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

monthly, year 18th, no. 267 –  13th April 2018


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


Conference in Beirut: preserving cultural heritage in the Middle East conflicts

5 April 2018 – On 16 March, the Friends of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Network—a platform initiated by Geneva Call—held a high-level panel discussion at the American University of Beirut entitled Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict. Around 50 participants from Lebanon and abroad representing local and international organizations, academia, the Lebanese state and its armed forces, as well as embassies, discussed the issues faced by local and international actors attempting to protect cultural heritage in the region. “The law is clear and attacks on cultural heritage are criminal,” said General Naim Ziade (rtd), president of the Lebanese Committee for the Blue Shield. However, not everyone is aware of the law and the protection it offers to cultural heritage. “I had not heard of this topic until now,” said Assaad Chaftari, a former fighter and currently the president of Fighters for Peace. When it comes to accountability and how to bring violators of these laws to court, Ms Jelena Plamenac, from Diakonia, expressed the difficulties in addressing violations of cultural heritage during ongoing armed conflicts. The Network will pursue its work of spreading humanitarian norms among regional stakeholders through more events and an online platform that will be launched next month. The first of its kind in the region, the Network was launched in November 2017 as a joint initiative between Geneva Call, the Human Rights Legal Clinic at La Sagesse University, Diakonia’s IHL Resource Desk and the Lebanese Committee for the Blue Shield to reinforce respect for the humanitarian norms protecting civilians in armed conflict and situations of armed violence.



Nigeria and Switzerland sign agreement to return stolen assets

26 March 2018 - Abuja (Reuters) - Nigeria and Switzerland signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday to pave the way for the return of illegally acquired assets, the west African country said. Switzerland said in December that it would return to Nigeria around $321 million in assets seized from the family of former military ruler Sani Abacha via a deal signed with the World Bank. (…) Buhari’s spokesman said in an emailed statement that the memorandum of understanding ratified was between Nigeria, Switzerland and the International Development Association, (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries.



Asia-Pacific nations sign sweeping trade deal without U.S.

8 March 2018 - Santiago (Reuters) - Eleven countries including Japan and Canada signed a landmark Asia-Pacific trade agreement without the United States on Thursday in what one minister called a powerful signal against protectionism and trade wars.The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will reduce tariffs in countries that together amount to more than 13 percent of the global economy - a total of $10 trillion in gross domestic product. With the United States, it would have represented 40 percent.




Human rights


Journalism Trust Initiative established to deal with online disinformation

4 April 2018 - Reporters Without Borders (RSF) - The Journalism Trust Initiative is designed to promote journalism by adherence to an agreed set of trust and transparency standards to be developed and implemented. This will happen by means of the so-called Workshop Agreement of the European Centre of Standardization (CEN), which was open on 3 April 2018 for participation of interested stakeholders, for example media outlets, professional associations and unions, self-regulatory entities like press councils and regulatory bodies, as well as digital platforms, advertisers and consumer interest representatives. In the new public arena system, in which false information circulates faster than real news, the defence of journalism requires reversing this trend by giving a real advantage to all those who reliably produce news and information, whatever their status.The resulting standards are expected to reflect transparency of media ownership and sources of revenues, as well as journalistic methods and the compliance with ethical norms and independence. They are intended to become a voluntary, leading benchmark of media self-regulation and good practices for all those who produce journalistic content, ranging from individual bloggers to international media groups. Adopting the standards will pave the way towards a certification process. 



Yezidi girl’s freedom opens door to justice in Iraq

2 april 2018 - On March 29, Iraqi security forces in Baghdad apprehended an alleged Islamic State (ISIS) member and freed a 15-year-old Yezidi girl he had held captive for years. Her freedom is a relief, but hopefully the case will jumpstart the prosecution of ISIS members for the particular offenses they committed. So far judges in Iraq have been charging ISIS suspects under the vaguely worded provision 4 of the counterterrorism law, primarily for ISIS membership, support, sympathy, or assistance, but not for specific actions. This includes cases in which defendants have admitted to subjecting Yezidi women to sexual slavery, for which prosecutors have not charged them with rape, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years. Under international law, the crimes committed against Yezidi women and girls amount to war crimes and may be crimes against humanity or crimes committed as part of a genocide against the Yezidis. But Iraq does not include any of these grave international crimes on its books. Iraqi judges have said that provision 4 is an all-encompassing crime, and that it can include acts such as rape. But they have also justified not bringing additional charges against defendants, including for rape, by saying that victims are not coming forward to file criminal complaints, and the courts lack the capacity to identify victims. This case provides an opportunity for the judicial authorities to pursue a specific criminal case, something the victim, with the appropriate legal, medical and psycho-social support, may want to assist.



ACDI/VOCA and InterAction NGO community announce CEO pledge on preventing sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment

28March 2018 – Today, ACDI/VOCA joined InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S. nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working in every developing country in the world, in announcing a pledge signed by more than 110 members to improve our efforts to prevent sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment by and of NGO staff. The pledge stems from the work of leaders within InterAction’s member organizations since December 2017, to address sexual abuse and exploitation within the international NGO community. While many international nonprofits began work on the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation nearly a decade ago, changing cultural conversations sparked the need for more robust action. The pledge represents a public commitment to practices and policies that will not only protect the staff of the participating organizations, but also the communities they serve. (…) In addition to urging action to establish work environments free from sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment by and of aid workers, the pledge calls for establishing a reporting culture within InterAction organizations that supports confidential reporting of all allegations of misconduct, with regular updates to the CEOs. The full pledge can be found on the InterAction website.



Students are calling out for a safer future. UNICEF is listening.

23 March  2018 - On Saturday, March 24, students, teachers, parents and supporters took to the streets in a wave of anti-gun violence protest marches organized in response to the February 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Student survivors of the shooting, which left 17 people dead, organized the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., and the list grew to include over 800 sister marches in cities large and small around the world.UNICEF supports children and youth everywhere who are using their voices to call out for an end to school violence. All children deserve a safe and healthy childhood, and the right to speak up on issues that matter to them, whether they are born in Eastern Ghouta, Myanmar, South Sudan or Parkland, FL.



South Africa: 100 years of Nelson Mandela - promoting & deepening a human rights culture across society

21 March 2018 - Today, the African National Congress joins the rest of the patriotic and peace-loving people of South Africa in observing Human Rights Day under the theme: "100 Years of Nelson Mandela: Promoting and deepening a human rights culture across society". This day gives us a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by many men and women who came before us and paid the ultimate price to ensure that today we are able to enjoy the fundamental rights as enshrined in our Constitution. At its 54th National Conference, the African National Congress reaffirmed its commitment to building a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society where all citizens enjoy equal rights. Through the policy resolutions adopted at conference, in particular those aimed at ensuring radical economic transformation, we underscored the need to accelerate government programmes aimed at addressing poverty, inequality and unemployment. In this the centenary year of Cde Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, let us remember his words as he said: "Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice; it is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life…" This must compel us to work together in ensuring that we promote and protect the rights of all citizens and eradicate all forms of oppression and discrimination. This includes the protection of the rights of workers in furtherance of human rights. Of necessity, this means decent working conditions, decent pay and where applicable pay progression and the fast-tracking of the implementation of the National Minimum Wage.



TAILS is a free software project which preserves privacy and provides anonymity for Human Rights Defenders

3 March 2018 - TAILS is a free software project aiming at providing an out-of-the-box operating system which preserves privacy and provides anonymity to human rights defenders, journalists and all those who need to protect their communications, securely store data, circumvent censorship by using the Tor network without leaving a trace on the computer. Installed and started from a USB key, Tails discreetly fits into a pocket. Usage by journalists, whistleblowers and human rights defenders. TAILS has been used by Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald for their revelations on mass surveillance by the NSA, but also by journalists, and human rights defenders in Pakistan, Turkey, and elsewhere. But TAILS is also used by a large number of activists that fight every day for human rights, all over the world. We have documented these uses in our article Who are you helping when donating to TAILS? Among our users we can find journalists who want to protect themselves or their sources, human rights defense organizations in repressive contexts, democracy defenders facing dictatorships, citizens facing national emergencies but also domestic violence survivors escaping from their abusers.




Economy and development


Los Angeles plugs in giant solar array at Los Angeles Convention Center

6 April 2018, Los Angeles -  The Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC), managed by AEG Facilities, recently unveiled its 2.21 megawatt solar array on April 4, during a press conference with Mayor Eric Garcetti. Located on the roof of South Hall, the solar addition brings the convention center’s total solar to 2.58 megawatts, making it the largest solar array on a municipally owned convention center in the United States and propelling the City of Los Angeles to No. 1 for the most installed solar power of any U.S. city.The new array is projected to generate 3.4 million kilowatt hours per year which equates to 17 percent of the LACC’s annual energy usage (equal to enough electricity to power 565 homes in Los Angeles) and will reduce the LACC’s carbon footprint by 2,554 metric tons per year (equal to removing 2,794,396 pounds of coal from being burned and/or planting 66,192 trees). The project contributes to the mission of Mayor Garcetti’s “Sustainable City pLAn” and AEG 1EARTH, AEG’s sustainability program established to reduce the company’s environmental impact.



USA - Smithfield Foods announces partnership with Anuvia™ plant nutrients to develop and market bio-based sustainable fertilizer products

5 April 2018 -   Smithfield Foods, Inc. and Anuvia™ Plant Nutrients are pleased to announce a new partnership to create sustainable fertilizer from renewable biological materials collected from manure treatment systems at Smithfield’s hog farms. This project is part of Smithfield Renewables, the company’s new platform dedicated to unifying and accelerating its carbon reduction and renewable energy efforts. The project reuses organic matter found in hog manure to create a commercial-grade fertilizer that is higher in nutrient concentration than the original organic materials. Farmers are able to better manage nutrient ratios while using less fertilizer by applying precisely the amount they need for optimal plant growth. Because Anuvia’s products contain organic matter, nutrient release is more controlled, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller environmental footprint. Anuvia will utilize remnant solids from Smithfield that accumulate over time at the bottom of the anaerobic lagoons, basins designed and certified to treat and store the manure on hog farms. Anuvia, which specializes in the transformation of organic materials into enhanced efficiency fertilizer products, will manufacture and sell these commercial-grade fertilizer products to farmers nationwide.



IFAD President and Angolan President to discuss investment in rural youth employment

3 April 2018, Rome – Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will meet Angolan President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, and other officials of the Republic of Angola, to discuss investing in rural communities to improve food security and provide employment opportunities for rural youth. During Houngbo’s official visit to the country on 4-6 April, a financing agreement will be signed for the new Agricultural Recovery Project. The project is designed to address the country’s food insecurity issues, which have been aggravated by repeated climate events, such as El Niño (drought) and La Niña (flood), in the target areas.In Angola, the agriculture sector contributes on average only 10% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 44% of the population. In addition, more than half of Angola’s poor are located in rural areas and depend exclusively on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.



IFAD and Myanmar invest $65.2 million to promote profitability of smallholder agriculture in eastern states

26 March 2018, Rome – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Myanmar signed a financing agreement today to improve incomes for 62,400 poor rural households who depend on smallholder agriculture, agroforestry, or rural wage labour in the eastern states of Kayin and Shan. The agreement for the Eastern States Agribusiness Project was signed by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, and Myint Naung, Ambassador of the Union of Myanmar to Italy.The total cost of the project is US$65.2 million including a $56.7 million loan and $1.5 million grant from IFAD. The remaining funds will come from the Government of Myanmar, the private sector, and the beneficiaries themselves.The project aims to assist poor farmers to improve their production and links to agribusinesses, while helping agroforestry households diversify their income and access new markets. All project investments will be environmentally sustainable…



Disaster Risk Reduction can protect smallholder farmers, experts say

14 March 2018, Lahore - A new report launched today shows that with adequate investments in disaster risk reduction, small-holder farmers in Punjab could better withstand climate-related shocks. Calling for increased investments in this area, the report advocates for the Rural Resilience-building approach (R4), pioneered by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and OXFAM. Pakistan ranks amongst the top 10 most climate-vulnerable countries globally, climate change poses severe risks to the agricultural sector, leaving farmers particularly exposed and vulnerable to climate risks. The report, entitled ‘Risk Management Practices of Small Farmers: A Feasibility Study for Introducing R4 - Rural Resilience Initiative in Punjab’, was launched today at the Government’s Planning and Development Department. The R4 Rural Resilience Initiative is a strategic partnership between the United Nations World Food Programme and Oxfam America to enable the vulnerable rural households to increase their food and income security in the context of increasing climate risks. The Initiative is built on an innovative model that combines four risk management strategies: disaster risk reduction, micro insurance, access to credit, and savings.



World Bank and WFP map joint strategy for tackling humanitarian and development challenges

14 March 2018, Washington D.C. - The leaders of the World Bank and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have laid out an ambitious new plan to work together in the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and WFP Executive Director David Beasley on Wednesday joined forces to knock down the practical and ideological barriers between “humanitarian” and “development” assistance to better tackle the complex challenges the world faces. The strategic partnership framework – the first of its kind between the two institutions – identifies nine priority areas where the combination of the World Bank’s analytic and financial expertise and WFP’s unparalleled operational footprint can have the most powerful effect together in reducing hunger and extreme poverty. They include but are not limited to: increased cooperation in fragile, conflict or violence-affected contexts; enhancing collaboration on social protection; supporting digital identity management systems; supporting school meals, health and nutrition programs; and joining forces to prevent childhood stunting in contexts where humanitarian and development agendas intersect.






Radisson Hotel Group launches global partnership with SOS Children's Villages

4 April 2018, Orlando-/CSRwire/ - (GlobeNewswire) - Radisson Hotel GroupTM, today announced at its Americas Business Conference in Orlando, Fla., a new global partnership with SOS Children's Villages, the world's largest not-for-profit organization dedicated to building loving, stable families for orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children. Radisson Hotel Group aims to have its 1,100 hotels in operation sponsor the upbringing and education of at least one child per hotel and help establish meaningful local relationships with SOS Villages worldwide. (…) Active in 135 countries and territories, SOS Children's Villages impacts the lives of millions of children through family support and care programs, as well as education, medical, and emergency relief efforts. A collaboration with Radisson Hotel Group will allow SOS Children's Villages to strengthen its efforts by mobilizing local supporters and volunteers in support of ensuring no child grows up alone. SOS has been recognized for its innovative and holistic programs, ethical policies, commitment to amplifying youth voices and for putting transparency at the heart of its work. The organization is a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and a member of "Accountable Now", a cross-sector platform for internationally operating civil society organizations. (…)



Flexible donors power WFP with US$180 million to address crises, build resilience

4 April 2018, Rome - At a time of unprecedented demands on the humanitarian system, a group of government partners are stepping up to ensure that the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has flexible funding to meet acute humanitarian needs in sudden onset emergencies and neglected or protracted crises. Thanks to these donors, WFP recently allocated US$180 million to some sixty country operations – while providing a vital and urgent boost to lifesaving efforts in Syria, Yemen, the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo. These funds will also surge support to development projects and provide food assistance to refugees and displaced people. WFP is responding to an unparalleled six large-scale hunger emergencies at the same time. Whether beating back famine in South Sudan or saving lives of the Rohingya in the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis in Bangladesh, WFP is a vital component of the international response to pull people back from the brink of starvation. Flexible funding allows WFP to act swiftly, effectively and efficiently, yet governments that provide this kind of funding are still very much in the minority as many specify how and where the money can be spent. The most recent allocations were made with contributions from Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Contributions from private sector partners were also part of this allocation. Under the agreement known as the Grand Bargain, concluded at the World Humanitarian Summitin 2016, leading donors committed to progressively reduce earmarking, with an aim of achieving a global target of 30% of humanitarian funding with fewer restrictions by 2020.



WFP airlifts life-saving relief to people affected by Papua New Guinea Earthquake

2 April 2018, Dubai - The World Food Programme (WFP) today airlifted life-saving, nutrient-dense biscuits from its UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) in Dubai to Papua New Guinea. With a cargo of more than 80 metric tons of the nutritious high energy biscuits, the plane carried enough food to feed approximately 60,000 earthquake-affected people. ​More than 270,000 people continue to require humanitarian assistance following the devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake which struck the country in February, and this airlift is part of WFP’s emergency response in the country. The plane departed from Dubai early Monday morning and the biscuits will reach people within days. The plane used for the airlift was provided by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Papua New Guinea already faced severe food insecurity and alarming malnutrition levels before the earthquake. The airlift is facilitated by the International Humanitarian City (IHC), chaired by Her Royal Highness Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, which hosts WFP’s warehousing facilities in Dubai. The Princess is a long-term supporter of WFP and currently serves as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.



EU support helps WFP reach over one million vulnerable people in Sudan

29 March 2018, Khartoum - In Sudan, displacement and drought continues to exacerbate food insecurity for over three million people. In addressing these challenges, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is grateful to have received generous support from the European Commission Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department for WFP’s life-saving operations in the country last year. A €6.5 million contribution was aimed at assisting refugees fleeing the conflict in South Sudan, many of whom are women and children in critical need of humanitarian assistance. Thanks to the EU support, WFP reached almost 34,000 refugees with food assistance and provided more than 51,000 children with nutrition support for treatment and prevention of malnutrition. Nearly 500 metric tons of ready-to-use supplementary food was distributed thanks to vital EU funding. The EU is one of WFP’s major donors in Sudan, contributing over €114 million in humanitarian aid to WFP operations in the country since 2012. Sudan is one of WFP’s most complex operations, with recurring conflict, population displacement, and crisis levels of malnutrition and hunger. In 2017, WFP reached 3.6 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.



Japan's US$72 million contribution helps WFP meet urgent hunger needs in 23 countries

14 March 2018, Yokohama - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed the announcement of a US$72.3 million contribution from the Government of Japan. The generous infusion of funding will enable WFP to provide vital food and nutrition assistance in 23 countries across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. More than half of the funding provided by Japan, or US$40.5 million, will support WFP operations for the most vulnerable people affected by conflict and displacement in seven countries in the Middle East. This is in line with the pledge made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the UN Refugee Summit in September 2016 to provide US$2.8 billion in humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants, and support to host countries and communities from 2016 to 2018. WFP logistics operations will also benefit from Japan’s donation in Afghanistan and South Sudan, where the organization runs the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service, which provides critical air transport and cargo services for the entire humanitarian community.



China provides WFP with US$6 million for refugees, people hit by drought in Ethiopia

13 March 2018, Addis Ababa - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced a contribution of US$6 million from the Government of the People’s Republic of China to assist refugees and people suffering because of drought in the Somali region of Ethiopia. With this US$6 million contribution, WFP will be able to support 350,000 people living either in refugee camps or in drought-affected communities for two months with over 4,000 metric tons of rice and 800 tons of vegetable oil.  An estimated 7.9 million people in Ethiopia currently require emergency food assistance. WFP’s focus is the Somali Region where it plans to feed 1.8 million people. WFP provides cash and food to people at risk of acute food insecurity because of climate shocks or conflict. Ethiopia hosts the second largest number of refugees in Africa – more than 900,000 refugees mostly from Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia. Some 650,000 refugees live in camps and depend on food assistance from WFP.




Peace and security


Their 15-year mission a success, UN peacekeepers depart a stable and grateful Liberia

29 March 2018 – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia will formally cease operations on Friday after aiding the West African nation’s transition from ravaging civil war to a hopeful era of peace. The conclusion of the 15-year operation follows a landmark election that resulted in the country’s first transfer of power from one elected president to another in 70 years.  The newly elected President, George Manneh Weah, spoke for many Liberians as he thanked the UN for helping to make that possible.



Iraq: “Displaced people have the right to return to their homes.” A first training session with a tribal Sunni brigade of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Anbar

28March 2018 – On 14 and 15 February, Geneva Call conducted a first two-day workshop on the law of armed conflict, including the rules governing the rights of displaced people, for 31 fighters and commanders from a tribal Sunni brigade of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). The event took place in the city of Ramadi, in the province of Anbar. This was the first training session for a Sunni brigade of the PMF in Anbar province. Following the end of active hostilities against the Islamic State group (ISg), displaced people are now trying to return to Anbar, and armed actors have an important role to play in this process. During the workshop, Geneva Call’s trainer presented the rules and obligations for armed actors in their relations with displaced people, including the prohibition on discriminating against them when they are trying to return to their homes. Participants engaged actively in the discussions and talked about their personal experiences during the most recent conflict with the ISg.The training session constituted the first step towards a deeper humanitarian dialogue on the law of armed conflict with the PMF forces in Anbar province.Prior to the workshop, Geneva Call’s focal point in Anbar had reached out to and held a series of meetings with Ramadi’s mayor, tribal leaders and General Rasheid Fleiah, the General Commander of the tribal Sunni PMF brigade in Anbar. He offered his full support to Geneva Call and assured the organization that his troops would participate actively in the workshop on the law of armed conflict.



UNMAS supports the Congolese government in the elaboration of a new national action plan for the management and control of small arms and light weapons in DRC

16  March 2018, Kinshasa-  With the support of MONUSCO, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) provided its support to the National Commission for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons and the Reduction of Armed Violence, CNC-SALW, in the elaboration of a new National Action Plan for the Control and Management of Small Arms and Light Weapons for the period 2018 to 2022.This action plan is the result of a series of inclusive work sessions supported by the UN system through various efforts including those of MONUSCO and UNMAS.This national action plan is structured around five chapters namely: Current General Context of the DRC, Methodology and Process for the Development of the National Action Plan, Presentation of the National Security Situation, National Strategy for Combating the Circulation Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons in the DRC and Planning for the 2018-2022 Period.UNMAS and its partners remain committed to supporting resource mobilization efforts both at the national and international levels for the implementation of this action plan. The plan serves as an integral part of the mission's mandate to support good governance and ammunition management in the DRC.






Uganda Red Cross expands response as cholera outbreak threatens Congolese refugees

5 April 2018 Nairobi/Geneva— The increasing flow of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has put Ugandan health facilities in affected areas under unprecedented strain at a time when inadequate hygiene conditions have already led to a deadly cholera outbreak. Nearly 70,000 Congolese have arrived in Uganda since the start of 2018, fleeing violence back at home. Inadequate hygiene conditions resulted in a cholera outbreak that killed more than 40 people in Kyangwali and Kyaka II refugee settlements. More than 2,000 cholera cases are still being managed. The refugees are living in overcrowded temporary shelters which, coupled with limited access to safe and clean water and inadequate sanitation facilities, are contributing to the spread of cholera and other communicable diseases. Health facilities in affected areas in Uganda are struggling to cope with the number of refugees suffering from respiratory tract infections, malaria, diarrheal diseases and psychosocial conditions. Robert Kwesiga, Secretary General of Uganda Red Cross, said: “Red Cross teams have put in place prevention and control measures at reception centres and are constructing sanitation facilities. They are also building mass water treatment plants, delivering safe water and providing hygiene promotion activities for refugees and host communities.”



Palestine: MSF increases medical efforts for wounded in Gaza strip

5April 2018 – 102 patients have received post-operative care in Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinics in Palestine, between Sunday and Wednesday, after being shot during the first days of the “March of Return”. MSF is also bolstering its capacity to provide healthcare, fearing that more wounded will need care in the days and weeks to come. On 30 March, thousands of Palestinians answered the call for the so-called “March of Return”, on the occasion of “Land Day”. According to the Ministry of Health, in just one day 1,415 people - mainly young men - were injured and 758 were shot by Israel Defense Forces. All those who were injured received treatment in Ministry of Health facilities. In four days, a total of 102 patients were admitted after being shot in the lower extremities, in the three medical facilities where MSF already provides specialised care for trauma and burns patients. More than 35 per cent have fractures that will require long-term treatment, potentially several surgical interventions and rehabilitation. The rest of the patients have soft tissue injuries, but they may also need further surgical care and several weeks of dressing care. MSF is ready to open a new consultation room in one public health facility in Gaza, to increase the capacity for post-operative care including specialised nursing care and wound dressings, in close contact with Ministry of Health medical staff.



Africare’s malaria prevention initiative in Nigeria

29March 2018 – Africare in Nigeria will convene a stakeholder summit on April 12th in Abuja to release the results of a six-year malaria prevention program in Nigeria that was implemented with the support of ExxonMobil.  The Malaria Prevention in Mobil Producing Nigeria Supplier Communities (MAPS-C) project ran from 2011 through 2017 and was focused on four local government areas in Akwa Ibom and Rivers States (Eket, Ibeno, Bonny and Ogu/Bolo) reaching over 90,000 people.  Beneficiaries included children under five and pregnant women in households within these communities.

Among the top-line results of the evaluation of the MAPS-C project, it was found that:



Save the Children selected as partner as Mondeléz International Foundation launches healthy lifestyle programs

28 March 2018, Fairfield, Connecticut— The Mondeléz International Foundation today announced the launch of healthy lifestyle programs aimed at bringing nutrition education, active play and fresh foods to at-risk children and their families across 10 countries. This is part of the Foundation’s multi-year $50 million commitment to promote healthy lifestyles and address obesity. New programs in Argentina, Australia, Egypt, France, Nigeria, Russia, and Ukraine, along with renewed programs in the United States, China and India, will reach an estimated 365,000 children and their families over the next three years. These programs join partnerships currently running in Brazil, Germany, Mexico and South Africa, all geared to creating school and community environments that encourage children and families to adopt lifelong healthy habits.

Save the Children is among the partners selected by the Foundation. Each community partnership will also track progress against a universal set of metrics that the Foundation developed in collaboration with its community partners and a public health expert from Yale School of Public Health. Metrics measure improvements in nutrition education, physical activity and access to nutritious foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables. The Foundation and its community programs support Mondeléz International’s Impact For Growth commitment, which is focused on four key areas where the company can make the greatest impact on people and planet: community, sustainability, well-being snacks and safety.



Polio personnel support Lassa fever response in Nigeria

In Nigeria, experts from the frontline of polio eradication are helping to end other disease outbreaks.

19March 2018– “When I received the confirmation of the first case of Lassa fever…nothing prepared me for the tasks ahead other than my work in polio eradication” – Mrs Faith Ireye, WHO State Coordinator in Edo state. In the first two months of 2018, there were 110 deaths in Nigeria from suspected Lassa fever. Outbreak response, led by the Nigerian government and WHO, is focused on detecting every case, and tracing the virus wherever it is hiding. Bolstering this effort are individuals with experience of guarding against a different disease – polio. When outbreaks of other diseases happen, the knowledge and experience of polio personnel like Ms Ireye can make a significant difference to outbreak response. Other activities carried out by polio workers include data collation and analysis, and case reporting. Investments by donors and partners have gone far beyond polio eradication. Reflecting the positive impact that polio infrastructure and knowledge has had on other health priorities such as Lassa fever, WHO and other partners are currently supporting the development of a national transition plan. This will ensure that the investments that have brought the world to the brink of eradication are made available to support other national public health efforts, long after polio has been defeated. For now, experienced polio personnel continue their work to end the Lassa fever outbreak.




Energy and safety



Southeast Asia launches regional smart energy startup support initiative

5 April 2018 -A regional partnership between Germany's leading provider of international cooperation services and the CalCEF has launched New Energy Nexus Southeast Asia (Nexus SEA), a "smart energy" startup support initiative aimed at investing and connecting local incubators to facilitate the creation of smart energy startups.According to the International Energy Agency, Southeast Asia is a "new heavyweight" player in the energy ecosystem servicing the energy needs of 640 million people, which is forecasted to grow by two-thirds from now to 2040. As the energy demand grows, fossil fuel consumption will continue to rise unless smart energy solutions are deployed faster and more efficiently. Nexus SEA seeks to accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies and mitigate climate change by supporting the next generation of smart energy entrepreneurs.



Azuri Technologies: engaged UK Crowd raises £1.7M for electrifying Africa

5 April 2018 - With the advent of pay-as-you-go technology, consumers can access solar energy, which is as an affordable alternative to kerosene lanterns and phone charging fees. But in order to scale, providers of pay-as-you-go solar technology require commercial debt finance to build the solar equipment in the first place. Here, Crowd Finance is providing access to capital that is helping drive the transformation of rural Africa. Azuri Technologies, a leading provider of pay-as-you-go solar products and services across sub-Saharan Africa, has recently partnered with Energise Africa to enable retail investors to support the sector and at the same time, make a potential return of 5% per annum on their investment. Over the last 9 months, £1.7M has been raised to deliver power to some 16,000 households,and the rate of investment is rapidly growing. The partnership between Azuri and Lendahand Ethex makes it simple for everyday people to invest in a sector that can deliver a social, environmental, and financial return to both the investor and the end consumer, via the Energise Africa platform. Energise Africa provides information on a range of possible solar investments and allows lenders to keep an eye on the performance of their investment.



Terrawatch: scientists turn to drones to find raw materials

3 April 2018 - In Germany, scientists are using drones equipped with sensors to locate metals needed for wind turbines and solar panels. In particular, metals such as copper, cobalt, platinum-group metals and rare-earth elements such as indium and germanium are in short supply. But now scientists in Germany are developing new ways to find these precious materials. Using drones equipped with special cameras and sensors, scientists from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Dresden are analysing the way light bounces off underlying rocks, to discover metals deposits. Each mineral produces its own characteristic light reflection, due to the specific shape and size of its crystals. In addition, the scientists are developing a laser-beam sensor to identify minerals that glow brightly due to fluorescence. These non-invasive methods avoid hillsides being carved up by diggers, and enable mining companies to use less disruptive and safer ways of extracting minerals.



Revolutionary CLES capable of generating power and oxygen simultaneously

3 April 2018 - A versatile household energy device capable of power generation, power storage, air conditioning, heating, and hydrogen-fuel charging has been developed, ready to hit the market in 18 months. The device, dubbed CLES (Chemical Looping Energy-on-Demand System), was unveiled in April 2017, targeting installation at hospitals, retirement villages, and similar-sized commercial buildings, capable of air conditioning, oxygen/hydrogen generation, power generation, and power storage. The system is based around a reduction-oxidation reaction, with a canister of a specially blended particle mixture that critically gains and loses electrons. When those particles oxidize, they heat up, creating steam that drives a turbine to generate power and then, when they reduce again, they release oxygen that can be collected.



2nd gen. tidal power system uses easy-to-install distributed small structure which reduces cost by 30%

2 April 2018 - Tidal energy is a potential renewable energy option for offshore and coastal countries. However, the first obstacle is to overcome cost issue and seawater erosion issue. Recently, Technical University of Madrid (its Spanish name: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, UPM) developed a new generation tidal turbine generator and anchoring system. It can reduce a 30% share of total cost for a tidal power plant. Typically, there are the following technical difficulties of new equipment: manufacture, installation and high maintenance fee.In order to overcome these issues, members of the Technological Research Group in Marine Renewable Energy (GITERM) at UPM developed new methods and procedures to evaluate the cost of a generator during its life span, and the team used feasibility analysis and simulation system to design simpler and more stable anchoring system, so that tidal power stations do not drift in the deep ocean. Tidal energy is generated because the ocean water rises and falls between days and nights. Scientists believe that tidal energy is likely to be the next star of maritime renewable energy.




Environment and wildlife


Unprecedented collaring effort aims to protect Tanzania’s threatened elephants

4 April 2018, Dar Es Salaam- In Tanzania, the government, with support from WWF, has launched the country’s largest ever elephant collaring effort to protect its dwindling elephant population. With almost 90 per cent of the elephants lost over the last 40 years in the Selous Game Reserve, a World Heritage site, enhancing rangers’ ability to guard the remaining ones from poaching is essential to rebuilding the population. In a project spanning 12 months, 60 elephants are expected to be collared in and surrounding the Selous. This will enable reserve management and government rangers to track elephant movements, identify and act against threats in real-time. The use of satellite collars is a proven effective measure to monitor wildlife movements and provide enhanced security.The data collected through the collars will help teams predict where the elephants and their herds are moving to anticipate the dangers they may face, such as the risk of encountering poachers. It can also alert teams if the herd is heading toward community settlements to help move them away from farmlands and reduce the risk of human-elephant conflict. WWF is working with the government to adopt a zero-poaching approach using a tool kit to protect the country’s elephants and ecosystems in one of Africa’s last wilderness areas. Zero poaching involves not just tackling poaching incidents but identifying the signs of poaching activities like snares and poachers’ camps. On the ground, it involves action on several key areas; from ensuring there are enough properly equipped rangers to working closely with the local communities surrounding the protected area. It also includes working with prosecutors and judges to ensure that when poachers are brought to trial they face penalties that can act as a deterrent.



World Water Day 2018: bringing sustainable safe water services to Asutifi North District in Ghana

22March 2018 – In honor of World Water Day 2018, we are excited to announce the official launch of Asutifi North District Ahonodie Mpontuo offsite link, a collective action initiative that seeks to ensure everyone throughout this district in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana has access to safe and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services (WASH) by 2030. This initiative is unique in forging a strategic partnership between the district government, service providers, supporting NGOs and local communities to bring sustainable services to Asutifi North District offsite link, where it is currently estimated that only three percent of the population has access to safely managed water while 23 percent has access to basic sanitation. The year-long planning process for this launch involved uniting stakeholders under a common vision for WASH in the Asutifi North District and developing a district-wide plan to meet their collective aspirations. The plan serves to guide and coordinate the implementation of creative WASH solutions spanning the next 13 years. This initiative highlights the government’s work to actively localize the sustainable development goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 6, focusing on shared and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.



FAO launches mobile application to support fight against fall armyworm in Africa

14 March 2018, Rome - FAO has launched a mobile application to enable farmers, agricultural workers and other partners at the frontline of the fight against Fall Armyworm in Africa to identify, report the level of infestation, and map the spread of this destructive insect, as well as to describe its natural enemies and the measures that are most effective in managing it. The Fall Armyworm Monitoring and Early Warning System (FAMEWS) mobileapp provides valuable insights on how the insect changes over time and space to improve knowledge of its behaviour in Africa - in a new context - and guide best response. Fall Armyworm has already infected millions of hectares of maize in Africa - a staple crop across the continent - threatening the food security of more than 300 million people, mainly small-holder farmers who are already struggling to make ends meet and have enough food for their families. By early 2018, only 10 out of the 54 African states and territories have not reported infestations by the fast-spreading, crop-munching pest. Once farmers and workers check their crops for infestations and upload the required data, the app calculates infestation levels so that farmers can take immediate actions to manage the situation.




Religion and spirituality


Asuncion/Paraguay- No to bullying: small ambassadors of "Living Peace" change the face of their schools

7 April 2018 - In recent days, the bicameral room of the Paraguayan Parliament welcomed the first "National Forum for Peace": on this occasion 19 children and three adults were named "Ambassadors of Peace" as promoters of the "Living Peace" program. The project was born in Egypt in 2011, on the initiative of Carlos Palma, Uruguayan consecrated layman of the Focolare Movement.
At the event, after the speech by the founder and coordinator of Living Peace Carlos Palma, various personalities from the civil world offered their witness of forgiveness, work for peace and social and educational inclusion. Juan Pablo Galeano, a sixteen-year-old student at the Javier Technical Institute, told Agenzia Fides that he was "surprised and happy" of the recognition received,
which also represents "a responsibility".



LOS ANGELES - AMERICA UNITED STATES-A Guide to include Native Americans in Catholic pastoral care

4 April 2018 - Recently the archdiocese of Los Angeles issued a Pastoral Guide for communities of Native Americans. During a rally for Urban Native Americans held at Kuruvungna Cultural Springs Centre, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gomez, signed 17 Instructions recognising Native Americans of California as the “First people of the land”. The local Catholic Church has provided guidelines for specific pastoral care. The instructions recognise the history of the native American communities in the building of missions all over the archdiocese. The instructions also give guidelines on how to welcome and incorporate native views and traditions. The instructions ensure that liturgies, ceremonies and celebrations in which Native Americans take part will include a traditional blessing with blessed herbs (sage, tobacco) by one or more Native  tribe members.
The instructions say that burial sites and tombs of Native Americans need not be transformed into buildings by ecclesiastical bodies and that the leaders of the local tribes must be consulted to ensure that parish and school events reflect the true nature of the Native American people.



Interfaith community gathered in support of vandalized mosque

31 March 2018 - Over 200 people attended the event held to promote love among people of different faiths. Only a few weeks after two women filmed themselves as they vandalized a Tempe, Arizona mosque, local interfaith community members showed up in large numbers to stand united with local Muslims. The people who gathered at the Mosque grounds were not there to erase that memory. They wanted to prove hate could be overcome.



Asia/Lebanon - Islamic-Christian Feast of the Annunciation celebrated at the Presidential Palace

27 March 2018 - During the ceremony the story of the Annunciation to Mary in the Gospel of Luke, and the Surah al Imran, which expresses the veneration to Mary in the Koran, the Holy Text of Islam, were read. During the meeting historian Hareth Boustany presented the feast of the Annunciation as a moment of national unity which gathers around the Virgin Mary the different communities of believers, in a Country that wants to present itself to the world as an example of tolerance and inter-religious coexistence. The participants at the meeting also recited a prayer to the Virgin together, invoking her protection for the Country and for the Lebanese people. In Lebanon the Marian solemnity of the Lord's Annunciation has been proclaimed a national holiday since 2010 with the declared intention to find in the devotion to Mary - shared also among the Muslims - a point of convergence among the different religious communities, in order to also defuse sectarian tensions that always loom on social coexistence in the country, especially this year in view of the political elections scheduled for next May 6th.



ASIA/PAKISTAN - "National Day of Pakistan": Muslims and Christians together for peace

23 March 2018 - Muslims and Christians together for peace, praying for a future made of harmony, reconciliation, prosperity, common well-being: this is how today, March 23, the "Pakistan Day", a national holiday is celebrated in which the entire nation recalls the "Lahore Resolution", passed on March 23, 1940.

The National Commission for Inter-Religious Dialogue and Ecumenism, in the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Pakistan organized a reflection and prayer meeting in Lahore attended by many Muslim and Christian leaders. During the celebration of prayer everyone prayed and committed themselves to promoting inter-religious harmony, peace and progress of the nation. 



4th Annual Interfaith remembrance service honors foremothers alongside UN Commission on the Status of Women

23 March 2018 - The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is an international conference held at UN Headquarters. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world attend the session. Women from all over the world gather around the UN to attend and participate in many events, panels and programs, as well as engage in networking and collaborating opportunities with each other. The Women's Task Force of the Parliament of World Religions was a co-sponsor of the event which honored women who dedicated their lives to the principles and work of the UN, and for whom expressions of remembrance and gratitude were shared.




Culture and education


Next Einstein Forum 2018

4 April 2018 - Developers, entrepreneurs, policy makers and even end users gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, to exchange ideas that could make “Connecting Science to Humanity” a reality. It is under this theme that a number of the greatest scientific minds on the continent, revealed some of Africa’s technological breakthroughs in this edition of the global forum for science.The gender gap in science is a global phenomenon but that is no reason to accept it as inevitable. Whatever the causes maybe we have to dedicate ourselves to closing the gap, because opportunity will never be equal without equal access to knowledge.



A postcard from this year’s Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference

4 April 2018 - The most unique aspect of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual (CIES) conference is the convergence of the global education community into a single location. It is a tremendous opportunity to learn about key trends in the field and, most importantly, exchange ideas with some of the best thought leaders in this space.The 62nd CIES conference, held in Mexico City, saw a focus on South-North dialogue and South-South collaboration, and an ambition to expand awareness of and engagement with the voices and actors that have historically been marginalized in education research and institutions.



New report: how to measure equity in education

27 March 2018 - Methodologies and indicators to reveal the inequalities facing marginalized groups. A new report shows how countries can measure the education progress of the most marginalized populations to ensure no one is left behind. Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) calls for inclusive and equitable quality education for all, spanning not only gender parity in learning but also equitable educational opportunities for persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, disadvantaged children and others who are at risk of exclusion from education. Yet today, these groups are extremely difficult to track because they are often invisible in education data.



Education is key to deconstruct racial narratives

23 March 2018 - The role of education at all social levels and in particular of young generations, remains one of the best ways to stop the proliferation of racist and discriminatory discourses and to foster intercultural exchanges. This is the message of experts who gathered on 21 March at UNESCO in Paris for a Round table on Deconstructing racial narratives: challenging assumptions and fostering diversity, organized in the context of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The event started with a presentation by Evelyne Heyer, Professor of the National Museum of Natural History of France, who explained the scientific evidence against the notion of race, which has resulted in practices ranging from discrimination to extermination of “the other” throughout history.“Races do not exist in the sense we thought in the 19th century, but even if the word ‘race’ is removed, racism will continue to exist. The term ‘race’ has a history, so we need to use this concept, if only to deconstruct it,” said Heyer.



African educators commit to the 100 Million campaign to ensure education for all children

21March 2018 – Africa has taken a significant step towards educational equity with the launch of the 100 Million campaign, a call to action for a world where all young people are free, safe and educated. The launch was attended by education trade unionists from all over the continent. The Education International (EI) Africa regional office (EIRAF), together with regional coordination from the Global March Against Child Labour, the Ghana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC), and the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF), organised the Africa launch of the 100 Million campaign from 14-16 March, in Accra, Ghana. The campaign aims to bring together key elements of the community around a common commitment to the cause of children.These include civil society organisations, unions, government, intergovernmental and non-governmental agencies.The key event happened on 16 March with the campaign’s public launch which saw the active participation of trade unions, the Republic of Ghana’s Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, and representatives of the Minister of Education and the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, as well as traditional authorities, diplomatic representatives, and other key actors against child labour and child marginalisation.



To cultivate art and mind is also to cultivate peace, UNESCO chief says on World Poetry Day

21 March 2018 - Not merely limited to beautiful and poignant words and phrases, poetry holds the extraordinary power to open new horizons, bridge differences and illuminate a path to peace and dialogue. Poetry also a tool to promote education. Not just limited to art and culture, poetry is also a conduit for formal and informal education, highlighted the UNESCO chief in her message, noting that it provides effective support for lifelong learning.This is why we  encourage and support artistic education since it strengthens intellectual, emotional and psychological development, shaping generations that are more well-rounded and capable of reinventing the world. Finally, since poetry is an act of creating and sharing, UNESCO invites everyone, on this World Day, to create, invent, share, and be open to other languages and other ways of naming the world, to rejoice in all that is different in our diversity. Since to cultivate art and cultivate the mind is also to cultivate peace.




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Next issue: 11th May 2018.


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: Fabio Gatti (fabio.gatti@goodnewsagency.org). Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Isabella Strippoli, Elisa Minelli, Salvatore Caruso Motta, Chiara Damilano, Francesco Viglienghi, Carlo Toraldo, Andrea Landriscina, Nazzarella Franco. 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 Piazzale degli Eroi 8, 00136 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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