Daily Archives: July 30, 2011

A Youthful Week: Week of 7/25 News Roundup

A lot of focus was on the global leaders of our future throughout this week as the week started with the UN high-level meeting dedicated to the development of youth. The theme of the meeting was “Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”, just in time as the International Year of Youth is coming to an end this summer.

Along with the topic of youth, came a new report released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at a side event of the UN high-level meeting, the report titled “Securing the Future Today“. This report and discussion focused on the youth’s actions to fight against the disease of AIDS. This will be a step in the right direction for our future, and the future goals in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals as goal #6 focuses on the global fight against the disease, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases including malaria.

Disease was also a big topic this week, as millions of children received the measles vaccination in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The UN World Health Organization helped in coordinating this great achievement, as there has been a measles epidemic that many people have lost their lives to and the funding was needed to make this event a great success. In efforts to globally fight against more diseases, the UN marked July 27th World Hepatitis Day as a day to recognize the fight and prevention of the disease. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the soccer team FC Barcelona have joined this week in the fight against disease to create a campaign against polio, called “More than a Goal. End Polio”. With a said 1 percent left in the fight against the disease and its eradication, the organizations are determined to put an end to it.

Along with disease, comes the support of resources and nutrition throughout the world so that people can survive with access to basic needs and children can develop and prosper. The crisis in the Horn of Africa continued this week as the drought is causing a lack of water and therefore threat of nutrition to people throughout the continent’s nations. More support is needed, as there are also many children suffering from this crisis, causing malnutrition and this threatening their survival in the crisis for all, with a said $1.4 billion in funding appealed by the UN to support the cause.

Efforts continue to assist globally in the fights against disease, malnutrition, resources and overall the availability of safe living conditions around the world. Support and funding is needed to continue to allow for these wonderful projects to develop and you can get involved in the action! In time for August 2nd, you can contact Congress representatives to share your voice towards the budget cuts that will unfortunately help support programs like these, specifically programs that help support women and girls throughout the world have availability to resources.

Join in the support and action to help the people of today in any way you can and the global leaders of tomorrow in our youth today!


Crisis In Libya Continues

The crisis in Libya is quickly escalating. Rebel-pull backs continue in the east after Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces unleashed rockets and artillery on the light armed rebel forces today. The rebels, aided by Western air strikes, had made a two-day charge along more than 125 miles of barren coast (about 330 miles east of the capital of Tripoli) and seized strategic oil terminals near Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte. However, the rebels have now been forced to retreat, giving up valuable gains to Gadhafi’s better armed troops.

On Monday, March 28th, President Obama made his case for military intervention in Libya in a speech to the nation, saying the action he directed was in U.S. interests and had already succeeded in preventing a massacre of “horrific scale.” He said the U.S. would work to remove Gadhafi from power, but made clear that he would rely on political, financial, and other pressures—not military force—to drive him out.

Just one day after President Obama’s speech, 40 world leaders convened in London, insisting that Gadhafi steps down but offering no new suggestions for how to dislodge him from power. Although the leaders pledged humanitarian aid and continued air strikes to protect civilians in the region, they indicated that it would be up to the Libyans themselves to force Gadhafi out.

The question of whether to arm the rebels was not publicly discussed at the summit, nor was the question of how to release frozen Libyan assets to help fund them. But President Obama, in an interview with NBC on Tuesday, said that he would not preclude the possibility of arming the rebels. Obama said, “I’m not ruling it out, but I’m also not ruling it in.” He added, “Operations to protect civilians continue to take out Gadhafi’s forces, his tanks, his artillery on the ground. And that will continue for some time.” While both the U.S. and Britain are not ruling out supplying arms to the rebels, China and Russia are stepping up complaints about the Western-led military intervention in Libya.

The UN, however, has openly pledged it’s support. In a statement released on Tuesday, March 29th, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said “thousands of lives” were saved by the actions of the international community. The Secretary General pledged the ongoing support of the UN to resolve the crisis in Libya and noted that the world body was already engaged in “strong diplomatic efforts.” He reiterated his call for an immediate ceasefire between the military and opposition forces, and said he and his Special Envoy for Libya, Abdel-Elah al-Khatib, remain in close contact with both Libya’s authorities and the opposition.

In total, around 380,000 people are estimated to have left Libya since the unrest – part of wider protests across North Africa and the Middle East – began and another 13,000 are stranded at the country’s borders with Tunisia and Egypt.

Stay tuned with us as we continue to monitor the unfolding events!


Don’t miss these great films and panelists this weekend!

We hope you enjoyed the first weekend of the Global Voices Film Festival – we know we did!  See a full recap of the first two film nights here:  http://bostonfilms.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/film-festivals-first-weekend-a-great-success/

We’re gearing up for a big second weekend and we hope you are too!  Check out information about the films and our really amazing panelists here: http://bostonfilms.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/ready-for-some-great-panel-discussions/

And get your tickets now at http://www.bostonfilms.org/2010/tickets.htm

We hope you (and your friends) can be part of the discussion and debate!  See you this weekend!


UNA-GB Staff

Sullied Water

On these warm and humid summer days, we take for granted how easy it is to turn on a faucet and quench our thirst in seconds—and not have to worry about any undesirable effects later. In many countries in the world, this is not a given.The UN General Assembly declared on July 28th 2010 that access to safe and clean drinking water is a human right—one that is unavailable to almost 900 million people in the world.

Lack of clean water and sanitation burdens people of all shapes, colors, and sizes. It is especially detrimental to the youth of this world. Studies have shown that about 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year due to diarrhea caused by unsafe water. An estimated 443 million school days are lost to water and sanitation-related diseases.

Many children every day attend schools that cannot offer them clean water to drink or even hygienic latrine facilities. Each school day that is lost carries with it abandoned knowledge and wasted creativity. Further down the line, this will mean a failure to strengthen the workforce of a nation and ultimately will lead to less economic success in these already struggling countries. The gap between the developing and the industrialized world will only continue to expand.

A UN report from late April of this year showed a small amount of funding for water and sanitation could lower health-care costs, raise school attendance, and significantly improve productivity—facts that are not surprising but can be a real difficulty in achieving for many countries.

According to this report, the access of clean drinking water and sanitized conditions can increase a person’s overall economic wealth from $3 to $34 per every dollar invested. This would ultimately increase a country’s GDP by 2-7%. Cleaner conditions create easier access to education that eventually boosts the economic and general well-being of a country.


Protecting Cultural Heritage

There are 890 properties, ranging from geographical locations to spectacular landmarks, spread throughout 148 countries, which are currently designated as World Heritage sites.

These locations give a nation a sense of pride and add to its identity. They can often bring economic success in the form of thousands of eager tourists flooding in to catch a glimpse of whatever majestic site the country hosts. They are “chosen because they have outstanding universal value…and are symbols of dialogue, peace, and reconciliation.” (UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova)

However, World Heritage sites are slowly decreasing in number as globalization, conflict, climate change, and natural disasters eradicate their distinctiveness.

In fact, last year UNESCO removed from the list the Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany due to its new acquisition of a four-lane bridge straight through the center, as well as the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman due to insufficienct efforts by Oman to conserve the area.

The earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, Polish flooding, fires in Uganda, and the recent landslides in Peru have already proven the drastic effects that the environment can have on ruining sites. These disasters have attracted the attention of the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), demanding action to protect any still-intact locations.

UNESCO Director-General Bokova explained on July 25th at the latest meeting of the World Heritage Committee, that when these cultural treasures are destroyed, the human spirit of the country is damaged, as well. It is imperative to preserve the chosen sites in order to protect the people.

There are many commonly recognized areas that do not seem in danger in the immediate future, such as the Greater Barrier Reef in Australia or the Great Wall of China. However, there are also lesser known properties in areas torn apart by conflict and disaster such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and more recently Haiti, that need to be addressed.

Before the January earthquakes, the World Heritage Committee had been considering putting several sites in Haiti on the UNESCO World Heritage List. However, the natural disaster wreaked havoc on these cultural jewels (including the 17th century city of Jacmel or the National Palace and Palace of Justice in Port-au-Prince), effectively eradicating any possibility to be chosen.

At the latest meeting of the World Heritage committee, scheduled to end on August 3rd, members have been discussing how to best preserve and reconstruct landmarks destroyed by such natural disasters. The Committee will consider reconstruction of buildings, ecological preservation, and damaged urban areas. They will also decide how to restore the lost knowledge and beauty of museums, art galleries, archives and libraries.

Go to the World Heritage Committee’s website for a complete listing of the World Heritage Sites.