on a distress call. The 68 metre-long vessel has been specifically adapted to perform search-and-rescue activities.



Momentous Institute and AT&T release three free apps to support children's social and emotional health

Dallas, TX, USA, May 8 -  Momentous Institute and AT&T, through the AT&T Aspire initiative, have released three mobile apps that can help children better understand their emotions. The organizations are using the apps to expand the reach of the best ed-tech solutions for students.

The three apps use the social emotional health practices developed by Momentous Institute, which serves Dallas students from age three to 5th grade. Momentous Institute has impacted more than 100,000 students through their innovative approaches to education, which promote academic excellence and social competence and have received wide recognition. The apps are free and available for download on iPads and iPhones with iOS 7 (iPhone versions coming today), and Samsung Tab 4s and Note 8s.

Research shows that social emotional health is an indicator of how well children succeed in school and life.  The AT&T Foundry worked with Momentous Institute and an app developer to translate social emotional health techniques to a digital platform.



Gates Foundation launches new child-mortality effort

May 7 – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will put $75 million into an effort create and dispatch disease-surveillance teams to poor countries to plumb the causes of child deaths and possibly spot emerging outbreaks, The New York Times reports. The Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance network will start with small teams in six countries, but the foundation hopes to expand to 25 Asian and African nations, each with dozens of investigators on the ground.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Emory University's Global Health Institute are also involved in the effort, which will see the teams visit families after children die to get information on symptoms and, with permission, photograph the bodies and take biopsies from organs. Data will be fed to the CDC or the World Health Organization to establish the cause of death, providing a much bigger pool of information on child mortality and potentially speeding up detection of an outbreak.



Spafford’s Bethany Clinic offers free health care for Palestinian families

May 6 – Inside Spafford Center’s multipurpose room in Bethany (Ezarriyeh in Arabic) some 50 women, men and children sit patiently waiting their turn after registering their names at the center’s welcome desk. The “open day” is part of a campaign led by Saint John’s Eye Hospital to provide free eye exams for free. A staff of four diligently work to serve the patients.

The Spafford Center, whose main branch is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is a long-term ANERA partner, dating back to 1998 when ANERA provided the center with a $5,000 grant to improve the out-patient clinic. Currently, ANERA is supporting Spafford’s work to improve the health, education and well-being of vulnerable Palestinian children and women in and around East Jerusalem.

After the construction of the separation wall and imposition of travel restrictions, the medical center extended its operations to Ezarriyeh just behind the wall, to continue serving its patients. The open day in Ezarriyeh is part of the outreach program to marginalized and isolated communities, providing health care for Palestinian families.



Polio staff support Nepal earthquake response

May 5 – Polio staff and infrastructure are assisting emergency relief efforts following the devastating earthquake in Nepal on 25 April. Polio staff from the country have been deployed to help conduct rapid assessments of the most urgent needs. In the aftermath of an earthquake, a rise in infectious disease poses a threat to people living with weakened or destroyed sanitation and health systems. Polio staff from both the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF are supporting the Ministry of Health in planning, implementing and monitoring vaccination campaigns for measles and rubella in the affected areas. At the same time, staff are gearing up surveillance capacity, to actively look for communicable diseases, including cholera. The drive to eradicate polio has always been about more than polio alone. The polio network routinely conducts surveillance for other diseases of public health importance, including measles, yellow fever, neonatal tetanus and avian influence.

The extensive polio eradication network at country-level has proved itself repeatedly to be uniquely equipped to provide immediate support during emergencies or other disease outbreaks.



Ethiopia: MSF broadens vaccination package for South Sudanese refugees

5 May – Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) teams in the Gambella region of Ethiopia are expanding the vaccine package being provided to South Sudanese refugees to include PCV (Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) and Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B) in order to reduce child mortality linked to pneumococcal diseases. The PCV and Hib vaccines help protect populations against respiratory infections, one of the primary causes of mortality among refugees.

To meet this objective, MSF started a vaccination campaign among refugees in Gambella targeting children aged from 6 weeks to 59 months. The first round started last November; the second followed eight weeks later. The third round is done through the routine vaccination. This vaccination campaign targeted 50,000 South Sudanese children for PCV vaccines and 26,000 for Hib vaccines.



Delivering medicine for Gaza diabetes patients

April 28 – Ever since the Gaza war ended in 2014, the health system has struggled to fulfill the growing needs of different types of medicine. “Gaza was plagued with poor infrastructure and a fragile health care system even prior to the war,” says pharmacist Safaa Hawer who works for Al-Quds hospital.

For many Gaza families, Al-Quds hospital is the only facility that offers affordable and quality health care. Safaa feels confident that without the medicine that ANERA has been delivering to the hospital, the work would have been even more difficult. “We’ve been operating in peace and war with rotating shifts of physicians around the clock. The availability of the medicine delivered by ANERA helps us tremendously,” says Safaa, who joined the hospital in 2001.



World Immunization Week: protecting children through lifesaving vaccines

By Adam Ross – Rotary News

24 April – This year's observance of World Immunization Week, 24-30 April, signals a renewed effort to prevent an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths worldwide from vaccine-preventable diseases, including polio, by closing immunization gaps. The extensive polio-eradication infrastructure created by Rotary, its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), and governments and health ministries provides a model for this effort. (...) 

Rotary and its partners are looking to carry out a legacy health plan, which has two notable aspects:

Ensuring that the knowledge generated and lessons learned from years of polio eradication activities are shared with other health initiatives.GPEI, in its efforts to deliver the polio vaccine to the hardest-to-reach and most vulnerable populations in the world, has learned valuable lessons about overcoming barriers. As a result, polio workers have been able to deliver additional health services, including deworming medication, vitamin A supplements, measles mortality-reduction activities, bednets to prevent malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, and routine immunizations. (...)

WHO's World Health Assembly will review a Global Legacy Framework at its meeting in May. In the meantime, Rotary members and the public can get involved by supporting Rotary's polio program as it carries out the final steps to eradicate this disease. Donate, and learn more at endpolio.org.



Project HOPE and AstraZeneca to launch three-year community-based diabetes total care innovation pilot program in China

Millwood, VA, USA, April 24 – Project HOPE and AstraZeneca announced today a three-year, first of its kind partnership to develop a diabetes education and care program in China – the Community-based Diabetes Total Care Innovation Program. With the full support of both the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), as well as provincial Health and Family Planning Commissions (HFPC), the program will be piloted in Tianjin as well as several other select provinces and cities, with the goal of building primary healthcare capacity in diabetes education, diagnosis and treatment to ultimately improve patients’ healthcare in China.

Diabetes is on the rise in the world. According to statistics released by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), China currently has the highest number of individuals with diabetes. Thus, in order to improve the prevention and care capabilities of healthcare professionals at primary care facilities, and to better service diabetes patients in China, Project HOPE, together with AstraZeneca, is launching the “Three-Year Community-based Diabetes Total Care Innovation Pilot Program” to fill the gap between operating capacity and patients’ needs for long-term medical care.



Oral polio vaccine switch on track for April 2016

April 21 – The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) met in Geneva on the 14 April to review the epidemiological status of polio, and to assess the plans, preparedness and timeline for the globally synchronized switch from trivalent to bivalent oral polio vaccine (OPV).

SAGE concluded that significant progress had been made since the meeting in October 2014, with no cases in Africa since August and over a year having passed since the most recent case in the Middle East, strengthened surveillance and more children being reached with vaccines. As a result of these steps forward, all countries and the partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) should plan with more certainty for April 2016 as the firm date for the global withdrawal of OPV type 2. Withdrawing OPV 2 is a crucial part of the polio endgame strategy, in order to combat the very rare cases of vaccine associated paralytic polio (VAPP) or circulating vaccine derived polioviruses (cVDPVs). 




Energy and safety



Ethiopia: better access to clean water in Tigray

6May – Scarcity of water is commonplace in northern Ethiopia. However, a better access to clean and safe water will no longer be a problem for 6000 residents of district Miglabferes, in western Tigray. The ICRC has built a new reservoir and upgraded the distribution network. People, especially women and children, no longer have to make a long queue and travel faraway for drinking water.

Following a request from the district water resources and mine office and the inhabitants of Miglabferes, the ICRC took on the project to give people better access to safe and clean water.The project consisted of the construction of an elevated reservoir of fifty cubic metres, its connection to the existing borehole, and the upgrading of the water distribution system through five tap stands, each of four taps. “Innovative for the region, the steel water reservoir has an estimated life span of 50 years,” said ICRC engineer Nicole Frelechoux. The work was carried out in coordination with the authorities and the community.



Costa Rica’s energy nearly 100 percent clean

By Diego Arguedas Ortiz

San Jose, May 5 - Costa Rica has almost reached its goal of an energy mix based solely on renewable sources, harnessing solar, wind and geothermal power, as well as the energy of the country’s rivers.

In April, the state electricity company, ICE, announced that in 2015, 97 percent of the country’s energy supply would come from clean sources.

“The country as such, along with its energy and environmental policies, has decided that it wants its energy development to be based on renewable sources,” Javier Orozco, the head of ICE’s System Expansion Process, told Tierramérica.

But this Central American country of 4.5 million people still depends partially on fossil fuels. The official said “we use thermal energy generation as a complement because renewables depend on the climate and you can’t guarantee that there will always be wind or water.” The country’s energy supply is based almost totally on clean sources. In March ICE announced that in the first 75 days of the year, not a single litre of oil nor kilo of coal were burnt to generate electricity in the country. (...)



UN launches #SaveKidsLives campaign to boost road safety for children

 4 May – Each day some 500 children die from road traffic crashes, thousands more are injured and the situation is only getting worse, the United Nations warned today as it launched #SaveKidsLives, a global campaign to generate action to make streets safe for children.

The third UN Global Road Safety Week, which kicks off today and runs through 10 May, under the theme ‘Children and road safety,’ features hundreds of events to highlight WHO’s package of 10 key strategies for keeping children safe on the road. The campaign is part of a larger Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 plan of action to save five million lives across the world.




Environment and wildlife


World Environment Day - June 5

World Environment Day (WED) is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Over the years it has grown to be a broad, global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated by stakeholders in over 100 countries. It also serves as the ‘people’s day’ for doing something positive for the environment, galvanizing individual actions into a collective power that generates an exponential positive impact on the planet.

The WED theme this year is "Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care." The well-being of humanity, the environment, and the functioning of the economy, ultimately depend upon the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources. And yet, evidence is building that people are consuming far more natural resources than what the planet can sustainably provide.

Consuming with care means living within planetary boundaries to ensure a healthy future where our dreams can be realized. Human prosperity need not cost the earth. Living sustainably is about doing more and better with less. It is about knowing that rising rates of natural resource use and the environmental impacts that occur are not a necessary by-product of economic growth.



Why the UN-Vatican conference this week was such a big deal

by Earth Island Journal-May 2 - Written by Bill Patenaude

A visit to the Vatican by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday demonstrated the growing relationship between the Catholic Church and the global environmental movement. The timing of the visit called attention to Pope Francis’s upcoming statement on ecology, while bolstering preparations for important international climate talks in Paris this December.

“We have a profound responsibility to the fragile web of life on this Earth, and to this generation and those that will follow,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the day-long Vatican conference on climate change and sustainability. “That is why it is so important that the world’s faith groups are clear on this issue—and in harmony with science. Science and religion are not at odds on climate change. Indeed, they are fully aligned.”

To be perfectly clear: This is a huge deal. Tuesday’s events in Rome promise to fundamentally reshape global environmental advocacy by giving new moral force to the efforts to protect the planet. At the same time, the Church’s heightened involvement with environmental issues will enlist hundreds of millions of new people into the movement for environmental protection. (...)



FAO and Norway to help developing countries monitor forest resources. New software will ensure fast processing of satellite data

April 13, Rome - Norway and FAO have signed an around $4.5m partnership agreement to improve the capacity of developing countries to monitor and report on their forest resources and changes in forest area. The project will facilitate countries' access to earth observation data sources, including satellite imagery, and develop an easy-to-use platform for processing and interpreting this data.

Gaining access to satellite imagery can be difficult for users with poor internet connections, posing a serious challenge for natural resource managers in developing countries. Additionally, old, outdated computers process large-scale data very slowly. FAO's new software aims to overcome these problems by avoiding the need to download images locally and by using a scalable, "cloud-based" supercomputer instead. All downloading and processing takes place elsewhere, in locations where connections are good and large amounts of computing power is available.

At the initial stage FAO will start implementing the new system in 13 countries over the next 3 years in support of activities under the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD). 




Religion and spirituality


World Invocation Day  -  June 2

Every year, since 1952, people in all parts of the world have celebrated World Invocation Day on the day of the June full moon. It is a global day of prayer and meditation when people of different spiritual paths invoke energies of Light, Love and Spiritual Purpose, using the Great Invocation.

You are invited to link in with others around the world in a 24-hour Vigil for World Invocation Day beginning in your own time zone 12 hours before the full moon and ending 12 hours after the full moon .

Together may we link with all who love humanity and the Earth to invoke the Light, Love and Power of Divinity and visualize these beneficent energies strengthening everything being done in the world to build right relations and goodwill. Our work in this Vigil is to stand with all human beings who, at this time of transition, are actively working to create a more cooperative, compassionate and equitable world.

On World Invocation Day, 1952, Eleanor Roosevelt, a pioneering force in the passage of the Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations, and wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, recorded a brief message which included the Great Invocation. The message was recorded by Mrs Roosevelt at the United Nations. We are living today in a troubled world. In many parts of the world people have a sense of discouragement as to whether they will ever solve their difficulties and it seems to me that those of us who feel that a spiritual leadership is necessary in the world are looking for ways in which to express what we feel. Someone sent me the other day an invocation, its called the Great Invocation, and it seems to me to express the aspirations held by many people throughout the world so I’m going to read it to you on this program.



Day of Vesak - 1 June 2015

“The Buddha's message of peace, compassion and love for all living beings tells us to open our hearts and embrace all members of our human family, especially those in need. These timeless teachings can help guide governments and the international community. They can inspire our efforts to address many of the broader challenges confronting our world."  (UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon)

Vesak", the Day of the Full Moon in the month of May, is the most sacred day to millions of Buddhists around the world. It was on the Day of Vesak two and a half millennia ago, in the year 623 B.C., that the Buddha was born. It was also on the Day of Vesak that the Buddha attained enlightenment, and it was on the Day of Vesak that the Buddha in his eightieth year passed away.

The General Assembly, by its resolution 54/115 of 1999, recognized internationally the Day of Vesak to acknowledge the contribution that Buddhism, one of the oldest religions in the world, has made for over two and a half millennia and continues to make to the spirituality of humanity. This day is commemorated annually at the UN Headquarters and other UN offices, in consultation with the relevant UN offices and with permanent missions, which also wish to be consulted.



Upcoming inauguration vent: celebrating the Fuji Declaration May 17 2015

By: The Fuji Declaration

The launch of The Fuji Declaration will be celebrated with three uplifting programs in Tokyo, Denmark and Mt. Fuji leading up to the formal inauguration ceremony on May 17th. The events will promote and celebrate the inauguration of The Fuji Declaration for a Divine Spark Activation.

The inaugural events will begin on May 15th at the invitational Tokyo Symposium: Commemorating the launch of The Fuji Declaration hosted by The Goi Peace Foundation at the United Nations University in Tokyo followed by an East West Celebration at sunrise on May 17th. The formal inauguration ceremony will take place at the Symphony of Peace Prayers 2015 between 10:15 am and 1:15 pm at the Fuji Sanctuary.

A call for a Divine Spark Activation will radiate from Mt Fuji out to the world supported by the collective field of global consciousness urging humanity to embrace a more harmonious, compassionate and sustainable era for all.



Culture and education


2nd European Youth Conference «Let’s Take Care of the Planet», May 20 -22 in Brussels

The 2nd European Youth Conference « Let’s Take Care of the Planet » will take place from May 20 to 22, 2015, in Brussels at the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, gathering 80 youngsters representing thousands of youth from 14 European countries. The theme of the conference: Climate change. Sub-themes: Biodiversity and Natural Resources, Energy and Renewable Energies, Health and Well-being, International Climate Negotiations, Solidarity and Citizenship, Production and Consumption.

The conference in a few words: activities to raise awareness of socio-environmental and climatic issues, strengthen active European citizenship, encourage taking action… The youngsters will have reflection, make and give value to shared commitments, discover the functioning and diversity of Europe, its stakes, play a flash mob…



Alliance Data contributes $1 million toward My Possibilities’ visionary development of educational campus for adults with cognitive disabilities

Dallas, TX, USA, May 6  -  Alliance Data Systems Corporation, a leading global provider of data-driven marketing and loyalty solutions, announced a $1 million gift to Plano-based non-profit My Possibilities in support of the development of a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive educational campus for adults with cognitive disabilities.

My Possibilities is a pioneer in vocational instruction for adults with special needs who have aged out of the public school system. From the center’s 23,000 square-foot educational facility in Plano, Texas, My Possibilities provides social, vocational, and independent living skills training and a variety of enriching programs designed to stimulate the mental and creative abilities of the center’s students, called HIPsters (“Hugely Important People”).

Alliance Data has long supported causes that are focused on providing important services that increase independence for adults with disabilities. More than 2 million students with developmental disabilities leave the U.S. public school system with little or no options for further education. The new My Possibilities campus will help fill this educational void for the special needs adults that live in North Texas.



On World Press Freedom Day, UN says free expression vital for global sustainability

3 May– Freedom of expression and press freedom are critical to the successful implementation of good governance and human rights around the world, top United Nations officials declared today as they inaugurated the 2015 edition of World Press Freedom Day with a reminder that both freedoms were “essential” for the shaping of a new global sustainable development agenda.

In a joint message, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Director-General of the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, observed that quality journalism “enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society's development” while also working “to expose injustice, corruption, and the abuse of power.” “For peace to be lasting and development to be sustainable, human rights must be respected,” the UN officials affirmed in their statement. “Everyone must be free to seek, receive and impart knowledge and information on all media, online and offline.”           

World Press Freedom Day, which was established by the UN General Assembly and is celebrated annually on 3 May, is designated by UNESCO as an opportunity to celebrate worldwide the fundamental principles of press freedom.



Gaza music school gives hope to young musicians

April 24 – Amid the despair that pervades Gaza these days, Gaza Music School coordinator Ibrahim Al Najaar sounds an optimistic note: “Music restores hope and joy for a nation not accustomed to happiness.” As the student orchestra starts rehearsals, Ibrahim adds, “The music school supports students who want to play music and make their voices heard in the world.”

Some 200 young musicians meet at the school in Gaza City most evenings from 5 to 8 pm to rehearse and take lessons from 14 teachers there. Ibrahim Al Najaar describes the school as a refuge for many students who are designing their future through their talent and need an outlet for their creativity. “No matter the size of the hands or fingers, music is about sensation, and they do a great job expressing their emotions,” he adds.

The Gaza Music School was founded in 2008 as a project funded by A. M. Qattan Foundation. It started with five teachers and 25 students but quickly expanded. Today there are 14 teachers. It is the only music school in Gaza.



Launch website We Are All Citizens

22 April – PAX Iraq team has launched the website weareallcitizens.org today! This website tells you stories and shows you images, videos and publications produced by the Kulluna Muwatinun (We are All Citizens) programme.

With support of the European Union, Dutch peace organization PAX implements this programme in Iraq in partnership with al-Mesalla, al-Tahrir an Nuzumujiyya, Free Press Unlimited and Independent Media Center Kurdistan (IMCK). You will find on this website many accounts of positive interaction between different communities. Enjoy the many stories of  local efforts to depolitize ethnic and religious identities; examples of hands on alternatives for sectarianism in Iraq.





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Next issue: 12 June 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, 1,400 high schools, colleges and universities, as well as over 27,000 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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