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. 260 – 15th September 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


Mali: IHL (International Humanitarian Law) Library in Arabic given to Université privée du Sahel

September 2017- The ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) mission consists not only to protect and support victims of conflicts and violence, but also to promote and broadcast the international humanitarian law. We organize different activities, including academic programs, to encourage education and research and pique the interest of the professors and students. We also encourage universities to offer courses on humanitarian law by providing technical support, which includes organizing training conferences. Since 1996, the ICRC has been motivating and supporting the incorporation of the humanitarian law in secondary schools and university programs. This is done in order to promote respect in the future generation of decision makers and opinion leaders for humanitarian principles and rules which are pertinent in times of armed conflict. The Université Privée du Sahel (UPS) is part of the universities that the ICRC endorses in the incorporation of the IHL. Created in 2012, that higher educational institution known as Université Islamique du Sahel (Islamic University of the Sahel) is divided into two faculties. While one focuses on Islamic studies and Arabic, the other inclined towards computer science. On 24 May 2017, the ICRC gave an Arabic library and French publications. The library already contains publications on humanitarian law, human rights and international law. The French publications also provide the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional protocols, including the writings relative to the humanitarian law rules and human rights in comparison with the Islamic Charia.



What is the Special Criminal Court?

30 August 2017 - The Special Criminal Court (SCC) is a special jurisdiction within the Central African justice system created by Act No. 15.003 of 3 June 2015to investigate and bring to court serious human rights violations and violations of International Humanitarian Law committed on the territory of the Central African Republic since 1 January 2003, as defined by the Central African Penal Code and by International Law. The Special Criminal Court project follows the establishment in April 2014 of a Special Investigation and Instruction Unit(“Cellule Spéciale d’Enquête et d’Instruction”, CSEI) to investigate serious human rights violations and prosecute the persons responsible for these crimes. Created for five years (renewable), the SCC will focus on the most serious crimes, such as war crimes and crimes against humanity, and will have primacy over ordinary national jurisdictions. The maximum sentence that the judges of the SCC will be able to pronounce will be life imprisonment, in accordance with the provisions of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to which the Central African Republic has acceded since 2002; and abandoning the death penalty, which has not been applied since 1981.



The Supreme Court of India bans instant divorce in a move to protect Muslim women’s rights

25 August 2017 - The Supreme Court of India gave a landmark judgment on 22 August, declaring the practice of unilateral and instantaneous triple talaq under the Muslim personal law unconstitutional by a 3:2 majority. The triple talaq is a practice under which a Muslim man can instantly divorce his wife by uttering the word “talaq” three times. The five-member bench delivering the historic judgement comprised of judges from different major faiths in India—Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. The Supreme Court judgment has been welcomed by women’s groups and hailed as being historic by the Government. The vulnerability and suffering of Muslim women caused by the triple talaq has been a part of the public debate for many years. The judgment comes two years after Shayara Bano approached the Apex Court after her husband of 15 years sent her a letter with talaq written thrice. Bano’s husband also took away her two children. UN Women welcomes the judgment and its plausible positive impact on the lives of Muslim women in India. Immediately prior to the judgment, on 1 August, UN Women had facilitated a Roundtable Consultation with representatives from civil society, academia, government and religious leaders, for the Muslim Women’s Forum. The discussions focused on issues concerning the socio-economic status of Muslim women and the personal law framework.



UN human rights chief welcomes rape law reform in Lebanon, Tunisia, Jordan

22 August 2017 -  The top United Nations human rights official welcomed the repeal of laws in Lebanon, Tunisia and Jordan that allow rapists to avoid criminal prosecution by marrying their victims. “To punish a rape victim by making her marry the perpetrator of a horrible crime against her – there is no place in today's world for such hideous laws,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in press statement. He warmly welcomed the stand that lawmakers in Lebanon, Tunisia and Jordan have taken towards eliminating violence against women and ensuring that perpetrators of such violence are held to account.



ICC orders former Mali Islamist to pay more than $3 million for damage to Timbuktu cultural sites

17 August 2017 – For deliberately attacking religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu, Mali, the International Criminal Court (ICC) today issued to Malian Islamist a nearly three million euros Reparations Order, due on 16 February 2018.  “The Chamber highlighted the importance of cultural heritage and stressed that, because of their purpose and symbolism, most cultural property and cultural heritage are unique and of sentimental value,” said the Court, based in The Hague and the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal. “Their destruction thus carries a message of terror and helplessness; destroys part of humanity's shared memory and collective consciousness, and renders humanity unable to transmit its values and knowledge to future generations,” it added. Noting that Mr Al Mahdi is indigent, the Chamber encouraged the Trust Funds for Victims (“TFV”) to complement the reparations award, directing it to submit a draft implementation plan for 16 February 2018. Covering the three categories of damage to the attacked historic and religious buildings; consequential economic loss; and moral harm, the ICC stated: “Reparations may assist in promoting reconciliation between the victims of the crime, the affected communities and the convicted person.”



Landmark UN-backed treaty on mercury takes effect

16 August 2017 – A ground-breaking global convention on mercury today goes into effect, the United Nations environment wing said, protecting millions of children and infants from possible neurological and health damage.  “Governments that are party to the Convention are now legally bound to take a range of measures to protect human health and the environment by addressing mercury throughout its lifecycle,” the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a statement.  The Minamata Convention commits Governments to specific measures, which include banning new mercury mines, phasing-out existing ones, regulating artisanal and small-scale gold mining, and reducing emissions and mercury use. Since the element is indestructible, the Convention also stipulates conditions for interim storage and disposal of mercury waste. The Convention – the first new global convention related to the environment and health in close to a decade – entered force today, 90 days after the fiftieth party ratified it on 18 May. There are now 74 parties to the Convention and 128 countries have signed it. The Convention takes its name from the most severe mercury poisoning disaster in history. In 1956, local villages suffered convulsions, psychosis, loss of consciousness and coma from eating the fish in Minamata Bay, Japan, in which industrial wastewaters had been dumped since the 1930s. Thousands of people were certified as having directly suffered from mercury poisoning, now known as Minamata disease. Other man-made sources of mercury pollution include the production of chlorine and some plastics, waste incineration and use of mercury in laboratories, pharmaceuticals, preservatives, paints and jewelry. The first meeting of the parties to the Convention will be held 24 to 29 September in Geneva.



Human rights


Swaziland: Swazis Demand Democracy

10 September 2017 - Swazis demand democracy at Global Week of Action - Kenworthy News Media, 9 September 2017

Thousands of people marched through the streets of Swaziland's capital Mbabane on Friday (8 September 2017) to deliver a petition which calls for democracy and socioeconomic justice to the country's Cabinet, writes Kenworthy News Media. The march was part of the annual Global Week of Action (GWoA) which, according to the organisers, is the biggest campaign for democracy in Swaziland. It is held during the week of Swaziland's Independence Day, the 6th of September, and includes marches, seminars and workshops.Between four and five thousand helped the organiser of the GWoA, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF), deliver a petition to Swaziland's cabinet, according to SUDF Coordinator Wandile Dludlu. The petition had seven core demands for Swaziland's government. These included a people's government and economy, affordable health and education, equal participation for women, and land reforms and rural development.



Girls in Moldova hone their STEM skills and take a stand against domestic violence

8 September 2017 - Sixty-five girls aged 16 to 20 from 13 regions of Moldova learned web development, robotics, and 3D printing at the third edition of GirlsGoIT summer camp that took place on 21-30 July in Chisinau, Moldova. Most girls interacted for the first time with a 3D printer to print their designs, wrote code for a robot, and created their first web pages. Besides acquiring new technical skills, girls have also learned more about their rights. In a session organized by UN Women, girls participated in a discussion with UN Women staff and Maia Taran, a survivor of violence and a “Positive Champion” who inspires other women survivors of domestic violence to seek help.



Human rights organisations call the International Association of Prosecutors To adopt a human rights policy

5 September 2017 - FIDH was among 130 human rights organisations to sign the petition to the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) ahead of its annual Conference to take place in China on 10-15 September 2017. The petition draws the attention of the IAP to dozens of prominent lawyers, journalists and human rights activists targeted by the prosecution service in China and in many other countries around the world. Among other measures to elaborate a human rights policy, the petition urges the IAP to discuss the human rights implications before making decisions about hosting IAP meetings and to identify relevant human rights concerns before travelling to IAP conferences.The IAP is a global umbrella organisation for prosecution services and individual prosecutors that works towards raising standards for prosecutors worldwide and improving international co-operation to combat crime.



Sudan: New Initiative to Defend Women Journalists

5 September 2017 | Sudanese women journalists started an initiative that strives to defend the rights of women journalists. The initiative aims to improve the women journalists' rights to work, equal pay, and promotion together with the possibilities of receiving training. It is registered with the Sudanese Registrar of Companies as a non-profit organisation. Sudan counts 260 women journalists working in 21 Sudanese newspapers.



UN allocates $21M to meet urgent needs in newly-accessible areas across Sudan

1 September 2017 - The United Nations today allocated $21 million to provide life-saving food support, nutrition, water and sanitation, health and other assistance to thousands of Sudanese in newly accessible areas in Darfur's Jebel Marra area, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The funds come from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF), which is comprised of donor funds and overseen by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).



Kazakhstan’s new plan to end domestic violence demonstrates multi-disciplinary action
28 August 2017 - A new programme supported by UN Women in Kazakhstan is demonstrating a multi-disciplinary approach to addressing violence against women. More cases of sexual abuse and domestic violence are being reported, specialized centres have been set up in each district to provide comprehensive services for survivors. Imagine a team of specialists—a lawyer, a police officer, a psychologist, a doctor and a social worker, led by the Senior Assistant to the General Prosecutor—visiting women survivors to offer all the services that they might need to leave an abusive situation and to overcome trauma. It may sound too good to be true, but this very scenario is happening right now in Kazakhstan, as part of a joint project by UN Women and the General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO), funded by the Government of Kazakhstan. 



In Palestine’s first One Stop Centre, women survivors of violence feel safe, protected and empowered

28 August 2017 - The One Stop Centre that was recently set up in Ramallah as part of a joint UN Women, UNDP and UNICEF programme, is one of a kind. The 24-hour facility provides various services that survivors of violence need—medical, legal aid, temporary shelter and police protection—all under one roof. Since April 2017, it has already served more than 400 women and juvenile survivors.



Iraq: the Sun Girls Brigade: teaching female Yezidi fighters about the rules of war

10August 2017 – The Iraqi conflict severely hit the Yezidi population, particularly the hundreds of women and girls who were victims of war crimes including organized rape, sexual slavery and forced marriage. Following these abuses, in 2015, a famous female Yezidi singer created an all-female armed unit—the Sun Girls Brigade. Geneva Call has recently trained some of its members on the protection of civilians during armed conflict. Over two days in July 2017 Geneva Call provided training on the respect of humanitarian norms and the protection of civilians during hostilities to 20 female fighters from the Yezidi Sun Girls Brigade. Trainers presented all the main topics of the law of armed conflict, including the distinction between civilians and combatants, the protection of children and the critical issue of reprisals and vengeance. This unique female brigade is composed of 136 fighters and belongs to the Peshmerga Yezidi Forces, one of the main Yezidi armed actors active in the Sinjar region. The 20 participants included the founder of the brigade, as well as squad leaders and their assistants. The different sessions initiated challenging discussions, notably about the abuses endured by the Yezidi community, such as the kidnapping of women and girls, sexual slavery and the killing of men and boys by the Islamic State group. The session about the prohibition of revenge raised many questions, particularly about the effectiveness of existing mechanisms to bring the perpetrators of abuses against civilians to justice. (…)




Economy and development


New IFAD-supported project to increase employment and incomes of poor and vulnerable people in Ecuador

5 September 2017, Rome – Increasing incomes and creating employment opportunities in some of Ecuador’s poorest rural communities is the focus of a project being financed under a new agreement between the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the Republic of Ecuador. The financial agreement for the Proyecto de Fortalecimiento de los Actores Rurales de la Economía Popular y Solidaria (FAREPS) was signed in Rome.  The project will reach approximately 20,000 rural families living in the provinces of Guayas and Los Rios in the coastal region, Azuay in the central highlands, as well as Morona Santiago and Zamora Chinchipe in the Amazon. The total cost of the project is US$35.6 million, of which IFAD is providing $19.9 million, including a $4 million grant from its Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP). Other contributors include the Government of Ecuador ($12 million) and the beneficiaries themselves ($3.7 million). The project supports the government’s long-term development strategy and will work hand-in-hand with participating organizations, associations, cooperatives, communes and communities. Among other things, the project will provide training to participating organizations and cooperatives, helping them identify specific actions that will be financed to improve the resilience of beneficiaries and help them adapt to a changing climate. Since 1978, IFAD has invested a total of $130 million in 10 programmes and projects related to agricultural development in Ecuador, benefiting more than 271,767 households.



IFAD and Iraq invest in new partnership to revitalise smallholder agriculture

31 August 2017, Rome - In an important step toward financing its first post-war agricultural investment project in Iraq, the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) met with a high-level Iraqi delegation in Rome last week. The project will target 20,000 rural households in the poorest southern governorates of Missan, Thi Qar, Qadissiyah and Muthana. Implemented by the Iraqi ministries of agriculture, water resources and environment, the new project will enhance resilience to climate change as well as improve the productivity and profitability of small-scale crop and livestock producers by providing access to finance, technologies and remunerative markets. The meeting between IFAD and Iraqi officials follows an initial high-level meeting held in Jordan in October 2016 where participants developed the first strategic roadmap for investment in smallholder agriculture and rural development in Iraq. It set the stage for identifying the priorities for IFAD’s engagement in Iraq, including the main strategic objectives, as well as the framework for the first ever IFAD investment in the country.



REGAL-AG elevates investments in Kenya’s neglected zones

29August 2017 – Pastoral communities in northern Kenya’s Isiolo and Marsabit counties suffer from frequent droughts and the effects of climate change. On top of that, businesses in the arid lands struggle to get financial services. They often lack the collateral needed to secure loans because, while most banks in Kenya prefer a land title deed, land ownership in both counties falls under allotment letters or community land trusts. Many banks in Kenya either shy away from investing in startups, fail to provide Sharia-compliant products, or offer high-cost credit and fees to discourage borrowing. To overcome these constraints and grow local economies, ACDI/VOCA’s Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands – Accelerated Growth (REGAL-AG) project focuses on building a more inclusive and competitive livestock value chain. The USAID-funded project helps small- and medium-sized enterprises become investment-ready by issuing grants ranging from $30,000 to $260,000. These grants ensure that those who receive them have viable business models, thereby laying the foundation for commercial investors to follow with morefinancing. This paves a sustainable and scalable path forward.



Agro Horizon partners with banks to support Kyrgyz farmers

23August 2017 – Farmers in rural regions of Kyrgyzstan often lack access to the banking system because of the remote areas in which they live. To support them, the USAID Agro Horizon project teamed up with Bai Tushum Bank, the First Microcredit Company (FMCC), and Kyrgyz Investment and Credit Bank (KICB), providing each with a grant to fund innovative ways of reaching farmers and agricultural processors. The Agro Horizon project is a key part of USAID’s overall program to fast-track economic growth in Kyrgyzstan. By teaming up with local banks, the project will bring financial services to its more isolated beneficiaries. That means farmers will be able to improve their operations. The banks, in turn, will apply their grants to develop mobile technology, helping them reach a greater number of potential new clients. Bai Tushum Bank will implement a one-year project focused on value chain financing using banking software. Through a mobile application, farmers can make transactions without having to travel long distances to bank offices. They can make payments to suppliers of goods, such as livestock feed and fertilizer, and services. The banks can also lend to entrepreneurs in remote areas. These entrepreneurs can apply for and repay loans—all through the mobile app.



UK continues to support most vulnerable in Sudan through cash assistance

21 August 2017, Khartoum - The United Kingdom has contributed £4.5 million (US$5.8 million) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide essential food assistance to nearly 370,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Darfur for two months. The Department for International Development (DFID) contribution will allow WFP to support IDPs through cash-based transfers, which will provide people with vouchers and e-cards so they can buy food and essential supplies of their choice at contracted local traders. With UK support, WFP successfully launched the first cash programme in Sudan last year in Otash camp in South Darfur. During the pilot phase of the cash transfer programme (October 2016 to March 2017), nearly 75,000 IDPs in Otash camp received approximately US$37.50 per person for five months. In Sudan, the introduction of vouchers in 2009 and cash assistance in 2016 continues to transform the relationship between vulnerable displaced people and their food needs. Cash-based assistance provides people with greater choice of food items and access to locally-preferred ingredients, while stimulating the local economy and supporting WFP’s needs-based approach in a protracted crisis. Throughout 2017, WFP plans to support more than four million vulnerable people in Sudan, including IDPs, refugees, people affected by climate change and host communities. WFP provides such support through a range of activities, including emergency food assistance, cash-based transfers (or vouchers), nutritional support, and resilience-building activities to help communities become increasingly independent.






Catholic Charities USA, K of C give millions for hurricane relief

By Catholic News Service

8September 2017 – San Antonio (CNS) -- Catholic Charities USA presented a $2 million check Sept. 4 representing donations received to date for immediate emergency assistance for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and its catastrophic flooding. One hundred percent of the funds raised will go directly to immediate and long-term recovery efforts. Making the presentation was Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. In addition, the Knights of Columbus has raised more than $1.3 million to help recovery efforts in Texas. Funds have been used to provide food and shelter for residents in Houston and surrounding communities, Corpus Christi, Beaumont and Ingleside. (…)



International Day of Charity - 5 September

5  September 2017 - In the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development adopted in September 2015, the United Nations recognizes that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. The Agenda also calls for a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable. It also acknowledges the role of the diverse private sector, ranging from micro-enterprises to cooperatives to multinationals, and that of civil society organizations and philanthropic organizations in the implementation of the new Agenda. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth in the Agenda can be grouped into six critical areas: people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. They have the potential to transform our lives and our planet by providing the framework needed for philanthropic institutions to enable all people to contribute to the betterment of our world.



WFP welcomes US$21 million contribution from China for emergency food assistance across eight countries

5 September 2017, Beijing - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a US$21 million contribution from the Government of the People’s Republic of China to provide urgent food and nutrition assistance to people affected by food crises across eight countries in Africa and Asia. The contribution will assist approximately 1.65 million vulnerable people, including refugees and internally displaced in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Iran, Niger, Pakistan, Syria and Afghanistan. The funds will enable WFP to provide critical food rations such as rice, wheat, millet, pulses and oil, as well as to distribute specialized nutritious food to prevent malnutrition among refugee children under five. WFP requires timely and sufficient funding to address the vital food needs of people left furthest behind in these eight countries. In addition to its emergency operations, WFP is also scaling up support for long-term recovery by focusing on livelihoods, nutrition and improving access to education for children by providing school meals.



Japan donation boosts food and nutrition security in Lesotho

05 September 2017, Maseru - The Japanese government has contributed US$1.1 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) food assistance to some 61,000 food insecure children in Lesotho.

A ceremony in Maseru yesterday marked the contribution from Japan, which will be used to provide a highly nutritious porridge for some 11,000 children under the age of two in Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka and Mohale’s Hoek. The contribution will also provide a hot and nutritious daily meal for an additional 50,000 children attending early childhood care and development centres across Lesotho. Japan has been a consistent donor to WFP in Sub-Saharan Africa, having contributed US$24 million to provide vital support to more than ten million hungry and vulnerable people in 2016. To alleviate the food shortage that has affected vulnerable people in Lesotho, Japan has provided US$8.7 million over the past five years to support WFP activities in the country. Yet despite the efforts of WFP and its partners, a new study from the Lesotho Vulnerability and Assessment Committee estimates that the number of people expected to face chronic hunger will grow in the coming months. The new assessment estimates that the number of food insecure people will rise from 179,000 people (July-September 2017) to 224,000 people (October 2017-March 2018).




Bangladesh Red Crescent and IFRC scale up aid in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

September 2017, Kuala Lumpur/Geneva — Bangladesh Red Crescent Society is urgently scaling up efforts to provide water, food and other aid to displaced people who have recently crossed into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh from Rakhine state, Myanmar. The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society is providing thousands of liters of purified water and hundreds of safe water storage containers each day to address immediate humanitarian needs of the new arrivals. Dry food is being provided by Bangladesh Red Crescent. All assistance is being provided in coordination with local authorities and other agencies. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has emergency food for 10,000 families, some of which is already being provided to meet immediate needs of the new influx of displaced people in Bangladesh. Mass arrivals of people from Myanmar is adding huge pressure on limited local resources and public services. Basic services, ranging from food, education and health care, to water, sanitation, and solid-waste management, are greatly strained. In Bangladesh, Rakhine, and all other places in the world, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies provide humanitarian assistance with impartiality and neutrality; based on need.



UK supports WFP efforts to avert famine in Yemen

29 August 2017, Sana'a - As efforts intensify to avert famine in Yemen, the United Kingdom has stepped up its support to the World Food Programme (WFP) by providing a contribution which will deliver life-saving food assistance for more than two million people in the country.  The £20 million (US$26 million) contribution from the Department for International Development (DFID) comes at a crucial time, as WFP strives to provide monthly food assistance to nearly seven million people on the verge of famine in Yemen. The country is mired in one of the world’s worst hunger crises, with more than 17 million people – two out of three people – requiring food assistance for survival.  WFP will use the UK contribution to provide two months of food assistance for more than two million people through direct distributions and food vouchers. The funding will also help WFP to provide nutritional support to around 550,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women for two months. Each month, WFP aims to provide food assistance to 6.8 million people in Yemen.  The UK is playing a leading role in the humanitarian response as the third largest humanitarian donor to Yemen and the second largest donor to the UN appeal. The support for WFP comes from the UK’s increased funding of £139 million for Yemen for 2017-18.



European Union supports WFP assistance for Sahrawi Refugees in Algeria

22 August 2017, Algiers - The European Union has contributed €4.9 million (US$5.5 million) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to continue to cover the basic food needs of Sahrawi refugees residing in camps in Algeria. The European Commission Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) contribution will help provide Sahrawi refugees with diversified monthly food rations that include cereals (rice, barley and wheat flour), pulses, vegetable oil, sugar and fortified blended foods. For more than 40 years, the Sahrawi refugees have been living under extremely harsh conditions in the Sahara Desert in southwestern Algeria. Hosted in five refugee camps near Tindouf, refugee families rely primarily on WFP assistance to secure their food needs as employment opportunities are limited.

The European Commission is one of the largest donors for WFP’s work in support of Sahrawi refugees in Algeria. This year, European Commission contributions have covered almost one-third of WFP funding requirements for this operation. WFP has been supporting refugees from Western Sahara in Algeria since 1986.



Japan contributes US$2.75 M to WFP Chad

17 August 2017, N'Djamena - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes Japan’s contribution of US$2.75 million to provide food assistance to 177,000 vulnerable people in Chad’s Sahel region, many of whom are uncertain where their next meal will come from.  The funding will contribute to providing WFP rations of cereals, pulses, oil and salt to some 62,500 Chadian households in the Sahel, along with half-rations to 114,500 Su-danese refugees who have been living in camps in the East for more than a decade. The announcement coincides with the lean season in Chad, when food stocks are low before the next harvest and market prices soar, deepening hunger among many people who are already living on the edge. WFP supports almost half-a-million people in Chad through food distributions and cash-transfers, including to refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons who are affected by instability in neighbouring countries. WFP also assists another 490,000 Chadians living in vulnerable communities of the Sahel.



Germany’s support helps rebuild livelihoods in South Sudan

11 August 2017, Juba - The World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a contribution of US$8 million from the Government of Germany to WFP’s recovery operation in South Sudan. The funds will enable WFP to support initiatives to strengthen the resilience of over 180,000 people through food assistance and cash transfers. Hunger has reached unprecedented levels in South Sudan with an estimated six million people, half of the population, unsure of where their next meal will come from.
This year WFP plans to assist more than 500,000 people, including 260,000 women, through food assistance to build assets such as vegetable gardens, access roads and shallow wells to help families strengthen resilience and rebuild livelihoods. Participants also receive training on life skills including gardening, and ideas to generate income to sustain themselves.

Germany has displayed a firm commitment to improving the lives of people since South Sudan obtained independence in 2011. It has contributed more than US$102 million to WFP’s operations in the last five years. Sustained donor support for WFP’s operations is vital to keep saving lives and restoring livelihoods.




Peace and security


South Sudan bans cluster munitions

5September 2017 – Today, 5 August 2017, the representative of South Sudan at the Seventh Meeting of States to the Convention on Cluster Munitions announced that “South Sudan unanimously decided to fully accede” to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The decision was made by the South Sudan’s Council of Ministers on 25th August 2017. The Cluster Munition Coalition congratulates South Sudan on its decision to accede and encourages it to actively promote the universalization of the Convention by inviting all states not party to join the Convention. The Cluster Munition Monitor has seen no evidence to indicate past production, export or stockpiling of cluster munitions by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army prior to the country becoming an independent state on 9 July 2011. At the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in September 2014, South Sudan stated that it “does not produce nor possess any cluster munitions” and declared “we do not intend to acquire or use cluster bombs”. However remnants of air-dropped cluster bombs were discovered outside the town of Bor in February 2014, after fighting between government forces and opposition fighters. South Sudan denied responsibility for this use of cluster munitions, as did Uganda, which was providing air-support to the government of South Sudan at the time. 44 of the 54 countries in Africa have ratified or acceded to the Convention.



Sri Lanka announces plan to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions

5September 2017 On 4 September 2017, HE. Mr. Ravinatha Aryasinha, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva announced Sri Lanka’s intention to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in the near future. The announcement was made during the Seventh Meeting of States Parties to the Convention, in Geneva. The Cluster Munition Coalition welcomes this announcement and looks forward to counting Sri Lanka as the next State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. An accession instrument needs to be submitted at the United Nations in New York to formalize Sri Lanka’s adhesion to the Convention. Sri Lanka has participated as an observer in every Convention’s meetings since 2011, and in December 2016 it voted in favor of United Nations General Assembly resolution 71/45 that calls on states outside the Convention to “join as soon as possible.”

Sri Lanka is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions.



Mozambique: Police study international rules and standards on policing

4 September 2017 - More than 80 police commanders from Manica, Sofala, Tete and Zambezia provinces in central Mozambique participated in a two-day seminar in early August on international rules and standards on policing. The appropriate use of force and firearms by law enforcement officers, guidelines relating to arrest and detention of alleged offenders, as well as respecting and protecting the rights of persons displaced by armed violence were among the topics discussed.






Nigeria: MSF scaling up efforts to contain cholera in Maiduguri

1 September 2017 – Maiduguri, Nigeria:  Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is scaling up its ongoing efforts to prevent further deaths and the spread of cholera in Maiduguri, Nigeria. MSF is working in coordination with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and other organisations that are responding to the outbreak in the city.

MSF has established a 40-bed cholera treatment centre in Dala, which has so far admitted 70 patients. Teams have set up an oral rehydration point in Muna camp, and 14 community health workers are helping to find new cases and trace community members who may have come into contact with affected people. The majority of cholera patients come from Muna Garage, a camp for people who have fled other parts of the state due to the ongoing conflict between the Nigerian armed forces and Boko Haram. Following heavy rains, the camp is partly flooded, which is an additional risk factor during a cholera outbreak. The flooding has made the already poor sanitary conditions at the camp even worse. A potential case has also now been reported from another part of the city. MSF is also setting up rehydration points in places where new cases are being reported and is sharing its medical expertise by training state health workers and those from the World Health Organization (WHO) in prevention and control methods.



Save the Children a principal partner to Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs on $300 million global social and behavior change award from USAID

28 August 2017 , Fairfield, Connecticut (USA)—The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded a five-year Cooperative Agreement with a $300 million ceiling to Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) and partners to lead its social and behavior change programs around the world. The program—Breakthrough ACTION—under leadership of CCP, will be implemented together with Save the Children, ideas42, ThinkPlace and Camber Collective. The project will also be supported by ActionSprout, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and Human Network International/Voto, as specialized partners. Breakthrough ACTION will use state-of-the-art, evidence-based tools to encourage people in developing countries to adopt healthy behaviors, while addressing underlying social and gender norms that prevent uptake of services and positive health practices. While much of the work will harness the power of communication – from mass media campaigns to social media to community forums with providers and communities, the project will also use innovative behavioral science approaches such as behavioral economics and human-centered design to improve programs. Save the Children is excited to apply these new behavioral science approaches to identifying accelerators to community engagement and action.



Afghanistan’s mobile mullahs on a mission to eradicate polio

Armed with maps and motorbikes, religious leaders cover great ground in support of polio vaccination

25August 2017– Each afternoon of a polio campaign in Kandahar, after the day’s door-to-door rounds have been completed, the vaccination teams congregate at health facilities. Most go right inside to drink tea, refrigerate their remaining stocks of vaccine and brainstorm operations for the next day. But a few, those who knocked on the doors of homes only to be abruptly shooed away, stop to speak with two profoundly bearded, energetic middle-aged men. These men, Shah Mahmood, 56, and Abdul Rashid, 48, sit on their motorbikes consulting maps in animated conversation with the health workers about local families who refused to vaccinate their children against polio. Both men are mullahs – respected religious leaders – and lately their motorbikes have facilitated a novel program to use religious elders to sway the most skeptical and conservative parents who believe vaccinations for children aren’t halal. Mullah Mahmood and Rashid are independent volunteers who believe Muslims have an obligation to prevent the spread of polio. Their efforts are now being expanded, with a further 10 Mullahs being engaged in Nangarhar, in the country’s east. Their effort takes Islamic doctrine about vaccines out of the mosques and directly to homes, madrassas, and temporary nomadic settlements. At the end of its first year, their efforts have achieved significant results, convincing up to 80% of the families who persistently refuse to vaccinate their children against polio to agree to vaccination.



Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announces Bangladesh-based global health research institution as 2017 recipient of $2 million Hilton Humanitarian Prize

23 August 2017, Los Angeles – The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced today that the global health organization icddr,b is this year’s recipient of the Hilton Humanitarian Prize. A distinguished panel of independent international jurors selected icddr,b, which is dedicated to solving the most serious health issues facing low and middle-income countries, as the recipient. Based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for more than 50 years, icddr,b has been at the forefront of innovative, low-cost health solutions that have resulted in saving millions of lives globally. While developing countries are not the first place people look to find a public health revolution, icddr,b’s world-class facility in Dhaka has served for decades as a global hub for cutting edge research on enteric diseases. The institution began in an attempt to discover and develop realistic, scalable interventions for cholera and other diarrheal diseases. icddr,b will receive $2 million in unrestricted funding, joining the list of 21 previous organizations that have received the Hilton Humanitarian Prize over the last two decades including most recently, The Task Force for Global Health, Landesa and Fountain House. (…)



United Kingdom recommits to end polio

New funding from the UK for polio eradication will immunize up to 45 million children a year against polio.

4August 2017 – The United Kingdom is helping make history by eradicating a human disease for just the second time ever, after smallpox.  On August 4, Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel announced £100 million in new funding to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which will help to give the world’s children protection against this crippling disease. “Polio has no place in the 21st Century,” said Priti Patel. British aid has made up 10% of global contributions to the GPEI over the last 30 years. Thanks to UK aid, 1.6 million people are walking who could have been paralyzed for life had they not been vaccinated against polio. More than 50 000 Rotarians across the UK and even more across the globe have been instrumental in this effort. Rotary brought the partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative together to start this fight, and continues to drive the effort forward through advocacy and fundraising. The few remaining places where polio is present are some of the most challenging environments in the world.  The UK’s commitment to tackling extreme poverty, helping the most vulnerable and strengthening health care in fragile states is crucial to addressing the challenges standing in the way of a polio-free world. At the Rotary Convention in Atlanta in June, public health leaders from both donor and endemic countries, as well as the private sector, pledged US$ 1.2 billion to polio eradication against the additional US$ 1.5 billion needed to achieve eradication. The UK’s contribution is crucial in filling the remaining gap.




Energy and safety



IFAD invests $75 million to help mitigate drought in Andhra Pradesh

7 September 2017, New Delhi – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of India have signed an agreement today to improve incomes and strengthen drought resilience for 165,000 farming households in the five driest districts in Andhra Pradesh. The financial and project agreements for the Andhra Pradesh Drought Mitigation Project were signed today. The total cost of the project is US$148.8 million of which IFAD is providing $75.5 million. The southern region of Andhra Pradesh is one of the areas in India that is most vulnerable to changes in climate patterns. The new project will help farmers to produce drought-tolerant crop varieties, manage soil fertility and moisture, and access weather information. It will also introduce practises such as harvesting and storing rainwater, managing rangelands to prevent overgrazing, and establishing backyard poultry-raising. A specialized United Nations agency and international financial institution, IFAD has financed 28 rural development programmes and projects in India since 1979, with a total IFAD investment of $1 billion or $2.75 billion when co-funding from the Indian government and others are included. These projects have directly benefitted more than 4.5 million rural households.




Environment and wildlife


September 15 - 17 -Clean Up the World Weekend

2017 theme: Our Place. Our Planet. Our Responsibility

Intuition in service, September - Groups, organisations, schools and businesses from communities around the world unite on Clean Up the World Weekend to take action at a local level to address global environmental issues. An estimated 35 million volunteers participate in this annual weekend of activities.
Clean Up activities include tree planting, cleaning parks or beaches, conserving water or running environmental awareness-raising and education initiatives.



Wild tigers to return to Kazakhstan 70 years after going extinct

8 September 2017, Astana – The Republic of Kazakhstan today announced plans to bring wild tigers back to their historical range in the Ili-Balkhash region, and signed a memorandum with WWF to jointly implement a tiger reintroduction programme. “Kazakhstan is moving along the path of green development. We are honoured to be the first country in Central Asia to implement such an important and large-scale project, that not only will bring wild tigers back to their ancestral home, but also protect the unique ecosystem of the Ili-Balkhash region,” said Askar Myrzakhmetov, the Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The signing ceremony took place in the pavilion of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Embassy in Kazakhstan within the framework of EXPO-2017, with the participation of the Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan Askar Myrzakhmetov, WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini and WWF-Russia Director Igor Chestin. Kazakhstan’s tiger programme will contribute to Tx2 – the global goal to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, a commitment made by tiger-range governments at the St Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010. If successful, Kazakhstan will be the first country in the world to bring wild tigers back to an entire region where they have gone extinct for nearly half a century. Tiger relocation projects have only been achieved within national borders and in areas that are considered current tiger habitats. Kazakhstan’s tiger reintroduction programme is unique and unprecedented and it requires the restoration of a vast riparian forest that is part of the wild tiger’s historical range.



Biodiesel helps clear the air in most visited national park

Park dedicated 77 years ago this month

7 September 2017 -Gatlinburg, Tennesse (USA) /CSRwire/ - (…) With more than 11 million visitors annually, Great Smoky Mountains National Park strives to maintain its pristine natural beauty by adopting practices that reduce the park’s environmental footprint. “At Great Smoky Mountains National Park we have implemented a comprehensive strategy to limit our environmental impact and reduce carbon emissions,” said Brian Bergsma, deputy chief of facility management. “Biodiesel and Bioheat® are front and center in that effort.” In 2016, the park used 43,085 gallons of biodiesel (B20) resulting in the following estimated emissions reductions: 15 percent reduction in carbon dioxide; 12 percent reduction in carbon monoxide; 20 percent reduction in both hydrocarbon and sulfur dioxide and 12 percent reduction in particulate matter.* (…) Great Smoky Mountains National Park first began using biodiesel blends to power park-owned diesel vehicles and equipment in 2003. Today, numerous locations in the park use B20 to power 40 pieces of heavy equipment such as dump trucks, graders, front-end loaders, a bucket truck and more. Additionally, Bioheat® is used to heat the park’s headquarters building. (…) “We constantly strive to demonstrate and incorporate technologies that will result in cleaner air,” said Bergsma. “This includes alternative fuels, electric vehicles and charging stations, photovoltaic systems, and greener building construction.” (…)




Religion and spirituality


ASIA/INDIA - An alliance based on faith to combat violence against children

9 September 2017 - Ranchi (Agenzia Fides) - A "National action plan against violence on children" was born in the Indian state of Jharkhand. The organization is part of a network already present in several South Asian countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) and will develop links with other South Asian associations committed to violence against women and children. The group is made up of UN agencies, associations, interreligious leaders, NGOs, civil society organizations. Many Indian Christian and Catholic leaders and communities have adhered to the group that intends to raise awareness of each citizen's rights and responsibilities and build a society free from child violence.



Those Muslims defending Christians

31 August 2017 - It was Easter of 2016, when across the whole city of Lahore rumors stared spreading about a kamikaze explosion inside the Gulshan and Iqbal Park, which caused a massacre.
It is one of the most heinous actions ever committed by the Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan. The final count was 70 victims, mostly women and children. One year has gone by since that tragic event. Now it is Easter Eve 2017 and the amusement park has been reopened and, as a sort of challenge to terrorists and terror, today the park is crowded with families and children, the attractions are working again and nobody wants to talk about what happened, probably to remove the horror, the panic, the death, and to make  life prevail. 



We prayed together as Muslims and Jews in Sarajevo

23 August 2017 - Wajahat Abbas Kazmi - We prayed together as Muslims and Jews and discovered we pray to the same God. There were 120 of us from all over the world at the Muslim Jewish Conference (MJC) in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, from August 6 to 13.




Culture and education


International Literacy Day

8 September 2017 - This year, International Literacy Day (8 September) will be celebrated across the world under the theme of ‘Literacy in a digital world’. Just as knowledge, skills and competencies evolve in the digital world, so does what it means to be literate. In order to close the literacy skills gap and reduce inequalities, this year’s International Literacy Day will highlight the challenges and opportunities in promoting literacy in the digital world, a world where, despite progress, at least 750 million adults and 264 million out-of-school children still lack basic literacy skills. International Literacy Day is celebrated annually worldwide and brings together governments, multi- and bilateral organizations, NGOs, private sectors, communities, teachers, learners and experts in the field. It is an occasion to mark achievements and reflect on ways to counter remaining challenges for the promotion of literacy as an integral part of lifelong learning within and beyond the 2030 Education Agenda. 



High-level Forum on the Culture of Peace - 7 September

On 7 September 2017, the President of the UN General Assembly will convene a High-level Forum on the Culture of Peace.Following the wide-ranging success of the UN General Assembly’s first High-level Forum on The Culture of Peace held on 14 September 2012 and each successive annual Forums, the Assembly, under the guidance of its President H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson and co-sponsored by 102 Member States, adopted by consensus the resolution 71/252 on “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace”. Through annual substantive resolutions for the last 20 years as well as annual High-level Forums since 2012, the General Assembly has highlighted the priority it attaches to the full and effective implementation of these forward-looking objectives which are universally applicable and sought after by the vast majority of peoples in every nation. In keeping with this approach, this year’s High-level Forum aims to highlight emerging trends that impact on the realization of a culture of peace and to enable Member States and others to exchange ideas on further promoting a Culture of Peace.


http://webtv.un.org/watch/high-level-forum-on-the-culture-of-peace-general-assembly-71st-session/5567708131001/    Plenary and Panel Segment: ​http://webtv.un.org/watch/high-level-forum-on-the-culture-of-peace/5566146546001/?term


Nearly zero progress in reducing the global out-of-school rate over the past decade – UNICEF

06 September 2017 -  With 11.5 per cent of school-age children – or 123 million – missing out on learning today, compared to 12.8 per cent – or 135 million – in 2007, the percentage of 6-15-year-olds who are out of school has barely decreased in the last decade, UNICEF said today. Pervasive levels of poverty, protracted conflicts and complex humanitarian emergencies have caused this rate to stagnate, UNICEF said, calling for more investments to address the reasons that keep vulnerable children out of school. “Investments aimed at increasing the number of schools and teachers to match population growth are not enough. This business-as-usual approach will not get the most vulnerable children into school – and help them reach their full potential – if they continue to be trapped in poverty, deprivation and insecurity,”.



Low-cost ways for media, libraries and schools to celebrate Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2017

01 September 2017 - In the present political, social and economic climate globally, promoting media and information literacy (MIL) has never been more crucial. There are simple ways for all stakeholders to get involved and advance the process of “MIL for all”. As the dates of Global MIL Week 2017 are coming closer, UNESCO is calling all partners and stakeholders from around the globe to join in the Week and celebrate. Global MIL Week celebration will take place from 25 October to 1 November 2017.

Plan a simple MIL-related activity/action, online or offline, around the time of the Week.

Follow our suggestions for low-cost ways to celebrate the Week:

For other types of stakeholders, see 10 ways to celebrate Global MIL Week.



Reading and writing for pleasure in South Africa

01 September 2017 - The South African project ‘Growing FunDza Fanz readers and writers’ won the 2017 UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize. The literacy prize goes to The ‘FunDza Literacy Trust’, a non-profit organization that promotes a culture of reading and writing for pleasure in South Africa.

A National Reading Survey from 2016 found that 58% of South African households do not contain a single leisure-reading book, and that similarly there are only few public libraries in low-income areas.



Finland: government increases support for education of immigrant students and teachers

21August 2017 – The Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö teachers’ union have called for increased teacher training in order to deliver quality education to immigrant students following a government announcement to boost funding for immigrant students’ education and integration. On 11 August, the Finnish Minister of Education, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, announced a €5.5 million funding package for the development of immigrant students’ educational paths and other measures promoting their integration. These funds will be used to improve learning outcomes and to organize training to provide immigrants with an official qualification to work as subject teachers and kindergarten teachers. “Education is the best integration policy, and immigrants of all ages need to gain access to education services as soon as possible after their arrival in Finland to ensure that integration begins immediately,” said the Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö (OAJ) President, Olli Luukkainen. Several Finnish higher education institutions are to carry out projects to promote and accelerate immigrants’ educational paths. For example, under the lead of the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, education for immigrants will be further improved, while a University of Jyväskylä project is set to create new pathways to university education for immigrants. The Universities of Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Oulu and Eastern Finland will also organize training providing qualifications for teachers with immigrant backgrounds as well as continuing education for teachers working with immigrants. Funding was also granted to projects that seek to develop early childhood education and care and other education organized by municipalities to improve the learning outcomes of pupils with immigrant backgrounds.




* * * * * * *



Next issue: 13th October 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