Good News Agency – Year XI, n° 176

 

 

Weekly – Year XI, number 176 – 10th September 2010

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

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

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 3,000 NGOs and 1,600 high schools, colleges and universities. It is an all-volunteer service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontŕ 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.  

 

 

Contents

International legislationHuman rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarity

Peace and securityHealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlife

Religion and spiritualityCulture and education

"Advance Global Health: Achieve the Millennium Development Goals"

 

International legislation

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Convention on cluster munitions became binding international law on 1 August 2010

London, 4 August - Two African states took action on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in the days before 1 August 2010, when the Convention entered into force and became binding international law. Comoros ratified the Convention on 28 July at the United Nations, becoming the 38th country fully on board the treaty, and Djibouti signed the Convention on 30 July. (...)

Forty-one African states are among the 108 countries that have signed the Convention, and Comoros is the 10th African country to ratify. Comoros signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions when it first opened for signature in Oslo, Norway in December 2003. Neither Comoros nor Djibouti has used, produced or stockpiled cluster munitions. Although neither country is affected by the weapons, Djibouti has residual problems with explosive remnants of war and has suffered from contamination by landmines. (...)

The CMC urges as many states as possible to join the Convention and attend the First Meeting of States Parties on 9-12 November 2010 in Lao PDR – the world’s most heavily affected country. Now that the Convention has entered into force, states that have not already signed must accede to the treaty – a single step that is equivalent to signing and ratifying.

http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=2563

 

UN mission opens first base ahead of referendum in southern Sudan

3 September 2010 – The United Nations peacekeeping mission set up after the end of the north-south civil war has opened its first field office for the referendum to be held next January on whether the south should secede from the rest of the country.

The Mundri West county referendum base, which was inaugurated on Wednesday in Western Equatoria state, will be one of 79 across southern Sudan that will serve as centres for UN staff assisting with the conduct of the referendum.

Voters are expected to go to the polls on 9 January next year to decide to secede or stay part of Sudan, while a simultaneous referendum in Abyei will determine whether that area belongs to the north or the south.

The referenda are being held under the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the civil war, and the UN mission – known as UNMIS – is tasked with providing both training and technical and logistical support for the vote.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=35824&Cr=SUDAN&Cr1=

 

Jubilant Kenyans usher in new constitution

30 August - Cheered by hundreds of thousands of jubilant Kenyans waving national flags, President Mwai Kibaki signed a new constitution on Friday that curbs his sweeping powers and strengthens civic rights. East Africa's largest economy endorsed the document in a peaceful referendum this month, as one of the reforms agreed upon to end months of murderous violence that erupted following a disputed presidential election at the end of 2007.

"No one could have thought that out of the bitter harvest of the disputed election and the violence that pitted our people against each other just two years ago, we would be witnessing today the birth of a national unity that has eluded us for more than 40 years", Prime Minister Raila Odinga said to constant cheering.

Nearly 70 percent of Kenyans that voted in the August 4 referendum endorsed the new supreme law, hoping for a fresh start from Kenya's chequered history.

The new legal framework address issues such as corruption, political patronage, land grabbing and tribalism, which have plagued the country for decades. Kenyans started demanding a new constitution about two decades ago, saying the basic law penned at the time of independence from Britain promoted oppression and exclusion. The government will now set up an implementation commission, which will oversee the enactment of the new constitution in parliament.

http://www.africagoodnews.com/democracy/jubilant-kenyans-usher-in-new-constitution.html

 

Ban commends Solomon Islanders for peaceful legislative elections

27 August  - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today commended Solomon Islanders for taking part in peaceful and orderly parliamentary polls that led to the selection this week of Danny Philip as the new Prime Minister of the Pacific archipelago.

The conduct of the elections “demonstrates the commitment of Solomon Islanders to peace and democracy,” according to a statement issued by Mr. Ban's spokesperson.

A United Nations team trained, briefed and helped deploy international observers who monitored the elections as they took place earlier this month. 

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=35747&Cr=pacific&Cr1=

 

 

Human rights

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23 August 2010: 12th International Remembrance Day : a global commemoration

The night of 22 to 23 August 1791, in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) saw the beginning of the uprising that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is intended to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples. In accordance with the goals of the intercultural project "The Slave Route", it should offer an opportunity for collective consideration of the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of this tragedy, and for an analysis of the interactions to which it has given rise between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.

http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/ev.php-URL_ID=38068&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.htm

 

UN launches global action plan to combat scourge of human trafficking

August 1 - The United Nations today launched a global action plan to combat human trafficking, with senior UN officials urging that governments worldwide take coordinated and consistent measures to try to defeat the scourge. The plan, launched at a high-level meeting of the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York, calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the UN’s broader programmes to boost development and strengthen security around the world. It also calls for the setting up of a UN voluntary trust fund for victims of trafficking, especially women and children.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told today’s meeting that the action plan should serve as “a clarion call” to UN Member States, international organizations and civil society groups of the need to take immediate steps “to stop this terrible crime against human dignity, which shames us all.”

The UN has estimated that more than 2.4 million people are currently being exploited as victims of human trafficking.

“It is slavery in the modern age,” Mr. Ban said. “Every year thousands of people, mainly women and children, are exploited by criminals who use them for forced labour or the sex trade. No country is immune. Almost all play a part, either as a source of trafficked people, transit point or destination.” The Secretary-General urged countries, philanthropists and others to contribute generously to the new trust fund for trafficking victims.

http://uk.oneworld.net/external/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.un.org%2Fapps%2Fnews%2Fstory.asp%3FNewsID%3D35777%26Cr%3DSLAVERY%26Cr1%3D

 

ANERA welcomes Lebanon's move on Palestinian rights to work

August 18, Washington, DC - ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) welcomes Lebanon’s approval of a bill that grants Palestinians new rights to work in the Lebanese economy.

For more than two decades, ANERA has provided relief and development assistance to Lebanese and Palestinians in refugee communities. Working with local partners, ANERA also organizes vocational training and access to higher education to build marketable job skills – from catering and hotel management to IT and agriculture-related expertise.

“This new legislation reinforces ANERA’s commitment to build more training programs that better prepare underprivileged Palestinian and Lebanese youth who seek a productive future for themselves and their families,” said John Viste, ANERA’s Lebanon Country Director.

ANERA is working with a number of Palestinian and Lebanese non-profits to improve vocational education in the country. Most recently, ANERA rehabilitated vocational training centers for Palestinian youth in and around the Nahr El Bared camp in northern Lebanon, with funding from USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives. The center in Nahr El Bared opens in October and will reach more than 400 youth.

http://www.anera.org/newsResources/ANERA-LebanonWorkBill.php

 

 

Economy and development

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UN Summit on Millennium Development Goals - New York, 20.22 September

With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on world leaders to attend a summit in New York on 20-22 September to accelerate progress towards the MDGs.

Coming amid mixed progress and new crises that threaten the global effort to halve extreme poverty, “the summit will be a crucially important opportunity to redouble our efforts to meet the Goals,” he said, referring to the targets adopted at the UN Millennium Summit of 2000, aimed at slashing poverty, hunger, disease, maternal and child deaths and other ills by a 2015 deadline.

“Our world possesses the knowledge and the resources to achieve the MDGs” the Secretary-General stated in his report in preparation for the September summit. “Our challenge today is to agree on an action agenda to achieve the MDGs.”

www.un.org

 

UN Summit on MDG: big issues make the big screen in Times Square, New York

New York, NY, September 8 -  As world leaders convene in New York this September for a high-level summit to advance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the United Nations Foundation unveiled a high-impact public service announcement about the most critical issues facing the world today on the Toshiba Vision screen in Times Square.  During a launch event at the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Assistant Administrator and Assistant Secretary-General Sigrid Kaag, and the UN Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer Rick Parnell unveiled a special Public Service Announcement inviting people to get involved to solve global problems — marking the first time that the work of the UN is featured prominently in this iconic space.

The 30-second PSA debuting today was produced by GOOD in partnership with the UN Foundation and Millennium Promise.  It focuses on the eight MDGs: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and develop a global partnership for development.  The PSA will continue airing on the Toshiba Vision screen throughout the month of September as world leaders meet at the UN General Assembly, UN MDG Summit, the Clinton Global Initiative and other high-level meetings.

Three additional PSAs will air on the Toshiba Vision screen, focusing on how individuals can help the UN advance the MDGs by empowering and educating girls, ending preventable childhood diseases, and protecting the environment.  They will be broadcasted along with the new MDG PSA throughout the month of September.  The videos are available for viewing and downloading at www.unfoundation.org/mdgs

http://www.unfoundation.org/press-center/press-releases/2010/big-issues-make-the-big-screen-times-square.html

 

InterAction responds to the Obama Administration’s action plan to achieve the Millennium Development Goals

September 3 - InterAction’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Task Force recently finalized its response to Celebrate, Innovate and Sustain: Toward 2015 and Beyond, the Obama administration’s action plan for addressing the MDGs. The response from the group, comprised of InterAction member and partner organizations, recognizes the action plan’s emphasis on transparency and predictability for country partnership and tackling infant mortality, among other items. However, it also expresses concern about dearth of details on strategic partnerships and U.S. institutional reforms in the area of development policy and practice.

InterAction recommends that the Obama administration consider the following items in the weeks leading up to the UN Review Summit in New York, September 20-22, 2010, and going forward:

   1. Integrate its individual programs related to achieving the MDGs into one cohesive strategy.

   2. Issue a Global Development Strategy prior to the MDG Summit.

   3. Engage the NGO sector more actively in the development and implementation of a Global  Development Strategy.

   4. Explicitly recognize the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as the U.S. government’s lead agency in the interagency process to reform international development.

   5. Work with Congress to reform key laws, including those pertaining to development aid, USAID, trade and subsidies.

http://www.interaction.org/article/interaction-responds-obama-administration%E2%80%99s-action-plan-achieve-millennium-development-goal-0

 

Various UN Member States will call for a Currency Transaction Tax at MDG Summit

In the lead up to the MDG Summit, and following a meeting in Paris (on 1 September), 60 countries have agreed a common position on, and are actively supporting the introduction of, an international multi-currency transaction tax to raise funds for development aid.

The joint position follows a report of the Committee of Experts to the Taskforce on International Financial Transactions for Development, which was released in June 2010 and which concluded that a tax on financial transactions at the international level – a Currency Transaction Tax – would be the best and most feasible option to deal with the financial deficit in global public assets and in international development. (...)

The report “Globalizing Solidarity: The case for financial levies” analyzes the different tax options that could be imposed on the financial sector in order to overcome the financial shortages that are obstructing the implementation of international development agreements, especially the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) or those related to climate change.

The report estimates that the financial deficit will reach between 324 and 336 billion US dollars in the period 2012-2017. This would include a shortage of 156 billion in the fight against climate change and a shortage of about 168-180 billion in official development assistance (ODA).

Although the introduction of an international Currency Transaction Tax – a tax of 0.005% on international financial transactions to be introduced on the British sterling, the euro, the dollar, and the yen – will not solve this financial deficit, the report does find that it could raise around 35 billion US dollars annually.

http://www.un-ngls.org/spip.php?page=amdg10&id_article=2854

 

Philippines: helping conflict-affected people in Central Mindanao earn a living again

Manila, September 1 - As part of its assistance to people suffering the effects of the armed conflict in Central Mindanao, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has started to release 13 million fingerlings into marsh areas to help people earn a living again.

More than 2.3 million tilapia fingerlings were released in recent weeks in Datu Salibo and Mamasapano in Maguindanao. Another 220,000 fingerlings were released in Barangays Libungan Torreta and Matilac in North Cotabato to supplement the meagre incomes of families displaced by hostilities in August 2008, and to support the communities hosting them.

Aside from the fingerlings, the ICRC will soon distribute rice seed and tools to over 10,000 needy people to enable them to restart their farming. In addition, beginning in September, 3,000 vulnerable families will be given vegetable seed that they will be able to use in their own backyards. After Ramadan, the ICRC will provide training in farming and fishing techniques.

In the past few months, the ICRC has completed several projects resulting in improved access to water and to sanitary and health-care facilities for some 35,000 displaced people and residents in Central Mindanao. In addition, it has continued to supply hospitals and health-care centres with medicines.

http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/philippines-news-010910

 

Focus on lowland farming yields multiple benefits in Liberia

EU and FAO back plan to revive areas with high agricultural potential

Monrovia/Rome, 26 August - The fertile lowlands that cover one-fifth of Liberia are part of a European Union and FAO-supported plan to cut the nation's dependence on rice imports and improve the livelihood of vulnerable farmer families. The Liberian government has prioritized the rehabilitation of swamps, especially those with damaged or abandoned rice fields, noting that lowland farms have the potential to yield up to 80-90 percent more rice than upland ones.

"In using more of our lowlands, not only will we get higher yields, we will also minimize deforestation and soil erosion," said J. Qwelibo Subah, Director-General of Liberia's Central Agricultural Research Institute, underlining the environmental benefit of his government's plan.

Liberian rice production has increased significantly since the end of a 14-year civil war in 2003. It jumped from from 85 000 metric tonnes (mt) in 2005 to 144 000 mt in 2007, for example. Still, Liberia imports 60 percent of the rice consumed in the country, according to government figures.

Through the European Union Food Facility (EUFF), the European Union (EU) has committed to respond rapidly and on a large scale to rising hunger around the world as a consequence of high food prices, compounded by the global economic crisis. Over €228 million are being channelled through FAO for operations in 28 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/44545/icode/ 

 

Brazilian President blows whistle on hunger: Lula da Silva joins "1billionhungry" campaign

Brasilia, 26 August - Brazilian President  Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has joined a global anti-hunger campaign organized by FAO, signing his name to FAO's "1billionhungry" international petition and blowing the campaign's yellow "whistle against hunger".

The whistle-blowing took place at a ceremony held in Brasilia. Nearly half a million people worldwide have so far signed FAO's "1billionhungry" petition calling on world leaders to make the eradication of hunger their top priority.  Supporters of the campaign are invited to"blow the whistle" on hunger. You can sign the petition at: http://www.1billionhungry.org/

FAO' goal is to obtain one million signatures by the end of November and present them to the 192 Member States due to attend FAO's Governing Council then. Currently, about one billion people in the world suffer chronic hunger.

Brazil commitment against hunger: under recent reforms, the right to food is now one of the social rights guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution. It is upheld by Brazil's Food and Nutritional Security Law.  Separate legislation requires that 30 % of the food products used in school meals must be bought from family farmers.  

The "1billionhungry" project is a major communication campaign intended to rally global support for an end to hunger in the world.   Other celebrities who have signed the petition include actor Jeremy Irons, musician Chucho Valdés and and athlete Carl Lewis.

www.fao.org

 

Civil society finds new resolve in working together at CIVICUS World Assembly to solve global crises

Montreal, Canada. 23 August. Over 500 representatives of civil society, donors, governments, business, academics media and youth from about 100 countries at the 9th CIVICUS World Assembly in Montreal, sent out a call for closer collaboration and greater resolve in addressing the global crises confronting humanity. Over three days of broad-ranging discussions under the theme: ‘SOS: Seeking Out Solutions’, the participants found common ground on issues of economic justice, development effectiveness and climate change. Clear themes that emerged included the growing threats to civil society freedoms around the world,and the opportunity for structural change based on values of justice, equity and human rights.

The event included a series of plenaries and workshops that brought together viewpoints from a unique spectrum of organisations, big and small, south and north, government and non-government. In a plenary session, a range of panelists including the World Bank’s Vice President,

Otaviano Canuto, discussed the challenge of seeking out solutions to the economic injustices facing the poor and marginalised.

www.civicus.org

 

Southern Sudan microfinance industry seeks to expand loan services

First Regional Conference finds practical ways grow industry: train staff, listen to clients

August 16 – Microfinance practitioners in Southern Sudan recently challenged donors and other industry stakeholders to help them reach more borrowers by focusing on two basics: building capacity and listening to clients.

A historical first, international, regional and Southern Sudanese government officials, donor representatives, technical experts and microfinance practitioners gathered July 20-21 to discuss the state of microfinance services and institutions (MFIs) in their communities as well as share best practices and determine ways to expand outreach and increase sustainability.

The microfinance industry in Southern Sudan currently reaches an estimated 45,000 borrowers, a fraction of the people who could benefit from small loan services, say local practitioners.

Conference attendees identified several key obstacles to expanded loan services, notably the industry’s poor physical and legal infrastructure and the low financial literacy of both customers and staff. And while changing the state of large-scale infrastructure may be beyond the MFI practitioners’ control, they agreed that they could expand and improve consumer services by investing in more basic changes like increased legislative advocacy efforts, staff training and improved financial literacy for staff and clients.

http://www.acdivoca.org/site/ID/news-Southern-Sudan-Microfinance-Industry-Seeks-to-Expand-Loan-Services

 

Ghanaian Agriculture Association attracts significant bank loan

Volunteer training helps local group build skills to better compete

August 12 – The National Association of Mechanization Service Centre Operators (NAAMSECO), through the support of ACDI/VOCA, has earned the approval of a $4.5 million bank loan from a leading Pan-African bank. The award is one of the largest loans ever approved by Stanbic Bank Ghana to a Ghanaian agriculture association and presents a great opportunity for the development of mechanized agricultural services in the country.

NAAMSECO is a Ghanaian association of private mechanized agricultural service providers. Like many private ventures in Ghana, NAAMSECO needed investment support for more equipment to expand its business. The association, however, lacked the technical expertise to apply for investor funding. ACDI/VOCA stepped in to fill this gap and offered assistance through two volunteer experts under our USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program. The volunteers developed a business plan and organized a four-week capacity building workshop for the association, focused on making the group more competitive. Through the volunteers, NAAMSECO members received skills-training in accounting, management, marketing and efficient machinery operation.

Armed with a new business plan and fresh knowledge and skills, NAAMSECO staff made an impression on Stanbic Bank. Within a short time, the bank approved the $4.5 million loan for NAAMSECO to expand its business.

http://www.acdivoca.org/site/ID/news-Ghanaian-Agriculture-Association-Attracts-Significant-Bank-Loan

 

2010 WANGO Africa Conference: "Non-State Actors and Ethical Reorientation"

Nairobi, Kenya, July 1-4 - Participants from Belgium, France, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States joined attendees from many African nations for the 2010 WANGO Africa Regional Conference. Lead by the WANGO Africa Coordinator, Mohammed Bougei Attah, this four day event was rich in content, fellowship, and networking.

The 2010 WANGO Africa Conference was the second edition of a WANGO regional conference/retreat  held in Africa. Tagged Kenya 2010, the theme of the conference was Non-State Actors and Ethical Reorientation.

Kenya 2010 served as a leading meeting for representatives of local, regional, and international NGOs, government, business and support agencies in the region and beyond. It addressed issues crucial to the growth and development of the humanitarian sector in sub-Saharan Africa and the world at large. The conference also served as a rallying point for NGO activities and as the centerpiece of the Association’s activities in the region, professional development, and sustainable development programs, as well as corporate social engagement in efforts towards active volunteerism. Participants were provided a unique opportunity to acquire the mechanism and support needed to network, brainstorm, and share innovative ideas that assist in the management of their NGOs to multiply their efforts in solving humanity' basic problems.

The World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO) is an international organization uniting NGOs worldwide in the cause of advancing peace and global well being.

http://www.wango.org/NGONews/July10/WANGOAfrica.htm

 

 

Solidarity

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Pakistan: providing relief to Balochistan's flood victims

Geneva/Quetta, September 3 - A string of natural disasters that caused widespread suffering and devastation in Balochistan in 2010 seems largely to have gone unnoticed outside this arid south-western province. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), acting through the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, responded quickly to the first bout of monsoon flooding in July by distributing food for 21,000 people in the flood-affected Sibi district towns of Talli and Sultan Kot. More relief assistance is set to be distributed in the coming days in this severely affected region.

Floods in the Bolan district in March were followed in quick succession by destructive winds and coastal flooding from cyclone Phet in early June. Before the current catastrophic floods focused the world spotlight on Pakistan in early August, the population in Balochistan was already feeling the effects of flooding rains in the third week of July. Balochistan remains one of the poorest and hardest hit areas in the country and, despite the strength and resilience of its people, one least able to recover from the current disastrous floods.

Despite restrictions on the movement of expatriate staff within Balochistan, the ICRC remains committed to bringing aid to people in need.

http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/pakistan-news-030910

 

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: Red Cross mobilizes amid severe flooding

Francis Markus, IFRC, Beijing

September 1 - It’s normally a busy city on the border between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and China, but over the last few days, the town of Sinuiju has been transformed into an expanse of muddy water, with more than 23,000 people forced to evacuate their homes. All in all, nearly 6,000 households – or more than 23,000 people – have been displaced and the authorities say it may be about 40 days before many of the houses are safe to go back to because of flood damage. The flooding of the Amnok River (known as the Yalu River in Chinese), also triggered huge-scale evacuations in the neighbouring Chinese province of Liaoning.

The DPRK Red Cross Society immediately mobilized its disaster management team to Sinuiju. Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers helped to distribute family kits of every day household items, together with tarpaulins and jerry cans to 2,500 of the most severely affected families.

http://www.ifrc.org/docs/news/10/10083102/index.asp

http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/ghana-news-250810

 

Pakistan: teachers come to the rescue of flood victims

August 30 - With Education International's help, three Pakistani teachers' organisations will support thousands of educators who lost their homes and personal belongings. They will provide up to 30,000 victims with aid supplies including clean water, clothing and tents.

The number of teachers in need of humanitarian aid is estimated to be almost 100,000. The Pakistan Teachers' Organisations’ Council (PTOC), the All Pakistan Government School Teachers’ Associations (APGSTA) and the Central Organisation of Teachers (COT) will use their extensive national networks to distribute aid, concentrating on the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtoonkhoa and Azad Kashmir which were worst affected by the region’s deadliest floods in 80 years. The humanitarian aid program, for which EI has opened its solidarity fund, will be coordinated by the All Pakistan Trade Union Congress (APTUC), an affiliate of the ITUC.

The relief program will also include health care services and trauma counselling for more than 1,000 victims. EI’s General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen and Chief Regional Coordinator, Aloysius Mathews, flew into Karachi on 27 August to help coordinate the response of educators to the crisis. Addressing teacher union leaders, van Leeuwen, said: "This program is more than a token of solidarity with our teacher colleagues in Pakistan. Teachers will play a significant role in Pakistan’s recovery from this crisis. They will be setting up schools in refugee camps and providing education in affected areas, so it is crucially important that we help teachers get back on their feet as quickly as possible."

http://www.ei-ie.org/en/news/show.php?id=1348&theme=solidarityfund&country=pakistan

 

Save the Children Valentine’s Day Card contest encourages kids to advocate fairness for all kids

Washington, DC, August 30 - Encouraging kids to take charge of their generation's future,  Save the Children and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) today announced the second annual Valentine's Day art contest for students across America.

Open to students in pre-K through 12th grade, the contest encourages children to design Valentine's Day cards and submit them to Save the Children by October 31, 2010.  Designs selected by Save the Children and AFT judges will be posted online on November 3 where kids will vote for their favorites. The five most popular designs will be printed on Valentine's Day cards available in time for Valentine's Day and offered as part of a gift with a donation to benefit Save the Children's programs to fight childhood poverty in the United States.

Themed "Uniting a Generation," the contest is live now at http://www.k2kUSA.org — Save the Children U.S. Program's new campaign designed to engage kids in the fight to ensure a fair chance for all kids in the U.S. It is launching in conjunction with an AFT lesson plan on childhood poverty, which is available to teachers across America now at http://go.aft.org/contest. Actor and Save the Children Artist Ambassador Julianne Moore inspired Save the Children's Valentine's Card project and has acted as its spokesperson for the last three years.

http://www.savethechildren.org/newsroom/2010/valentines-day-contest.html?print=t

 

Three million DKK to disaster-struck Pakistan

DanChurchAid supports the Pakistan flood response with an additional three million DKK

August 9 - There is an increasing need for assistance as deadly flooding spreads and blocked roadways and communications continue to hamper aid workers from reaching cut-off survivors with vital food and supplies. DanChurchAid’s local partner Church World Service work around the clock to help the surviving by providing food packages, shelter materials and non-food supplies. In addition, one mobile health unit has been dispatched so far, delivering emergency health services. Last Friday DanChurchAid was able to send an additional three million DKK to the areas affected by the disaster as a result of additional Danida funds. Last Monday the first 750.000 DKK was given to support the relief work.

DanChurchAid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.

http://www.danchurchaid.org/news_publications/news/three_million_dkk_to_disaster-struck_pakistan

 

CARE activates clinics, emergency stockpiles in Pakistan

Humanitarian group works with local partners to respond to deadly floods

Islamabad, August 2 - CARE is supporting health teams, mobile clinics and the distribution of emergency supplies in the wake of flooding that has taken hundreds of lives in Pakistan and devastated wide swaths of the country.

Working through a local partner, CARE has conducted eight mobile health clinics in the Swat Valley with a team of 4 doctors and 2 women health visitors. These are in addition to the four Basic Health Units (BHUs) operating in Behrain, Tirat, Mayedmn and Chail where CARE is providing primary health services. The mobile clinics and BHU's will continue for at least the next four months.

CARE also is transporting emergency stockpiles of tents, shawls, mosquito nets, plastic floor mats, family hygiene kits and kitchen sets in the Swat, Charsaddah and Nowshera districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Initial distributions are expected to reach 5,200 people.

http://www.care.org/newsroom/articles/2010/08/pakistan-flood-care-responds.asp

 

 

Peace and security

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Rotary Club Portorož donation to the ITF

On September 1, Rotary Club Portorož successfully completed the project named »Cleared surface for a new life« which has been initiated in 2006 by their members. The initiative aimed to raise funds to demine areas contaminated with mines, to provide socio-economic assistance and rehabilitation to mine/UXO victims in former Yugoslav Republics and beyond.

In an effort to make this campaign as efficiently as possible and to achieve its purpose, the Rotary Club Portorož joined forces with a humanitarian non-profit organization ITF (International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance).

Rotary Club Portorož has together with its fellow Rotary Clubs in Slovenia, Italy, Croatia, Austrian and Germany managed to raise € 12.000,00. The President of Rotary Club Portorož, Mr Jure Kolbe, handed over the check to ITF Director, Mr Dorijan Maršič, on closing ceremony in Portorož on September 1. The donation is earmarked to support rehabilitation of children from Gaza – the initiative led by Slovenian president Dr. Danilo Türk. Additionally, the currently raised funds and funds raised in future will be expended to provide trainings for rehabilitation specialists from conflict areas as well.

http://www.itf-fund.si/News/Rotary_Club_Portoroz_donation_to_the_ITF_306.aspx

 

FoEME wins Euro-Med Dialogue award

'Ambassadors of Intercultural Dialogue for Ecological Sustainability'

Tel Aviv / Bethlehem / Amman, September 1 - ‘ECOPEACE Friends of the Earth Middle East’ (FoEME), a civil society advocacy organization jointly established by environmentalists from Palestine, Jordan and Israel, has been officially announced as the 2010 winner of the Anna Lindh Foundation’s Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue Award.

Taking place this year on the theme of ‘Intercultural Dialogue for Ecological Sustainability, the Dialogue Award is unique in the fact that it is bestowed and voted upon by members of the Anna Lindh Foundation’s region-wide Network of 3000 civil society organizations working across the 43 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean.  

Launched for the first time in 2006 by the Anna Lindh Foundation and its partner Fondazione Mediterraneo, the Euro-Med Dialogue Award is now in its fifth edition, with previous years recognizing the achievements of individuals and organizations across fields including interreligious dialogue, art and mutual understanding, and the promotion of a culture of peace.

For more information, please contact Mira Edelstein, Foreign Media Officer, Friends of the Earth Middle East, mira@foeme.org

 

Gaza: Two world record attempts made possible by MAG

MAG has helped the children of Gaza to bounce and fly into the record books

September 1 - More than seven thousand children set their sights on a place in the Guinness Book of Records after an unexploded ordnance (UXO) risk assessment by MAG at Rafah Airport. The record attempt – for the number of simultaneously bouncing basketballs – was organised by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as part of the annual Summer Games project within the Gaza Strip.

Rafah Airport, in the south-east corner close to the Israel/Egypt borders, hasn’t been used since being destroyed by the Israeli air attacks from December 2001 to January 2002, and has been targeted occasionally by aircraft bombs and missiles since then. To ensure the safety of the participants in this event, MAG carried out a UXO risk assessment of the aircraft hardstanding area immediately in front of the terminal building, the terminal building itself and the access route to the site. Following this, MAG recommended that activities were restricted to the access route and hardstanding, and that the terminal building should not be considered for a media centre due to the uncertain integrity of the structure.

After five minutes of bouncing, the record had been unofficially broken with a total of 7,203 balls – beating the previous best of just over 3,000 set in the United States in 2007 – and verification from the Guinness Book of World Records is now being awaited. (...)

http://www.maginternational.org/news/gaza-two-world-record-attempts-made-possible-by-mag/

63rd United Nations Annual DPI/NGO Conference

 

Angola: Spanish co-operation finances demining technicians upgrading project

Huambo, August 13 - Over four hundred thousand euros is being invested by the Spanish Co-operation in a project for training technicians of the National Demining Institute (INAD). The information was given to ANGOP, by the assistant of projects from the Spanish Co-operation, Javier Cabrera Cornide, at the end of the second phase of a five-day course of Planning and Logistical Support to Operation of Humanitarian Demining, in the locality of Essaque, Tchikala-Tcholoanga District.

According to Javier Cabrera Cornide, 16 heads of demining teams from equal number of provinces participated in the course. "The Spanish Co-operation released 425,000 euros for this project, divided in three phases. The idea is to train trainers that can multiply information and knowledge for demining technicians of the country, thus helping to keep Angola free from landmines", he explained. http://maic.jmu.edu/

http://allafrica.com/stories/201008130822.html

 

Strenuous promoter of Gandhian values receives Indian award in Brazil 

11 August - The Palas Athena Association Executive Team announced that co-founder, Lia Diskin, was offered the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation 2010 International Award for her contribution to promotion of Gandhian values outside India. This international distinction is offered yearly, and previous winners include Bishop Desmond Tutu, Johan Galtung, Sir Joseph Rottblat, Satish Kumar, and many others.

The Palas Athena Association team sees this prize as yet another acknowledgement of her contagious enthusiasm and creativity, which "we have the privilege of sharing while supporting her work of strengthening social networks and educational programs. This recognition makes us feel part of the vital process of re-creating and improving coexistence between persons, religions and cultures".

Founded in 1972 as a non-profit organisation, Palas Athena is a Brazilian NGO dedicated to fostering and managing community-oriented programs and projects in the fields of Education, Healthcare, Human Rights, Environmental Preservation, Social Welfare, and Culture of Peace. PALAS ATHENA's main purpose is to enhance human relationships, while bringing together diverse cultures and drawing on multiple sources of knowledge.

http://www.palasathena.org  

 

International Positive Week - September 20-26

This year, the Culture of Peace Initiative's (CPI) special 2010 project is "International Positive Week" (September 20 - 26), a celebration and global initiative in conjunction with Celebrate Positive, the Culture of Peace Initiative (CPI) and the United Nation's International Day of Peace. 

This special program focuses on the 2010 UN NGO Positive Peace Awards (The Voting Academy includes Pathways To Peace, Rotary International and Sister Cities International).  The goal of this week is to celebrate and shine the light on the world's most positive Communities, Athletes, Entertainers, Schools, and Businesses, while promoting the message of World Peace. 

Please take a minute to share your nomination for most Positive Community or Business. We invite you to nominate your own!  During International Positive Week, different categories of "Positive Peace" will be highlighted each day during the week-long celebration.

September 20: Positive Business Day; Sept. 21: Positive Entertainer Day (International Day of Peace); 22: Positive Community Day;  23:  Positive School Day; 24 - 26:  Positive Sports Weekend.

http://www.celebratepositive.com/

 

21 September, International Day of Peace - Youth for Peace and Development

The International Day of Peace, observed each year on 21 September, is a global call for ceasefire and non-violence. This year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on young people around the world to take a stand for peace under the theme, Youth for Peace and Development. The United Nations is looking for stories from young people around the world who are working for peace. The campaign slogan this year is "Peace=Future, The math is easy.” This year, the International Day of Peace (IDP) falls within the same time period as a major summit on the Millennium Development Goals, the world’s largest anti-poverty campaign. The Summit brings world leaders together at the United Nations in New York from 20 - 22 September.

In addition, the UN General Assembly has proclaimed 2010 as International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. A campaign launched by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) on 12 August  promotes the ideals of respect for human rights and solidarity across generations, cultures, religions, and civilizations. Those are key elements that reinforce the foundations of a sustainable peace.

Youth, peace and development are closely interlinked: peace enables development, which is critical in providing opportunities for young people, particularly those in countries emerging from conflict. Healthy, educated youth are in turn crucial to sustainable development and peace. Peace, stability and security are essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, aimed at slashing poverty, hunger, disease, and maternal and child death by 2015.

Each year, the Secretary-General, his Messengers of Peace, the entire UN system and many individuals, groups and organizations around the world use the Day of Peace to engage in activities that contribute to ceasefires, end conflict, bridge cultural divides and create tolerance.

http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/2010/

 

Eliminating nuclear weapons and safeguarding nuclear technologies

Residential course, 9-16 January 2011  -  Andalo (Trento), Italy

ISODARCO (International School On Disarmament And Research On Conflicts)   has organized residential courses on global security since 1966 primarily in Italy but also in China, Germany and Jordan with the generous support of private foundations and international and national institutions and organizations. The courses are intended for those who would like to play a more active and technically competent role in the field of international conflict resolution as well as those who already have a professional interest and experience in this field. The courses are intensive, interactive, and interdisciplinary in focus. The subject matter spans the technical and scientific dimensions of these problems as well as their sociological and political implications.

The 2011 ISODARCO Winter School will be devoted to the practical steps that should be implemented to achieve a nuclear-weapon free world and to the challenges and open questions on the road to nuclear zero. English will be the working language of the School.

No special application form is required. We suggest that you apply on-line at www.isodarco.it or download an application form from the same location. Applications should arrive not later than November 15th, 2010 and should be addressed to the Director of the School: Prof. Carlo Schaerf,

Department of Physics, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", isodarco@roma2.infn.it

 

 

Health

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Pakistan: ADRA refocuses aid to Punjab province

September 2 - Silver Spring, Md., USA - As floodwaters move further south down the Indus River, larger numbers of people are being forced from their homes and communities, prompting the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to refocus the implementation of its emergency medical response to Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, report agency officials.

ADRA is working closely with World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health for the Punjab province to establish operations of Mobile Health Units in unreached areas of the district of Muzaffaragarh, some 239 miles (385 kms) southwest of Lahore. In this district alone, some 750,000 flood victims remain extremely vulnerable and 2.6 million displaced persons throughout Punjab continue to need assistance. ADRA expects that this shift from its previous operations in the northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province will avoid overlapping with other relief efforts and provide increased security for its programs.

ADRA’s Mobile Health Units are comprised of doctors, surgeons, pediatricians, and nursing staff that provide medical care around the clock, treating more than 220 patients a day for malaria, diarrhea, and other diseases and ailments resulting from the contaminated floodwaters. http://www.adra.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=11085&news_iv_ctrl=1141

 

MSF helps thousands of displaced people in isolated Shabunda region, South Kivu, DRC

September 2 – Thousands of people have been forced to flee their villages in the Shabunda area of South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), due to heavy clashes between the Congolese army (FARDC) and various armed groups. Médecins Sans Frontičres (MSF) is responding to the urgent needs of the displaced people in this isolated area by providing emergency medical care as well as treatment for cholera patients.

MSF teams were already at work in the south Shabunda area, where they had been providing medical care since late June to 20,000 displaced people. When this second wave of displaced people reached the Katshungu and Shabunda regions in early August, MSF was quick to respond, setting up two health centres in Mbangayo and Lupinbi, in the town of Shabunda, and another one close to the hospital in Katshungu.

Cholera has also broken out in the town of Shabunda, due to a lack of clean water and the poor conditions where the displaced people are living. MSF teams responded to the outbreak, which began on August 17, by immediately setting up a cholera treatment centre in Shabunda’s hospital, where they are seeing more than 30 new patients each day. With the number of cholera cases continuing to increase steadily, MSF plans to scale up its activities, despite some major challenges.

http://www.msf.org/msfinternational/invoke.cfm?objectid=D25D4AAB-15C5-F00A-256A45FA07FA11CA&component=toolkit.article&method=full_html

 

Polio eradication staff mobilized to support Pakistan flood relief

Health system could take years to recover following flood damage "beyond imagination"

August 26 - Polio eradication staff and resources have been mobilized en masse to support the response to the devastating floods directly affecting one in 10 people in Pakistan. All polio-funded technical staff - polio epidemiologists and surveillance officers - have relocated to the worst-affected areas of the country to assist in the recovery. These staff are focused on three main areas: a rapid assessment of the extent of damage to health facilities; the establishment of early warning systems for disease outbreaks; and, the planning, delivery and monitoring of broad immunization activities in internally-displaced persons camps.

Currently, the Ministry of Health's strategy is to vaccinate all displaced children under 5 years with measles vaccine and oral polio vaccine (OPV), and to distribute Vitamin A. Other routine antigens have been distributed, but not in all camps. In the areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (previously known as North West Frontier Province) where flood waters have receded - Peshawar, Charsada, Dir Lower and Swat - mass campaigns administering measles vaccine, OPV and Vitamin A have been conducted in all affected Union Council administrative areas.

The UN has launched a flash appeal for the flood relief effort, and as part of this, funds would go to support emergency measles/polio campaigns.

http://www.polioeradication.org/content/general/LatestNews201008.asp#05

 

President of Chad receives prestigious Rotary 'Polio Eradication Champion' award

August 16 - On 8 August 2010, the President of Chad, Idriss Deby Itno, received the prestigious Rotary 'Polio Eradication Champion' award. (...)

Chad has been affected by re-established transmission from an imported poliovirus since November 2007.  Its outbreak response efforts had been marred by significant operational challenges during supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) - as recently as last year, upwards of 50% of children were regularly missed during SIAs in the greater N'Djamena area.  In February of this year, however, the President personally intervened, officially launching National Immunization Days (NIDs), declaring 'war' on the polio outbreak and issuing a Presidential directive to all Provincial Governors for direct oversight of SIAs.  Since then, under the President's personal leadership, significant operational improvements have been noted, in particular with regard to more effective planning and vaccinator performance, and the number of newly-reported cases has begun to decline.

The 'Polio Eradication Champion' award was established in 1995, and is the highest honour Rotary presents to heads of state, health agency leaders and others who have made significant contributions toward polio eradication.

In receiving Rotary’s 'Polio Eradication Champion' award, President Deby Itno joins a group of other distinguished leaders whom Rotary has honored including India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Secretary General Kofi Annan, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, and former Chairperson of the African Union Commission Alpha Oumar Konare.

http://www.polioeradication.org/content/general/LatestNews201008.asp#05

 

Project HOPE and Merck partner with the Nicaragua Ministry of Health to vaccinate Nicaraguans against pneumococcal disease

Program will reach more than 1 million Nicaraguans and strengthen health care capacity

Millwood, Va., USA, August 12 - Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, in partnership with Merck, a leader in global health care, (known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada), is collaborating with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA) to further advance efforts to vaccinate vulnerable populations against pneumococcal infections, a major cause of pneumonia. The program will vaccinate more than 1 million people living with HIV/AIDS, adults ages 50 and older and individuals between the ages of 4 and 49 with indicated chronic diseases.

Through this public-private partnership, Merck will donate to Project HOPE more than 1 million doses of its vaccine PNEUMOVAX® 23 (Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent) and make a charitable contribution of approximately $700,000 to help strengthen health care capacity in Nicaragua over the course of a three-year phased program.

As part of the program, Project HOPE staff in Nicaragua will work with MINSA and community health groups to raise awareness and knowledge about pneumococcal disease and its prevention. Prevention is critical as pneumococcal infections are becoming more resistant to common antibiotics making them harder and more costly to treat.

http://www.projecthope.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_us_press_releases_08_12_10

 

 

Energy and safety

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International Day Against Nuclear Tests - observed 9 September 2010

New York, 26 August - The 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests through the adoption of  resolution 64/35  on 2 December 2009.  The Day is meant to galvanize the efforts of the United Nations, Member States, and civil society in promoting the banning of nuclear tests as a crucial step towards creating a safer world.

At UN Headquarters, as an exception this year, the Day will be observed on 9 September. On that day, the President of the General Assembly will convene a special commemoration meeting, which will be addressed by the Secretary-General.  Plans are under way elsewhere to observe the Day by various activities, such as symposia, conferences, exhibits, competitions, publications, instruction in academic institutions, media broadcasts and other activities.

Las week, UNODA and DPI launched a new website commemorating the Day. Currently, the site http://www.un.org/en/no-nucleartests/http://www.un.org/en/events/againstnucleartestsday/  is available in English only, with all language versions to follow shortly.

 

FAO launches NASA developed fire monitoring system

Will help countries to detect fire hotspots in real time

Rome, 11 August  - FAO today has launched a new online portal on fire information and real time monitoring to help countries to control fire effectively and protect property and natural resources. The new Global Fire Information Management System (GFIMS) detects fire hotspots from satellites operated by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Developed in collaboration with the University of Maryland, GFIMS has an online mapping interface for displaying fire hotspots in "near real" time meaning that there is a lag of approximately 2.5 hours between satellite overpass and the data being available. The new system also allows users to receive email alerts on specific areas of interest, enabling subscribers to react quickly.

"The GFIMS has been launched at a time when the incidence of megafires tends to increase," said Pieter van Lierop, FAO Forestry Officer, who is responsible for the agency's activities in fire management. In Russia alone this year due to the unprecedented heat wave with temperatures soaring to up to 40şC and winds of up to 20 metres per second the total area burned has reached more than 14 million hectares, according to the data provided by the Sukachev Institute for Forests, based in Krasnoyarsk. Forest fires in Russia have already killed more than 50 people this summer. Globally, vegetation fires affect an estimated 350 million ha of land each year- about half or more of this area is burnt in Africa. In the Mediterranean, between 700 000 and one million hectares are damaged by vegetation fires every year.

http://www.fao.org/nr/gfims/en/  

 

 

Environment and wildlife

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Ecuador refuses to cash in on its oil reserves

By Amanda Wheat

August 23 (Media Global) - Ecuador's recent decision to place the Yasuni Ishpingo Tambococha Tiputini (ITT) National Park under the protection of a UNDP trust fund is the first of its kind.

This particular plot of Amazon forest is worth $7.2 billion because of the 846 million barrels of natural oil reserves resting quietly beneath its surface. But Ecuador refuses to cash in. Bisrat Aklilu, Executive Coordinator for the UNDP's Multi-Donor Trust Fund Office, told MediaGlobal, "This is a very, very unique decision. No oil-producing country has ever chosen not to extract it, especially in a time of economic crisis. It's a historic decision."

While Ecuador's share of the Amazon comprises only 2 percent of the small South American nation, its biodiversity is unparalleled. ( Full Article )

www.mediaglobal.org

 

China, Russia provinces agree to first transboundary protected area to conserve Amur tigers

August 29 - Hunchun, China: Jilin province of China and neighbouring Primorsky province in Russia agreed today to collaborate formally in working towards the first transboundary Amur tiger protected area amidst celebrations for the second annual Amur Tiger Cultural Festival in the northeastern Chinese city of Hunchun.

The signed agreement, facilitated by WWF, the global conservation organization, will help wildlife authorities eventually establish a transboundary protected area – a cooperative conservation network that crosses country borders - in the provinces that are home to the world’s largest big cat. The population of the highly endangered Amur tiger is currently estimated at 500.

In the agreement signed by Jilin Provincial Forestry Department of China and two Russia agencies – the Wildlife and Hunting Department of Primorsky Province and Special Inspection “TIGER” of Russia, the two sides will work together in establishing a tiger conservation protected area in both provinces, as well as partner to restore the endangered species.

http://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/news/?194700/China-Russia-provinces-agree-to-first-transboundary-protected-area-to-conserve-Amur-tigers

 

Kenya - Desertification control  initiatives

Western Province of Kenya, a few years ago was properly afforested area with various species of indigenous tress.  The weather was favourable to farmers and we had food security.  At the moment because of deforestation, we have serious floods and scarcity of food. Our organization has taken steps to help in controlling the deforestation that is causing and increasing the spread of deserts in this area. Most of the trees we plant are fruits and indigenous herbal treatment plants.

We use youth and women organized self help groups, schools and religious groups to visit the communities and initiate desertification control activities.  We organize, information, education and communication activities in partnership with these groups.  Apart from that we invite youth from various universities and countries who visit our communities to participate in planting of trees and facilitating in various seminars and workshops.

We have plans to set up properly equipped Training and Demonstration center for farmers, youth, women and all stakeholders to ensure that the message and activities to control the spread of deserts is deeply rooted and available to the grassroot people.  One of our major obstacle is funding.  We have not established proper source of funding therefore we have shelved some of our plans. For more details and/or support, or to plan an eco-friendly stay please contact Silvanus A. B. Malaho, Executive Director of Kenya Volunteers Development Services, and President of Rotary Club of Bungoma South: siabuma@yahoo.com

 

 

Religion and spirituality

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Jerusalem - Circle of Light and Hope Interfaith Encounter group

August 29 - The Circle of Light and Hope Interfaith Encounter group met on the 18h of July; the main topic of the discussion was: Jerusalem.

In Christianity, Jerusalem is central due to its attachment to the life of Jesus. Indeed, all main steps that Jesus took were in Jerusalem. He came for the first time to Jerusalem when he was 13 years old, it is believed that he came for his Bar mitzvah, and from then on kept on coming back. In Judaism, Jerusalem is considered like a mother. In one of the sacred texts it is said that she cries for her children that are in exile. It is also believed that there are two Jerusalem: one on earth and one in Heaven. In Islam, Jerusalem was the first Kebbla, meaning, the place towards which Muslim prayed, later on this changed to Mecca. The importance of Jerusalem in Islam is mainly due to Mohammad’s journey to Heaven.

In conclusion, Jerusalem is important to all three faiths, and the group reached consensus on the fact that it is a place for all believers, regardless of their religion. Following which, a point was stressed by one of the Muslim members who said that in Islam there is a very clear difference  between Muslim and Believer. The word ‘believer’ includes Christians and Jews as well as Muslims.  (Reported: Delphine Gorce. Group's coordinators: Taleb Al-Harithy and Bob Carroll.)

The Interfaith Encounter Association is dedicated to promoting peace in the Middle East through interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural study.

http://interfaithencounter.wordpress.com

 

African Church leaders meet European leaders: ‘change needs to be African-driven’

Pan-African Bishops Conference (SECAM) MDG Tour, 7-18 September

Brussels, 25 August - Ahead of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Review Summit in New York (20-22 September), a delegation of African bishops and development experts meets European political leaders to discuss efforts to improve the well-being of African communities, the obstacles they encounter and priorities to achieve change.

The Church in Africa, often the only civil society actor able to reach remote communities, provides services in the absence of effective governments. Taking these grassroot experiences into account in policy making is crucial to overcome difficulties which currently impede development of the African continent. The delegation aims at inspiring European leaders and EU officials travelling to the MDG review summit in New York (20-22 September 2010) with concrete stories from Africa; positive change is possible.

The delegation is organised by the Pan-African Bishops Conference SECAM with the support of CIDSE, an international alliance of Catholic development agencies. The group travels to Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, and will be hosted by CIDSE members FASTENOPFER (CH), FOCSIV (IT), KOO (AT) and MISEREOR (DE).

Programme highlight: ‘Undermining Africa’s future?’ – debate in the European Parliament (Brussels), 15 September, 18.30-20.30.

http://www.cidse.org/

 

The Feather Project: a new effort promoting intergenerational collaboration

At the Earth Charter + 10 Conference in the Peace Palace in The Hague last June 29, Rabbi Soetendorp, co-chair of the Earth Charter Task Force on Religion, Ethics, and Spirituality launched the Feather Project, which is a collaborative effort inspired by the Earth Charter to build intergenerational dialogue and collaboration between elders and youth, and to draw upon the wisdom of the world’s spiritual traditions to address the major global challenges humanity is facing. The Feather Project involves capturing on video the core messages of moral and spiritual leaders of our time, based on the following question: “Based on your life experience, what lesson would you like to share with the next generation?”

On the Feather website, these inspiring messages are being combined with the visions, dreams, and aspirations of young people and suggested steps to put this inspiration into practice. The rationale here is that in this combination of visions, wisdom and best practiced action projects lies a key to unlocking the immense resources of human imagination, creativity and compassion that are so much needed in our troubled times.

More information can be found on the Feather Project website at http://featherproject.org that portrays the video messages of several Earth Charter youth representatives recorded at EC+10.

http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/content/articles/555/1/The-Feather-Project-a-new-effort-promoting-intergenerational-collaboration/Page1.html

 

 

Culture and education

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EU-funded education support programme for Somalia launched

September 2 - A European Union-funded programme to support Somali administrations in developing a well-structured education and training system has been launched in north east and north west Somalia. The Integrated Capacity Development for Somali Education Administrations (ICDSEA) programme is being implemented by the Ministries of Education in Northwest and Northeast Somalia and UNICEF in collaboration with CfBT Education Trust and Africa Educational Trust (AET). If conditions allow, the programme will also be extended to Central-South Somalia.

Dr. Manfred Winnefeld, Technical Advisor for the EU's support for the education sector in Somalia said "The EU is funding the project to the tune of EUR 5,000,000 over three years and this programme will contribute to support quality education for all Somali learners".

In Somalia, education enrolment rates and literacy levels are among the lowest in the world. The total gross enrolment rate (percentage of eligible children in school) is 30.7 per cent with girls at 25 per cent compared to 37 per cent for boys. Girls continue to have difficulty in accessing and remaining in school with only one in five of the small number of girls who start school in grade one completing a full cycle of primary education.

The EU which is supporting the programme has also been supporting the development of secondary education during the past 10 years. In this time, the number of secondary school students in north east and north west Somalia has risen from 450 students in 1999 to just under 30,000 in 2008.

http://www.ei-ie.org/en/news/show.php?id=1350&theme=educationforall&country=somalia

 

Save the Children and Ministry of Education launch new television campaign to help children feel safe returning to school in Southern Kyrgyzstan

Uzbek and Kyrgyz parents and adults urged to line the streets in a corridor of peace and welcome children to school

Osh, Kyrgyzstan, August 30 – Save the Children and the Ministry of Education in Kyrgyzstan today launched a major television campaign to help mend ethnic tensions and help children feel safe and protected when they return to school on September 1. The campaign is encouraging Kyrgyz and Uzbek parents and adults to line the streets in a corridor of peace and welcome children as they walk to and from school.

“After the ethnic unrest, many children are afraid to return to school. They fear violent attacks from the opposing ethnic group,” said Will Lynch, country director of Save the Children’s Kyrgyzstan office. “With the entire community showing support, we hope to calm children’s anxiety and make going back to school enjoyable.”

Ethnic violence broke out between minority Uzbeks and ethnic Kyrgyz in southern Kyrgyzstan in June.  The fighting destroyed parts of the cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad, and estimated 400,000 people, including 100,000 children, were displaced from their homes.  Almost all of the people have since returned to their communities.

The new television spot called “Welcome to School” shows similarities between Uzbeks and Kyrgyzs as their children prepare for their first day of school, and encourages them to reconcile their differences and come together to help allay children’s fears of returning to school.

http://www.savethechildren.org/newsroom/2010/kyrgystan-students-safety.html?print=t

 

Singapore: humanity wins the day at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games

By Reeni Aminchua, IFRC

30 August - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), with support from the Singapore Red Cross, has been developing young athletes’ understanding of global humanitarian issues at the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

The games were held for two weeks from 14 to 26 August with some 5,000 athletes and officials from the 205 National Olympic Committees. Helping the event run smoothly were an estimated 20,000 local and international volunteers, and there was also a strong media presence with 1,200 representatives from the media.

IFRC was one of six international organizations to participate in the culture and education programme designed for the athletes at the Olympic village. The programme encourages greater learning, sharing and interaction among the athletes, while inspiring them to embrace and live the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect. The programme forms an integral component of the games and is built around the five themes of olympism, skills development, well-being and healthy lifestyle, social responsibility and expression.

http://www.ifrc.org/Docs/News/10/10083003/index.asp

 

The Relay Initiative in the frame of the European Year of Volunteering

Be a Reporter - apply before September 27

The European Commission invites you to be one of 27 Relay Reporters who will highlight volunteer stories all along The European Year of Volunteering 2011. For it, we will select a volunteer filmmaker, reporter or journalist in each EU Member State. You are welcome to apply online before September 27, 2010, by midnight: http://eyvolunteering.eu

This unique experience will include:

- 12 days reporting in another EU country with our professional HDV camera

- 10 months web-reporting from your country with the pocket video camera we will offer you.

As Relay Reporter, all the video, audio and web reports you will produce during the Relay will be promoted Europe wide through the EYV media campaign. You will also be able to produce and distribute all type of media products (magazine, news, blogs, etc) working with all Relay reports.

All costs are covered by our organisation.

For contacts: Georges Drouet, European Coordinator of the EYV Relay European Year of Volunteering 2011:  relay@paueducation.com

 

New team for ANERA early childhood education initiative

August 9, Washington, DC - ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) is pleased to announce the appointment of Sulieman Mleahat and Sulaima K. Abu-El-Haj to direct ANERA's Early Childhood Education Initiative, which will map out a national strategy for Palestinian preschool educators.

The multi-year program includes curriculum and national standards development and capacity building for preschool educators; mentoring programs for teachers in coordination with West Bank universities and upgrading infrastructure at selected preschools as quality preschools for practice training of teacher trainees in the West Bank.

As Education Program Manager, Mleahat will supervise all of ANERA's education program work in the West Bank.  He has more than a decade of experience in managing and designing education programs. Before joining ANERA, he managed education programs in the West Bank for Save the Children UK and designed children's education and development projects for both the Children's Society and the World University Service in London, England. 

The Early Childhood Education project has been endorsed by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and will be developed in cooperation with the ministry and local NGOs to encourage community involvement in childhood education.

http://www.anera.org/newsResources/NewTeamEarlyChildhoodEd.php

 

 

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63rd United Nations Annual DPI/NGO Conference

 

Advance Global Health: Achieve the Millennium Development Goals

30 August – 1 September 2010 • Melbourne, Australia

 

Lesley Vann, Good News Agency’s Publisher Representative to the UNDPI

 

The 63rd Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference was held in Melbourne, Australia, 30 August to 1 September 2010, titled “Advance Global Health: Achieve the Millennium Development Goals” (MDGs).The Conference highlighted the achievements and on-going efforts of diverse international NGOs, grassroots civil society representatives, and healthcare advocates, in partnership with the UN, Member States and other actors. This annual Conference went further to encourage greater awareness among the wider public about the interconnectivity of global health with human rights, disarmament, human security and climate change. The event highlighted effective ways in which civil society, in partnership with other actors, can contribute to fostering global health -- not just managing disease. It also underscored the need for more integration of health programs, methods to generate outcome health data that informs research and programs, cost effective healthcare delivery and sustainability, disease prevention, and the need to achieve multidimensional equity within global health.

The objective of this UN DPI/NGO Conference positioned “on the road” in Australia, and away from New York, was to diversify and increase the geographical representation of NGOs associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information, as well as focusing on the work of NGOs in the region.

 

This year’s Conference had an Opening session, Roundtables, Workshops, special Events, Exhibits, Youth activities, and a Closing session. There was a commitment to transparency and to making the proceedings available to the entire world. Video footage was available for viewing by all, on the UN’s DPI/NGO Conference website: www.un.org/dpi/ngosection/index.asp

 

The outreach of the Conference and its sessions were designed to foster increasing commitment by NGOs and the world community to the vital global health and MDG needs discussed. In addition the Conference generated greater mobilisation and cohesion within the NGO community – fostering dialogue and partnerships within and between vast numbers of NGOs and their participants. Solutions to pressing global health conundrums were considered and generated. Breakthroughs for Millennium Development Goal implementation were further envisioned and mobilised – thus renewing global dialogue and strategic planning.

 

In order to facilitate these exchanges, NGOs and participants were requested to participate in the Conference in the spirit of constructive dialogue and fraternity. These clear parameters sparked a dynamic and vibrant gathering, alive with the spirit of inquiry. The Opening and Closing sessions rallied participants with both vision and calls to action, which the four Roundtable panels and many Workshops underscored.

 

Roundtable I explored “The Role of the NGOs and Civil Society in Helping Achieve the MDGs.” This Roundtable recognised that MDG achievement by 2015 is firstly the responsibility of member states toward their citizens. Simultaneously, NGOs and civil society actors have the capacity to influence these member states to make progress, and they have the capacity to leverage progress through their own spheres of influence. Affirming the fact that international, national and local NGOs and civil society are change agents spurring MDG progress, Roundtable I considered the most effective ways in which NGOs can articulate their positions with governments to influence policy and address the need for services to improve health and well being; ways in which different segments of civil society can work in partnership to achieve the MDGs; and how programs can be designed so that progress can be objectively tracked and evaluated over time. This Roundtable’s Moderator, Dr. Padmini Murthy, encouraged input from Panelists and the audience. Panelist Ruth Bamela Engo-Tjega of Cameroon, an experienced international civil servant, brought her seasoned perspectives to the discussion. Her expertise in civic competence, advocacy, education, capacity building and the UN System, informed this discussion. Her interest in equity amidst MDG actualization, her familiarity with the developing world and its need for the Minimum Common Humanity Level (MCHL) across genders, ages, cultures and MDG initiatives, enlivened the dialogue. In addition to Cameroon, the incisive Panelists came from diverse regions, such as Afghanistan, Cuba, and Australia.

 

Roundtable II explored “Equity, Rights and Progress towards the MDGs.” This session addressed the recognition that as momentum builds towards accelerating progress to meet the goals of the MDGs there is a danger of creating greater inequity. Experience has shown it is easier to improve the health of those who are already better off than it is to address the needs of the poorest and those who have no access to health care.  Discussion in this Roundtable responded to many concerns, including ways in which NGOs can advocate for more attention to be paid to the health needs of the poorest and least well served; the use of equity sensitive indicators to measure progress towards achieving the MDG’s; and what should be done to raise awareness of the significance of MDG 8 (which calls for the establishment of global partnerships for development), and its importance for achieving all of the MDGs. How we address the responsibilities of developed countries to work towards greater global equity was examined, alongside what actions are needed to re-invigorate dialogue on the synergy between human rights and public health. The panel also addressed how NGOs can ensure the focus on mortality targets does not divert attention from conditions affecting quality of life, for example, access to basic necessities as food and shelter, individual security, disability and mental health problems. Discussion also ensued regarding ways in which we can accurately document progress in attaining gender equality. Panelists represented regional diversity spanning Australia, USA, India, and Chile.

 

Roundtable III explored the theme, “Strengthening an Integrated and Systems Approach to Achieving the Health MDGs.” While all the MDGs contribute to health, MDG 4 (reduce child mortality), MDG 5 (improve maternal health) and MDG 6 (combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases) each have specific health targets. This fact raises a number of questions which this Roundtable addressed, such as how collective efforts of NGOs, civil society, the medical community, the private sector and governments can be maximised, with systems strengthened rather than undermined, as we work towards achieving the MDGs in integrated ways; in what ways we can ensure that in attending to closely related causes of specific health problems, underlying social determinants of poor health, (especially gender equity and poverty), are also addressed and not neglected; and how the physical, financial, cultural, linguistic and other barriers to achieving the MDGs can be addressed. Panelists were gathered from the Republic of South Africa, Australia, the People’s Republic of China, Pakistan, and Nigeria. 

 

Roundtable IV took up the theme, “Achieving the MDGs in Our Changing World”. This panel noted that developing countries, in particular, are experiencing swift demographic transitions with sharp rises in the populations of young people and older persons, increased urbanisation and globalisation. Closely associated with these issues are migration and other influences, as well as environmental deterioration and climate change. This fourth Roundtable examined such issues as how to ensure flexibility within the MDG agenda so that governments and the international community are not diverted from responding in a timely way to these changes; to what extent more attention can be focused on the “other diseases” of MDG 6, in particular chronic diseases that represent a large and increasing proportion of the financial, social and health burdens in many poor countries; what can be done to focus more attention on the second target of MDG 5 (access to sexual and reproductive health); how NGOs can help minimise the impact of the global financial crisis on progress towards advancing global health and achieving the MDGs; and what actions NGOs and civil society activists can take after 2015 to maintain momentum. This panel included speakers from Kenya, Sri Lanka, Palau, and Australia.

 

In addition to these Roundtables, there were offerings highlighting the roles of Youth and Media in global health, and there were Exhibits and Events highlighting key Conference themes. Sub-committees worked collaboratively to plan all of this, including the logistical complexities of the many Workshops.

 

The Conference Workshops provided valuable opportunities for NGOs to interact and discuss in greater depth, in an informal setting, key global health themes, with an emphasis on effective practices that participating NGOs can take home and implement. Therefore this annual Conference had, once again, a global impact for the common good.

 

The Workshops examined critical Conference themes, such as bridging global health gaps that still exist, and encouraging equity of treatment and access, addressing failed maternal and child health strategies, promoting civic activism around health and wellness, and strengthening an integrated approach to achieving health for all.

Dr. Mary E. Norton
 Conference Chair stated, “we need to harness the energy of those passionate about these topics and, through collaboration, help them understand their role and responsibility to utilise this knowledge, to mitigate the underlying causes of illness, and create a healthy world.”

Though progress toward achieving global health has been steady much more can be achieved and many more lives saved. A high-level UN meeting is planned in September to measure MDG progress. NGOs are indispensable partners to the UN in the twin goal of advancing global health and achieving the MDGs. It is hoped that this three-day exchange of ideas and best practices in Melbourne has created a lasting legacy not only within Australia, but the rest of the world. NGOs have left Melbourne inspired and reinvigorated so that NGOs in turn can advocate with governments, businesses, researchers and the wider public to galvanise each of us to better contribute to meeting the Millennium Goals and improving global health.

“Health is the tie that binds all of the Millennium Development Goals together. If we fail to meet our target on health, we will never overcome poverty, illiteracy, achieve universal education and meet the other MDG challenges,” reminded 
UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon and WHO Director General, Margaret Chen. It was in this spirit that the Conference participants came together generating renewed global commitment among civil society to the redemptive work of the United Nations and its Millennium Development Goals.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

www.un.org

 

Conference Website http://www.un.org/dpi/ngosection/index.asp

 

This Conference website is designed to serve as a resource for the press, photo journalists, the broadcast media, news agencies and bloggers. You will find information on the Conference including press releases, information on accreditation, and press coverage of the Conference. This site posts photographs and other media-related information materials, including speeches. During the three-day Conference, live and archived Webcast of the Opening and Closing sessions and the Roundtable discussions were available.

 

This site also offers other valuable social media tools for the public, civil society and the media.

 

Contact e-mail addresses:

Conference e-mail: 63undpingoconference@un.org

Committee of Experts: expertdpingo@gmail.com

Youth Sub-Committee:  youthcommitteeconference2010@gmail.com

Workshops Sub-Committee: dpingoconference2010workshops@gmail.com

Events and Exhibits Sub-Committee: events.exhibits.2010@gmail.com

 

 

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Next issue: 1st October 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 www.goodnewsagency.org. Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.

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