Go to the Home Page

Good News Agency

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

monthly, year 17th, no. 253 –  14 January 2017


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 media and editorial journalists, NGOs, service associations and high schools and colleges around the world.

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


European Union funding helps WFP save lives in South Sudan

23 December 2016 - Over the past year, ECHO has contributed more than US$27 million to WFP in South Sudan, bringing immediate food and nutrition assistance to people facing acute hunger as well as supporting the effective and efficient transport and delivery of humanitarian relief supplies throughout the country. With ECHO funding, WFP has assisted internally displaced people living in UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites and other conflict-affected locations, as well as providing food and nutrition support to communities across the country who have been badly affected by three years of conflict and prolonged food shortages.



Gambian leaders must ensure peaceful transfer of power to President-elect, says Security Council

21 December 2016 – Welcoming the African Union’s decision to recognize Adama Barrow as President-Elect of Gambia, the United Nations Security Council reiterated its call on outgoing President Yayha Jammeh to transfer power to the President-Elect in peaceful and orderly manner. In the statement, the Council also underlined the need to ensure the security of President-elect Barrow and that of all Gambians, and called on the country’s defence and security forces to demonstrate maximum restraint and maintain an atmosphere of calm in Banjul.



Syria: UN General Assembly adopts Resolution on War Crimes Investigations
On December 21, 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution establishing a mechanism to assist in the investigation of serious crimes committed in Syria since 2011.
The General Assembly today demonstrated that it can take the reins on questions of justice in the face of Security Council deadlock. The countries that voted for this unprecedented  resolution took a critically important stand for victims of massive grave crimes. By establishing the investigative mechanism, the General Assembly is helping pave the road to accountability after years of unchecked atrocities. Simply condemning the murder and mayhem inflicted on civilians is not enough. Perpetrators now know that evidence of their misdeeds will be collected to hasten the day when they find themselves in the dock.



FAO Council greenlights structural reforms, fine-tuned strategic framework

9 December 2016, Rome - The 155th session of the FAO Council wound down today, with Members giving the thumbs-up to the creation of a new department focused on climate change and approving a fine-tuned strategic framework that fully aligns the Organization's work with the 2030 Global Agenda. Starting next year, the new Department of Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water will lead FAO's efforts to support countries in adapting food systems to climate change and fulfilling their commitments made under the Paris Climate Treaty. It will also oversee all FAO work related to the sustainable management of land and water resources which underpin global food production. The newly approved strengthened management structure will bolster FAO's ability to deliver technical and other assistance to countries as well as improve the quality of data used to monitor and evaluate progress.




Human rights


COLOMBIA - Fun activity campaign to remove child workers from the road

22 December 2016 -For the entire month of December a series of activities that provide fun initiatives against child labor, with the objective of removing children from the street, was carried out in Bogota. According to official figures of the District, at least 1 out of 10 children, in the age group between 5 and 17, is forced to work in Bogota.



New York March for Immigrant Rights!

19 December 2016 - After the election of Donald Trump the immigrants organization in NYC organized a March on December 18 from 48th Street btw 1st and 2nd Avenue (Dag Hammarskjold Plaza) to Trump Tower in Manhattan. Trump’s election has cast a pall over immigrant communities across the United States, as they face the reality of a president who has promised to build a wall along the border with Mexico, deport millions of undocumented immigrants, and ban Muslims from entering the country.

The call from the organizers of the March:



IFAD to provide $46.5 million to reduce poverty and revitalize mountain areas in Morocco

19 December 2016 –The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Morocco today signed a financing agreement to improve the living conditions of rural people in mountain areas and reduce poverty by 30 per cent by 2030.

The Atlas Mountains Rural Development Project will benefit 182,000 people in 18 rural communes in the provinces of Ouarzazate, Tinghir and Beni Mellal.



URI-North India Working to End Violence Against Women

 15 December 2016 - Quoting Emma Watson, “If you truly put your heart and soul into what you believe in, even if it makes you vulnerable, amazing things can will happen.” No better words can define the National Consultation on Effective Communication and Intervention Strategies to prevent and end violence against women in India organized by WISCOMP (Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace)’s project—Partners in Wellbeing: Youth Countering Violence against Women in India—in solidarity with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence Campaign. The Consultation brought together 40 participants to review the work undertaken across multiple platforms by various actors including policymakers, police officers, foreign delegates from embassy’s, funders, academics, NGOs, youth groups, men’s collectives, women activists, creative artists, media professionals, transgender activist and other stakeholders towards changing mindsets and attitudes on violence against women, post-Nirbhaya.




Economy and development


EU and FAO team up to address alarming food insecurity in Yemen

9 January 2017, Rome/Sanaa - With 14 million people food insecure in strife-torn Yemen, the European Union (EU) has committed 12 million euro in support of FAO's efforts to tackle rising hunger. EU funds will be used to provide a better understanding of the magnitude of the current situation and avert a deepening crisis, while providing immediate agricultural support to more than 150 000 people to help them rapidly improve food production and nutrition. In Yemen, agriculture plays a critical role in food security. Agricultural assistance can provide critical relief and is crucial for tackling the disturbingly high levels of malnutrition. The project will support income-generating activities, such as backyard poultry rearing, dairy production, and beekeeping. Beneficiaries will also have opportunities to boost their incomes by learning how to improve their farming techniques, and about food processing, packaging and marketing. Farming communities will also learn about proper and efficient irrigation systems to mitigate against the risks of water scarcity, drought and climate changes. The installation of solar pumps will ensure the provision of power to supply water for farming households suffering acute fuel shortages. In Yemen, FAO works closely with all partners to provide emergency agricultural livelihoods support. However, much more is needed to avert a deepening hunger crisis. In 2017, FAO requires USD 48.4 million to make key emergency agricultural livelihoods interventions that will assist more than 3 million of the most vulnerable food and nutrition insecure people in the country under its Emergency Livelihoods Response Plan (ELRP).



Native seeds sustain Brazil’s semi-arid northeast

By Mario Osava

6 Januray 2017 Apodi, Brazil (IPS) - (…(Bolsa Familia is a government cash-transfer programme which helps some 13.8 million poor families in Brazil, half of whom are in the Northeast. ASA is a network of 3,000 social organisations which promotes the collection of rainwater, as well as techniques and know-how suited to rural life in a climate of irregular rainfall and (…(cyclical droughts. (…(Water is not so scarce because of the proximity to the Apodi river, because even when it dries up, they can get water from the cacimbas, which are water holes in the riverbed or along the banks. Mundinho, as he is known, besides making an effort to obtain water on the high-lying land where he lives in a rural area in the Apodi municipality, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, is dedicated to a task that is vital to the sustainability of small-scale farming in the semi-arid interior of Northeast Brazil, an ecosystem known as the Sertão. He is a “guardian” of native seeds. In bottles and small plastic barrels, he stores the seeds of corn, bean, sorghum, watermelon and other locally planted species, in a shack next to his house, in the middle of land that is now sandy and covered with dried-up vegetation. More than a thousand homes that serve as “seed banks”, and 20,000 participating families, make up the network organised by ASA to preserve the genetic heritage and diversity of crops adapted to the climate and semi-arid soil in Brazil’s Northeast. Saving seeds is an age-old peasant tradition, which was neglected during the “green revolution”, a period of agricultural modernisation which started in the mid-20th century(…)



2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

The United Nations 70th General Assembly has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (A/RES/70/193). This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision-makers and the public, while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change. In the context of the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the International Year aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector than can contribute to the SDGs. The #IY2017 will promote tourism’s role in the following five key areas:

(1)        Inclusive and sustainable economic growth

(2)        Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction

(3)        Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change

(4)        Cultural values, diversity and heritage

(5)        Mutual understanding, peace and security.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations Specialized Agency for Tourism, has been mandated to facilitate the organization and implementation of the International Year, in collaboration with Governments, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, international and regional organizations and other relevant stakeholders.



Restoring household food security in Sierra Leone

29 December 2016 – In Sierra Leone, seed and harvested cereal and legumes are often stored in jute bags on dirt floors, in poorly ventilated rooms, resulting in post-harvest losses and a reduction in subsequent seed germination rates. The Sustainable Nutrition and Agricultural Plus (SNAP+) Program, funded by USAID’s Office of Food For Peace and implemented by ACDI/VOCA, uses economic recovery grants to restore agricultural activity in markets affected by the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).  Input suppliers play an essential role in agricultural value chains making seed available to smallholders often under a seed loan scheme.  This allows poor families access to seed which is later paid back through a percentage of the harvest or sales. The outbreak of Ebola threatened to collapse this system on two fronts.  First, due to the State of Emergency and restrictions on movement and public gatherings, farmers were unable to attend their farms resulting in loss of up to 30% of yields. Secondly, prolonged, inappropriate storage of seed stock by input suppliers rendered a significant percentage of their seed stocks unusable.  Improving storage of seed stock will ensure that future shocks do not threaten the input supply chain.  ACDI/VOCA is addressing seed storage through provision of hermetic storage Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags. PICS bags are locally available and affordable and can be easily adopted by smallholder farmers in Sierra Leone.



IFAD to provide $46.5 million to reduce poverty and revitalize mountain areas in Morocco

19 December 2016, Rome – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Morocco today signed a financing agreement to improve the living conditions of rural people in mountain areas and reduce poverty by 30% by 2030. The Atlas Mountains Rural Development Project will benefit 182,000 people in 18 rural communes in the provinces of Ouarzazate, Tinghir and Beni Mellal. The total project investment is US$61.3 million, including a $45.1 million IFAD loan and a $1.4 million grant. The project is cofinanced by the Government of Morocco ($13.6 million) and by the beneficiaries themselves ($1.2 million). In Morocco, the agricultural sector remains key for national macro-economic stability and economic and social development. The project will focus on areas that are prone to extreme effects of climate change and socio-economic vulnerability and where there are poverty hotspots. The project incorporates a number of innovations, especially through a shift towards a value chain approach for products, such as saffron and cherries, to improve storage, processing and transformation technologies. In addition, it will introduce innovative implementation tools (field schools and business schools) and promote conservation agriculture. The project will also promote South-South and Triangular Cooperation by sharing with sub-Saharan African countries the Moroccan experience in smallholder agriculture and value chain development.



IFAD reaffirms its commitment to help Colombia overcome the effects of 50 years of conflict

15 December 2016, Rome – The Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today approved a new country strategy for Colombia, reaffirming the organization’s commitment to help the country overcome the effects of a 50-year conflict by promoting rural development. With the new strategy, US$33 million will be invested in the country’s rural areas over the period 2017-2018. A peace agreement between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was reached in Bogota on 24 November. The first part of the accord - the Agreement for an Integral Rural Reform - sets out an ambitious rural development plan which includes land distribution measures and puts small farmers centre stage. Colombia has a huge agricultural potential that has remained untapped for the last five decades. Given the right conditions, small farmers could secure Colombia’s food sovereignty and make an enormous contribution to global food security. IFAD operations in the country will focus on helping small farmers to increase their productivity, competitiveness and income by providing them training, facilitating their access to means of production and strengthening their organizations. IFAD-funded projects will also improve small farmers’ access to markets and financial and public services, paying special attention to disadvantaged groups such as rural women and youth, indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant communities and victims of the conflict.



Eritrea receives US$15 million IFAD grant to boost fisheries sector and nutrition

6 December 2016, Rome – A total of 17,500 poor rural households in six regions of Eritrea will benefit from a financial agreement signed today between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Eritrea to boost coastal and inland fisheries. The total cost of the Programme is US$32.1 million of which IFAD is providing a US$15 million grant. Eritrea has substantial and relatively underexploited marine and fisheries resources that have been underutilized for decades compared to neighbouring countries. The Programme aims to positively change this situation by raising awareness, imparting the right skills and enabling the communities (especially youth and women) to acquire equipment for fishing, fish processing and marketing. FReMP will support the establishment of infrastructure, and technologies for production, post-harvest operations and marketing of both marine and inland fisheries. In addition, it will promote the development and capacity building of cooperatives and other enterprises and ensure that they have access to the requisite tools to undertake economically viable and sustainable fish-related businesses. Specifically, the programme will target 15 water reservoirs to demonstrate good practice and test successful models that can be replicated and scaled up in other reservoirs. It will also assist in developing climate resilient plans for the water reservoirs, which will lead to improved crop and livestock production.






WFP and Belgium join forces to support vulnerable Palestinians

11 January 2017, Brussels - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a €1 million contribution from Belgium to support 180,000 of the most vulnerable non-refugee Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank. The Belgian donation will help WFP provide critical food and nutrition assistance through monthly food distributions, rations and cash-based transfers using electronic vouchers as well as nutrition awareness training for pregnant and nursing women. Those people receiving WFP food assistance, provided jointly with the UN's Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), include 30,000 people from the Bedouin and herding communities living in area C of the West Bank, under Israeli control. The food assistance for this group also helps build resilience and improves their livelihoods, access to services and protection – since they are at risk of imminent transfer. WFP is particularly appreciative of Belgium’s longstanding support in Palestine, and for the flexibility of its donation which enables WFP to address people’s most urgent food needs. Since 2011, thanks to the support of Belgium and other partners, WFP has injected more than €160 million (US$200 million) into the Palestinian economy, including nearly €100 million (US$125 million) through electronic vouchers or cash-based transfers.



WFP launches innovative cash assistance programme in Darfur, supported by UK aid

9 January 2017, Nyala/Khartoum - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed senior UK officials to a new cash assistance programme in Nyala’s Otash Camp in South Darfur. The programme, funded by UK aid from the government of the United Kingdom, is currently providing unrestricted cash assistance to 75,000 displaced people, offering them choice and freedom to prioritize their needs. With a contribution of £3.1 million (approximately US$4.5 million) from DFID, the cash assistance programme in Otash Camp is part of WFP’s continuing efforts to provide new and flexible solutions to ending hunger and promoting self-reliance among vulnerable communities in Sudan. The current monthly cash entitlement is SDG 55 (US$8.53) which is adjusted for changes in the real market prices of cereals and beans, the food items that make up WFP’s food allocation for displaced people in Darfur. The UK has been a major donor to WFP in Sudan for many years. Since 2013, DFID has contributed more than £52 million to the cash and vouchers programme which currently supports more than half a million vulnerable and food-insecure displaced people and injects some £31.5 million into the local economy. DFID is also supporting a study that will determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the cash assistance programme in improving the food security and nutrition of the people it is designed to assist. Sudan is one of WFP’s most complex operations, with recurring conflict, new displacement, insecurity, and crisis levels of malnutrition and food insecurity.



WFP welcomes Canada’s support for Syrian refugees in Lebanon

5 January 2017, Beirut - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today transferred US$9.8 million onto the electronic food assistance cards which it provides to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. This funding, from Canada, will benefit more than 310,000 people who depend entirely on humanitarian support. Around 93% of Syrian refugees living in Lebanon are, to some degree, food insecure. Since they cannot afford to purchase sufficient food to live healthily, WFP is providing them with assistance through electronic cards, which enable them to buy the food they need in 490 shops across the country. The same card is used by four humanitarian agencies operating in Lebanon: the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Lebanon Cash Consortium (LCC) and WFP.



European Union supports livelihoods and nutrition in drought-stricken Sindh

29 December 2016, Sindh - The European Union has contributed critical funds to enable livelihoods and nutrition programmes, run by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), to continue in the hardest-hit drought areas of Sindh province in Pakistan. The contribution of nearly US$4.5 million from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) is being used to assist the recovery and stabilization of people affected by food insecurity and drought. The funds will also help provide nutrition support, thus preventing further deterioration, as well as develop households’ capacity to strengthen their economic recovery. Through livelihoods cash-assistance activities, WFP is helping disaster-affected communities to develop resilience and cope better with disasters and shocks. With greater awareness about best practices for food handling and preparation, and focusing on the use of local nutritious foods to gain dietary diversity, people react better to changing circumstances, using affordable and available resources. WFP’s main aim is to improve the food security of drought-affected vulnerable communities by providing cash support. WFP closely collaborates and coordinates livelihood activities with the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), respective District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMA) and the Food Security Working Groups. Nutrition activities are coordinated closely with the Provincial Department of Health and UN Agencies including UNICEF and WHO, through the provincial nutrition cluster in Sindh.



WFP welcomes Denmark’s contribution to support Iraqis affected by Mosul Crisis

29 December 2016, Rome/Baghdad - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$7.1 million from Denmark to provide emergency food assistance for thousands of Iraqi families affected by the continuing crisis in Mosul. They will receive ready-to-eat food as an immediate response, followed by monthly food rations or cash-based transfers. WFP supports an increasing number of families across Iraq with unrestricted cash or e-vouchers to spend in designated stores each month. This new contribution places Denmark as the fourth largest donor to WFP’s Iraq emergency operation. Overall, Denmark remains one of WFP’s most important donor of flexible funds which allows a swift and efficient response where needs are greatest.



Philippine Red Cross emergency teams deploy in the wake of Typhoon Nock-Ten

By Patrick Fuller, IFRC

27 December 2016 – Philippine Red Cross disaster response teams are assessing the humanitarian impact of Typhoon Nock-Ten, also known as Nina, which swept across the central region of the Philippines over the Christmas period. Over 400,000 people were displaced from their homes across 18 provinces. They sought shelter in temporary evacuations centres such as schools and public buildings. Volunteers from Philippine Red Cross Chapters in Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Masbate, San Pablo and Batangas have provided over 3,000 cooked meals to evacuees (…) The Philippine Red Cross has released Emergency Relief Funds for its chapters in the affected provinces and the IFRC is preparing to release funds from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund which will support the emergency response operation of the Philippine Red Cross. This will include the distribution of non-food relief items such as tarpaulins, mosquito nets, water containers, blankets and personal hygiene items. The Philippine Red Cross will continue to care for evacuees ensuring they have medical care and access to clean water where needed. Families that have suffered major losses such as damage to their homes and livelihoods, will receive cash grants to help them cover their household costs and make repairs to their homes.



On the Spirit of Christmas theme three Artists Donate Works to ICAF

23 December 2016,Washington  DC– The International Child Art Foundation (ICAF) is pleased to announce that three American artists selected the ICAF as their charity to donate the handcrafted masterpieces they produced on the theme “Spirit of Christmas” under a program organized by Duna Group, manufacturer of high density CORAFOAM®—an innovative substrate used in aerospace, architecture, and design industries. The “Christmas is Believing” masterpiece comes from Mike Szczoczarz in Bedford County, Massachusetts. The “Little Drummer Boy” from Joe Putjenter in Omaha, Nebraska. The works are 2-feet by 3-feet with a 3-inch width and weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. The ICAF thanks the artists for their amazing works and the Duna Group for promoting creativity as a gateway to greater innovations into the future.



UK supports South Sudanese refugees in Sudan

22 December 2016, Khartoum - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a contribution of £3 million  from the Government of the United Kingdom to respond to the critical needs of more than 164,000 South Sudanese refugees in Sudan. WFP will use the funds to purchase sorghum, a South Sudanese staple, that will be included in the food assistance it provides to South Sudanese refugees in the border states of White Nile; North, South and West Kordofan; East, North and South Darfur. WFP is buying the sorghum locally to support farmers and agricultural production. The UK has been a major donor to WFP in Sudan for years, contributing a total of £65.7 million (around US$81 million) in the past five years, enabling WFP to assist vulnerable groups and people who are food insecure across the country. In addition, the UK is a leading contributor to WFP Sudan’s continuing use of innovative and sustainable solutions to end hunger. Since 2013, DFID has contributed over £52 million to the WFP cash and voucher programme in Sudan. Thanks to DFID’s support, WFP has also successfully introduced electronic voucher technology in Darfur, supporting more than 30,000 displaced people living in Otash Camp in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur. Sudan is one of WFP’s most complex emergencies, with recurring conflict, new and protracted displacement and crisis levels of malnutrition and food insecurity.



WFP welcomes contribution from Spain to support Humanitarian Air Transport in the Sahel

19 December 2016, Madrid - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a donation from the Government of Spain to support its management of the United Nations Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS) in Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The contribution, which amounts to €300,000 equally distributed among the three countries, will help maintain regular air transport between the capitals and the areas where humanitarian assistance is needed. UNHAS transports humanitarian staff working for NGOs, other UN agencies, their partners, as well as officials from donor countries and journalists to reach vulnerable people in remote and insecure areas. Long distances, poor infrastructure and insecurity pose challenges for road access within Mali, Mauritania and Niger, making air transport the most efficient means for humanitarian staff to reach the communities in urgent need of their assistance. UNHAS also facilitates the movement of essential light cargo, such as medical supplies, specialized nutrition products, and telecommunications equipment. WFP operates flights that link several destinations with the capitals of each of the Sahel countries, facilitating humanitarian access to remote and hard to reach areas. For 2017, UNHAS still requires over US$10 million to fund operations in the Sahel region for the duration of the year.



UN World Food Programme welcomes Japanese contribution to its operations in Mozambique

19 December 2016, Chokwe - The Government of Japan has contributed $US 2.7 million to UN World Food Programme (WFP) operations in Mozambique. This will allow them to assist more than 82,000 drought-hit farmers in Gaza and Sofala provinces for three months, through programmes designed to restore livelihoods and improve resilience to climate change. Some 1.4 million people in Mozambique are now food insecure. This could rise to 2.3 million during the peak of the January-March lean season. WFP has been reaching some 555,000 people with life-saving assistance in areas affected by drought across Mozambique. In January, WFP and partners plan to scale-up assistance to reach 700,000 people through food distributions, school meals and projects involving the creation of assets such as irrigation systems, which will help communities better withstand extreme weather shocks. The Government of Japan has been funding food assistance to developing countries since 1968 and is a long-standing partner of WFP’s mission in Mozambique.



WFP welcomes Kuwait contribution to food assistance for Iraqis affected by Mosul crisis

16 December 2016, Baghdad - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$3 million from the Government of Kuwait to provide emergency food assistance for thousands of Iraqi families affected by the ongoing crisis in Mosul. This contribution will allow WFP to provide vital food assistance for 140,000 people for one month through cash-based transfers (CBT), which enable families to buy the food items they prefer.  More than 3 million Iraqis have been displaced by conflict since mid-June 2014. In response, WFP supports the families who are in need of food assistance with ready-to-eat food, monthly food rations, cash, and e-vouchers. Since the onset of the Mosul offensive on 17 October, WFP has assisted around 300,000 people affected by the conflict with ready-to-eat food; more than 225,000 of them have also received monthly food rations. In November, WFP assisted 1.4 million people, of whom more than 325,000 received cash or e-vouchers. Since 2013, Kuwait has pledged more than US$130 million to support WFP’s humanitarian work in Syria as well as other operations globally including in Iraq, the Philippines, Somalia and North Korea.



Tens of thousands in Lake Chad region to benefit from increased EU contribution

15 December 2016, N'Djamena - The World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a one-million euro contribution from the European Union through the Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace. This contribution takes the EU’s financial support to WFP in the Lake Chad region to 4,5 million euro. It will allow WFP to provide more than emergency relief for 12,500 families, comprised of 62,500 very vulnerable people in the west of the Sahelian belt. The region has been suffering dramatically from insecurity. Massive population displacement has contributed to a deterioration of the food and nutritional situation. Malnutrition rates are near the emergency threshold.  Over the 18 months of the project, WFP’s assistance, in exchange for the creation of community assets, will be delivered through cash transfers. This empowers people by giving them the control over their food supply, and stimulates the local economy through direct purchases on local markets. In the Lake Chad region, WFP is working closely with UNICEF and FAO. The project supported by the European Union will also be implemented in partnership with the local authorities and community-based organizations. It will improve natural resource management for the development of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Resource optimization is particularly important in this region strongly affected by climate change.



Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awards nearly $36 million in grants in the fourth quarter of 2016, approves new children affected by HIV and AIDS strategy

15 December 2016, Los Angeles– The board of directors of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced today that it approved 27 grants totaling $35.7 million during the fourth quarter of 2016.The Foundation also approved a new strategic approach for the Hilton Foundation’s Children Affected by HIV and AIDS program area. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were used as a guiding framework and determined how best to contribute the Foundation’s relatively limited philanthropic dollars to this ambitious call to action. Over the next five years, the Foundation’s Young Children Affected by HIV and AIDS program area will field test approaches to delivering effective, quality programming that has the potential to improve developmental outcomes for young children (0-5 years) affected by HIV and AIDS in Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. The objectives will be to:



WFP welcomes Japan’s generous contribution to fight food insecurity in Myanmar

8 December 2016, Nay Pyi Taw -  WFP welcomed yesterday a contribution of US$ 2.8 million made by the Government of Japan to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to help reduce food insecurity and undernutrition and increase resilience among the most vulnerable communities in Myanmar. This generous and timely contribution will support the recovery and treatment of malnourished children under the age of five, help people living with HIV and tuberculosis by meeting their basic nutrition needs, encourage children to complete their primary education by providing school meals, and assist the building and repair of community assets such as dams, fishing ponds or roads in the most vulnerable communities. Japan’s contribution alone will allow WFP to procure some 1,900 metric tons of pulses, salt and oil to benefit more than 140,000 food-insecure people across Kachin, Magway, Mon, Sagaing and Shan. Likewise, specialized nutrient-dense food and nutritious biscuit snacks will help children increase their intake of vitamins and minerals, which are crucial to their healthy and continued growth.



Swiss support to WFP in DPR Korea reaches record high in 2016

6 December 2016, Pyongyang - In 2016, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed record level contributions from Switzerland - totaling more than US$8 million - to reach children and women with nutrition assistance in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Swiss support is helping WFP to reach 650,000 children and mothers for a period of ten months. The 2016 donations by the Humanitarian Division of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation were highlighted today with a visit to the port of Nampo by a delegation from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation office in DPRK. The delegation witnessed the off-loading of the latest shipment of Swiss-donated powdered milk - an essential ingredient for highly nutritious fortified biscuits and cereals which WFP produces and distributes in DPRK under its programmes. WFP received over 2,000 metric tonnes of powdered milk from Switzerland this year.

More than 70% of the population in DPRK is food-insecure. Many people suffer from chronic malnutrition due to a poor diet lacking in essential proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. This is particularly problematic for young children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. WFP assists children and women through nutrient-dense, specialised foods.




Peace and security


Saudi-led coalition ends use of UK-made cluster bombs in Yemen

19 December 2016 - On Monday, 19 December, General Ahmed Asiri, spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition, announced that the use of UK-made BL-755 cluster munitions in Yemen has been stopped, also confirming that these cluster munitions had previously been used by the coalition in Yemen. This followed an inquiry into this use by the Saudi-led coalition, conducted in dialogue with the UK.



How a Canadian community helped to heal the wounds of war

13 December 2016- Ripped from home in Syria, Husam and Noura feared for their family and future. But one Canadian community has helped them to dream again. The Eshadi family are among the 31,000 Syrians to have been accepted for resettlement in Canada over the past year. They arrived in Peterborough – a city of 79,000 flanked by lakes and forest – in May 2016, with few possessions and no idea what to expect. To their relief, the warm welcome they received from the 15 volunteers tasked with greeting them made them feel as though they had come home.



Mozambique declared free from Cluster Munitions

5 December 2016 – 1,3 million Square metres, 144 Cluster Bomblets, 50 Antipersonnel Mines and 23 UXOs: Norwegian People’s Aid is proud to announce that we have finished clearing cluster munitions in Mozambique. This happens only a year after Mozambique was declared free of landmines in September 2015. Parttaking in Mozambique achieving this key milestone is very gratifying. Mozambique signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3rd December 2008, ratified it on 14th March 2011 before it entered into force on 1st September of 2011. Assenting to the convention also meant that Mozambique had committed itself in ensuring that it surveys and clears all cluster munition contaminated areas in its jurisdiction. In the wake of successfully fulfilling Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty last year, Mozambique embarked on an expeditious programme in an attempt to get rid of cluster munition remnants before December 2016.






Iraq: New maternity clinic ensures women deliver safely in Tal Maraq in the northwestern district of Tal Afar

MSF has opened a maternity clinic in Tal Maraq, where the conflict has taken a heavy toll on the population.

4 January 2017 – The ongoing conflict and the lack of functioning healthcare structures in the Tal Afar and Mosul districts are preventing the population in the area from accessing healthcare. People have to travel over 100 kilometres to urban areas such as Dohuk and Zakho to seek specialised medical care, a long trip that is too expensive for many people. As a consequence, many women deliver at home. The new maternity clinic in Tal Maraq is the only healthcare facility in Tal Afar district that provides sexual and reproductive health services, including ante- and postnatal care and safe deliveries for non-complicated cases. The clinic also offers stabilisation and referral services for more complicated emergency cases. The maternity is located in a building that was intended as a primary healthcare centre, but that due to the conflict was never used as such.  In July MSF started to rehabilitate and adapt the building in order to install the maternity unit.



Jordan: Clinic to treat ‘silent killers’ sees patient numbers rise

28December 2016 – An MSF project in northern Jordan to treat people suffering from non-communicable diseases is seeing high numbers of patients for the second year running. A total of 3,700 patients – 69 percent of them Syrian refugees and 31 percent vulnerable Jordanians –are currently receiving free treatment and follow-up for diseases such as diabetes and hypertension in MSF’s two clinics in Irbid governorate. Non-communicable diseases – diabetes, hypertension, asthma, cardiovascular diseases and chronic pulmonary disease – are among the most common causes of death in the region. MSF’s project, which it runs in collaboration with the Jordanian Health Ministry and the Arabian Medical Relief Society (AMR), aims to help people who have no other access to essential medical care, and to assist the Jordanian health system in coping with the health needs of large numbers of Syrian refugees. More needs to be done to help vulnerable Syrians and Jordanians access quality healthcare, reducing the prices of essential medicines in Jordan, and investment by other organisations in their response to people with non-communicable diseases. (…)



Innovation Series: Two countries, one team

16December 2016 – The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is no barrier to the poliovirus. Populations move fluidly across these borders. Each year, the virus moves with them. Afghanistan and Pakistan have seen significant progress in the last 18 months in their efforts to stop polio. But both countries have been close before, and have been thwarted: the virus has found pockets of unvaccinated children where it can hide, regroup, and stage a comeback. Despite historically low levels of polio over the last few months, cases of paralysis and positive samples found through environmental surveillance show us that the virus has not yet been stopped. Pakistan and Afghanistan have taken a new approach. Since June 2015, the two have been coordinating major programme activities, as success in one country depends on success in the other. Monthly polio immunization campaigns have been synchronized so that no child on either side of the border can fall through the cracks, the Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs) of each country – which house the government and partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to coordinate eradication activities – interact with one another on a weekly basis, and the highest level political and administrative leadership meet face to face every six months, to resolve challenges and to develop plans to address the remaining hurdles.




Energy and safety



Water For People to help over 100,000 Ugandans gain access to safe drinking water thanks to grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

5 January 2017, Denver /CSRwire/ - (Marketwired) - Water For People believes every person around the world deserves lasting access to safe water, and to help realize this vision it has received a three-year, $3 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation in support of its work in the rural Kamwenge District of Uganda. With this grant, Water For People and its local partners will now be able to accelerate and scale their efforts significantly and deliver high-quality water services to over 100,000 people. This partnership puts a strong emphasis on the Forever aspect of Water For People's Everyone Forever impact model, which increases demand for reliable quality water within the communities served and partners with local government and private sector institutions to create the enabling environment for these services to last. (…) Uganda is one of nine countries where Water For People works and is one of the world's poorest nations.(…) Part of Water For People's Everyone Forever model's success is attributed to its emphasis on reporting and data, as well as the priority it places on bringing a system's users into the process with educational programs designed to stimulate demand and teach them how to hold their local institutions accountable(…)




Environment and wildlife


China to ban domestic ivory trade by 2017

30 December 2016, Beijing, China – WWF and TRAFFIC welcomed today’s historic announcement that China will close down its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017, signalling an end to the world’s primary legal ivory market and a major boost to international efforts to tackle the elephant poaching in Africa. The General Office of the State Council of China announced that China will “cease part of ivory processing and sales by 31 March 2017 and cease all ivory processing and sales by 31 December 2017”. At the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) held in South Africa in October, the delegates adopted a resolution calling for all countries with a legal domestic market for ivory that is contributing to poaching or illegal trade to take measures to close their domestic ivory markets. (…) In August 2016, WWF and TRAFFIC released key recommendations that found a ban could be implemented within two years and that it would raise people's awareness of elephant conservation and help law enforcement tackle the illegal trade. (…) While elephant poaching in Africa appears to have peaked in 2011, around 20,000 continue to be killed illegally each year across the continent, primarily to feed demand for ivory in Asia, particularly in China. WWF and TRAFFIC encourage the Chinese government to continue their efforts to reduce demand for ivory, raise public awareness and work with other governments, conservation organisations, the private sector and local communities to end the illegal ivory trade – and give Africa’s elephants a future free from poaching. (…)



Giant heads sculpted from fruit and vegetables draw attention to rural communities at biodiversity summit

6 December 2016 , Cancun - Drawing attention to the impact that climate change is having on smallholder farmers and rural communities in developing countries, British artists Adam and Silas Birtwistle unveiled four giant heads – Voices from the Good Earth - sculpted from fruit and vegetables at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Summit (CBD COP13) in Cancun, Mexico. Sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a UN agency that is helping smallholder farmers adapt to climate change impacts, the four heads (displayed in an energy saving glass freezer) were sculpted from locally sourced foods, many of which are essential to the livelihoods of local farmers. IFAD works with smallholders in some of the world’s most remote locations. Many of the foods they grow - whether it is rice in Cambodia, truffles in Morocco or catfish in Vietnam - are threatened by climate and environmental change, putting pressure on local and national food security. Despite the challenges many farmers face because of climate change and environmental degradation, Silas Birtwistle says his sculptures are in fact about hope. IFAD’s investments, including theAdaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), help farmers in a variety of ways, from installing weather forecast systems, to introducing new drought resistant crop varieties, as well as setting up farmer field schools where knowledge and new climate smart agriculture techniques can be demonstrated and disseminated.




Religion and spirituality


U.S. bishops say that prayer, local dialogue key to bringing peace

By Carol Zimmermann – Catholic News Service

5 January 2017, Washington- (CNS) -- The Catholic Church has a "tremendous responsibility to bring people together in prayer and dialogue, to begin anew the vital work of fostering healing and lasting peace," said a report by a U.S. bishops' task force (…).The work to "root out racism and create healthy dynamics in our neighborhoods" is a long-term project (….). Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, said "the church is at her absolute best when she is a bold and prophetic voice for the power of the love upon which our faith is based, the love of Jesus Christ." The task force(…) breaks down what needs to be done into a few recommendations to the U.S. bishops, urging them to focus on:

-- Prayer: Masses, rosaries, prayer services during the year.

-- Local dialogues: conversations on race and dialogues hosted by parishes or dioceses.

-- Parish and diocesan training: intercultural competence training for staff and parishioners.

-- Opportunities for encounter: providing forums for people to examine local challenges firsthand.

-- Support of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which funds group that address concerns about race, poverty and violence (…)



Silence at the United Nations

The Spiritual Caucus at the United Nations gathers in the vicinity of UN Headquarters in New York (September - June) on the third Thursday every month for 30 minutes of silence followed by 30 minutes of dialogue, sharing insights and exploring ways to use an inner focus in service of the work of the UN. On the 1st Thursday of the month the Caucus invites friends to sit in silence for 30 minutes in the newly renovated Meditation Room at UN Headquarters in New York. Please link in from wherever you are. More information at: http://www.spiritualcaucusun.org/ 

In January the Spiritual Caucus will gather for silence in the UN Meditation Room at UN Headquarters, New York on January 5 from 12.45 - 1.15 PM and for silence and discussion at the Bahai UN Office, 866 UN Plaza, New York on January 19 from 1.30 - 2.45 PM.



INDIA - The Sisters of Loreto: 175 years on mission in South Asia
4 January 2017 - Calcutta (Agenzia Fides) - The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM), which brings together the religious better known as "Sisters of Loreto", celebrates 175 years of missionary presence in South Asia.
Eleven Sisters of Loreto came to Calcutta on 30 December 1841 from Ireland (the congregation was founded in Ireland, ed) and were the first religious sisters to land in North India. The first house of the religious sisters was opened in January 1842 and during the same year an orphanage in Calcutta was launched. Later on, the congregation founded several monasteries and schools in many parts of India, Nepal, Bangladesh.


Religions Celebrate Together in Pakistan
30 December 2016 - The URI Pakistan and Peace Center Lahore organized an Interfaith Christmas Celebration on the 18th of December at Peace Center in Lahore, Pakistan. Over 150 Christians, Muslims and Hindus participated. There were several leaders, coordinators, and members of URI in Pakistan, including: Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Grand Imam of the Badshahi Mosque Lahore and former Global Trustee of URI; and Chaudhary Zubair Ahmed Farooq, Additional Prosecutor General of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Global Trustee of URI.


Women's Interfaith Network of the Middle East and North Africa Meeting
29 December 29, 2016 - The WIN MENA CC - Women's Interfaith Network of the Middle East and North Africa - recently met during the URI MENA Annual Assembly in Amman. We talked about the situation for women in our home countries and made an Action Plan of activities for 2017, starting with an international Conference Call during the International Week of Interfaith Harmony the first week of February. We planned to participate in WIN URI CC activities.

These pictures are of our Leadership Council, including women from Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Morocco, and Egypt – and members of the Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Baha'I, and Druze faiths.



Culture and education


Palestine preschools embrace learning with toys and games

5 January 2017 –Palestinian preschoolers have some new gadgets in the 150 ANERA-renovated preschools across Palestine: toys and games to make learning fun. Through a holistic approach, ANERA’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) program has drastically changed the way teachers teach and children learn. Palestine preschools now have activity centers in which children can read stories, play puppet theater and practice hands-on science and art. They come complete with safe and child-friendly furnishings painted in bright, happy colors. The toys and games are locally produced by manufacturers in Gaza and the West Bank. Among them are musical instruments, puzzles, painting easels, card and memory games, dominoes, board games and more. Through active learning, children learn lessons in visual discrimination, eye-hand coordination, sorting and classification, mathematical logic, critical thinking and self expression. They also develop their motor skills, curiosity and character.



6 winners at the 2nd Young Humanitarian Writers Competition

19 December 2016 - Six entries stood out at the 2016 Young Humanitarian Writers Competition (YHWC) among over 150 other entries in both English and Bahasa Malaysia. Themed "The Power of Humanity", the competition was organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and The National Press Club Malaysia (NPC) with the cooperation of the Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS). The competition was launched on the 8th of May, which celebrates the World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. Participants were between 16 and 30 years old. The content of the entries highlighted individual and collective efforts to relieve suffering, uphold human dignity and create a more humane society. The competition aimed to stimulate discussion and generate greater awareness about today's most pressing humanitarian challenges and foster a broader understanding of the issues related to armed conflict and other violence.  A panel of judges including academics, practitioners and experts in communications, international humanitarian law and humanitarian affairs selected six participants who demonstrated an excellent basic understanding of humanitarian issues and challenges. They underlined good writing skills, originality and humanitarian reporting as the winning traits of the young humanitarian writers.



National Level Simulation Exercise prepares humanitarian partners for next big disaster

8 December 2016, Kathmandu - A three-day simulation exercise (SIMEX) on early warning, emergency preparedness, response and capacity building for natural disasters concluded in Kathmandu today. The exercise was organized by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA). The SIMEX brought together representatives from the Government, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector to strengthen the capacity of disaster management stakeholders and to better link early warning with preparedness and response. Attendees  participated in various activities and logistics drills, including a realistic disaster scenario based on the 2014 floods that severely affected the Mid- and Far-Western Terai districts. The exercise also worked to build skills in decision-making and coordination between the national and district level stakeholders, as well as practical logistics skills such as erecting mobile storage units and installing telecommunications equipment. Before the 2015 earthquake, WFP, the Government, and partners worked on emergency preparedness projects that enabled a more rapid and effective response. Estimates suggest that this investment saved at least one month’s time in mounting the massive response from around the world to the earthquake, allowing WFP and other humanitarian agencies to get to the most-affected communities even faster.




* * * * * * *



Next issue: 17 February 2017.


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, Community of Living Ethics, Elisa Minelli. Webmaster, media and NGO coverage: Simone Frassanito (simone.frassanito@goodnewsagency.org


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations, NGOs, service associations, high schools and colleges as well as over 26,000 Rotarians around 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.”

Go to the Home Page