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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 17th, no. 255 –  10 March 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 securityHealthEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education


International legislation


Intra-Syrian talks conclude in Geneva with ‘clear agenda’ and plans to resume later this month

3 March 2017 – The United Nations-facilitated intra-Syrian talks are “moving in the right direction,” the UN Special Envoy for Syria said today, wrapping up the latest round of discussions in Geneva with counter-terrorism added to the agenda and plans to resume in late March. Staffan de Mistura told journalists that participants had engaged in “serious” discussions and said that the sides would be invited to continue discussions later this month. “It is now clear to everyone and that is beyond dispute that we are here to implement UN Security Council resolution 2254,” Mr. de Mistura said, referring to the Council text approved in 2015 endorsing a road map for peace process in Syria, including specific language on governance, constitution and elections. In addition to the issues previously on the agenda, as outlined in resolution 2254 (2015), counter-terrorism has been added at the request of the Government of Syria, according to the envoy. The major issue of detainees and abductees was also raised by the delegation from the Syrian Government. In parallel, the talks in Astana – convened by the Governments of Iran, Russia and Turkey – would continue to address issues related to the maintenance of the ceasefire and confidence-building measures.



Ideals and values that inspired creation of International Criminal Court still hold true – UN adviser

7 February 2017 – The setting up of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was a “reckoning” for those who had long disregarded the lives and dignity of their people, the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide has said and warned that withdrawing from the tribunal could have grave implications for victims seeking redress for serious human rights violations. “The establishment of the Court signified a global commitment to protect victims, when national judicial mechanisms lacked the capacity, willingness or jurisdiction to prosecute those responsible for the most serious crimes,” wrote Special Adviser Adama Dieng in an opinion piece published in The East African. Since the adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998, more than half of the world’s States have joined the Court, 34 among them are African nations – the biggest regional block to date . In July this year, the Court’s founding Statue will mark the 15th anniversary of its entry into force. Highlighting the significance of the Court, Mr. Dieng said that the fact that most of the cases in the continent were submitted by African States themselves, reaffirming their belief that it would strengthen the rule of law and respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the African people.



UNESCO launches the 3rd edition of online course on freedom of expression for Ibero-American justice systems

2 February 2017 - Declared of interest by the Ibero-American Judicial Summit, the course is aimed at operators of Ibero-American justice systems. The third edition of the online course International Legal Framework on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and the Safety of Journalists will take place from 8 May to 18 June 2017. Co-Organized by UNESCO and the Office of the Special Rapporteur’s on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the course is coordinated by University of Texas at Austin’s Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. It is supported by the Ibero-American Network for Schools of Judges, the Foundation for Press Freedom, the Latin American Internet Association, the OAS School of Government and the Government of Sweden. In addition, the Ibero-American Judicial Summit declared the initiative of interest, at its 2016 Plenary Assembly. Offered for free, the course has already trained approximately 3,000 judicial operators in Ibero-America, with the perspective that freedom of expression and the right to information are fundamental rights that enable the exercise of all other human rights.




Human rights


Sudan: ICRC facilitates handover of 125 detainees in cross-border operation

5 March 2017 – Khartoum/ Kampala/ Juba (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has facilitated the release and repatriation of 125 people detained by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). The ICRC transported the released persons from two locations in South Sudan to Entebbe in Uganda and onward to Sudan, where they were handed over to government officials in Khartoum. The operation followed a request by the authorities in Kampala, Khartoum and Juba, and the SPLM-N, with agreement by all those involved. ICRC teams accompanied the released people throughout the journey from South Sudan to Khartoum via Uganda. Prior to the repatriation, the ICRC interviewed all the detainees to ensure that they wanted to return to Khartoum. Medical checks were conducted at the same time to confirm their fitness to travel. The entire transfer operation took place over four days and was concluded on Sunday 5 March.



Japan Federation to Advance Women’s Economic Empowerment

4 March 2017 - During their first visit to the United Nations Headquarters in New York on March 2, leading female executives from Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), joined UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri for a roundtable discussion on women’s economic empowerment.
The Keidanren is the largest Japanese economic federation with a membership of more than 1,300 corporations. The Keidanren Female Executives Mission was led by Haruno Yoshida, the first female Vice Chairman of the Board of Councillors at Keidanren, and includes five additional female executives from various industries in Japan. At the roundtable discussion, UN Women presented its work on women’s economic empowerment, including the Virtual Skills School, which will provide digital and financial literacy skills, and the Women’s Empowerment Principles, which supports companies in placing gender equality and women’s empowerment in the heart of good business practice. The discussion also included how to promote advancement of women at workplace in Japan.



International Women's Day 2017: Women in a changing world of work

2 March 2017 -  UNESCO-UNEVOC will join the world on 8 March to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year’s theme “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030” brings to fore the need to promote an equality of access and opportunities in education and skills acquisition that enables a greater female participation in a dynamic labour market.  Every year the day puts the spotlight on issues related to gender equality and empowerment, and this year’s theme is particularly relevant to technical and vocational education and training (TVET); equal access for all to quality education, skills acquisition and technical training are essential to promoting women’s participation in the labour market. As stated by UN Women: The world of work is changing, and with significant implications for women. On one hand, we have globalization, technological and digital revolution and the opportunities they bring, and on the other hand, the growing informality of labour, unstable livelihoods and incomes, new fiscal and trade policies and environmental impacts—all of which must be addressed in the context of women’s economic empowerment.



Syria: senior commanders of 8 Free Syrian Army brigades met in Geneva to discuss how to better protect children during conflict

28 February 2017 – Geneva Call held a workshop with commanders of 8 brigades of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to discuss the laws of armed conflict with a focus on the issues of child recruitment and protection of education in armed conflict. This meeting occurred between 15th and 17th of February in Geneva. The participants included senior commanders, and political and legal advisers from the FSA brigades active in Hama, Idlib, Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta. Experts from Geneva Call and other specialized international organizations held training sessions and discussions on the laws of armed conflict, child protection or the prohibition of sexual violence and gender discrimination. Geneva Call also presented in details its three Deeds of Commitment. Several participating brigades showed interest in signing them. “We can lose militarily but we should win on the ethical ground, this is what we have to uphold all the time” commented one of the participants. The trainers explained that if they are not sure about the age of the child, they should consider her or him as under 18. This workshop was held after 19 training sessions had been held in Syria and neighboring countries during 2016 and reached out to hundreds of fighters. It sought to reinforce the adherence of Syrian armed non-State combatants to the rules protecting the civilian population.



Olympics: Revised Host City Contract to Include Human Rights

28 February 2017 - For the first time, the IOC has included explicit reference to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), which outline the human rights responsibilities of businesses, as well as to anti-corruption standards. The Guiding Principles explain how all commercial enterprises should assess human rights risks, take effective steps to avoid human rights problems, and ensure remedy for abuses which occur in spite of those efforts.



Afghanistan -  Gym only for women, founded by a woman

17 February 2017 - Kabul (Agenzia Fides) – A gym only for women is having big success in Afghanistan. The experiment not only represents a commercial opportunity for the owner of the facility, but also an opportunity for girls, in a country still tied to traditions and strong social dogmas. Five years ago a businesswoman opened "Ladies World", a women only exercise facility with modern equipment, a beauty salon and area for physiotherapy.



Bangladesh: Legalizing Child Marriage Threatens Girls’ Safety Contain Harm with Strict Regulations

February 2017 (London) – The Bangladesh government should move quickly to adopt regulations to limit the harms of a new law that legalizes child marriage, Human Rights Watch said today. On February 27, 2017, the Bangladesh parliament approved a law that permits girls under age 18 to marry under “special circumstances,” with permission from their parents and a court. There is no minimum age for these marriages. This law is a devastating step backward for the fight against child marriage in Bangladesh, which has the highest rate of child marriage in Asia, and one of the highest rates in the world, with 52 percent of girls married before age 18, and 18 percent married before age 15. Under the previous law, the legal age of marriage was 18 for women and 21 for men, with no exceptions. “The focus now must be on containing the damage caused by Bangladesh legalizing child marriage,” said Heather Barr, senior researcher on women’s rights at Human Rights Watch. “Nothing can change the fact that this is a destructive law. But carefully drafted regulations can mitigate some of the harm to girls.” Donors, diplomats, the United Nations, civil society, and activists fought to defeat the law. Now that the law has been passed, however, the government should ensure that the provision permitting child marriage will be used rarely and carefully.




Economy and development


Backyard businesses empower women in Mozambique

3 March 2017 – For Argentina Wamuse, a farmer in the outskirts of Maputo, Mozambique, her aspiration to sell agricultural supplies began when she learned how her cousin was successfully selling seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides to local farmers. As a savvy businesswoman, Argentina saw an opportunity to replicate her cousin’s success when she learned about the business competition program offered by the Livelihoods, Empowerment, and Development (LEAD) project, a BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities-funded, ACDI/VOCA-implemented program supporting community and economic development in Maputo province. The LEAD project provided financing to entrepreneurs like Argentina for the creation of small-scale supply businesses. Interested applicants created business plans, with the most competitive and viable proposals receiving substantial co-financing assistance. So far 20 suppliers like Argentina have opened businesses in their backyards, providing farmers in the community with direct access to essential agricultural materials—saving considerable time and money by bringing supplies closer to home.



IFAD and Cambodia to increase smallholder farmers’ incomes by expanding market opportunities

28 February 2017, Rome – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Cambodia signed a financial agreement today to fund a rural development project that aims to increase incomes for 75,000 smallholder farming households by expanding commercial agricultural markets and developing links between producers, buyers and service providers. Though there has been a dramatic reduction in poverty in Cambodia over the last decade, economic growth in rural areas has become stagnant. This situation can be improved by developing the agricultural sector and specifically, high-value agricultural products for both domestic and export markets. Current challenges include smallholder farmers’ limited access to financing and fractured links among smallholder farmers, agribusinesses and markets. The project aims to expand the agricultural sector by organizing and guiding farmers and small and medium businesses to intensify and diversify production and boost the market value of agricultural products by improving on the quality of production and processing. The project will also develop and promote ‘value chains’ by linking producers, buyers and service providers. A ‘value chain innovation fund’ will be established together with rural banks to provide direct financial support to innovative business proposals by farmers, agricultural cooperatives, agribusinesses and service providers.



UNESCO ESD Leadership Training, designed by Earth Charter International, is piloted around the world

27February 2017 – During February of 2017, over one hundred young sustainability leaders gathered in Dublin, Beirut, Nairobi, and New Delhi to train in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Leadership using a UNESCO curriculum developed by Earth Charter International (ECI). This series of ESD Leadership trainings in various regions around the world constitutes the pilot phase of the Flagship Project for Partner Network 4 of UNESCO´s Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development.  GAP is the follow up to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) which aims to generate and scale-up concrete actions in ESD. Within GAP, there are five Priority Action Areas identified. As the first phase of the Flagship Project for GAP Partner Network 4, UNESCO contracted ECI to develop the training script for a young leaders training on ¨ESD Leadership¨. The second phase, carried out in February 2017, was the implementation of regional pilot workshops, where key partners experimented with the training script and trained the first round of ESD Leaders. The Coordinator of Youth Projects at ECI, Sarah Dobson, joined by other GAP key partners from Partner Network 4, attended the pilot workshop in Dublin, Ireland. Meanwhile, the ESD Leadership training was also conducted in Nairobi, New Delhi, and Beirut with young sustainability leaders from each region and joined by other GAP key partners. The trainings used interactive exercises and multimedia methods to engage participants on themes of ESD, systems thinking, leadership, visioning, and facilitation.



FAO supporting Bolivia’s bid to access climate funding via UN fund

16 February 2017, Rome - FAO is assisting Bolivia in its effort to access financial support for improved water management programs in those areas of the Andean nation that have been hardest hit by prolonged drought. Today FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva and Bolivian President Evo Morales agreed to jointly submit a technical proposal to the UN’s Green Climate Fund requesting $250 million in support for efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change on food security and rural livelihoods in Bolivia. Drought and water scarcity have become recurring problems in Bolivia over the past decade, but the situation has been particularly alarming since 2015. According to FAO, to cope with the impacts of climate changes on agriculture and food security countries must make organizational and technological changes to water management that correspond to the needs of small farmers. Restoring local water cycles is particularly important area for action that is essential to ensuring that communities have access to adequate water resources. The Green Climate fund is an international funding mechanism established at the 2010 UN Climate Conference that aims to support developing country efforts to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Countries can receive stand-alone grants for simpler projects like well or cistern construction, or loans for more complex projects like the large-scale irrigation systems, either directly from the fund or via accredited implementing agencies, such as FAO. In the case of the Bolivia proposal, the funding would be channeled directly to that country’s national “Mi Riego” (My Irrigation) program. The proposal is being developed by a working group comprised of FAO experts and officials from Bolivia’s Ministers for Development Planning and Environment and Water.



Climate-smart agricultural research center to partner with UN’s rural investment agency to increase food security in rural areas

13 February 2017, Rome – A statement of intent between the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) promises to boost resilience to climate change and improve the livelihoods of thousands of smallholder farmers around the world. The partnership will serve to maximize the work of both agencies by making new climate-smart technologies and innovations developed by CIAT research available to the smallholder farmers participating in IFAD-supported projects in developing countries. Two new projects will be launched following the signing and will lay a strong foundation for the partnership. They will promote climate-smart agriculture in Central America, and improve dairy production in East Africa through the use of improved, drought-resilient forage grasses. These projects will demonstrate the value that science and scientific research can bring to IFAD’s work on the ground, as well as the support and opportunities that IFAD can offer CIAT to deliver scientific breakthroughs directly to smallholder farmers.



IFAD and Indonesia sign historic financial agreement to improve food security for smallholder farmers

13 February 2017, Rome The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Indonesia signed a financial agreement today to fund a rural development project that will greatly improve access to water for irrigation and consequently improve food security, incomes and livelihoods for up to 24 million smallholder farmers. IFAD is providing a US$98.5 million loan and a $1.5 million grant towards the $852.9 million Integrated Participatory Development and Management of Irrigation Project. Co-financiers are the Asian Development Bank , the Government of Indonesia and other sources. Smallholder farmers in Indonesia face a number of challenges, including declining rural infrastructure, diminished access to land, high transport and logistics costs, difficulty reaching markets and vulnerability to erratic weather patterns and lack of rainfall due to a changing climate. The project will improve farm productivity by providing a range of support options that include farmer-to-farmer knowledge dissemination, crop intensification and diversification methods, and better access to, and storage of, high-quality seeds. It will also establish better access to financial services, prioritize innovation in local value chains and encourage partnerships with private suppliers of agricultural inputs. Farmers will be in charge of managing the irrigation systems to ensure that access to water is  equitable and that maintenance costs and responsibilities are shared. In 2016, IFAD opened a country office in Jakarta, servicing Indonesia, the Pacific Countries, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste.






WFP welcomes Japan contribution for emergency food assistance in Libya

2 March 2017 , Tunis - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$700,000 from the Government of Japan that will provide vital food assistance to tens of thousands of Libyans affected by ongoing conflict since 2011.  WFP will use the donation to deliver food rations to 80,000 people in Libya. Each ration provides a family of five with a one month supply of rice, pasta, wheat flour, chickpeas, vegetable oil, sugar and tomato paste. In 2017, WFP aims to assist 175,000 Libyans affected by food insecurity due to the protracted conflict. Priority is given to the most vulnerable families, especially internally displaced people, returnees and refugees, as well as households headed by unemployed women. The humanitarian situation in Libya continues to deteriorate as a result of ongoing conflict, political instability and disruption of markets and local food production, all of which negatively affect families’ livelihoods and their ability to meet basic needs, including food. People have been resorting to extreme measures such as skipping meals, taking children out of school, or cutting healthcare expenses.



Government of Belgium supports UNHAS in Nigeria and other emergencies in 2016/2017

27 February 2017, Brussels - Contributing a total of €6 million, the Belgian Development Cooperation (DGDC) has helped the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) provide crucial air transport services for the humanitarian community across Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Yemen in 2016 and will continue to support services through 2017.The desperately needed funds were received just in time for UNHAS operations in Nigeria in 2016, where the complex emergency had reached a critical level. Since early 2012, insurgent activities across the country have resulted in a volatile security environment and caused widespread displacement of the population. Vast distances, the unpredictable security situation and the dearth of commercial air service providers that meet UN Aviation Standards make aid delivery in Nigeria particularly difficult. UNHAS has enabled humanitarian organizations to access beneficiaries, effectively monitor their projects and also scale up activities in order to reach affected populations. Since the establishment of the operation in August 2015, the service has transported over 12,200 passengers and over 50,250 kg of cargo for more than 60 humanitarian entities, including NGOs such as International Rescue Committee (IRC), Action Contre la Faim (ACF), and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). Belgium’s contribution, alongside those of other international donors, enabled the operation in Nigeria to expand its fleet in 2016 with the addition of two helicopters, with the potential of a third helicopter soon.



Alpharetta Rotary Club awards $35,000 grant to local nonprofits

By Mona Lkazour

27 February 27 - Non-Profits are Benefactors from the Alpharetta Rotary Club’s Auto Loan Assistance Program and Donation of $35,000. The Alpharetta Rotary Club members continue to give back to the community non-profit organizations in their efforts to truly assist families finding themselves at the poverty level and in need of a little help. In turn these donations ultimately contribute to the overall economic well-being of our citizens. Alpharetta Rotary awarded a Block Grant of $35,000 to member organizations of the North Fulton Continuum of Care for projects that would help address the three barriers of housing, jobs and transportation to escape poverty within our community. As part of the block grant, $15,000 was donated to go towards helping give car loan assistance for people who need to purchase a vehicle to get to work among other needed activities. This program is designed to help decrease a normal high risk interest rate to a lower rate that would be more affordable to individuals.



Mexico supports vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon during the winter months

23 February 2017, Beirut -  The World Food Programme (WFP) has provided vital food assistance to the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon this winter thanks to generous contributions from the Government of Mexico and other donors. The US$2 million contribution from Mexico has been used to provide food assistance for 63,500 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon this winter who use WFP electronic food vouchers (e-cards) to purchase food from any of 500 contracted shops across Lebanon. Providing food assistance through e-cards also boosts the Lebanese economy and benefits shopkeepers and their families. Since the beginning of the programme in 2012  WFP has injected more than US$800 million into the Lebanese economy through the e-card system. WFP requires US$20 million per month to continue to provide life-saving assistance to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Without these funds, 750,000 of the vulnerable Syrian refugees will not have access to the food assistance they depend on to be able to provide for their families.



Italy donates EUR 1 million to WFP and UNICEF for people affected by conflict in Eastern Ukraine

23 February 2017, Kyiv - The Government of Italy has donated EUR 1 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF to assist people affected by the conflict in Eastern Ukraine in 2017. Italy’s contribution will enable WFP to provide food to the most vulnerable people who do not receive assistance from other humanitarian actors. WFP will also use the funds to implement small-scale early recovery activities to improve local livelihoods. UNICEF will use the funds to provide mine risk education programmes for children and families living close to the contact line, a line which divides government and non-government controlled areas where fighting is most severe. Since November 2014, WFP has provided emergency food assistance to internally displaced people, returnees and residents in eastern Ukraine, distributing monthly food packages and food assistance through cash-based transfers or vouchers. UNICEF provides life-saving mine risk education to half-a-million children and caregivers. It also provides psychosocial support to over 200,000 boys and girls and their caregivers caught in the conflict, rehabilitates schools damaged by fighting and provides 2.5 million people with access to safe water.



EU support allows WFP to provide for more Malian refugees in Mauritania

23 February 2017, Nouakchott - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a vital injection of €1.5 million from the European Union to help meet the food needs of Malian refugees in Mauritania. Funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) received at the end of 2016 has allowed WFP to provide cash assistance during January and February 2017 for approximately 48,500 refugees from Mali who live in the Mbera camp. WFP plans to continue providing a flexible package of assistance comprising cash and in-kind food rations. Cash–based transfers allow families to buy the food of their liking at local markets along with other basic items, such as cooking fuel. WFP also plans to distribute in-kind rations of staple foods and fortified supplementary foods for vulnerable malnourished children and pregnant woman and nursing mothers. Additionally, WFP aims to provide one warm daily school meal to primary school children throughout the school year. Currently, WFP is working with UNHCR, partners and the Mauritanian Government to better align the type of assistance it provides to the needs of refugees through carrying out vulnerability-based targeting. The targeting would allow WFP to reach the most vulnerable among the refugee population, while designing long-term self-reliance and resilience building activities in consultations with refugees, partners and Government.



Patterson Rotary donates $17,000 to Charities

22 February 2017 - PATTERSON, N.Y. -- The Rotary Club of Patterson announced that it made donations on Valentine's Day totaling $17,000 to 20 local charities. The donation drive, held at the Patterson Recreation Center, is called the "Valentine’s Giveaway" and is one of two major "Community Awards Giveaways," the Rotary noted, adding that its next one is in June and will assist a different list of groups. The Community Awards Giveaways, according to the Rotary, distribute proceeds collected from three of its fundraisers. The fundraisers are "Men Who Cook," which will be held again on May 6 and include foods from profession and amateur chefs; the Patterson Rotary Blues & BBQ Festival, which will take place in September; and Touch-A-Truck For Heroes in October, which will allow for kids to check out big trucks.



EU supports WFP food assistance and air operations in Sudan

20 February 2017, Khartoum - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed two generous contributions totalling €8 million from European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), enabling WFP to provide food assistance to refugees, nutritional support to mothers and children and continue operation of the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) in Sudan. WFP will use the first contribution of €5.5 million to provide four months of much-needed food assistance to 31,000 refugees in Kassala State through cash-based transfers (food vouchers). WFP will also use part of the funds to provide five months of nutritional support to 86,600 children under five, and pregnant and nursing women, all of whom are at risk of malnutrition across Sudan. The second contribution of more than €2.5 million will help WFP to continue to provide vital air services for the humanitarian community across Sudan. The WFP-operated UNHAS facilitates the movement of humanitarian workers to particularly remote and hard-to-reach locations across Darfur and in central and eastern Sudan. The EU has been one of WFP’s major donors in Sudan in recent years. In 2017, WFP plans to assist 4.2 million vulnerable people in Sudan through a range of activities, including emergency food and cash-based transfers, nutritional support and resilience-building activities to support communities to become independent. This includes internally displaced people, refugees, El Niño-affected populations and host communities.



WFP extends food assistance in Eastern Ukraine throughout 2017

15 February 2017, Kiev - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will continue to support 220,000 food-insecure people in conflict-affected areas of eastern Ukraine throughout 2017, while gradually supporting efforts for early recovery. Nearly three years after the start of the conflict, the security situation in eastern Ukraine remains tense. An estimated 3.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.  In 2017, WFP will continue to distribute food assistance to 70,000 of the most vulnerable people, based on the severity of needs. WFP aims to target elderly people, families headed by single mothers, people with chronic illnesses or disabilities, along with those who are not receiving any other form of humanitarian assistance. WFP will continue to scale up the use of cash-based transfers where possible, depending on availability of financial institutions and market conditions. During spring and summer, WFP and its partners will implement small-scale early recovery projects aimed at enhancing local livelihoods, increasing incomes, diversifying crops, and rehabilitating productive assets. Up to 150,000 people identified as moderately food-insecure, meaning they struggle to find or buy enough food on a daily basis to lead a healthy life, will be engaged in food-for-training and food-for-assets activities, which will be tailored to the local context and based on available funding.



European Union supports WFP nutrition and Food Security Project in Central Tanzania

15 February 2017, Dar Es Salaam - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received a contribution of €9.5 million from the European Union (EU) in support of a €24.5 million Food Security and Nutrition Project in central Tanzania. The project is designed to improve food and nutrition security for 40,000 people while contributing to the reduction of malnutrition in the targeted districts of Bahi and Chamwino in Dodoma region and Ikungi and Singida Rural in Singida region. The project builds on WFP’s long-standing presence in central Tanzania and its experience in providing nutritious food and social behaviour change communication through local health facilities. These activities will be complemented by efforts in other sectors to provide a more holistic approach to reduce stunting in the country. The national level of stunting stands near 34%. In Tanzania, the rate of chronic under-nutrition among children is driven by poverty, food insecurity and inadequate infant and young child feeding. The project will work to improve knowledge on nutrition, dietary diversity and practices in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The activities will be boosted by promoting the raising of small-scale livestock, planting diverse crops and mobilizing villages to start small savings and loan groups, increasing access to capital. Save the Children is WFP’s partner in strengthening synergies and capacities of community- based organisations and communities to promote gender empowerment and multi-sector approaches to nutrition, as well as coordinating the implementation of the agriculture component of the project. The project is part of WFP’s work toward achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger.



Belgian contribution to WFP supports people affected by hunger in South Sudan

14 February 2017, Juba - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is grateful to the Government of Belgium for contributing €3 million for WFP to provide emergency food and nutrition assistance to communities facing food shortages in South Sudan. The funds were used to purchase 1,562 metric tons of food, which has been distributed to more than 50,000 conflict-affected people in the states of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei as well as in the “Protection of Civilians” camps in Juba. The Belgian contribution allowed WFP to meet the basic food needs of people in these areas for two months. The food security and nutrition situation in South Sudan has progressively deteriorated since conflict erupted in 2013. Insecurity, displacement, an economic crisis, devaluation of the local currency and high food prices have compounded rising levels of hunger. A massive humanitarian effort is the only thing helping to stave off a hunger catastrophe. In 2016, generous contributions to WFP from Belgium, Canada, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as well as several private donors, helped provide food and nutrition assistance to about 4 million people in South Sudan.



Japan’s US$85 million donation helps feed millions of hungry people in 33 countries

13 February 2017, Yokohama - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed the announcement last week of a US$85.2 million cash contribution from the Government of Japan. The donation will enable WFP to provide vital food and nutrition assistance in 33 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. About half of the donation from Japan, or US$47 million, will support WFP’s operations in 23 African countries, particularly in response to slow-onset crises in Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland, where the El Niño phenomenon has severely affected the food security of millions of people. In Malawi, Japan’s funds will enable WFP to purchase maize, pulses and vegetable oil for nearly 420,000 food-insecure people to benefit from seamless relief, recovery and resilience-building activities. About 40% of the total contribution will be allocated to assist refugees and internally-displaced people in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria and neighbouring Cameroon. The largest portion of the contribution, totalling US$13 million, will provide life-saving food and vouchers to 340,000 people in Yemen, currently suffering one of the largest, yet least reported humanitarian crises.




Peace and security


Statement on Nuclear Weapons Ban Negotiations

4 March 2017 -  Pax Christi International welcomes the UN General Assembly’s decision to negotiate a legally binding prohibition of nuclear weapons. We consider it a milestone that nuclear weapons be explicitly banned by international treaty and see the treaty as an exercise in the moral values and global responsibilities required to build a more secure and sustainable world. Moreover, a nuclear weapon ban treaty should not be seen as a revolutionary step, but rather as the logical next step leading towards the near-universal goal of a world without nuclear weapons. It would also strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty by reinforcing the existing obligation to achieve nuclear disarmament. We call upon all governments to uphold their responsibilities and attend the nuclear weapons ban treaty negotiations in March and June/July 2017. Our movement calls upon governments to make the treaty’s core focus the prohibition of the possession and use of nuclear weapons with an obligation for elimination. In focusing on these core principles, the full range of related activities—such as development, deployment, production, testing, stockpiling, transfer, threat of use and assistance with these activities—must also be prohibited. These provisions must be unambiguous. An explicit and binding prohibition will not only outlaw and further stigmatize nuclear arms, it will also reinforce existing foundations for their eventual elimination. 



The Oslo Process: The Historic start to the cluster bomb ban

23February 2017 – 23rd February marks the 10th anniversary of the Oslo Process. Ten years ago today the Oslo Process began when 46 states took an extraordinary step by making a historic declaration to outlaw cluster munitions at a conference hosted by the Norwegian government in Oslo in February 2007. With persistent and concerted efforts by governments in close partnerships with the Cluster Munition Coalition, International Committee of the Red Cross and United Nations agencies, the Oslo Conference was followed by ten regional meetings hosted by different countries  to mobilize international support for a total ban on cluster munitions. In less than two years, the ambitious goal of the Oslo Declaration was achieved, when 94 states signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions during the first week of December 2008 in Oslo. Ambassador Kongstad, currently Norway’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the OSCE, said: "The launch of the Oslo Process and the successful conclusion of the Convention on Cluster Munitions that followed demonstrated what can be achieved when affected countries, other interested countries and competent civil society organisations work together based on facts and humanitarian concerns and principles. The CCM has saved countless lives and limbs and prevented unacceptable human suffering(…)”






Good news for Ghana sanitation efforts

By Mohamed Keita, RI staff

3 March 3 2017 - Rotary and USAID are creating Tippy Tap devices to encourage good hygiene in remote areas. The devices use a simple foot paddle to tip a water container so people can safely wash their hands. In January, a new government came into office in Ghana and set a different tone in addressing access to water and public sanitation in the country. President Nana Akufo-Addo announced the creation of a Ministry for Sanitation and Water Resources. It is the first time an administration has dedicated the centrepiece of an executive cabinet agency to public sanitation. Ghanaian Rotarians who are involved in the rollout of the Rotary-USAID International H2O Collaboration, a $4 million initiative to support lasting, positive change to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) initiatives in Ghana, have welcomed the move.



Tracing every last virus- Afghanistan steps up surveillance to accelerate polio eradication

2 March  2017  – A strong surveillance system is the backbone of Afghanistan’s polio eradication effort. It ensures that every single poliovirus is detected and analysed, enabling a quick and effective response to stop every strain of the debilitating virus. Afghanistan is closer than ever to stopping polio. The year 2016 ended with only 13 cases. Most of Afghanistan remains polio-free, with transmission limited to the southern, eastern and southeastern parts of the country. Surveillance is key to ensuring that the virus is tracked and stopped wherever it circulates. Together with partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, WHO is further strengthening Afghanistan’s surveillance system to accelerate progress towards a polio-free Afghanistan. Afghanistan currently has a network of 21 000 acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) reporting volunteers, including health workers in health facilities as well as community volunteers such as traditional healers, mullahs, shrine keepers and pharmacists, supported by over 700 AFP focal points. These volunteers actively find and report children who have symptoms that could be polio: floppy, rapid-onset paralysis with no apparent cause. Stool samples are collected from each child with suspected polio, and sent for further laboratory testing and analysis.



Yemen: MSF resumes medical work in Haydan hospital

2 March 2017, Sana’a- Six months after withdrawing its staff from northern Yemen following the bombing of its hospital in Abs, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has restarted work in Haydan district hospital, in Sa’ada governorate. Following the 15 August airstrike on Abs hospital which killed 19 people and injured 24 and in the wake of a row of attacks on several medical facilities in Northern Yemen, MSF decided to evacuate most of its staff from both Hajjah and Sa’ada governorates. On 19 February, an MSF team returned to work in Haydan hospital. Up to 200,000 people in this mountainous region rely on Haydan hospital for medical care: the MSF team provides  support to the emergency room, inpatient department, maternity unit and referral system, as well as providing logistical support. The organisation will resume its previous activities and increase its support to the inpatient department. A large number of health facilities in Yemen have been hit by airstrikes, including Haydan hospital itself, which was bombed on 26 October 2015, injuring one staff member. These attacks have put enormous pressure on an already weak health system, while people have become afraid of visiting hospitals out of fear they will be targeted.



Jordan/Iraq: A new life for war-wounded Iraqis

27February 2017 – In a hospital for reconstructive surgery in Amman, Jordan, war-wounded patients from Iraq receive treatment for complex injuries. The project was established by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in 2006 when it became clear that no such care existed for victims of the war in Iraq. It has since expanded to receive patients from Gaza, Yemen and Syria. Since the project opened, MSF has treated approximately 4,500 patients and performed nearly 10,000 surgeries. Iraqis are the largest patient group, with 2,442 patients referred from Iraq since the start of the project. The hospital in Amman provides a comprehensive care package for its patients, which includes physiotherapy and psychosocial support alongside specialised surgery. Patients are also provided with accommodation and financial assistance with travel to and from the hospital as well as in-between treatments if the care plan is prolonged.



International instructors provide Zika-related training with the Venezuelan Red Cross

23 February 2017 – On January 24-30, 2017, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), through the Zika Operation, the Reference Centre for Institutional Disaster Preparedness (CREPD) and the Venezuelan Red Cross held a training of trainers on Zika-related health topics. The workshop took place in Valencia, Venezuela, and 22 participants from 10 national branches of the Venezuelan Red Cross received certification. The IFRC, through the Americas Zika Operation and its partners, has implemented a comprehensive capacity building strategy. A large component is ensuring a continuous growth in the National Societies’ capacity to address and prevent the virus. This training of trainers is part of the effort to provide training to staff and volunteers, who can later replicate this knowledge at the local, national and international levels. All workshop participants completed a Zika module at the beginning of the training. They then divided in to 3 groups to obtain certification in of the following areas: epidemic control for volunteers; psychosocial support in emergencies; and sanitation and hygiene promotion. Training was delivered by technical experts from the Colombian Red Cross, the Panamanian Red Cross, the Venezuelan Red Cross, CREPD and the Zika Operation.




Environment and wildlife


UN declares war on ocean plastic

By Baher Kamal

Feb 23 2017 (IPS) - The available data is enough for the United Nations to literally declare war on oceans plastic: more than 8 million tonnes of leaks into their waters each year – equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic every minute, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and costing at least 8 billion dollars in damage to marine ecosystems.In fact, the Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on February 23 launched an unprecedented global campaign to eliminate major sources of marine litter: micro-plastics in cosmetics and the excessive, wasteful usage of single-use plastic by the year 2022. Launched at the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali, the #CleanSeas campaign urges governments to pass plastic reduction policies; targeting industry to minimize plastic packaging and redesign products; and calling on consumers to change their throwaway habits – before irreversible damage is done to the seas. (...) The #CleanSeas campaign is a global movement targeting governments, industry and consumers to urgently reduce the production and excessive use of plastic that is polluting the earth’s oceans, damaging marine life and threatening human health. The UN environment body aims to transform all spheres of change –habits, practices, standards and policies around the globe to dramatically reduce marine litter and the harm it causes. So far, ten countries have already joined the campaign with far-reaching pledges to turn the plastic tide: Belgium, Costa Rica, France, Grenada, Indonesia, Norway, Panama, Saint Lucia, Sierra Leone and Uruguay.



The Ocean Conference, United Nations, New York, 5-9 June 2017

Final themes for Ocean Conference partnership dialogues announced

24 Feb 2017 - Following the close of the the preparatory meeting of the Ocean Conference, convened on 15 and 16 February 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York, the final list of themes for the partnership dialogues was released by the co-facilitators of the preparatory process, the Permanent Representatives of Portugal and Singapore to the United Nations. The meeting considered the themes for the partnership dialogues and elements for a "Call for Action" for the Conference.  

On the "Call for Action", it was reported that the co-facilitators intend to make the "zero draft" available by early March 2017. The draft will take into account the deliberations of the preparatory meeting and other inputs, and will be the starting point for the first round of consultations, which will be held from 20-22 March 2017.




Religion and spirituality


Spain - Missionaries, models of the Church that goes forth, Spanish-American Day: Latin America awaits you!

4 March 2017 - Madrid (Agenzia Fides) - "Missionaries are models of the Church that goes forth", proposes Cardinal Marc Ouellet, president of the Pontifical Council for Latin America in his message on the occasion of the Spanish-American Day that the Spanish Church celebrates tomorrow, Sunday March 5 across the country. The celebration, deeply felt among all Catholics in the Iberian Peninsula, helps to recognize the special bond that exists between the ecclesial communities of the two continents, and pay homage to diocesan priests involved in OCSHA. This Day, celebrated in Spain since 1959, focuses in particular on the service offered by Spanish diocesan priests who are sent to exercise their priestly ministry in the Church of Latin America. The Episcopal Commission for Missions offers OCSHA a service to coordinate cooperation between the diocese of origin and destination. There are currently 267 OCSHA priests, missionaries in 20 countries of Latin America. Peru is the country with more missionaries, with 78 Spanish priests of OCSHA.



Burkina Faso: Dialogue of religions and cultures: prospects for the Ouagadougou symposium

4 March 2017 - On the eve of the opening of the international symposium on the dialogue of religions and cultures in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the two main initiators of the meeting, Filippe Sawadogo and Lazare Ki-Zerbo, discuss in this interview the substance and the highlights of this important meeting on education for the culture of peace.



Holy Land  - Restoration of the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre to be completed before Easter

3 March 2017 - Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - After nine months of works the restoration of the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is about to end. The media linked to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land inform that the scaffolds were removed and also the steel beams, placed in 1947, during the British Protectorate to support the architectural structure and in danger after the 1927 earthquake have been removed. An ecumenical celebration, scheduled for March 22, will mark the end of the restoration. According to the Greek team that carried out the works, another ten more months of work and 6 million euro will be needed, to tackle the causes – starting from humidity - that weaken the entire building of the Holy Sepulchre.



Seminar "Peace for All" and Interfaith Peace Prayer by Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights

25 February 2017 - Pakistan Council for Social Welfare & Human Rights organized the Seminar with the title of  “ Peace for All”  & Interfaith Peace Prayer at its secretariat. The purpose of this seminar and interfaith peace prayer was to highlight the importance of peace in the present scenario and condemn the recent wave of terrorism in Pakistan and showed the solidarity with the victims of suicide attacks.
Speakers highlighted the importance of peace as per the teachings of Islam, Christianity and Hinduism and strongly condemn the recent incidents of terrorism and extremism here in Pakistan in which more than hundred innocent people martyred and hundreds of injured. During the seminar speakers showed their full support to “Operation Radul Fasad” launched by Pak Army against terrorism and extremism throughout the country and pray for the success of this operation and also hope that this operation will completely quelled terrorism and extremism from our beloved country.




Culture and education


Education, museum and media officers promote gender equality in Viet Nam

3 March 2017 - Viet Nam has made significant progress in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, but violence, persistent male preference, and limited access to education in remote and ethnic minority areas still remain common challenges for girls and women.
A two-day training in Thach That district of Ha Noi gave representatives from the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, the National Institute of Education Management, and the national radio broadcaster Voice of Vietnam the opportunity to build their knowledge and skills to advance gender equality.  The training on 23-24 February 2017 built understanding of gender concepts by examining gender stereotypes, biases and discrimination in mass media and textbooks. Participants realized the serious implications of gender inequality on girls’ and women’s access to education and personal well-being through real-life illustrations of gender disparities within schools and the wider community.



Post-hurricane support has helped traumatised Haitian teachers move forward

3March 2017 – For many teachers, the emotional scars of Hurricane Matthew have yet to heal, which is why an international solidarity programme has helped to provide support to their colleagues who need it the most. At the initiative of the Union Nationale des Normalien(ne)s et des Educateurs/trices d’Haïti (UNNOEH) and the Fédération Nationale des Travailleurs en Education et en Culture (FENATEC), affiliated to Education International (EI), 600 education professionals have attended a psychosocial support training seminar, 150 in each of the four Haitian regions most affected by the natural disaster of October 2016, namely Nippes, the South, Grande-Anse and the North-West. The seminar was part of a project launched by the unions, coordinated by EI, and with the financial backing of the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF). The project aimed at providing psychosocial support to teachers in the departments most affected by cyclone , training an intervention unit to assist and/or train other teachers before and after natural disasters, and to help the teachers in these regions to regain confidence. Some of the topics covered include defining the overall concept of a disaster, psycho-social support, stress managements, practical advice for overcoming grief, the importance of developing resilience, the support relationship for students, and stress among children.



Through refugee youth project, teens serve their communities

1 March 2017 – Between February and December 2016, ANERA’s skills training program reached more than 6,500 out-of-school teens in Lebanon. These short skills training courses for refugee youth help equip students with skills in a variety of marketable fields, such as electric wiring, chocolate molding, floor tiling, sewing, beekeeping and more.The program also offers youth training and apprenticeship opportunities that boost their potential as they enter the local job market. One form of these apprenticeships is community service, which allows youth to hone their skills while giving back to their community. Almost 30% of youth completing vocational courses have also completed an apprenticeship. More than 1,200 did so through targeted community service projects.The initiative was made possible with the partnership of UNICEF and funding from UK Aid, German Cooperation and the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.



Partnership with the Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers to restore African cinema

28 February 2017- UNESCO will start, in the context of its International Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa, a partnership with the Film Foundation, chaired by Martin Scorsese, and the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI) a long-term project to help locate, restore and preserve films made on the African continent. The African Film Heritage Project (AFHP) will identify 50 films with historic, artistic and cultural significance, and will then undertake the process of restoration. UNESCO envisages inscribing the films on the Memory of the World Register.



Ministers, experts urge inclusive access and quality education through open educational resources

24 February 2017 - On 23 February, ministers, policy makers and experts from 26 countries took part in the opening of the European Regional Consultation on Open Educational Resources (OER), held in Malta from 23 to 24 February.  The meeting is the second of six regional consultations organized in the lead up to the 2nd World OER Congress, to be hosted in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from 18 to 20 September. The World OER Congress will mark 15 years since the term “Open Educational Resources” was first coined at UNESCO and five years since the inaugural World OER Congress took place at UNESCO Headquarters, resulting in the 2012 Paris OER Declaration.  “OER” refer to any educational materials made available by authors and institutions under an open-license to freely use and adapt for teaching, learning and research purposes. In all regions of the world, the growth of OER initiatives and policies supports the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 by providing quality, affordable educational materials adaptable to the broadest range of teaching and learning needs.




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Next issue: 7 April 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.”

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