Good News Agency
A culture of peace is emerging in all fields of human endeavour
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 1,500 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 It is a supporter of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace. In the final report of the Decade for a Culture of Peace project (2001-2010) provided to the UN Secretary-General for presentation to the UN General Assembly, Good News Agency is included among the three NGOs that have been playing an active role in the field of Information through Internet.*
International legislation – Human rights – Economy and development – Solidarity
Peace and security – Health – Energy and Safety – Environment and wildlife
Religion and spirituality – Culture and education
United Nations High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace
IOM welcomes signing of anti-trafficking bill into law in South Africa
6 August - IOM South Africa has welcomed the signing into law of the long-awaited Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill by President Jacob Zuma. The new legislation clearly makes trafficking in persons a criminal offence. In addition, it has also created offences such as debt bondage; the possession, destruction, concealment of and tampering with travel documents; and using the services of victims of trafficking, among others. In addition to creating very specific offences that have a bearing on trafficking in persons, the legislation also focuses on the plight of the victims, providing them with protection and assistance to overcome their traumatic and often life threatening experiences.
Amid the violence in Colombia, an indigenous people struggle for their identity
La Guaña, Ecuador, 14 August – The Awa are an indigenous people who straddle the Ecuador-Colombia border but do not feel part of the modern societies on either side. That has not saved them suffering the consequences of the armed conflict that has battered Colombia for years. (…)
For the more than 4,000 Awa in Ecuador and some 40,000 in Colombia the border is non-existent. The ´Grand Awa Family´ is considered one territory, irrespective of internationally recognized borders. Unfortunately for the Awa people they live in one of the areas most affected by conflict. (…) Their traditional way of life, existing in harmony with the natural environment, can only survive with basic outside support and respect for their territory. Even their language, Awa-pit, is only spoken by part of the Awa family, mostly the elderly.
Together with the Ecuadorian Federation of Awa Centres, the Refugee Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, local authorities and World Food Programme, UNHCR has worked with the Awa people on contingency planning for possible further cross-border displacements. (…)The Awa people do not have an interest in receiving ´refugee´ status and the associated documentation: their interest is solely recognition of their distinct identity. They want respect for their territory, communication equipment, support to strengthen their community, livelihood projects and relief items in difficult times.
ECPAT International wins $1.5 million Hilton Humanitarian Prize
Hilton Prize – World’s Largest Humanitarian Prize – Awarded to ECPAT, Global NGO Leading Fight to Stop Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
Prize spotlights atrocities of the child sex exploitation industry around the globe
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, August 1 – ECPAT, the leading global network of organizations dedicated to stopping the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), has been selected to receive the 2013 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize of $1.5 million, the world’s largest humanitarian prize. This is the 18th year for the Hilton Prize given by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to an organization that is significantly alleviating human suffering.
Founded 20 years ago to halt child sex tourism in Asia, ECPAT today leads a global social movement dedicated to ending child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Its international secretariat based in Thailand provides technical support and information, forms partnerships with key actors such as law enforcement and the tourism industry, and is an international voice for children who are being exploited sexually for commercial gain. Its 81 member organizations in 74 countries implement local initiatives to protect children from sexual exploitation and help child survivors return to health and well-being.
Economy and development
Global food prices continue to drop
September 5, Rome - The FAO Food Price Index, which measures the monthly change in the international prices of a basket of food commodities, dropped for the fourth month in a row in August reaching its lowest level since June 2012. Last month’s decline was mainly driven by continued falls in the international prices of cereals and oils. Dairy, meat and sugar prices rose slightly. The steep decline reflects expectations for a strong growth in world cereal production this year and, especially, a sharp recovery in maize supplies. Together with the Food Price Index, FAO released a new forecast of world cereal production in 2013; this is expected to rise to 2 492 million tonnes: at the latest forecast level, global cereal production would be 179 million tonnes (7.7 percent) higher than in 2012 and a new record.
Liberia farmer-to-farmer program boosts farmers’ knowledge and income
September 4 – In a Farmer-to-Farmer capstone event in Liberia on August 30, U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Deborah R. Malac and Liberian Vice President Joseph N. Boakai praised the program, which strengthens the country’s horticulture and livestock sectors by bringing expert U.S. volunteers to Liberia to provide technical assistance.
Farmer-to-Farmer in Liberia is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by international development nonprofit ACDI/VOCA. The program connects technical volunteers with farmers, farm groups and agribusinesses in developing and transitional countries. Farmers Play Crucial Role in Liberia’s Post-Civil-War Economy.
New Zealand announces US$1.2 million to IFAD for rural development
August 20, Rome - New Zealand announced a contribution of US$1.2 million to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for the Ninth Replenishment of the Fund’s resources (IFAD9). The injection of new funds from New Zealand is a confirmation of IFAD’s role in international development architecture as an effective organization that delivers results in the area of food and income security, especially for poor rural people.
The central focus of New Zealand’s aid programme is sustainable development to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world. This includes carefully targeting development funds towards activities that bring about tangible differences to the quality of people’s lives. New Zealand’s announcement comes at a time when the Fund has recently undergone an independent external evaluation of its programmes. As a result of the evaluation, IFAD is implementing a plan to increase the sustainable impact of every dollar it invests in rural development.
Africa to benefit from Brazil-FAO school meals experience
August 16, Brasilia/Rome - The Brazilian experience of strengthening school meal programs and their relationship with family farming will be brought to Africa. This is just one of the 17 South-South Cooperation projects that the government of Brazil and FAO are implementing together, with a total investment surpasssing $36 million. The $2 million project that will share experiences and promote technical cooperation related to school feeding programs and how their linkages with family farming can boost local economic development.
This initiative will source school meal programs to local family farms, creating synergies that strengthen food security, child nutrition and the livlihoods of small farmers and their communities. Projects similar to those that will be implemented in Africa are already being successfully undertaken in Latin America and theCaribbean.
IFAD President launches Fund’s first project in conflict areas in Colombia
August 7, Rome - From land restitution and reparation to victims of conflict, to creating the conditions for displaced people to return safely to their homes in rural areas, the Republic of Colombia faces many challenges on the road to lasting peace. But those challenges should be viewed as opportunities. This was the message delivered by Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), speaking during the launch of the “Building Rural Entrepreneurial Capacities – Trust and Opportunities Programme” (TOP) in Bogota. Nwanze highlighted the programme’s focus on helping reconstruct the socio-economic fabric and respond to the needs of those who are returning home. It will create jobs and support micro enterprises and economic initiatives, he said.
Co-financed by IFAD and the Republic of Colombia, the US$69,4 million programme is aligned with Colombia’s national development plan, “Prosperity for all 2010 – 2014” and will target 50,000 of the poorest rural households across 17 departments in the country: TOP specifically aims to promote local economic initiatives and food security in post-conflict areas.
While Colombia has seen strong economic growth over the past decade, instability as a result of conflict deeply affected the country’s people and its development. Poverty and inequality continue, particularly in rural areas.
FAO – Cereal banks, a weapon in the fight against food scarcity in Uganda
Vulnerable agro pastoral communities in the semi arid region of Karamoja in Uganda have resorted to cereal banking as a coping mechanism to their food security threats. The idea of introducing cereal banking emerged as part of a Community Disaster Risk Reduction Action Plan development process within the framework of a regional drought risk reduction initiative supported by the European Commission, Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO). The initiative generates action plans that aim at increasing the resilience of the pastoral and agro pastoral communities.
With funds from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), FAO supported the group to construct four big granaries in which they stocked over 6,000 kilos of sorghum (over 1,500 kilos in each). For members of Natapaali APFS, cereal banks were identified as a solution to hunger, volatile food prices and scarcity during the dry season. Despite the drawbacks of the dry spell experienced between May and July, there are good prospects that the anticipated harvest will boost the seed stocks which will in turn boost the operation of the cereal banks as FAO plans to support more farmer groups to adopt this system. A cereal bank buys grain at its lowest price. It is then stocked and sold throughout the year with a small profit cushion to provide funds to restock the following year. At the same time, families that borrow food from the cereal bank can pay back in kind. Once the initial investment is made, the banks become self supporting.
New Feeding America campaign takes aim at childhood hunger
6 September – National antihunger charity Feeding America launched a new public-service campaign Thursday aimed at encouraging giving and volunteerism to tackle childhood hunger, writes The New York Times. New television, radio, print, digital, and outdoor advertisements center on attracting “food angels” to help supply and distribute goods via the charity’s network of food banks and pantries. The TV spots depict volunteers with drawn-on wings.
The ad launch came a day after the Department of Agriculture reported that more than one in five U.S. children face hunger. Some academic experts on hunger criticized the campaign, saying the focus on charity and volunteerism downplays the role of poverty in causing hunger and the role of government programs such as food stamps in alleviating it.
First ever International Day of Charity – 5 September 2013
The UN General Assembly, in its sixty-seventh session, 12 December 2012:
1. Decides to designate 5 September as the International Day of Charity;
2. Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to commemorate the International Day of Charity in an appropriate manner, by encouraging charity, including through education and public awareness-raising activities;
3. Requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Member States and organizations of the United Nations system. (View theresolution.)
The Permanent Mission of Hungary to the United Nations, with the support of the United Nations Department of Public Information, holds on September 5 a panel discussions to mark The First International Day Of Charity - The Role of Charity in Promoting Access to Clean Water and Sanitation and Partnership for Poverty Alleviation and Eradication – the Role of Charity.
For more information: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Red Cross Red Crescent youth make their voices heard on migration
by Kevin Xia, IFRC
30 August – Focusing on the crucial issue of migrants and Red Cross Red Crescent humanitarian action, young people from 28 Asia Pacific National Societies gathered near the South Korean capital in August for a ‘Model’ IFRC General Assembly (MIGA), hosted by the Republic of Korea National Red Cross.
The focus of this year’s MIGA was on ‘Migrants and humanitarian action of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement’ with two sub-agendas: ‘Humanitarian assistance to vulnerable migrants and their social inclusion’ and ‘Access to and social inclusion of youth migrants’.
The delegates, representing 50 National Societies worldwide, discussed and exchanged ideas, exploring what Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies can and should do to address the issue and they developed a ‘decision’ as an actual IFRC General Assembly does.
The final document calls upon National Societies to confirm their commitment to aid vulnerable migrants to support their integration, strongly supporting partnerships among National Societies and other organizations to advocate education and awareness raising to alleviate discrimination.
Korean support to WFP builds disaster resilience in Bangladesh
August 27, Dhaka – In a visit to communities in Patharghata Upazila of Barguna District, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Bangladesh H.E. Mr Lee Yun-young witnessed how people in Bangladesh’s poorest district improved their resilience to natural disasters and the effects of climate change with support from the Korean company LG Electronics and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). He added that the Korean Government, through the KOICA Bangladesh Office, has commenced the “KOICA-WFP Food for New Village Project (FFNV)” for 2013-2015 with a budget of US$3 million.
In 2011 and 2012, some 2,000 villagers – 70 percent of them women – participated in a variety of activities supported by WFP and LG Electronics to protect their homes and fields from flooding. They also received training on disaster preparedness and resilience building, and on ways to improve their health and hygiene and to increase and diversify their families’ income.
This year, participating women are learning how to develop their own businesses, as another way to boost household income, food security and nutrition
WFP receives a U.S. food shipment in support of Yemen’s poorest households
August 25, Sana’a - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed the arrival of a consignment of wheat from the government of the United States of America that WFP will distribute to 3.9 million food-insecure people in 15 governorates.
WFP will also receive over the coming two months two more US food consignments totalling 42,000 metric tons. The US is a key donor to WFP activities in Yemen. Last year, it provided WFP with more than 46,000 metric tons of food, valued at almost US$40 million, enough food to feed more than two million hungry Yemenis for six months. This year, the US is granting US$50 million to WFP’s operations in Yemen.
Globally, the United States remains WFP’s largest single donor. This year, the US has already contributed more than US$900 million. In 2012, the US provided US$1.4 billion in support of WFP operations worldwide.
Caritas aiding Philippine flood victims
21 August – Monsoon rains have caused deadly flooding in Manila in the Philippines and in other areas, affecting over a million people. The torrential down pour has cause widespread damage to homes and infrastructure.
Over 130,000 people have sought safety in evacuation centres, while tens of thousands more others are staying with friends or family. Landslides and debris have made some roads impassable, making it difficult to reach some of the hardest hit areas.
Diocesan Caritas say the immediate needs are water, blanket, sleeping mats, clothing, and ready-to-eat foods. They have already been able to provide some emergency packs, including rice, canned goods, noodles and water.
Caritas Philippines staff are working with Catholic Relief Services (CRS is a US Caritas member) to assess the damage and put together a humanitarian response. Their plan is to provide food to 14,600 families in Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna.
Peace and security
“Nesting Peace: Creating Infrastructures to Sustain Diversity”
Sixth GAMIP Summit - September 16-20 Geneva, Switzerland
The Summit will: increase awareness and understanding about infrastructures for peace and their essential role in sustainable strategies of peace promotion; provide practical tools for the development of infrastructures for peace; give visibility to current infrastructures for peace, as well as peace infrastructure campaigns and projects around the world; strengthen the engagement of the international community working on infrastructures for peace and launch a Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Infrastructures for Peace; serve as a bridge among participants and potential partners to further infrastructures for peace at the local level in various countries; plant the seeds of initiatives to create infrastructures for peace at the local, cantonal and federal level in Switzerland.
The diversity of participants and the conference’s creative formats will highlight the transformative nature of infrastructures for peace, helping to launch the next stage of development of this significant, organized approach to peacebuilding.
Syria agrees to plan to yield chemical weapons
10 September, UN Wire - Syria is accepting Russia’s proposal to hand over its chemical-weapons stocks to prevent a military airstrike by the U.S. “Let’s see if we can come up with language that avoids a strike but accomplishes our key goals to make sure that these chemical weapons are not used,” said U.S. President Barack Obama, while the U.S. Senate is preparing revised legislation.
Reuters (9/10), USA Today (9/10), The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (9/10), Reuters (9/9), Reuters (9/10) - (UN Wire is a free service sponsored by the United Nations Foundation which is dedicated to supporting the United Nations’ efforts to address the most pressing humanitarian, socioeconomic and environmental challenges facing the world today.)
11 Days of Global Unity – 11 Ways to Change the World, 2013
From empowering students and teachers in Zambia to interfaith dialogues in San Francisco, thousands of organizations around the world have taken part in the annual 11 Days of Global Unity September 11-21. Launched by We, The World and global partners in 2004, 11 Days is a worldwide convergence of festivals, concerts, forums, rallies and other programs promoting peace, justice, sustainability and transformation that annually includes as many as 700 associated events in over 60 countries around the world. It culminates on September 21st, the U.N. International Day of Peace.
11 Days of Global Unity provides a platform for change agents worldwide to raise awareness and take action collectively utilizing the 11 Global Unity Campaign Themes which together form a blueprint for a world that works for all.Activities around the 11 Campaigns take place all year long with a special global focus starting September 11th and culminating on September 21st, the UN International Day of Peace.
Record-breaking progress as states race to eliminate the scourge of cluster bombs
Syria’s use of the banned weapon strongly condemned
Geneva, 4 September – Governments are making record-breaking progress as they race to fulfill the 2008 treaty banning cluster munitions, while Syria’s use of this banned weapon has been widely condemned, according to Cluster Munition Monitor 2013, a global report released today in Geneva. During 2012, the Netherlands finished the total destruction of its once-massive stockpile of cluster munitions and together with Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and others, destroyed a total of 173,973 cluster munitions and 27 million submunitions—the most in a year since the convention’s adoption and far exceeding 2011 totals, when states destroyed a total of 107,000 cluster munitions and 17.6 million submunitions.
Under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, States Parties have a maximum period of eight years to destroy their stockpiled cluster munitions, but most are completing their destruction in half that time. Denmark and the United Kingdom, for example, announced plans to finish destruction by the end of this year, and Cote d’Ivoire finished destruction in early 2013.
Serbia and Kosovo making positive steps towards normal relations, UN envoy says
29 August – Positive steps taken by leaders in Belgrade and Pristina in recent months have led to historic agreements and fundamental progress towards normalizing relations, the top United Nations official for Kosovo said, but cautioned that implementation of agreements in northern Kosovo remains a key challenge. Presenting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report, his special representative for Kosovo, Farid Zarif, told the Security Council via videoconference that implementation of the historic 19 April Agreement and each of its elements is a “delicate process that demands sustained efforts and focus”.
Among the provisions in the Agreement, brokered in Brussels by the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, is an agreement to hold local elections this year in municipalities of northern Kosovo with the facilitation of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Scheduled for 3 November, the elections need to bring to power viable local authorities that could properly represent and defend local community interests, Mr. Zarif said.
South Sudan - Helping teachers to keep their students safe
9 August - By training teachers how to pass on important safety messages to their students, DCA is protecting more South Sudanese children from mine and ERW accidents. When DCA Risk Education (RE) teams work in local communities, they always visit primary schools and provide the children with child-friendly RE and safety messages to try and protect them from harm. In order to ensure children hear safety messages about mines and ERW on a regular basis, DCA trained 48 teachers in the greater Kapoeta area to be RE providers in their respective schools.
The training was an intensive 3-day residential course. Teachers attended from 28 different schools, most of them primary schools. Each teacher was provided with a training manual and corresponding poster pack, specially designed by the Ministry of Education, National Mine Action Authority, UNICEF and United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS).
Coca crop cultivation declines for second straight year in Bolivia – UN report
5 August – Coca crop cultivation continued to decline in Bolivia for a second straight year in 2012, according to a new survey presented today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Government. In 2012, the cultivation of coca bush decreased by around 7 per cent in Bolivia, with around 25,300 hectares. This is down from the previous year’s figure of some 27,200 hectares, which was also a decline of 12 per cent from 2010. UNODC attributes the decline in coca cultivation to a combination of Government-led eradication efforts, as well as dialogue with farmers and social incentives. In 2012, the Government eradicated some 11,000 hectares of coca crop, up 5 per cent over the 2011 figure of 10,500 hectares.
Chad: Alarming increase in malaria, MSF launches response
3 September – Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has launched an emergency intervention in southeast Chad to respond to an alarming escalation in malaria cases. Since the beginning of August, MSF has seen a drastic jump in malaria at its long-term project in Am Timan, Salamat region, where malaria has accounted for more than 80 per cent of consultations. Many of the severest cases are being seen in children under the age of five.
MSF has sent an emergency medical team to respond to the situation. The team is supporting local health centres with malaria diagnostic tests and treatment supplies, training Ministry of Health staff and strengthening epidemiological surveillance. Since the emergency intervention began the number of malaria cases MSF staff have seen has jumped ten-fold. At the end of the first week of August teams reported 1, 228 new malaria cases and by end of the month MSF teams were reporting more than 14,021 new cases of malaria in August alone.
“That is why I got polio”
Nigerian polio survivors share their stories with reluctant parents
2 September – Karima Usman, a 38-year-old Nigerian mother of three, is on a mission to convince every parent she meets to vaccinate their children against polio.
“No one used to go house to house giving OPV [oral polio vaccine] when I was small,” she explains. “That is why I got polio. Now, OPV is available – but some parents are not letting children take it.”
While operational issues remain by far the biggest reason for children missing out on the polio vaccine, a sizeable number of parents continue to refuse to let their children be vaccinated, despite the fact that OPV has prevented more than 10 million cases of polio globally.
Karima Usman is just one of hundreds of members of the Polio Survivor Group who have been recruited to share their experiences with reluctant parents. With 43 confirmed cases of polio so far in 2013, a drop of 25 per cent from the same period last year, Nigeria is the only remaining polio-endemic country in Africa.
Rotary approves $500,000 emergency grant for Somalia
29 August – Rotary has approved a $500,000 Rapid Response grant to the World Health Organization (WHO) to address a recent polio outbreak in Somalia. The outbreak occurred in the Banadir region of Somalia, where a large number of children had not been vaccinated against polio due to inaccessibility.
As of 14 August, 110 cases of wild poliovirus have been reported in the Horn of Africa—100 cases in Somalia and 10 in Kenya. This is the first outbreak in Somaliasince 2007 and in Kenya since 2011. The Rotary grant will cover operational costs, including human resources, training, and transportation of health workers, aimed at immunizing children under 10 in all accessible areas of Somalia in August. To date, five vaccination campaigns have been held in Somalia, three in Kenya, two each in Ethiopia and Yemen, and one in Djibouti. Additional campaigns are planned through the end of the year. Drawing on lessons learned from previous polio outbreaks, the first vaccination campaign was carried out within a week after the first case was confirmed.
Rotary’s emergency funding for responses to polio outbreaks in Somalia and other countries has been critical to ensuring that immunization activities proceed without interruption, thereby minimizing the risk of the disease’s further international spread.
In addition, the governments of the United Kingdom and Japan recently announced financial commitments of $15.3 million and $1.3 million, respectively, to fund similar emergency vaccination campaigns in the Horn of Africa.
Uganda: MSF increases assistance to refugees fleeing violence in DRC
27 August – Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing urgently needed medical care and water and sanitation in western Uganda, following an influx of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing insecurity in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, in mid-July.
Around 22,000 refugees are now living in the Bubukwanga transit camp, 18 kilometres from the DRC border, in a space designed for only 12,500 people. MSF is providing medical care including maternity healthcare, vaccinations and nutrition treatment, as well as working to improve a potentially dangerous water and sanitation situation. Medical care is provided both to refugees and locals, reaching a total catchment population of 50,000 people.
Michelle Obama behind Hip Hop album
by Karen Bliss | www.samaritanmag.com
August 14 – Michelle Obama isn’t rapping or singing, but the First Lady does appear and talk in the video for “Everybody,” featuring Jordin Sparks, Doug E Fresh, Dr. Oz, Ryan Beatty, Artie Green and The Hip Hop Doc. The song, available for free download, is from an album called Songs For A Healthier America, produced by Hip Hop Public Health and the Partnership for a Healthier America. Titles include “We Like Vegetables,” “Veggie Luv,” “Hip Hop L.E.A.N. (Learning Exercise and Nutrition in Schools)” and “U R What You Eat.” “We hope these songs get your whole family moving to the beat!” it says on the web site. Michelle Obama will appear in 10 videos that will be distributed to schools. In additon to Sparks and Fresh, the 19-track album — for which teaser versions can be heard and eventual full downloaded versions will be posted — includes contributions from Ashanti, Matisyahu, blink-1