Good News Agency – Year X, n° 166



Weekly – Year X, number 166 – 15th January 2010

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

 “…In conveying the appreciation of the Head of State for the passion and the professionalism with which you spread, above all among the young, the culture of "good news", I would like to take this opportunity of adding my personal greeting”. (From the letter of the Adviser for the Press and Information of the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, to the Editor of Good News Agency, 12 October 2007.)



Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. It is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists in 54 countries and to 2,800 NGOs and 1,700 high schools, colleges and universities. It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, an educational charity associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it is a member of the World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.




International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education

Rotary - Sister clubs turn scars of war into bonds of peace



International legislation



Agreement reached on integrated safeguards in European Union

8 January - The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in cooperation with the European Commission, has reached agreement on arrangements to implement “integrated safeguards” in all non-nuclear-weapon States of the European Union with significant nuclear activities.

“This important milestone is the result of the constructive common efforts of all parties concerned. It is a clear signal of the importance attributed by the EU and its Member States, as well as the IAEA, to the reinforcement of the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” said Andris Piebalgs, Member of the European Commission in charge of Energy.

“Once we have sufficient confidence that a State’s nuclear activities are purely peaceful, we can apply safeguards measures in a less prescriptive, more customised manner. This reduces the inspection burden on the State and the inspection effort of the IAEA, while enabling the IAEA to maintain the conclusion that all nuclear material has remained in peaceful activities,” said Olli Heinonen, Deputy Director General and Head of IAEA Safeguards Department. (...)


Entry into force of new, stronger system to control fisheries and stamp out illegal fishing,

1st January 2010

A streamlined, more efficient control system under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy will enter into force on 1 January 2010. The new rules will step up controls to stamp out illegal fishing, and show that the EU is determined to lead the way towards responsible and sustainable fishing both inside and outside the EU. The new system has three pillars: the first pillar is a Regulation against illegal fishing worldwide (the IUU Regulation). From now on, all marine fishery products traded with the EU, wherever they come from in the world, will have to be certified and their origin will be traceable (...) in an effort to close the EU market to illegally caught fish. The second pillar is a Regulation on control that brings in a targeted, more effective and less costly fisheries control system. It will apply inside the EU and to EU vessels wherever in the world they are operating. It introduces harmonised rules for inspection, monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement throughout the chain from net to plate. Like the IUU Regulation above, it contains strong measures to sanction law-breakers. (...) The third pillar is a Regulation on fishing authorisations for the EU fleet operating outside EU waters, which is in force since October 2008. (...)


A stronger Europol

The Hague, The Netherlands, 5 January - On 1 January 2010 Europol acquired a stronger mandate and new capabilities to fight international serious crime and terrorism. Under a reform of its legal framework, which establishes Europol as a formal EU Agency for the first time in its 15–year history, Europol now benefits from increased powers to collect criminal information and a wider field of competence in supporting investigations of serious offences. An example of the latter might be the case of a serial killer operating in more than one country in Europe. (...)

Under the new legal framework Europol’s accountability arrangements have also been strengthened, with a bigger role established for the European Parliament in scrutinising activities and setting the Agency’s annual budget. Meanwhile Europol’s data protection regime, already one of the most robust in the world, has also been further improved. (...)


UN-backed container-profiling project leads to seizure of drugs, counterfeit goods

29 December - Latin American port authorities are seizing more drug consignments and counterfeit goods along container routes thanks to a United Nations-backed initiative that is showing growing success after its inception six years ago.

Under the Container Control Programme - a joint project of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the independent, inter-governmental World Customs Organization - a newly established and trained Panamanian inter-agency profiling unit in the Pacific port of Balboa made their first seizures of containers carrying illicit goods. “In only three weeks, the unit, which started operations in November, seized four containers from China, destined for Chile and Venezuela,” UNODC said in a news release on the programme, which assists port authorities in establishing profiling systems and in using modern control techniques to detect illegal goods in containers without causing disruptions in the commerce of legal goods. (...)


UN official welcomes European Union approval of Internet copyright treaties

14 December - The head of the United Nations agency tasked with safeguarding intellectual property rights today welcomed the European Union’s ratification of the so-called Internet Treaties. Noting that the EU plays a leading role in promoting use of the Internet and in developing on-line content, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Francis Gurry said the step would positively influence the growth of creativity within the digital environment in Europe and beyond.

All 27 EU Member States have now implemented the European directive incorporating the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT), which establish the basic standards of protection for copyright and related rights of digital material.

In 2000, the EU and its members took the formal decision to ratify the WIPO Internet treaties, bringing the number of signatories for the WCT to 88 and 76 for the WPPT.

The treaties update the legal principles underpinning international copyright protection and the rights of performers and phonogram producers on the Internet and other digital networks.



Human rights



The UN & Human Rights - A Year in Review: 2009 

2009 was an active year in the U.N. human rights system, especially in the context of the global financial crisis and the issues arising out of the climate change debate. From special sessions and fact-finding missions to conferences and country visits, we’ve tried to highlight some of the key events that took place at the U.N. office in Geneva and beyond. Read More!


Fund for Gender Equality announces more than US$9 million in grants to advance women’s economic and political empowerment worldwide

Gender Equality Efforts by Civil Society and Governments in 26 Countries to Be Supported

New York, 11 January - The new UNIFEM-managed Fund for Gender Equality announced its initial allocation of more than US$9 million to 27 initiatives in 26 countries today. The recently-established Fund, a US$68 million multilateral initiative, is designed to advance innovative programmes which focus on women’s economic and political empowerment at local and national levels. It is currently funded by the Governments of Spain and Norway. (..)

“This new Fund has tremendous potential to bring about concrete and sustainable changes in women’s lives. Very impressive efforts to advance women’s political and economic empowerment are underway in every corner of the world. Yet this work is critically under-funded. It is important that the Fund supports both governments and civil society organizations  -  and very significantly, partnerships between them as well,” said Inés Alberdi, UNIFEM Executive Director. (...)


OHCHR Thematic Strategies for 2010-2011       

For the first time since the creation of the OHCHR's Strategic Plan and after extensive consultation involving all department of the Office, High Commissioner Navi Pillay presented a series of six thematic strategies that  could align the field presences and divisional activities of the Office.  These strategies are intended to not only guide the work of the OHCHR for 2010-2011 but also assist Member States, NGOs and other civil society organizations focus their efforts on these areas to contribute towards their achievement. It is hoped that by outlining core strategies, the Office will soon be able to engage the expertise of all relevant stakeholders including non-governmental organisations and national human rights institutions.

The focus areas include: eliminating discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion and other marginalised groups; ensuring the human rights of migrants; protecting economic, social and cultural rights to combat poverty, protecting human rights in armed conflict, violence and insecurity; combating impunity and strengthening accountability, rule of law and democratic societies; and strengthening international human rights mechanisms and law.


UN completes initial round of training for local judges in eastern Chad

8 January - Some 75 local civil servants from eastern Chad have wrapped up a one-month United Nations-backed training programme aimed at boosting the number of professional magistrates in the strife-torn region, the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) announced today. Participants from Ouaddai, Ennedi, Wadi Fira, Dar Sila and Salamat in eastern Chad concluded the first two training sessions on Thursday in Abéché.

The training, organized by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and MINURCAT, is expected to guarantee an impartial, independent and credible justice system in the region, where 256,700 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur conflict, 168,000 Chadian displaced persons and around 150,000 people in host villages live in close proximity.

“This is, by all means, an important step in the reinforcement of the justice system in eastern Chad,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Victor Angelo. (...)


Cambodian-UN prison initiative improves conditions for detainees

5 January - More than one thousand inmates at the Siem Reap prison now have more water for daily drinking, cooking and personal hygiene thanks to an innovative partnership between the United Nations human rights office and the Government of Cambodia aimed at prison reform.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia (OHCHR-Cambodia) worked with authorities at the country’s third largest prison to install a rain-water harvesting system that provides water free of charge and helps to preserve the underground water resources.

Before the system was introduced, the 1,300 detainees had to rely on limited underground water for drinking, preparing meals, washing and sewage disposal. However, now with the new system, the prisoners have access to an average of over 8,000 litres of additional water per day. (...)


Iraq: NGOs say ready for more responsibility

31 December - The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Iraq aims to broaden its operations and impact at the local community level. According to its 2010 operations profile, the agency will expand its national NGO partnership program by building closer ties with local Iraqi NGOs. Such increased cooperation can lead to more effective aid for internally displaced Iraqis. Nevertheless, ongoing violence, the weak Iraqi government and stringent UNCHR safeguards are serious constraints hampering this work.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Iraq wants closer ties with local NGOs in 2010, and the head of a leading NGO umbrella group believes more effective aid can be delivered to Iraqi returnees if cooperation between local NGOs and UN bodies is boosted. (...)



Economy and development



India boosts ties with Africa, expands credit lines

11 January - India will increase credit lines to Africa to $5,4-billion until 2012 from the current $2,15-billion, and will also boost technical and economic support to the continent, it said on Friday. A delegation led by Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari also signed deals with Malawi to assist the southern African country develop its agriculture, mineral resources and small to medium enterprise sectors.

“The India-Africa forum summit which took place in 2008 has given a new thrust to India’s engagement with Africa, as reflected by increases in exiting credit lines to Africa from $2,15-billion to $5,4-billion up until 2012,” the delegation said in a statement. “India has also earmarked a grant of $500-million to Africa in the next 5 to 6 years as well as an increase in the technical and economic cooperation training slots ... to African countries.” (...)


Fiji opens national volunteer center

8 January - Fiji’s first volunteer center opened this month. National Volunteer Center, coordinated by the Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) will provide unemployed people who share a passion for volunteerism with opportunities to make a difference in their community. The center will also help the volunteers secure employment by acquiring skills, generating income, and showcasing their arts and talents. (…) The center is supported by a three-year US$220,000 grant from Vodafone ATH Fiji Foundation for 2010-2012. A cheque for $80,000 for NVC activity and implementation in 2010 was handed to FCOSS on December 12 last year.

The major objective of the center is to uplift the lives of youths by providing an opportunity to make a world of difference, to promote and encourage corporate volunteering, to provide peer mentoring, counseling, coaching and supportive communication, building quality relations and bringing about partner solidarity, promoting self-investment and social entrepreneurship, to link with global volunteer partners to promote volunteerism, localize global volunteer concepts for effective local participation and consolidate the volunteer efforts in Fiji for impact imposition. (...)


Guatemala: the European Commission provides €1,325 million in humanitarian aide to cope with the drought

Brussels, 8 January - The situation in the “dry corridor” of Guatemala bordering Honduras and Salvador has become critical. The region is suffering from a severe drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon. The European Commission has therefore allocated €1.325 to help those populations most affected. The funds will be channelled through the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) with projects implemented by its humanitarian partners. (...)

The funding will provide food assistance, the distribution of seeds, food-for-work programmes, the improvement of water distribution and stocking systems, as well as a system of surveillance for food security. Around 20,000 of the most vulnerable people in the region, whose survival is threatened by the recent climatic events, will benefit from this aid. (...)


UN agency helps Côte d’Ivoire resuscitate war-hit agricultural sector

31 December - The United Nations agency responsible for financing agricultural development in poor countries has given $10 million to Côte d’Ivoire to help some 86,000 families revive a farming sector affected by the civil war that in 2002 split the West African nation into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south.

The agreement, signed in Rome by UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) President Kanayo Nwanze and Ivorian ambassador to Italy Bah Jeannot Zoro Bi, will boost rice, manioc and yam production in the most vulnerable rural communities in Bandama Valley and North Zanzan savannah in Bouma department. (...)

IFAD has so far financed eight projects in Côte d’Ivoire at a total cost of some $76 million. (...)


Counterpart International, NGO Council and USAID sign a Memorandum on cooperation in Azerbaijan

Memorandum signed to further NGO Council as part of Counterpart’s Civil Society Project

Baku, Azerbaijan, 29 December - The Council on State Support to NGOs under the auspices of the President of Azerbaijan (NGO Council) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on December 15, 2009. The MOU sets a framework for strengthening civil society institutions and institutionalizing open, transparent public financing mechanisms in Azerbaijan, promoting cooperation between the parties relating to Counterpart International’s (Counterpart) Civil Society Project. (...)

The NGO Council was established by Azerbaijani Presidential decree on May 15, 2008. It has implemented two grant rounds, providing 430 Azerbaijani NGOs with a total of $4 million in grants assistance on a competitive basis. In 2010 the NGO Council expects to launch a third round of grants, totaling approximately $3.5 million. (...)






United Nations - Aid arrives in Haiti as relief operations mobilize

New York, 15 January, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) -As part of its emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti, the United Nations is now delivering supplies for survivors of the earthquake as the full scale of humanitarian need becomes apparent. The Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, warned of growing needs in the days to come and stressed the importance of coordination. “Past disaster response experience has shown that effective coordination is vital if the right help is to reach the most vulnerable in time,” he said. “If we are to meet the needs on the ground we must work together.”

Distributions of food and medical assistance have begun in Port-au-Prince, but the scale is inevitably limited so far, as aid begins to arrive. (…)  OCHA is now coordinating more than 25 search-and-rescue teams that are now working on hospitals, schools, hotels and larger buildings. A further 13 teams are mobilizing and will receive support from the UN’s Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team at the airport.

The aid effort will increase rapidly in the coming days as the scale of need among survivors becomes clear. Dozens of countries have offered assistance, and specialist UN coordination teams are working to ensure aid quickly reaches the right people at the right time. Immediate needs identified include medical support, food, water, and emergency shelter. Many survivors have serious injuries, including traumatic wounds, compound fractures and crushed limbs. The World Health Organization is coordinating medical assistance and sending a 12-member team specializing in victim care, while NGOs such as Medecins sans Frontiers are scaling up their efforts on the ground as quickly as possible. (…)


Three months after devastating earthquakes and floods in Indonesia, Save the Children helps more than 67,000 children

6 January - (…) In the three months since the earthquake struck, Save the Children’s humanitarian response has reached more than 30,000 families, including more than 67,000 children. In just two of the most severely affected districts of West Sumatra, Agam and Lubuk Basung, Save the Children has served a total of 143,777 people, including 64,942 children.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Save the Children distributed relief items, such as cooking utensils, soap, and tools and materials to build basic shelters. Now Save the Children is shifting its focus to ensure children and their families recover as quickly as possible. The agency is helping some of the most vulnerable families to buy building materials, promoting maternal health and offering children safe spaces where they can express themselves and overcome the stress of the earthquake and its aftermath. Save the Children is also ensuring that children can quickly return to safe, temporary classrooms, so they can continue their education. (…)


UN boosts aid to vulnerable Afghans as winter conditions take hold

5 January - United Nations agencies have stepped up their humanitarian relief efforts to help tens of thousands of vulnerable Afghans survive the bitter winter weather in the east of the country, the world body’s mission there, known as UNAMA, said today. Last month the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) began distributing blankets, plastic sheets, jerry cans, warm clothing and gas cylinders to some 4,100 returning refugee and displaced families in eastern provinces where temperatures can plummet to minus 20 degrees Celsius in January, the coldest month. In addition, more than 12,000 vulnerable families, or 72,000 individuals, will receive a cash voucher worth $30 to buy heating materials or other items of their choice from approved retailers. (...) The World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO) have also provided extra assistance to the vulnerable people in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar, which are on or close to the rugged border with Pakistan. (...)


Sri Lanka: The Red Cross continues its livelihood assistance to tsunami victims in the South

29 December - (...) Upali, his wife Rupawathie, 45, and his four children live in Peraliya, Galle district - a coastal village in the south of Sri Lanka. (...) Today, five years after the tsunami, Upali and Rupawathie have a very different story to tell. Their house has now been reconstructed by the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society with the support of the Spanish Red Cross. (...) With the support of the livelihood grants given by the Red Cross Upali and his wife have opened a little wooden shop, a few kilometres away from their house, just off the main road. With the Rs 30,000 grant they purchased stocks of dry fish from wholesalers, set up the shop and have managed to earn a stable income selling dry fish to families in the area. (...)

Upali and Rupawathie are two of 99 beneficiaries in southern Godagama GN Division in Galle district to receive livelihood grants from the Red Cross and many beneficiaries have used their grants to set up a variety of income generating activities. The Spanish Red Cross continues to be active in the entire district, providing their livelihood beneficiaries comprising 346 businessmen and women with management training programmes and technical guidance.


The IRC aids thousands of people fleeing fighting in Pakistan’s South Waziristan 

Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan 21 December - More than two months after the Pakistani military launched an offensive in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan, humanitarian aid organizations are only now gaining access to the estimated 430,000 people who have fled the fighting in the region. An earlier military offensive centered in the Swat Valley and surrounding areas uprooted some four million people and triggered a major humanitarian crisis.

Now the International Rescue Committee, in partnership with a local Pakistani organization, has launched an effort to deliver medical services to some 27,000 people who fled the fighting in South Waziristan for the nearby district of Dera Ismail Khan. Most of the displaced are camped out in the compounds of host families in what resembles mini-camps. In these settlements the IRC is also installing water pipes, water tanks and latrines, and is training local government officials in hygiene promotion. In addition, the IRC is working to ensure that the often overlooked needs of widows, the elderly and the disabled are met. (...)


Horn of Africa: European Commission allocates €50 million in humanitarian aid for drought-affected people

Brussels, 21 December - The European Commission is providing €50 million in humanitarian aid to vulnerable drought-affected people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. The funds are channelled through the Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) under the responsibility of Commissioner Karel De Gucht. (…) This decision brings the total amount of humanitarian aid provided for these four countries in the Horn of Africa in 2009 to almost €150 million. All Commission-funded humanitarian projects are implemented by non-governmental relief organisations, specialised UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. ECHO has support offices in most of the countries concerned. Its field experts closely follow developments in the humanitarian situation and play an active role in local coordination of relief efforts. They also monitor the use of the Commission’s relief funds.

For further information:



Peace and security



Croatia: Monaco continues to assist demining of natural protected areas with donation of 225.000 EUR

8 January - Thanks to the good current cooperation results and significant involvement of the Principality of Monaco to resolve the mine problem in natural protected areas in the Republic of Croatia, a new donation agreement was signed between CROMAC and the Principality of Monaco totalling 225.000 EUR. Letter of intent supporting demining program in protected areas in Croatia from 2010-2012, defines three areas where demining operations will be carried out and financed with 75.000 EUR per year. These are locations in the Velebit Nature Park, National Park Paklenica and Park of Nature Kopački Rit. The purpose of these grants, as well as previous ones, is to provide safe conditions without mine threat to employees, researchers, tourists and all the people who live and work in these nature protected areas. Since 2004 until today, thanks to Monaco contribution of the total of 425.000 EUR, mine threat has been removed from the area of 370.000 m2 through demining projects. (...)


UN brings Sudanese tribes together for historic peace talks 

29 December - The United Nations has paved the way for historic talks between clashing tribes to bolster the fragile peace in the disputed oil-rich area of Abyei, close to the border between Sudan’s north and south and where a referendum on its future is scheduled to be held in 2011. (...)

Recognizing the need for dialogue at this critical juncture, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and the Abyei Area Administration joined forces to bring the leaders of the two tribes together for the first time in the conflict’s history. During the 14 December meeting, which kicked off to cheering, drumming and dancing, top officials from the tribes discussed border security, arms control and migration issues. (...) The dialogue was also the first in the history of peacebuilding in the Abyei area in which women took an active part in the talks. (...) UNDP stressed in a press release that “only through the support to community reconciliation dialogues in Sudan that bring together women groups, youth and traditional leaders will the region be able to ensure its hard-won peace.”


Italy contributes 112,000 Euros to OAS Mine Action Program

28 December - Through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Italy recently authorized two financial contributions for 166,300 US dollars (112,000 Euros) to the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Mine Action assistance program, known as AICMA. Italy’s contributions enable the humanitarian program to continue carrying out assistance projects in Peru, Nicaragua, and Colombia. Also, they will help to fund activities related to humanitarian demining, mine risk education, victim rehabilitation and technical equipment in these countries. (...)

Today, AICMA assists Peru with humanitarian demining and mine risk education in the Amazonas department on the border with Ecuador. In Nicaragua the program supports the country’s effort to complete its National Demining Plan by May 2010. And in Colombia, it implements an integral approach to humanitarian clearing of suspected contaminated areas that threaten communities with improvised explosive devices. (...)


Leaders quicken pace at UN-backed reunification talks for Cyprus

21 December - The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders are intensifying their United Nations-backed talks aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island, scheduling two three-day series of discussions next month after a senior UN official said they had made good progress over the past year. Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met today under UN auspices in Nicosia, the capital, and announced their intentions in a joint statement read out by the Coordinator of the UN’s Good Offices Mission, Yasser Sabra. (...)

In remarks to the media over the weekend, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said the two leaders had showed “a very strong commitment to achieve a successful negotiation and they have made good progress” throughout the last year. He also said that the next year would be a pivotal point. (...)


ITF concluded demining programme in Serbia, 2003-2009

On Monday, 21 December 2009, a Celebration on the Completion of Demining Programme in Serbia was held in the border area with Croatia near Morović town, Municipality of Šid. The event was hosted by Mine Action Centre of Serbia (MACS) and the Embassy of Unites States of America in Serbia. International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) started with activities already in 2001 by supporting the establishment of MACS. The actual demining operations started in 2003. In seven years of activities, 44 projects were executed and over 5.7 km2 of land demined and returned to the use of the local population.

Demining programme in Serbia was supported with donations of Germany, USA, Spain, EU, Norway, Czech Republic, Canada and Slovenia, donating more than 8.4 million USD. (...)


Afghanistan first in world to use new vaccine against polio

Critical step as global eradication effort faces entrenched challenges

Kabul, 15 December - A new vaccine against polio will be used for the first time today in polio immunization campaigns in Afghanistan. The bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV), recommended by the Advisory Committee on Poliomyelitis Eradication, the global technical advisory body of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative as a critical tool to eradicate polio, can provide the optimal concurrent protection needed by young children against both surviving serotypes (types 1 and 3) of the paralysing virus. This will vastly simplify the logistics of vaccination in the conflict-affected parts of this country. This sub-national immunization campaign, from 15-17 December, will deliver bOPV to 2.8 million children under five in the Southern, South-Eastern and Eastern Regions of Afghanistan. Of the three wild polioviruses (known as types 1, 2 and 3), type 2 has not been seen anywhere in the world since 1999. (...)


UNA-USA has successfully concluded its Adopt-A-Minefield® Campaign!

Thank you for your support of our life-saving work over the last ten years!

As planned and in alignment with 10th anniversary and second review conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, UNA-USA successfully crossed the finish line and concluded its Adopt-A-Minefield (AAM) Campaign on December 31, 2009. UNA-USA is very proud of AAM’s work over the past ten years. We raised over $25 million for mine action, cleared over 1,000 minefields, and assisted thousands of survivors. There are lots of reasons to celebrate! Globally, now there are only 6,000 new casualties each year - as opposed to the 25,000 annual rate recorded in the late 1990’s. There are 156 signatories to the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) - that’s 80% of the world’s nations! Only two countries used landmines last year - rather than the previously widespread use in over 80 countries.






Sub-Saharan Africa: UN partners seek to eliminate HIV in children

12 January - The United Nations is seeking to virtually eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, where 390,000 infants became infected with the virus that causes AIDS in 2008, through the use of antiretroviral drugs during and after delivery.

“AIDS has become the leading cause of death among infants and young children in much of sub-Saharan Africa,” Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Executive Director Michel Sidibé said during a visit to Sauri in western Kenya, one of the villages in the so-called Millennium Villages Project (MVP). The MVP, a partnership between the UN Development Programme (UNDP), The Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York, Millennium Promise and local governments, provides a new approach to fighting poverty and achieving the eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that seek to reduce a host of social ills by 2015. The sixth MDG focuses on combating HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases.


MSF starts work in the ‘hunger prison’, Bunia, DRC

8 January - Over a two-month period, 17 prisoners referred from Bunia Prison to the city’s hospital have died - victims of severe malnutrition. The MSF team working in Bunia, located in the eastern district of Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), recently intervened to put an end to the tragedy that is occurring at the prison. More than 500 prisoners are crammed into this desolate place, barely one third of them have been before a judge. (…)

The first phase of the MSF intervention is initially planned to last three weeks. Since the first day approximately 50 prisoners have received therapeutic food. All prisoners have been seen by medical staff and are now receiving the necessary care. Emergency measures were taken to supply water and improve sanitation. During the second phase, which should last three months, medical, nutritional, logistical, and other activities will be carried out in cooperation with other organisations, including the ICRC. The goal is to know for certain at the end of this period that the minimum of food and medical care is being provided to all prisoners. (...)


Nigeria the 2009 leader in progress toward ending polio

By Dan Nixon

Rotary International News, 8 January - The incidence of polio in Nigeria dropped by more than 50 percent in 2009 to 388 cases as of 22 December, compared with 783 cases for the same period in 2008. Most dramatic was the decline in the transmission of the type 1 wild poliovirus, to 74 cases from 707. Also, the proportion of unimmunized children in Nigeria’s highest-risk states fell below 10 percent for the first time.

The World Health Organization’s  Advisory Committee on Polio Eradication attributes 95 percent of the world’s progress against the disease in 2009 to Nigeria’s success. Rotarians are playing a key role in their country’s gains by: immunizing children and helping to overcome resistance from families initially opposed to vaccination; airing public service announcements on state radio and sponsoring town criers to urge mothers to bring their children to immunization posts; monitoring National Immunization Days and Immunization Plus Days (...)

A bivalent vaccine, already in use in Afghanistan, has been developed to stop the transmission of the type 1 and type 3 wild polioviruses simultaneously. According to WHO, the vaccine is intended for introduction in India and Nigeria by late January and is expected to be “a critical new tool” in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.


Despite clashes, MSF continues activities in the Galgadud region of Somalia

Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) continues activities in Dhusa Mareb, despite growing insecurity due to clashes on Saturday

6 January - In response to severe drought conditions, MSF started supplying water on December 23, in order to cover the needs of people in villages surrounding Dhusa Mareb and Guri-el in the Galagadud Region of Central Somalia. (…) The weekend clashes between different armed groups have made life even more difficult for people in the area. In addition to livestock and livelihood problems as a result of the drought, many residents were already hosting displaced relatives from other insecure areas. Now, entire families have fled Dhusa Mareb. In Galgadud region, MSF is running Istarlin hospital, in addition to an outpatient department in Dhusa Mareb and a health post in Hinder. In this 80-bed hospital, MSF provides a range of free medical services including outpatient consultation and surgical interventions.

In 2009, MSF Somali medical teams performed 732 surgeries, 709 deliveries and 40,190 consultations took place in the out patient department (...) to all people who need medical care, regardless of their clan, religious or political affiliations. MSF has worked in Somalia since 1991.



Ethiopian and UN officials devise plan to boost maternal and newborn health

6 January - United Nations agencies and Ethiopian health officials have developed a comprehensive two-year work plan to boost maternal and newborn health and survival in the Horn of Africa nation, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced.

The work plan focuses on both immediate and long-term interventions and involves increasing demand, access and utilization of quality maternal and newborn health services, as well as improving the quality of these services. In addition, it focuses on strengthening monitoring and evaluation of these services, and improving managerial and institutional capacity, advocacy and partnerships to encourage increased political and financial commitment.

The plan was developed during last month’s visit to Ethiopia of UN Health 4 (H4), a joint effort by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank to support countries in improving maternal and newborn health and saving the lives of mothers and babies. (...)


UN offers online courses to boost cancer treatment in developing nations

5 January - To bridge the gap in developing countries where there is a shortage of cancer specialists, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has helped spearhead a web-based course on radiation oncology. Radiotherapy plays a positive role in treating nearly half of all cancer patients, as cancer rates continue to climb in poorer nations. The course contains 80 training modules classified into eight different topics, and the materials are expected to complement the training that radiation oncologists receive through their formal education in their respective countries. This initiative is part of an IAEA programme involving 17 Member States in the Asia-Pacific region, and the material for the course - entitled “Applied Sciences of Oncology Distance Learning” - was developed by an Australian organization.


Ban applauds Republic of Korea, US for lifting entry limits based on HIV status

4 January - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations agency tasked with fighting the spread of HIV today congratulated the Republic of Korea and the United States for lifting “discriminatory” travel limits that previously prevented people living with HIV from entering both nations. Mr. Ban lauded Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-bak on his country’s decision, which went into effect on 1 January, “in ending restrictions towards people living with HIV that have no public health benefit.” He added, “I repeat my call to all other countries with such discriminatory restrictions to take steps to remove them at the earliest.” (...)



Energy and safety



President Obama awards $2.3 billion for new clean-tech manufacturing jobs

Recovery Act Tax Credits to Enable More Than $7 Billion in New Manufacturing Projects and Create Tens of Thousands of Jobs

Washington, 8 January - Today at the White House, President Obama announced the award of $2.3 billion in Recovery Act Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits for clean energy manufacturing projects across the United States.  One hundred eighty three projects in 43 states will create tens of thousands of high quality clean energy jobs and the domestic manufacturing of advanced clean energy technologies including solar, wind and efficiency and energy management technologies. (...) This effort, along with other Recovery Act investments, will drive significant growth in the renewable energy and clean technology manufacturing sectors and give the United States the ability to lead globally in these markets.  The investment tax credits, worth up to thirty percent of each planned project, will leverage private capital for a total investment of nearly $7.7 billion in high-tech manufacturing in the United States. 

The projects announced today address the broad spectrum of manufacturing capabilities needed to support a robust clean energy economy.  The projects were competitively selected through a rigorous merit review process and the companies chosen say they will create more than 17,000 jobs in some of the fastest growing parts of our economy. (...)


Secretary Chu Announces $47 Million to Improve Efficiency in Information Technology and Communications Sectors

Recovery Act Projects to Lower Energy Use by Data Centers and Telecommunications Systems

Washington, DC, 6 January - Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that the Department of Energy is awarding $47 million for 14 projects across the country to support the development of new technologies that can improve energy efficiency in the information technology (IT) and communication technology sectors. The data processing, data storage, and telecommunications industries are a crucial part of the American information economy. The rapid growth of these industries has led to an increase in electricity use, but improvements in the sector’s energy efficiency can provide significant energy and cost savings. The energy efficiency projects announced today will reduce energy use and carbon pollution, while helping to develop a strong, competitive domestic industry. (...)


World Future Energy Summit, Abu Dhabi, 18-21 January

Under the patronage of H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Abu Dhabi will host the World Future Energy Summit 2010, from January 18 to 21.

The four-day summit will build on the successes of its predecessors, with more than 30 individual conference sessions and more than 200 international influencers addressing future energy strategies, policies and technologies.

World Future Energy Summit, the world’s platform for sustainable future energy solutions, provides an ideal networking event for industry leaders, investors, scientists, specialists, policymakers and researchers to discuss the challenges of rising energy demand and actions to achieve a cleaner and more sustainable future for the world.



Environment and wildlife



Tunisia launches debut nanotech project

12 January - Tunisia has launched the first project applying nanotechnology in the Arab Maghreb region of north western Africa. The project aims to monitor and purify the waters of the Medjerda River, the longest river in Tunisia. Three mobile laboratories will monitor river water, after which data will be analysed at a new research centre. The laboratories will then be mobilised to expand the project to other areas of the country. (...)

The Tunisian government has set an initial budget of around US$580,000 for the project. Hussein said that the group also has promises from the government for funding for other projects until 2016 if this one succeeds. The project, partially funded and supported by Belgium, is the first project of the Tunisian Association for Environmental Nanotechnology. (...)


Earth Charter+10 plans

By ECI Sec1

1 January - 2010 represents the 10th year since the launch of the Earth Charter. ECI is planning to have a number of activities and events organized around this and hope many individuals and organizations from around the world will also organize events or workshops locally.

To help guide this process a Draft Concept Paper for EC+10 has being designed. This Concept Paper outlines a proposal for activities that should take place throughout 2010. The main idea of Earth Charter+10 (EC+10) is to use this as an opportunity to scale up the outreach and impact of the Earth Charter. It is envisioned that, during 2010, there will be at least one major Earth Charter gathering in each region of the world (...). In addition, it is expected that a number of local gatherings will take place, in different locations, which will occur simultaneously. ECI suggests Earth Day, April 22, as the day for affiliates, youth groups, volunteers and partners to organize these local gatherings, public events or workshops in order to further promote and raise awareness about the Earth Charter. (...)


UN opens Biodiversity Year with plea to save world’s ecosystems

1 January - In a bid to curb the unprecedented loss of the world’s species due to human activity - at a rate some experts put at 1,000 times the natural progression - the United Nations is marking 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, with a slew of events highlighting the vital role the phenomenon plays in maintaining the life support system on Planet Earth.

“Humans are part of nature’s rich diversity and have the power to protect or destroy it,” the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said in summarizing the Year’s main message, with its focus on raising awareness to generate public pressure for action by the world’s decision makers.

“Biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth, is essential to sustaining the living networks and systems that provide us all with health, wealth, food, fuel and the vital services our lives depend on. Human activity is causing the diversity of life on Earth to be lost at a greatly accelerated rate.

These losses are irreversible, impoverish us all and damage the life support systems we rely on every day. But we can prevent them.” (...)


UN agency sets out priority steps to realize Green Economy for 21st century

31 December - The United Nations environmental agency has identified three priority areas in the race to mitigate climate change based on harnessing the benefits of ecosystems, from coral reefs to forests, coupled with non-fossil fuel technology that exploits solar, geo-thermal and wind energy. “It is now widely recognized that healthy ecosystems from coral reefs and wetlands to mangroves and fertile soils are a key to successfully adapting to climate change,” the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a news release on what it called a rapidly evolving strategy “in response to the needs of Member States and the growing number of requests on how best to realize a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy for the 21st century.”

Calling the management and maintenance of such systems “a buffer and an insurance policy against extreme weather events and a rapidly changing climate,” UNEP stressed that ecosystems and the services they provide represent serious, multi-trillion dollar economic assets. (...)



Religion and spirituality



U.S. and European Bishops visit the Holy Land to “build bridges of solidarity”

8 January - A 26-strong delegation of bishops and representatives from Bishops’ Conferences and church bodies from Europe and North American countries will visit the Christian peoples and Churches in the Holy Land from 10 to 14 January 2010. The annual visit is organised by the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land (Holy Land Co-ordination) and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land. This year, the CCEE (Council of European Bishops’ Conferences) Secretary-General, Fr. Duarte da Cunha, will also be part of the delegation. “With this visit, the European bishops want to express their desire to better understand and share the problems of the peoples in those territories and at the same time to offer a tangible sign of the closeness that our Churches have towards the Christians of the Holy Land and their friendship towards the Israeli and Palestinian peoples”, said Fr Duarte da Cunha. “The Church in Europe needs this type of encounter to build bridges of solidarity and hope and to better determine the type of interventions in support of our Christian brothers and sisters”. (...)

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2010

During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2010, Christians throughout the world will be listening together to the promise and commission that are part of Christ's final words before his ascension: "You are witnesses of these things."

7 January - Traditionally celebrated between 18 and 25 January (in the northern hemisphere) or at Pentecost (in the southern hemisphere), the Week of Prayer enters into congregations and parishes all over the world. Preachers are exchanged, and special ecumenical worship services are arranged. The production of the liturgical and biblical material for the week of prayer is jointly coordinated since 1968 by the World Council of Churches (Faith and Order Commission) and the Roman Catholic Church (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity).

The theme for 2010 was chosen in Scotland, where churches were, at the same time, preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the 1910 World Mission Conference which marked the beginnings of the modern ecumenical movement.

Resources for the week include an introduction to the theme; a suggested ecumenical celebration which local churches are encouraged to adapt for their own particular liturgical, social and cultural contexts; biblical reflections and prayers for the "eight days"; and additional prayers from, and an overview of the ecumenical situation in Scotland.



Culture and education



UNESCO: Online discussion on Gender equality, Education and Training - 10 January to 7 February 2010

As part of the debates and events commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the United Nations’ Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE) is organizing a series of online discussions dedicated to specific critical areas of action related to gender equality. These discussions will contribute to the 15-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action at the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women from 1-12 March, 2010. The online discussions are designed to catalyze debate, to analyze progress and to provide an important interactive forum where perspectives, successful initiatives and information can be shared.

UNESCO will be hosting the online discussion focusing on the theme of Gender equality, Education and Training from 10 January to 7 February. During these four weeks, discussions will be organized around a framework of thematic questions in order to stimulate debate between participants. (...)


Astronomy Beyond 2009

Closing Ceremony International Year of Astronomy, 9 - 10 January 2010, Padova - Italy

On 9 and 10 January 2010 the International Year of Astronomy 2009 will be officially closed. A ceremony will be held in Padova, Italy, in the Aula Magna of the University, where Galileo taught experimental physics and astronomy.

Astronomy Beyond 2009 is the title of the meeting and the aim is both to have an initial account of this fantastic year and discuss the astrophysics of the next decade, and beyond.

Professional astronomers, historians of science and Single Points of Contact from various countries that participated in IYA will deal with the impact of IYA, the legacy of Galileo, the role of science in society and the future of astronomy. Besides this, a number of diverse activities are planned that will involve both the public in Padova and individuals who participated in the programs of the IYA2009.


Essen/Ruhr, Pécs and Istanbul kick off as European Capitals of Culture 2010

9, 10 and 16 January 2010

As we enter the year 2010, the new European Capitals of Culture - Essen for the Ruhr in Germany, Pécs in Hungary and Istanbul in Turkey - will officially start a year of music, theatre, dance, film and literature events for local residents and visitors . Essen/Ruhr will hold its opening ceremony for the European Capital of Culture 2010 on the 9 and 10 January, Pécs on the 10th, and Istanbul on the 16th.

In the city of Essen and the Ruhr region a huge cultural festival for all residents of the Ruhr metropolis will start on the evening of 9 January, at the Zollverein World Cultural Heritage site in Essen. This follows the official opening ceremony, which will be broadcast live on German TV.

In Pécs, the official opening of the European Capital of Culture 2010 will offer 24 hours of ongoing attractions in public spaces of the city, including carnival and theatrical programs, interactive walls, projections at several different places in the city, painting by light in the evening etc.

In Istanbul, the official opening ceremony will be on the 16th of January and numerous events are already taking place in January, as visual arts, animation, educative activities, symposium, literature and music events. (...)


Start of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion 

1 January - 2010 will be the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion - a one-year programme aimed at raising awareness on poverty and social exclusion. It will be implemented in all EU Member States as well as in Iceland and Norway, with a total budget of €17 million (to be complemented by national co-financing), covering activities at European as well at national level. The European Year events are being organised in partnership between participating countries, the EU, civil society, especially non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and social partners, who will work together to ensure its success. A range of activities will be organised across Europe, such as awareness-raising campaigns, information sessions in schools, roundtables and training for the media and decision-makers. The activities and events planned at European level include two focus weeks, a journalist competition, an art exhibition, and two major conferences in January and December 2010.

The Year will be launched in Madrid, on 21 January 2010 at a high-level conference being organised by the Spanish Presidency and the European Commission. (...)


Colonial jewel in Peru’s capital to be restored with UN help

31 December - As part of a United Nations-backed plan to restore historical architectural gems that have deteriorated into slums, residents of Rimac, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Peru’s capital, Lima, will start registering property titles as of 2010 in an effort to restore the priceless landmarks. “This is the first programme, both in scope and magnitude, tackling the dangerous problems that low income urban families face,” UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Jorge Chediek said. “For the first time in history, the precarious conditions in which people live are being addressed.”

Located in downtown Lima, a UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) heritage site and once capital of Spain’s lavish Viceroyalty, Rimac has suffered from centuries of precarious housing conditions although it has the oldest bullfight arena in the Americas and other colonial architectural jewels. (...)


Character Education Camp in Johannesburg

By UPF - Southern Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 December - Sixteen teenagers from Swaziland and South Africa took part in a camp on Character Education from December 14-26 at Wendywood.

The purposes were to help these youths build their character and empower them to deal with the varioust challenges facing them today, namely, peer pressure, drug abuse, premature sex, teenage pregnancy, sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV infections, rape, crime, and teenage suicide, just to name the major ones. In opening the camp, Rev. Jean Augustin Ghomsi, Secretary General of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) Southern Africa, told the youths, “You are a special generation and you need to look critically at the lifestyle of your friends or what you see on TV and in movie theaters. Do not follow them just because you want to ‘fit in’ and be ‘cool.’ You have a great future ahead of you. Don’t waste it by indulging yourselves in satisfying immediate desires or trying to follow the crowd.” (...) The youths were encouraged to develop unity of heart, thought, and godly lifestyle as a way to become exemplary children and patriots as well as to deal with life’s challenges. (...)


ANERA to help needy students in Jordan

Washington, DC, 22 December - ANERA (American Near East Refugee Agency) is pleased to announce a $411,000 grant from UNESCO to help improve learning skills for vulnerable Iraqi and Jordanian students in Jordan. This is ANERA’s first collaboration with UNESCO, which is trying to ease the pressure on Jordan’s public education system to provide expanded services for students at risk. Under the program, ANERA is organizing after-school programs in three schools in the greater Amman area in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. The remedial classes will reach 700 children aged six to 18, half of whom will be displaced Iraqis. ANERA is also providing nutritious snacks for participating students.

ANERA president Bill Corcoran welcomed the opportunity to provide the much-needed academic support. “We are reaching out to vulnerable youth to help keep them in school and provide some of the building blocks for a productive future.” (...)


Education sparks greater development in Uganda

Silver Spring, Md., USA, 15 December - In northeastern Uganda, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) recently launched a new three-year project designed to support and improve the capacity of the region’s underserved population by increasing the quality of, and their access to, basic social services through formal and non-formal education initiatives.

The project is currently being implemented in the chronically food-insecure Karamoja region due to its limited access to basic social services, such as education, health care, and safe water and sanitation. (…) The new project’s educational initiatives are strengthening the capacities of new and existing civil society organizations (CSOs) and improving collaboration between local authorities, instructors, and the participating CSOs to provide, support, and sustain literacy services within these communities. (...)



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Lastly, with the first issue of the year we are pleased to offer our readers a unique story of peace.


(Reprint with permission of Rotary International, 2009)



Sister clubs turn scars of war into bonds of peace

by Vanessa N. Glavinskas and Suzelle Tempero


Akio Nishikiori clasps his prayer beads and bows his head as the Peace Bell tolls, marking the exact moment that Hiroshima, Japan, was devastated by an atomic bomb 64 years ago.

Nishikiori was just eight years old when the bomb shattered the city on 6 August 1945. A week passed before his parents located his eldest sister, who had volunteered to work in a downtown factory. Badly burned, she told them how she had desperately repeated their address to anyone who passed by. She died two days after being reunited with her family.

Now, as Nishikiori observes the crowd gathered in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, he reflects upon how Rotary helped him find friends in former foes. The story starts in 1982, when Nishikiori, a well-known architect and member of the Rotary Club of Hiroshima Southeast, learned of an unexpected request. The mayor of Hiroshima hoped to expand the city’s sister relationship with Honolulu and thought that Rotary, with its emphasis on world peace, could help.

Hiroji Mukasa of Japan was president of Rotary International at the time, and the idea was a perfect fit with the RI theme: Mankind Is One - Build Bridges of Friendship Throughout the World.

It wasn’t a perfect fit with club members, however. “It was most difficult on our club president, Seiki Hirotani,” Nishikiori says. “He worried what his deceased family would think, especially his parents.” Hirotani had lost his parents, two sisters, a younger brother, and a grandmother in the attack, and he was so conflicted about establishing the sister club relationship that he had nightmares in which his parents and siblings would appear.

Hawaiian Rotarians didn’t immediately embrace the idea, either.


Willpower to forgive


“Anytime you go through an agonizing experience, it always takes tremendous willpower to forgive,” says Bob Deibler, a retired U.S. Navy officer who was president of the Rotary Club of Pearl Harbor, Oahu, in 1982. “Seiki Hirotani and I sat down,” he remembers. “Through interpreters, we didn’t pull any punches. We talked about the bitterness that was felt on both sides.”

Deibler was boarding a streetcar in Chicago on 7 December 1941 when he heard that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. “We considered it a sneak attack,” he says. Two years later, at 17, he enlisted in the Navy; he was stationed in Japan for 10 months during the occupation and rebuilding that followed World War II.

Although they saw the war from different sides, once the conversation turned to Rotary, Hirotani and Deibler found themselves seeing eye to eye. “[We said] we’re all Rotarians, and we should focus on projects and helping people, and forget about the scars of the war,” Deibler remembers.

By September of that year, both clubs were in favor of forming a sister relationship, and Hirotani and Deibler signed the affiliation agreement in Hawaii. But after returning home, Hirotani continued to be haunted by his memories of the war. He decided to hike into the mountains and build a memorial to his parents so they would know he’d never forget them. Finally, the nightmares stopped. Hirotani died in 1996.

Now every year, Hiroshima Rotarians visit Pearl Harbor, or Pearl Harbor Rotarians visit Hiroshima. “From our different cultures, it was very hard to come to an understanding of how we would approach this thing at first,” Deibler says. “If it were two clubs in the U.S., you’d have a drink, hang on their shoulders, and sing songs, but this was different.” After several trips, however, the formal nature of the relationship gave way to true friendship. In addition to visiting one another’s memorial sites, the Rotarians golf, shop, and dine together. Deibler traveled to Japan to attend the wedding of Hirotani’s son.

Hirotani’s widow, Semae, still marvels at the relationships that blossomed among the Rotarians. On the 10th anniversary of her husband’s death, more than 50 people gathered at his tomb to honor his memory. Many were members of the Pearl Harbor club. “Going back to the start of this affiliation, we couldn’t have imagined these friendships,” she says. “It took years for us to forget the war.”


50th anniversary


To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, to show remorse, and to honor those who had lost their lives, Seiki Hirotani suggested planting a “peace tree” there. Rotarians from both countries planted two trees, one for each club, in Blaisdell Park, overlooking the USS Arizona Memorial.

On the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, members of the Pearl Harbor club planted a myrtle tree in a small park adjacent to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park. Both clubs have continued planting, and today dozens of peace trees flourish in the two cities.

Other joint club efforts have included a Group Study Exchange to promote better understanding between the cultures, and an art contest for Japanese and U.S. children. In 2002, after learning that the people of Nomwin, Micronesia, were in need of clean water, the sister clubs partnered on a Matching Grant project with the Rotary Club of Truk Lagoon.

Kazuya Nakatani, president of the Hiroshima Southeast club, hopes the bond between the clubs will serve as a powerful symbol of Rotary’s work for peace, and will inspire younger generations to avoid the misunderstandings that lead to war.

“Right now is a time to look at peace,” adds Donna McLaughlin, of the Pearl Harbor club. “That’s the thing that Rotary leads the world in.”



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Next issue: 5 February 2010.


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Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next. Past issues are available at . Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph.D. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti, Maria Grazia Da Damos, Arianna Cavallo, Azzurra Cianchetta. Editorial Secretary: Maria Grazia Da Damos. Webmaster: Fabio Gatti.


Good News Agency is distributed free of charge through Internet to 10,000 media and editorial journalists of the daily newspapers and periodical magazines and of the radio and television stations in 54 countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Caribbean Islands, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Oceania, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, USA. It is also distributed free of charge to 2,800 NGOs and 1,700 high schools, colleges and universities.


It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, a registered 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.


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