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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 16th, no. 242 –  15 January 2016


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


President creates Ministry of Indigenous People in Chile

January 12, Santiago, Prensa Latina - Today, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet signed the laws at La Moneda Palace, Santiago, that create the Ministry of Indigenous People, the National Council and the Indigenous People’s Councils. (...) She said the idea was to generate more spaces in which the cultural richness of our identities can be expressed and to guarantee respect and equal treatment to all men and women, something that all people and beliefs deserve.  According to an official press release, in creating these authorities, representatives of the Aymara, Quechua, Atacameños, Diaguitas, Kollas, Rapa Nui, Kawesqar, Yaganes and Mapuche ethic groups were consulted.

The president explained that the new ministry would collaborate with the presidency of the Republic to design, coordinate and assess policies, plans and programs aimed at encouraging and strengthening the rights of the original peoples. (...)



Japanese-Korean accord on ‘comfort women’ must be speedily implemented, says UN official

31 December - Commending the Governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea on their landmark agreement to resolve the longstanding issue of ‘comfort women,’ a senior United Nations human rights official today called for its speedy implementation to heal the still raw wound.

The agreement reportedly involves an official apology from Japan for the treatment of the women in the Second World War and a promised payment of $8.3 million for the victims.



Greece: historic recognition of same-sex relationships

22 December - The Greek Parliament’s vote to extend civil unions to same-sex couples is an historic and important step in the right direction, but falls short of guaranteeing full equality with married couples, said Amnesty International. The new law, which was strongly opposed by the Greek Orthodox Church and several political parties, recognizes partners of a civil union agreement as next of kin and enables same-sex couples to enjoy some of the same rights granted to married couples.




Human rights


Human Rights conference 2016, Change Our World, 1-3 April, Miami.

Amnesty International USA's 2016 Annual General Meeting and Human Rights Conference will bring over a thousand human rights activists from around the world together and will give us an opportunity to engage in networking opportunities, inspiring plenaries, outstanding keynotes, and hands-on skill-building workshops as well as to shape the policies of the organization.

Our theme this year is "Change Our World."(…) We strive to embrace and reflect all identities that make up humanity in order to foster a world where justice, freedom, and dignity are recognized as central to the inalienable rights of all human beings.



Cambodia: Detainees and prison staff work together to improve prison facilities

29 December - Over the past 20 years, the ICRC's Water and Habitat engineers have worked closely with Cambodia's prison service to decrease detainees' stress levels, provide better sanitation facilities and generally improve prison conditions throughout the country. This year, the prison service carried out a project independently for the first time.



Thailand: Geneva Call supports a public campaign on humanitarian norms

22 December – Armed violence in southern Thailand caused more than 17,000 casualties ( most among civilians), between 2004 and 2014.The Cross-Cultural Foundation & Hearty Support Group, Geneva Call is supporting a public campaign to promote humanitarian norms among communities and parties to the conflict in the region known as Thailand’s “Deep South.” As part of its support to this campaign, Geneva Call adapted its training material on humanitarian norms—an illustrated booklet and a poster—to the local context. The Cross-Cultural Foundation & Hearty Support Group has already made strategic use of these tools in order to promote the respect of key humanitarian rules by all arms-bearers. Civilian casualty rates would be significantly reduced if all parties respected humanitarian norms.




Economy and development


South Sudan: Yei farmers optimize reap with new machines

6 January  – Farmers in on the world’s most food insecure countries received processing machines from Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) in order to get the most out of their produce. More than 60% of the food sold in the local market is now locally produced. Kojoba Farmer’s Producer group located in South Sudan’s Yei River County received a grinding mill and cassava processing machine from NPA in June 2015 to enable them process grain and fresh cassava-for-flour before selling the items in the market. The machines add value to the famers’ farm produce by having it processed soon after harvest. This means minimal loss of produce due to poor storage, rodents and termites.



Tech company grant boosts Ghanaian agricultural radio broadcasting

31 December, Ghana-  The USAID-funded Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement II (ADVANCE II) project works with radio stations to disseminate relevant and timely information on good agronomic practices, market prices, and other agricultural-related issues to smallholder farmers to improve yields and produce quality. ADVANCE II supports the scaling up of the maize, rice, and soybean value chains to achieve a greater degree of food security in Ghana to benefit 113,000 smallholder farmers. In ADVANCE II’s first phase, the project supported 17 radio stations with an estimated listenership of 200,000. It also trained stations on how to attract sponsorship for agricultural programs. This effort has led to a sponsorship from U.S.-based technology company, ZenoRadio, which is supporting four radio stations with a grant of GH7,000 ($1,840).The grant comes in the form of airtime cost. ZenoRadio will also provide the stations with free streaming services through their ZenoLive platform.



UN agency to provide $38 million to develop rural employment and income opportunities in Nepal

December 22 – The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed a financial agreement recently with the government of Nepal that will aim to reduce poverty and improve incomes and employment opportunities for over 87,000 rural households. IFAD will provide a US$38.6 million loan to finance the Rural Enterprises and Remittances Project in Nepal. The project focuses on creating employment opportunities in 16 districts of the Eastern and Central Development Regions.

The project will diversify the range of economic activities available to poor rural households and unemployed young women and men. It will promote self-employment and the development of small businesses. The project will also provide access to vocational training and apprenticeships for better job placement, and will provide financial advice and business training that can help migrant households and returnees make the best possible use of their remittances and savings.

The project will target 179,000 poor rural people. An additional 244,800 people will have access to financial education.



UN agency invests in linking smallholder farmers to commercial markets in Bhutan

Rome, 18 December – The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed a financial agreement with the government of Bhutan recently that will reduce rural poverty and sustainably increase the incomes of over 28,000 smallholder farming households.

IFAD will provide a total of US$14.4 million through a loan and two grants to implement the agricultural development programme which will focus on marketing and climate resilient farming practices in 10 provinces located in southern and eastern regions of the country.  The Commercial Agriculture and Resilient Livelihoods Enhancement Programme is designed to ensure increased returns for smallholder farmers through climate resilient production of crops and livestock products.

Poverty in Bhutan is overwhelmingly a rural phenomenon as nearly 95% of poor people live in rural areas. The programme will benefit 28,975 smallholder households, of which 7,115 households will directly benefit from vegetable and dairy value chains. IFAD has been working in Bhutan since 1981, investing over $65 million in eight programmes, with a total cost of $111.2 million including co-financing, reaching more than 121,035 households.



WFP starts local production of date bars in Syria for School Feeding Programme

December 15, Damascus – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has started producing date bars enriched with vitamins and minerals in war-torn Syria, as part of its school feeding programme for more than 315,000 vulnerable children. The local production initiative, supported by the European Union, helps keep children in class, invests in their futures while enhancing local food production capacities, creating employment and stimulating the local economy. WFP started its school feeding programme in 2014 in partnership with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and has plans to expand the programme in 2016 to support 500,000 schoolchildren in areas with high concentrations of displaced families.

WFP is entirely funded by voluntary contributions and needs to raise US$167 million to continue assisting displaced families inside Syria for the coming six months.

WFP’s school feeding programme inside Syria has been possible thanks to contributions from the governments of Saudi Arabia, France, the United Kingdom as well as the European Commission.



United Nations agency to provide thousands of rural families access to food inAfghanistan

December 14, Rome - The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has signed an agreement with the government of Afghanistan that will help ensure the food security and improved economic status of thousands of rural households in the country suffering from frequent food shortages. The Support to National Priority Programme, designed to improve livelihoods and access to food for approximately 57,000 households in six districts in Balkh, Herat and Nangarhar provinces, will include US$48.5 million in financing from IFAD. The Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan will provide $2.5 million and another $3.8 million will be financed by the government and the beneficiaries.

The new initiative will focus on strengthening Afghanistan's institutional capacity to provide agricultural development services, as well as improve productivity, infrastructure and market linkages to increase smallholder farmers' incomes. In addition, the initiative will help nomadic herders -- known as Kuchis -- and rural women engage in crop production and livestock management. This is the first initiative in a 15-year programme to support the country’s rural development efforts.






USA - Kresge Fund commits $20 million for early-childhood programs

January 8 - Calling high-quality early-childhood care a key to Detroit’s turnaround, the Kresge Foundation announced a five-year, $20 million effort Thursday to expand and improve programs for kids ages 0 to 5, The Detroit News reports. The priorities of Kresge Early Years for Success will include establishing new early-childhood centers offering a range of family and educational services, providing low-cost loans to existing facilities, and improving maternal health care.

Foundation CEO Rip Rapson said two-thirds of Detroit’s young children live in poverty, and only 14 percent are estimated to be kindergarten-ready when they reach school age. “We will know Detroit is on the path to a full turnaround when there is evidence that its children are safe and healthy and when they are academically, emotionally, and developmentally ready to begin school,” he said.



Year-end donations by PayPal climb 15% to $857 million

By Megan O’Neil

January 8 – Donors around the world gave $857 million using the online-payment company PayPal during the 2015 year-end giving season, executives said Thursday, a 15 percent increase over the year before.

PayPal counted donations made from November 27 through December 31, which came from 7.2 million donors in 183 countries. Individuals in the United States gave nearly $700 million. The average gift size was $93. The number of charities that received donations by PayPal increased 6 percent to 258,759, according to the company.

PayPal executives cited two factors in the year-over-year increase. First, the company expanded its 1 percent matching program for gifts of at least $10 from just the United States to eight additional countries. Its users responded enthusiastically to the idea that 101 percent of their gifts would go to the charities of their choosing, said Sean Milliken, head of Global Social Innovation at PayPal.

Credit also goes to the organizers of Giving Tuesday, Mr. Milliken said, who have succeeded in making the day a major event during a busy year-end season. PayPal seized the day, December 1, to try and break the Guinness World Record for online donations in a 24 hour period, ultimately bringing in $45.8 million. (The previous record was $19 million.) (...)



Life after Typhoon Melor: early recovery focuses on shelter repair

By Mary Joy Evalarosa

7 January - It has been three weeks since Typhoon Melor struck Central Philippines and Eastern Visayas, and many communities are starting to rebuild their homes and their lives. In the province of Masbate, the municipalities of Aroroy and Claveria were severely affected, while Monreal sustained the worst damage, (…)with 89 percent of totally damaged and 78 percent of partially damaged houses(…). Meanwhile, in the coastal town of Zone 2 in Bulan, Sorsogon, communities living by the coast have also started rebuilding with materials that washed ashore. Fallen coconut trees were used as a base support or cut into planks to make the walls of these new homes (…). Farming communities can be seen tilling the land and planting rice seedlings(...) The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an emergency appeal amounting to 3.7 million Swiss Francs (USD 3.6 million) last December to support the Philippine Red Cross in providing emergency assistance to thousands of people affected by successive typhoons and tropical storms.(…)



First Philanthropy Almanac provides a wealth of facts and data

By Rebecca Koenig

January 6 – If you’ve ever struggled to find a profound quote about charity or wondered what George Eastman did with his Eastman Kodak fortune or pondered America’s first fundraising campaign, you’re in luck: The new Almanac of American Philanthropy contains all that information and more.

The tome, which tops 1,300 pages and purports to be the first of its kind, offers overviews of what philanthropy has accomplished over the course of U.S. history, profiles of major donors, a bibliography of significant books and articles, and data about charitable giving. It was written by Karl Zinsmeister, a former public-policy researcher at the American Enterprise Institute who now manages publishing at the Philanthropy Roundtable. His goal was to create an “authoritative resource on U.S. private giving” for use by donors, scholars, reporters, and public officials.

Three thousand copies will be distributed to academic and public libraries, and 13,000 copies will go to donors and U.S. foundations worth at least $50 million. The book is also for sale on Amazon for $25, but its content is available for free at philanthropyroundtable.org/almanac. (...)



European Union donates 3 million euro to help remote quake-affected villages

December 29, Kathmandu - The European Union has contributed 3 million Euro to the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) to help deliver shelter and emergency supplies to remote mountain communities still struggling after the April earthquake. The EU contribution supports WFP’s Remote Access Operation that employs mountain porters, guides and mule operators - some of whom lost their tourism industry jobs after the earthquake. The donation comes just weeks after WFP announced that a lack of fuel for helicopters and trucks is causing it to increase its reliance on porters and mules in its earthquake response.

Through the operation, WFP has already distributed more than 1,330 metric tons of cargo on behalf of the humanitarian community, and employed local communities to open 890 kilometres of mountain trails damaged by the quake, subsequent aftershocks and the monsoon. However, hundreds of thousands of people in Nepal living in remote, mountainous areas still rely on outside help for basic needs.



Vulnerable refugees in Lebanon get warm winter clothes

December 29 – Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanon face another harsh winter. In Nahr El Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon, many do not have winter clothing and boots to cope with the cold, wet conditions of the camp. But with the support of generous donors, including a small non-profit organization called Al Amal, ANERA is helping to ease this burden.

As part of ANERA’s winterization program, more than 2,300 children in northern Lebanon and the BeqaaValley recently received winter jackets, shirts, pants, hats and boots.

In addition to warm clothes, ANERA’s winterization program provides blankets and quilts, emergency lights, hygiene kits and baby kits to help refugees in Lebanon deal with the wet, cold winter. Dima Zayat, ANERA’s health program manager, says the humanitarian relief reaches the most vulnerable families – especially those living in makeshifts homes, barracks and tents.



Nepal: European Commission supports in building back better

by Shreya Singh

22 December – In response to the devastating earthquakes of 25th April and 12th May 2015 that killed over 8890 people, the consortium of ACT Alliance members Dan Church Aid, Christian Aid, Lutheran World Federation and ICCO Cooperation are launching the Nepal Earthquake Recovery Project (NERP) with funding support from European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO). The total budget of the project is €1.5 million with the European Union providing €900,000 and €600,000 co-financed by the Act Alliance consortium members. The project intends to directly reach 16,940 people to build back better and safer shelters guided by the ACT Alliance’s Integrated Shelter Approach. The project(…)will include addressing transitional shelter needs providing shelter materials and technical assistance through locally trained shelter technicians enabling affected households to build back better and safer shelters. The project action(…) will include targeted cash transfer support, focus on sanitation needs covering household toilets and access to water and hygiene services at the community level (…)



Syria: 60,000 people given aid in Homs after ceasefire agreement

16 December, Damascus / Geneva – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) have started to deliver food and other aid to thousands of people in the Al-Waer district of Homs after a ceasefire agreement between the Government of Syria and armed opposition groups. The Al-Waer Local Committees helped broker the deal. The population are in desperate need of supplies. Convoys of trucks are bringing in food supplies for 40,000 people and hygiene kits for 60,000 people. In addition, medical items sufficient for 1000 dialysis sessions for patients with severe kidney problems will also be part of the aid delivered. A part of ICRC supplies also includes basic construction material, which will be used to increase insulation against the cold weather and to improve water and sanitation facilities at 13 centres currently hosting displaced people in Al-Waer.



Lebanon: ICRC and UNRWA join forces again to help Palestine refugees

16 December, Beirut– Vulnerable Palestine refugees from Syria in Lebanon will receive assistance to cope with the coming winter through a program launched by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The winter assistance will be provided to over 2,120 families in the form of cash, which they will be free to spend on their most pressing needs. The ICRC has earmarked over 940,000 US dollars for this program. The ICRC has been working in Lebanon since 1967, where it tackles problems arising from past conflicts, helps Syrian refugees and the communities hosting them. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some five million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.



Bringing social change and mobility through wheelchair project

By Daniela Garcia, Rotary News

December 15 – The common perception of the physically disabled throughout Mexico was that they are incapable of being productive members of society. Unable to work or provide for their families, they face discrimination, must be taken care of, and are kept at home.But an organization called Autonomy, Liberation Through Movement (ALEM) is working to change all that. Founded in 2007, ALEM provides vocational training, encouraging and empowering people with motor disabilities to find meaningful employment. In addition, the group is providing a service that was sorely needed throughout central Mexico: wheelchair repair.

With the help of the Rotary Club of Cuernavaca-Juárez and the Rotary Club of Paoli-Malvern-Berwyn, Pennsylvania, USA, ALEM has been able to provide low-cost repairs for wheelchair users in their community. A Rotary Foundation grant is funding a mobile repair clinic that travels to neighboring central Mexican cities including Puebla and Veracruz. Local Rotary clubs arrange accommodations, meals, publicity, and a central location where the ALEM team can set up its mobile repair shop. (...)



The Noerr Programs surpasses $1 million in donations for Save the Children’s U.S. programs

Guests of Santa at The Noerr Programs Photo Experience share generosity of the season, reaching a major milestone in 5-year partnership with Save the Children

December 15, Washington - Save the Children today thanked The Noerr Programs, national operators of the Santa and Bunny Photo Experience, for surpassing $1 million in fundraising for its U.S. Programs.

Since 2011, Noerr has collected donations at its photo experiences around the country in support of Save the Children’s early childhood education, literacy, health and emergency preparedness programs in the United States. One guest and one act of giving at a time, those donations have now added up to exceed $1 million this holiday season.

Save the Children’s domestic programs strive to ensure that children in need are ready to succeed by the time they begin school, to thrive academically and developmentally, and to lead healthy and active lives. The programs include providing books and home visits to pregnant women and families of young children as well as literacy and afterschool programs in isolated, high-poverty communities around the country.

In addition to financial support for these programs, Noerr has brought Santa and The Bunny to brighten spirits of rural children. These special guests delivered gifts and messages about the importance of reading to Save the Children program sites in Tennessee, Colorado, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, New York, Washington D.C. and California.



Germany gives crucial support for refugees in East Africa

December 11, Dar Es Salaam - The Government of Germany has today announced a contribution of €16.5 million to support refugees in East Africa. Of this, €14 million goes to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide food assistance to recently-arrived Burundian refugees, and to Congolese refugees, in Tanzania. The remaining €2.5 million goes to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for assistance to Burundian refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania.

More than 116,000 refugees have fled to Tanzania since April as a result of political unrest in Burundi. With 64,000 Congolese refugees already in the country, this makes Tanzania home to over 180,000 refugees. To accommodate the large influx of Burundian refugees, the Government of Tanzania has this year re-opened three former refugee camps in north-western Tanzania.

Germany’s contribution to WFP will provide over 180,000 refugees with a basic food basket of maize, beans, vegetable oil, salt and corn soya blended flour for five months. It will also provide supplementary food to prevent malnutrition for 26,000 children aged under five, as well as 9,900 pregnant and breastfeeding women



Helen Keller International 100th anniversary year highlighted by program achievements reaching millions in the united States, Africa and Asia

New York, December - Helen Keller International (HKI), one of the oldest global nonprofit organizations dedicated to fighting the causes and consequences of preventable blindness and malnutrition, celebrates the close of itsCentennial Anniversary with several programmatic achievements.

This milestone year has been highlighted by continued progress in reaching people in need in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities:




Peace and security


U.N. Syria mediator aims to convene peace talks on January 25

U.N. Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura plans to convene representatives of the Syrian government and "the broadest possible spectrum of the Syrian opposition and others," his spokesman said in a statement.

"He counts on full cooperation of all the relevant Syrian parties in this process. Continuing developments on the ground should not be allowed to derail it," said the statement, which was issued a day after Zahran Alloush, a top Syrian rebel leader, was killed in an air strike on the edge of Damascus.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution on Dec. 18 endorsing an international road map for a Syria peace process, in a rare show of unity among major powers.



Angola: over five million square meters cleared of landmines

6 January , Saurimo - At least 5, 432,397 square meters were cleaned and cleared of landmines in 2105, in Lunda Sul, with a view to implementation of social projects and the guarantee of security for the local population, said Wednesday the liaison official Salvador Colo.Speaking to the press, the source said that the demining work took place in the four districts of the province, namely Cacolo, Dala, Muconda and Saurimo.According to the source, the result of these actions were controlled and checked about 111 kilometers of roads. From these number, 65 kilometers were on the road section Dala/Luma Kasai and 46 in Cacolo/Cucumbi / Xassengue section.These actions, he said, led to the removal of six anti personnel and anti tank landmines, 62 unexploded explosive devices and 902 ammunition of various calibers.



Nigeria, Borno State: MSF begins surgical activities in the city of Maiduguri, treating victims of a large attack.

6 January – Since 28 September 2015, an MSF( Mèdecins Sans Frontières) team has been working in the 11-bed emergency room at Umaru Shehu hospital in Maiduguri, the capital of the BornoState. In response to recent attacks, MSF began performing trauma surgery at the hospital on 28 December. The Umaru Shehu hospital treats patients referred from smaller health structures, and also provides care to people wounded during attacks. MSF provided essential medicines and medical materials, refitted the operating theatre and set up a mass casualty plan. Every week, MSF receives about 200 patients in the hospital’s emergency room. Islamist militants launched an unusually large attack on the city beginning on the evening of 27 December, which was followed by a series of suicide bombings on the 28th. In response to the high number of wounded, MSF began performing trauma surgery on 28 December in Maiduguri’s UmaruShehuHospital.



DRC is engaged in the fight against illegal weapons and ammunition proliferation to protect the community and restore rule of law

19 December, Rwampara – Bunia (Ituri Province Congo)- Under the supervision of CNC-ALPC (National Commission for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons and Armed Violence Reduction), FARDC (DRC Armed Forces) and the technical expertise of UNMAS (United Nations Mine Action Service), more than 22, 000 obsolete weapons, small arms ammunition (SAA) and unexploded ordnances (UXOs) illegally owned have been destroyed. Throughout this initiative, Democratic Republic of Congo meets its international obligations and prevents the potential risk of deflagration related to weapons, ammunition and UXOs stocking conditions. This destruction marks the official end of the community safety pilot project, mainly funded by UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) since 2008 for the prevention of conflicts.



Sudan: the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North neutralizes 211 stockpiled anti-personnel mines

15 December – In November, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North (SPLM-N) neutralized 211 stockpiled anti-personnel mines with the support of a technical expert brought in by Geneva Call. This first step towards the total destruction of the SPLM-N’s stockpiles follows its signature of Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment banning anti-personnel (AP) mines in 2013. In a region that is heavily contaminated by explosive remnants of war, neutralizing these dangerous devices is essential to avoid further civilian casualties. When SPLM-N leaders signed the Deed in 2013, they declared owning a stockpile of captured AP mines, and they pledged to destroy it. Since that date, Geneva Call has sought to facilitate its destruction. Geneva Call also runs several awareness-raising courses for civil society organizations and SPLM-N commanders from a particularly isolated area of the conflict, the Blue Nile region. These courses focused on the obligations contained in the Deed of Commitment banning AP mines but also those in the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict.



Italy completes destruction of stockpiled cluster bombs

11 December - Italy completed the destruction of its stockpiled cluster munitions five years before its treaty deadline. On 8 December 2015, the Permanent Mission of Italy to International Organizations in Geneva informed the Implementation Support Unit of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, that ‘Italy has completed the destruction of its entire stockpile of cluster munitions and related submunitions on 31st October 2015’.



India and Pakistan restart peace talks

In December, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Pakistan to meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. This was the first visit to Pakistan by an Indian Prime Minister since 2004. The two leaders pledged to accelerate peace talks and decided to have their foreign secretaries meet soon in Islamabad.

Tensions between India and Pakistan, both of which are nuclear-armed countries, remain high over issues including the disputed territory of Kashmir.  

Anindya Upadhyay and Faseeh Mangi, "India, Pakistan to Speed Up Talks After Modi's Surprise Visit," Bloomberg, December 25, 2015.

Source: Sunflower Newsletter Jan 2016 http://www.wagingpeace.org/sunflower-newsletter-january-2016





Ebola: Antimalarial drug reduced patient mortality by 31%

7 January, Geneva/New York- A malaria drug may have reduced risk of dying among a group of Ebola patients in Liberia during the height of the outbreak in 2014, according to a retrospective study published by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and its research arm Epicentre, in the New England Journal of Medicine Thursday. The study found that Ebola patients who were prescribed an antimalarial drug, artesunate-amodiaquine (ASAQ), had a 31 percent lower risk of dying than those who were prescribed the standard first-line antimalarial medicine(AL). Antimalarial drugs are part of MSF’s treatment protocol for all suspected Ebola patients. This effect was only discovered when an Ebola treatment center in Foya, Liberia in August 2014. ASAQ contains the compound, amodiaquine, whose activity against Ebola virus disease has been documented in recent in vitro assessments of potential drug candidates among compounds used to treat other diseases.



Supporting people through the trauma of waiting for the worst news

By Caroline Haga, IFRC

January 5 – Qusai Jaber is among the 121,000 people who have arrived on the Greek island of Chios seeking safety in the last year. The 27-year-old fled the city of Ramadi, Iraq – which has been under siege since 2014 – with his family and made the perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece.

Like thousands of other terrified passengers, Qusai found himself fighting to survive in the Aegean Sea after the flimsy rubber boat he was travelling in began to sink. While Qusai survived he watch helpless as his brother was lost beneath the waves.  (...)

Now, with the support of Palestine Red Crescent Society psychologist Mohammad Brighith, who is working in Greece with the Spanish Red Cross and Hellenic Red Cross, he is preparing for news about his brother.

Qusai is among 112,000 people who have received psychological support from Red Cross and Red Crescent societies as they have made their way across Europe last year. Specially trained volunteers are stationed at first aid posts along the migratory trail to help people deal with the stress and trauma they may have faced either at home or on their difficult journey.



US Government approves US$ 228 million in funds for polio eradication

21 December – The US Congress has approved a total of US$ 228 million for the 2016 federal budget to support global polio eradication efforts in continuation of the country’s longstanding leadership in the fight to end polio. The funds will support ongoing efforts to stop wild poliovirus transmission in the remaining polio endemic countries, and help to reach more than 430 million children who remain at risk for contracting polio in a number of countries, primarily in Africa and Asia.  2015 saw significant progress in polio eradication with Nigeria and the entire continent of Africa passing a year without any new wild polio cases. World Health Organization removed Nigeria from the list of endemic countries. Only Pakistan and Afghanistan have confirmed cases of wild polio this year (66 as of December 18th) and we have seen a 79 percent reduction in cases from the same period of time last year.



India introduces the Inactivated Polio Vaccine

21 December, India – Shri J P Nadda, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, launched the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) in India in November, announcing it as a milestone in India for Global Polio Eradication.The Health Minister stated that the Government of India is introducing one dose of IPV into its routine immunization program alongside the oral polio vaccine. The vaccine will initially be introduced in six states: Assam, Gujarat, Punjab, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. The South East Asia and Pacific region was declared polio-free in 2014 after three years with no cases in India. Yet with bordering Pakistan still reporting cases of polio, the introduction of IPV into routine immunization programs will provide an important boost to the immunity of children in India against all types of poliovirus. The Health Minister thanked and congratulated all state governments and the supporting organizations like WHO, UNICEF and Rotary International. He expressed his gratitude toward the frontline health workers for achieving unique success of polio eradication in the sphere of public health.




Energy and safety



USA: State RPS yielded $7.4 billion in benefits in 2013

January 13 - A new study estimates the United States realized $2.2 billion in benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions, as well as $5.2 billion from reductions in other air pollution, resulting from state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies that were in effect in many states in 2013.

State renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies generated an estimated $2.2 billion in benefits by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and an additional $5.2 billion by reducing other air pollution in 2013, according to a new study. The report was conducted by researchers from the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Entitled A Retrospective Analysis of the Benefits and Impacts of U.S. Renewable Portfolio Standards, the study evaluates the benefits and other impacts of RPS policies. RPS policies require utilities or other electricity providers to meet a minimum portion of their load with eligible forms of renewable electricity. They currently exist in 29 U.S. states plus Washington, D.C., and have been a driver for increased renewable electricity generation in the United States over the past decade. See the LBNL news release and the EERE Blog.

Source: EERE Network News. This newsletter is funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and is also available on the EERE website.


IAEA closes Iran nuclear bomb probe

The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has ended its decade-long investigation of allegations that Iran worked to develop nuclear weapons. The IAEA resolution stated that the investigation was "implemented in accordance with the agreed schedule" and that this "closes the board's consideration of the matter."

The IAEA investigation concluded that although Iran conducted "a range of activities relevant to the development" of nuclear weapons before the end of 2003, the activities "did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies."

This move by the IAEA clears the way for the deal reached in July between Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China and Germany) to move forward toward full implementation.   "IAEA 'Closes' Iran Nuclear Bomb Probe," Agence France-Presse, December 15, 2015.

Source: Sunflower Newsletter Jan 2016 http://www.wagingpeace.org/sunflower-newsletter-january-2016  



Environment and wildlife


Reflecting back, looking forward

25 December, WWF’s activity –The year came to a promising close when governments met in Paris to agree on a new global climate deal. More work is needed to keep warming below the necessary limit, and WWF will continue to work at every level to be at the center of global efforts against climate change.Only months before the Paris agreement, we witnessed another important moment of global unity when the UN approved a sustainable development deal that gives us the best chance to eliminate poverty, promote prosperity and protect the environment. The new 15-year plan commits all countries to ensuring food, water and energy security for generations to come.In 2015, WWF increased the public discussion about the ocean’s importance to the economy, food security and our planet’s natural systems. This was highlighted by WWF’s efforts to raise awareness of the risks facing Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s most recognizable World Heritage Sites.




Religion and spirituality


Christians and Muslims: Christmas as a "seed of peace"

January 5, Lahore - An interreligious meeting where to talk, celebrate, confront oneself on the theme of christmas starting from the Bible and the Koran: was the successful event organized by the Council for Interreligious Dialogue in Lahore. The program was attended by the Minister for Minority Affairs and Human Rights of the government of Punjab, the Catholic Khalil Tahir Sindhu, and by many other Christian and Muslim religious leaders.  Those present remarked that “It is the task of Christians and Muslims to promote peace and religious harmony so that peace can prevail in the world”.



Hindus welcome interfaith Prayer Room at Alvernia University in Pennsylvania

By Prudhvi Nanduri

January 4 - Hindus have welcomed launching of interfaith “Prayer and Reflection Room” (PARR) at the “distinctive Franciscan” Alvernia University (AU) headquartered in Reading (Pennsylvania).

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that an interfaith “intimate space” provided by PARR was a step in the positive direction for AU for quiet reflection and spiritual exercise. Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, hoped that the presence of interfaith prayer/reflection space in the shape of PARR would help the AU students to have a spiritually meaningful life in addition to material success after they graduated from the university. (...)



Interfaith: National religious leaders speak out against anti-Muslim rhetoric

Pax Christi USA’s Executive Director Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN signed onto this letter.

December 22 - Fifty leaders from a host of religious denominations and community organizations took a public stand against the currently alarming level of anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigotry in America. The signers of the open letter, which ran as an advertisement in the Washington Post on December 21, assert that anti-Muslim rhetoric is a threat to the foundations of American democracy, and to the religious freedom of all Americans. Click here to read the entire ad that was placed in the Washington Post.




Culture and education


Nigeria set to hire more teachers

5 January, Nigeria- The Nigerian Government is going to address teacher shortage by doubling the numbers of contracted educators, according to the National Teachers Union (NUT) of Nigeria. In his Christmas address to the nation, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, announced the recruitment of 500,000 teachers in 2016 to boost the country’s education standards. Around 570,000 teachers are employed in public primary schools, with this number expected to rise to over one million with the round of new contracts. The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) highlights that Nigeria’s announcement comes amidst a trend of investment in teachers throughout the continent. Both the Tanzanian and South African governments have also spoken of increasing teachers’ wages and numbers.



Wells Fargo supports veterans with $2 million to Scholarship America

5 January, San Francisco (USA)/CSRwire/ - Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) has committed $2 million over the next four years to Scholarship America to develop and implement the Wells Fargo Veterans Scholarship Program and the Wells Fargo Veterans Emergency Grant Program. The needs-based scholarships and grants will help veterans and spouses of disabled veterans obtain education or training necessary to successfully integrate back into civilian life. Scholarship America, the nation’s largest provider of postsecondary educational assistance programs, and Wells Fargo worked together on the application and selection process for the scholarship and emergency grants, using best practices of the highest quality postsecondary educational aid programs.



Save the Children is helping improve education for children in Bhutan, Haiti thanks to money raised by Red Nose Day

Over $23 Million Raised from Inaugural Red Nose Day at Work by 12 Charities to Benefit Children Living in Poverty across U.S. and around the World

December 21, Fairfield, Conn., USA - Following the tremendous fundraising success of the inaugural Red Nose Day USA, which aired on NBC in May and raised over $23 million, Save the Children will be helping more than 17,000 kids in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, be safe, healthy and ready to learn, and ensuring nearly 3,000 children in Bhutan have the fundamental skills to succeed in school. Comic Relief, Inc. has announced that the overall money raised by the Red Nose Day Fund is currently at work by 12 international and domestic charities in all 50 U.S. states and in 15 countries internationally, helping to address the immediate needs of children and young people living in poverty.

The Red Nose Day campaign, co-created by writer-director Richard Curtis, is built upon the idea of using entertainment, via media and celebrities, to raise awareness of poverty and inspire the public to have fun, raise money, and change millions of lives.



Soccer as catalyst for social change for youth in Colombia

ACIP supports soccer for peace schools to promote conflict resolution, respect, and tolerance

December 21 – In Timbiquí, Cauca, in Colombia’s Pacific region, the Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Program (ACIP) and Fundación Tiempo de Juego harness soccer, the national pastime, as a catalyst for social change. At Soccer for Peace Schools, soccer balls replace weapons.

Nearly 97 percent of Timbiquí inhabitants are Afro-Colombian or indigenous. Due to decades of armed conflict, they are especially vulnerable to violence. Left with little to do (the river is too polluted by illegal mining to swim in any longer), the region’s young people are often recruited into the drug trade. Soccer for Peace Schools are changing this as they create spaces for kids to be kids. 

Girls are especially encouraged to participate; in fact, one of the rules is that a girl must score each game’s first goal.




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Next issue: 19 February 2016.


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 26,000 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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