Tag Archives: Mideast

From Nazra for Feminist Studies (Egypt): A Letter of Solidarity; Together, We Stand in Solidarity..To Build


A letter from Nazra for Feminist Studies (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License)

At the present time, we and humanity as a whole are experiencing a new crisis, which can be considered the biggest crisis of our modern time. In these times, the world adopts a number of feminist values and convey them to the globe such as joining forces in times of fear, loss and build, collective responsibility and action towards our survival, international cooperation and collectiveness in order to understand and identify ways to overcome this crisis.

COVID-19 pandemic not only comes as a threat to our lives, but it threatens women by increasing the possibilities of discrimination and oppression against them. In light of this development, we reconsider the concept of survival for these women, while revisiting the different intersectionalities of women’s lives.

In this moment, we, women and feminists, are conscious of the magnitude of the fears, burdens and risks that we face.

Additionally, we realize that we have a significant role towards humanity in which history testifies for us playing this role in previous similar times. Moreover, we are aware of how to cooperate with others in order to develop values of feminist solidarity as well as our responsibilities toward each other’s and toward our causes.

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Question related to this article:
How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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We are aware that together we can build bridges to cross over the fears and dangers and together we can build a new start in history for the feminist movement.

The feminist movement has continuously established feminist solidarity and collective action, while consolidating their values and disseminating them to the world through inspiring experiences. Most of these experiences reflect dedication, sacrifice and the adoption of collective survival values to enhance women’s lives. The feminist movements, wave after another have learned how to fight oppressive and discriminatory structures while being mindful of the intersectionality of women’s conditions. Moreover, they learned how to build and make progress out of major crises.

This message in such times is a reminder to ourselves and to feminist activists all over the world that we are aware of what to be done.

We know that this is a time to hold strongly to our values and causes, it is a time to share our experiences, to share our agonies and fears, to share awareness and develop it together, to exchange ideas, support and feminist solidarity, a time to build.

We know that this is a time to think about all the women who are now frightened and threatened and in need of our voices. A time to make sure that we listen to women and their experiences, and we know very well that these crises as they present pain to women, they provide them with resistance and resilience.

This time might constitute a new beginning, and we need to cooperate together and to evolve together in order to survive through various means and with an awareness that is shaped by us to present humanity with new rich values as we have always did that emanates from the continued act of resistance and dedication to defend women’s rights, while adhering to our feminist values.

(Thank you to Anwarul Chowdhury for calling our attention to this article.)

A global call from Palestine Action for the Planet


 An blog by Mazin Qumsiyeh in the Popular Resistance Blogspot

More and more people realize that the current global political and economic structures are unable to deal with global climate crisis, the endless conflicts, proliferation of WMD, and the increased frequency of pandemics. This is no longer just a question of morality and rights but a question of our survival as a civilization and as a planet facing mass extinction. erg,” he said.

World War II transformed our planet in ways not foreseen before, including creating instruments like the United Nations ostensibly to stop wars and conflict and encourage cooperation across borders. Yet we have had many wars and economic blockades and inequality that have killed tens of millions of people since 1945. A large part of this had to do with the flawed system created: the dominance of five nations at the UN, the presumption that challenges in 1945 would be the same as our challenges decades later, and the hegemony of the United States, then thought to be more benevolent than others as a policeman of the world. This hegemony includes the use of the US dollar in global trade and as a reserve currency even after the US dropped the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971. The IMF and World Bank instruments also drifted to become tools of hegemony and control.

This system, whether one thinks it worked for a while or not, is clearly unsustainable in the 2020s and beyond – an era of global challenges such as climate change and pandemics. The COVID-19 crisis shows clearly that we cannot continue in this system of supposed “growth” in certain national economies via rampant uncontrolled capitalism and hegemony of rich individuals and corporations who can and do usurp democracy, including via mass media. The rich thus got richer and the poor poorer even in supposedly rich countries. 

We humans of all backgrounds, living across this planet must work together to create new paradigms and systems. We collectively make this urgent call to restructure: not just to face this COVID-19 crisis, but to face climate change and future global challenges.

Boldly, we demand and will work towards these objectives:

1)  The institutions created following World War II were dominated by the five victors and now must be democratized and transformed to serve all people of this planet particularly the impoverished people. This can be done via votes proportional to populations and via ensuring collective global security.  A new program for a healthier global system can and must be developed with the widest participation of professionals and the general public. It will build on the excellent UN Sustainable Development Goals and other conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Building on those is with the aim of sustainability and survival of our species and our fragile ecosystems. But communities and countries can also start such programs without waiting for change in the UN system.

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Question related to this article:
How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

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2) Measuring development by GDP or the averaged PPP (GDP per person averaged at a national level) is a misleading approach and ignores human needs. We demand that governments do not burden future generations with debt and an illusion of growth that is profiting few at the expense of the many. The earth has plenty of resources and production to keep all of us healthy and well-fed when we reset our priorities towards: social services (the elderly and others in need), agriculture (especially permaculture), health, education, and research (technological advances that help sustainability).

3) Drastically reduce military spending (increasingly militarized police) and redirect to serve rather than kill and exploit people. Even a small fraction of the 1.8 trillion spent on the military annually would be enough to end hunger and cure pandemics.

4) We can choose to respond to crises without giving-up on our liberties. History has shown that national authorities remove our liberties in crises and then rarely return them in full. To address this, citizens must vote directly on certain issues and all measures must expire and be renewed, if need be, within a reasonable timeframe via a vote by citizens

5) Nationalism as a political organizational structure has run its course and like other systems before it (city-states, kingdoms, and empires) must now evolve into a new system to face new realities of global threats. The nature of a new system needs significant thinking, but it is clear that to respond to an increasingly global crisis (climate change and pandemics), we have to have both local empowerment and global systems of joint struggle and solidarity. A corollary of this is that certain natural resources such as the Amazon rainforest and oceans must be protected as a planetary resource, and not left to the whims of national systems that can shift quickly for greed and imperialism. Thus, we must strengthen local communities, particularly native people. Another corollary is that we must limit national authority and create new systems that challenge colonialism, racism, sexism, and exploitation.

6) We must abandon our consumerist ways by living simply and humbly and reducing our footprints on this earth. We aim for zero-waste, for using renewable energy, for growing our own food in our own communities, and for cleaner, and healthier environment for all of us (humans, fauna, flora).  Reduce, Recycle, Refuse Refuse. Reduce our use of water (e.g. via compost toilets, proper water management, etc.) and of material and supplies (living humbly). Reduce solid wastes, plastics, and fossil fuels (towards final elimination). Recycle what cannot be eliminated. But most significantly refuse the urge to shop (consumerism).

7) Decrease building of massive and much unneeded infrastructure like stadiums and dams and increase vegetation preferably with native trees and bushes.

8)   Reconnect to nature and learn from it. Ecosystem balance must be restored. We humans must recognize ourselves as part of nature and live in harmony with it.

Covid-19: A new organization of the world is essential (Moroccan university professor)


An article from APA News (translation by CPNN)

Mr. Abdelmoughit Benmassoud Tredano, Professor of Political Science and Geopolitics at Mohammed V University in Rabat, provides an analysis of post-Covid-19 international relations, as well as the first lessons from the coronavirus crisis.

According to him, the crisis has only just begun with the collapse of the stock markets, the fall in the price of oil, against a background of war between the powers, and other more or less serious signals. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Now a new organization of the world is essential. First, at the individual, group and national level, individualism is outdated and solidarity is needed instead.

Also, an understanding of the uniqueness of humans and our common destiny must replace the carefree attitude of before. This certainly implies rethinking the organization of the world on all levels, in the sense of less globalization and above all the rehabilitation of the welfare state, predicts Pr. Tredano.

According to the Director of the Moroccan Journal of Political and Social Sciences and President of the Center for Research and Studies in Social Sciences (CRESS), a new organization of the world must be envisaged and new modes of production and distribution of wealth must be researched and applied. Suffice to say that a challenge to globalization is not only imperative but even beneficial.

“This is not a luxury but an essential and perhaps saving choice. Now we face the choice between the extinction of humanity and our survival. It may seem overwhelming and excessive, but the choice is there, “said the Moroccan academic, author of numerous works, books, articles and studies on internal and international political issues.

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(click here for the original version in French)

Question related to this article:
How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

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This is an opportunity as well as a crisis. The Covid-19 crisis “can have a virtue: that of allowing the planet a certain break,” he maintains. For him, what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and environmentalists could not impose on economic and financial policy makers, the crisis linked to this pandemic is, in part, realizing it.

Apparently, the air in the Chinese city of Wuhan is starting to be breathable; and the water in the canals of Venice (Italy) has become more transparent!

The coronavirus pandemic poses many challenges. Europe and the world are discovering that they all depend on China; economic indendence, in fact independence in general, is in question.

Also, a questioning of globalization supposes a beginning of relocation and reindustrialisation, he explains, adding that we must re-establish a circular economy, ecological solidarity, cooperation and proximity.

The academic also stresses that the organization of the world by regional groups must be adopted because no single state can stand alone, unless it is an entire continent. He insists on the imperative of solidarity between peoples and states, in these times of planetary crisis.

The global geopolitical configuration will be completely turned upside down, he acknowledges, noting that the signals since at least 2003 are becoming clearer: Europe is crumbling, America is floundering and Asia is asserting itself.

Pointing out that following each world geopolitical cataclysm, there is a need to build a new international order, Professor Tredano believes that the idea of ​​the coexistence of regional and international powers is a track and a guarantee that avoids the domination of the powerful.

“International cooperation must be effective and not just as a slogan that we wave in all international forums if we are to be able to effectively deal with crisis situations such as the one we are currently experiencing. Now everything is global!,” underlines the Professor.

While waiting for a “demondialization”, he continues, the culture of peace and tolerance must be established. “It must meet fundamental and unavoidable conditions of collective life of peoples and states in a difficult and complex world. All of this presupposes a new organization of the world.”

A crucial moment for women’s rights in Afghanistan


An article by Heather Barr in Human Rights Watch

This is a moment of both fear and hope for Afghan women — and an urgent time for the world to support their hard-won rights. The Feb. 29 deal between the US and the Taliban could pave the way for a peace that Afghans desperately seek. But there are huge risks for women’s rights in this process.

Women walk along a street in the old part of Kabul on February 29, 2020. Women across the country are nervous about losing their hard-won freedoms in the pursuit of peace.  © 2020 WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

Women have suffered deeply during Afghanistan’s 40 years of war, and they desperately long for peace. They have also fought ferociously for equality in the years since the fall of the Taliban government and have made great progress. Today there are women ministers and governors and judges and police and soldiers, and Afghanistan’s parliament has a higher percentage of women than does the US Congress.

But Afghan women’s rights activists have faced resistance from the Afghan government — and lack of support from international donors — as they fought for their rightful place at the negotiating table for peace talks. This exclusion, combined with the Taliban’s relentless discrimination against women and girls, increases fears that women’s rights could easily be a casualty of this process.

The US-Taliban deal is focused on foreign troop withdrawal and preventing Taliban support for international terrorism attacks. It also triggers “intra-Afghan” talks between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other factions, which are slated to start March 10. But women’s rights were not included in the Feb. 29 deal. Zalmay Khalilzad, the lead US envoy to the talks, repeatedly said that women’s rights — and other issues relating to human rights, political structures and power sharing — should be resolved through the subsequent intra-Afghan talks. This has been a source of frustration to activists.

The Taliban remain deeply misogynistic. Their 1996 to 2001 regime was notorious for denying women and girls access to education, employment, freedom of movement and health care, and subjecting them to violence including public lashing or execution by stoning. Taliban rhetoric and conduct has moderated somewhat in subsequent years, with some Taliban commanders permitting girls to attend primary schools, typically in response to community pressure. But the Taliban also continue to carry out violent attacks against girls’ schools and block women and girls from exercising many of their basic rights, and remain deeply opposed to gender equality.

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Question for this article

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

Is peace possible in Afghanistan?

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In February, a Taliban leader wrote, “[W]e together will find a way to build an Islamic system in which all Afghans have equal rights, where the rights of women that are granted by Islam — from the right to education to the right to work — are protected.” Skeptics noted the comma separating women from equal rights, and that from 1996 to 2001 the Taliban also argued that women were enjoying all rights “granted by Islam.”

The Afghan government has been an unreliable supporter — and sometimes even an enemy — of women’s rights. The administrations of both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani have frequently brushed aside women’s rights. Both have mostly rebuffed activists’ demands for women to have full participation in the peace process, as provided under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. Foreign donors have been more willing to engage in photo ops and grant agreements than to expend political capital to press for Afghan women to be in the room, at the table, during negotiations.

Lack of clarity about the intra-Afghan talks and the designated negotiators has further heightened fears about the implications for women’s rights. Political infighting following the disputed Afghan presidential election has delayed the appointment of the government negotiation team. Pressure to divvy up these roles among power brokers threatens to squeeze women out. The absence of clear information about what country will host the talks and who will facilitate them prevents women’s rights activists from lobbying for including women.

A fight over whether a release of prisoners will move ahead is muddying the waters further and calling into question the timeline for the intra-Afghan talks. Meanwhile, violence, reduced ahead of the deal’s signing, threatens to escalate again.

Several years back it was common to hear Afghan feminists argue that there should be no negotiations with the Taliban — a group that refused to recognize women’s full humanity. Today those calls are all but gone. Even the staunchest women’s rights activists have mostly accepted that there is no path to peace in Afghanistan but through negotiations with the Taliban.

But protecting women’s rights needs to be one of the key objectives of this process, and for that to happen, women need to be at the negotiating table. Governments increasingly recognize that the role of women in peace processes is not just an afterthought, but critical to sustainable and implementable peace accords. The Afghan government and all its international partners need to back Afghan women, who are in the fight of their lives.

Lebanon: Interview with Ogarit Younan (prize for conflict prevention and peace)


An article from Agenda Culturel

The CHAML association has been awarded the “Prize for Conflict Prevention and Peace in Lebanon 2019” from the Ghazal Foundation, which annually awards an NGO. This award adds to the long career of its founders, Ogarit Younan and Walid Slaiby. Pioneers of non-violence in Lebanon and in the region. Initiators of interactive training in Lebanon, they have been recognized as figures of civil society for over 30 years. They have to their credit the creation of several associations and especially the foundation of the University Academy for Nonviolence and Human Rights – AUNOHR.

On the occasion of the award ceremony, Ogarit Younan answers questions from the Cultural Agenda.

How long has the Chaml association existed and what are its goals?

First of all, I would like to salute the GHAZAL Foundation and its founding president Michel Ghazal, for this link, active rather than passive, that he ties with his country, by supporting concrete actions of peace and citizenship each year.

CHAML (“شمل” ، “شباب مواطنون لاعنفيون لاطائفيون”), was created in the heart of the upheavals of 2005 which deeply divided the country. It brought together 260 young people, through activities in all the mohafazats of the country. The members of the founding group come from different backgrounds but without being “denominational” because this is absolutely not the philosophy of CHAML.

In 2008, CHAML obtained the official status of a civil association in accordance with Lebanese law (Opinion No 1040 / Date September 10, 2008).

The CHAML coordination and administration committee is made up of professionals in civil action, trainers who are among the most senior trainers in Lebanon. They have a special qualification and are the first in Lebanon to hold a Masters in Human Rights and Non-violence.

Through its objectives, CHAML works mainly to contribute in the following areas:

* Raise awareness among young students, especially adolescents in secondary classes through an annual program in public and private schools in all regions of the country.

* Undertake peace and citizenship initiatives aimed at resolving conflicts and deep “wounds” in Lebanese society.

* Fight for change in the denominational system and unjust laws.

* Support, through its expertise, other civil organizations, at national and regional level, in projects for young people, women, education and refugees.

Read here for examples of CHAML activities.

The revolution that began October 17 last year aimed be a peaceful uprising. Did you expect such a rising of a population that some previously believed was “in a coma”?

Obviously, we expected something that said “enough is enough”, but it was beyond measure with this massive NO. Moreover, this uprising is the result of an accumulation of small gradual ‘no’ s. Rather than a ‘coma’, I prefer to say longtemps a long silent latent anger, repeatedly expressed through actions, sometimes successful and mostly unsuccessful. The most important thing now is that “the spirit of the revolution” builds a professional and well-organized strategy that is still lacking but developing.

(Click here for the original article in French.)

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Question for this article:

Can peace be guaranteed through nonviolent means?

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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During this uprising and in your opinion, what effects have the trainings you have given in recent years had?

We have seen everywhere and in all regions the people we have trained over the past 30 years. They participated in the organization of groups, training in non-violent means of action, the animation of tents in public places, the development of alternatives, coordination between groups, courageous demonstrations in the face of the recall to the civil war and the “denominational style of the militias” and there I could in particular quote the demonstration of the “nonviolent mothers” in Chiyah-Ayn Remmaneh organized by activists of CHAML and students of AUNOHR.

Can nonviolence have the last word?

Non-violence is the only way. Through my meetings and discussions in public places in Beirut and Tripoli, even the people claiming that there is a revolution “only by blood” changed their minds, when they discovered that non-violence is courage, strength and effective solutions, contrary to what they have learned. This leads us to end the glorification of violence, to cultivate the spirit of non-violence and to spread its concrete examples.

Regarding your university, to whom are the doors of AUNOHR open?

The University Academy for Nonviolence and Human Rights – AUNOHR, the only one of its kind in Lebanon and a pioneer worldwide, was officially founded in 2014 and the courses started in 2015-2016.

AUNOHR was conceived according to a philosophy which deals with education rather than teaching, where training within the university is a life in itself, and in the words of Comenius “professional Humanist workshops”.

We offer 9 areas of specialization at the Master and University Diploma (DU) level, drawing on all academic and professional fields, and creating new job opportunities that are internationally qualified as “the jobs of this present in transition and of the future”.

Students come from Lebanon and all Arab countries; the first three promotions are from six countries: Syria, Palestine, Iraq including Kurdistan, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

The participants are from 21 to 67 years old, women and men.

As these are new specializations in higher education, students are from various academic and professional backgrounds: teachers, school directors, journalists, lawyers, university teachers, activists, founders of associations, doctors , elected officials, executives in the public sector, bank employees, religious, coordinators of civil campaigns and political actors, artists, etc.

At the same time, dozens of participants have joined ‘individual’ courses with flexible hours, and received official certificates (each course: 3 credits).

How can everyone participate in spreading messages of non-violence around them?

The best message could only be that of the people trained with us, and I invite you to listen to the testimonies of the students who expressed themselves unanimously that it was a “turning point” in their personal and professional life.

See “AUNOHR in the eyes of its students”, a video with short testimonial videos by the students of the University of Non-violence and Human Rights.

Thanks to Phyllis Kotite, the reporter for this article.

Humanitarian community praise Sudan PM’s visit to Nuba Mtns


An article from Radio Dabanga

In a statement today, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) in Sudan, Gwi-Yeop Son, who was part of the international delegation, that accompanied Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok on his historic visit to Kauda yesterday commended the spirit of cooperation between the government of Sudan and the SPLM-N that resulted in this historic visit.

Sudan’s PM Hamdok and SPLM-N head Abdelaziz El Hilu share a joke
during the visit to Kauda yesterday [January 9] (RD)

“It comes following the Sudanese government’s commitment to allow unfettered humanitarian access to all areas of the country.”

Son is further encouraged that the SPLM-N El Hilu is open to the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all areas under their control in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

“The United Nations stands ready to deliver assistance to people in need in all areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states,” Son said.

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Question related to this article:


Can peace be achieved in South Sudan?

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While in Kauda, the delegation visited schools where humanitarian organisations are implementing a school feeding programme – a top priority identified following an assessment in the end of December 2019. School supplies for 800 children were also delivered as well as non-food items, Son’s statement says

Sudan INGOs Steering Committee

The Sudan INGOs Steering Committee – a coordination mechanism that includes all international non-governmental organisations aiming to coordinate with government, UN agencies, and other actors – has welcomed the initiative of PM Hamdok’s visit to Kauda.

In a press statement yesterday, the committee said: “The visit comes at critical juncture of Sudanese history and [represents a] brave turn in the path of confidence and trust building that contributes to lasting peace and stability in Sudan, equitable treatment of Sudanese people, and respect for their human rights.

“Since the eruption of conflict in South Kordofan (Nuba Mountains) and Blue Nile in 2011, areas under the control of SPLM-N suffered a humanitarian siege by the previous regime that led to worsening of the humanitarian situation and increasing the suffering of the Sudanese citizens in these areas.”

The committee says that PM Hamdok’s visit “opens new windows for humanitarian and development organisations to start their programs and activities in those areas to relieve suffering of war affected people, and participate in moving towards long term developmental programs as a building block for sustained and long lasting peace.”

The committee says it “appreciates the courage and brave actions of the Sudanese leaders both of the transitional government and SPLM-N for taking this step which will also open a window for social peace and healing of the social cohesion and fabric teared by war.”

UN commemorates International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People


An article from the United Nations

The United Nations has underlined its unwavering commitment to the Palestinian people in their ongoing struggle to achieve self-determination, independence and sovereignty.

(Click on image to enlarge and to read caption)

Senior officials joined ambassadors and other representatives from the international community in New York on Wednesday to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, officially observed each year on 29 November.

Established in 1977, it marks the day in 1947 when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution partitioning Palestine into an Arab State and a Jewish State.

No alternative to two-state solution

Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains one of the most intractable challenges facing the international community, UN Secretary-General António Guterres observed in his message for the day. 

As there is no viable alternative to the two-State solution, he called on both sides, and their supporters, to work towards restoring faith in the process.

“Only constructive negotiations between the parties, in good faith, with support from the international community and adhering to long-standing United Nations resolutions and long-agreed parameters, will bring about a just and durable solution, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states”, the UN chief said.

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Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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“What is needed, first and foremost, are leadership and political will. The efforts of civil society and those on all sides who seek to bridge the gap between Israelis and Palestinians also need to be supported.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his people have endured more than 70 years of tragedies and crises, yet remain steadfast.

“Despite decades of disappointment and setbacks, we remain committed to a multilateral order that respects and ensures respect for international law,” he said in a message read by Palestinian Permanent Observer to the UN, Riyad Mansour.

“The State of Palestine will continue engaging in efforts aimed to advance the rule of international law, including through the building of our national institutions, spreading the culture of peace and empowering our people, especially women and youth.”

Humanitarian support vital

The roughly eight million Palestinians live primarily in territory occupied by Israel, but also across the Middle East in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande called for action to ensure critical humanitarian support.

“This must be tackled by strengthening the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), to ensure that it can meet the humanitarian needs of over 5.4 million Palestinian refugees. It is important that we collectively safeguard the Agency against the political and financial challenges it faces,” he said.

Niang Cheikh, Chair of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, maintains hope that the two-State solution will be realized.

“Despite all the contrary winds, this day will come and we will then celebrate the realization of a just peace in the interest of the Palestinians and indeed all the peoples of the region,” he stated.

Moroccan Researcher Karima El Azhary Wins International Sustainable Development Award


An article from Morocco World News

Moroccan researcher Karima El Azhary won the 2019 Green Talents Award for her research in energy efficiency. The award ceremony took place on October 24, in Berlin. The ceremony saw 25 researchers from different countries earn awards.

The Green Talents Award aims to reward people with “high potential in sustainable development” from all over the world. The award is an initiative by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the award.

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Question for this article:

How can we ensure that science contributes to peace and sustainable development?

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This year, 837 applicants from 97 different countries applied for the award. The jury, composed of expert scientists in sustainable development, selected 25 young researchers for the prize.

El Azhary is a PhD researcher at the Mohammadia School of Engineers in Rabat. She directed her research towards developing new sustainable construction and insulation materials, based on alimentary and agricultural waste. The aim of her work is improving thermal insulation and energy efficiency of buildings, mainly in underprivileged areas.

The award’s jury appreciated El Azhary’s “great commitment that allows an innovative and inspired research approach to relevant sustainability issues such as energy efficiency.”

They also recognized her volunteer activities as “she is part of international and national youth associations, which aims to encourage and help young people to invest in social entrepreneurship and sustainable projects.”

Following her recognition, the Moroccan researcher told the press that she is “honored and proud” of receiving the award. She also took the opportunity to praise her colleagues; “This award confirms the high competency of Moroccan researchers in all fields.”

The award would allow El Azhary to benefit from the German experience in sustainability science, innovation, and technology. It would also allow her to search for possibilities of cooperation with German universities and institutes in the field.

Representatives from the Moroccan embassy in Germany attended the award ceremony, along with presidents and leaders of international scientific research centers.

2019 Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders Award winners announced


An article from Peace Direct

Now in its seventh year, the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders Awards celebrate some of the world’s most innovative local peacebuilders. This year, the three focus areas for the awards were: women-led peacebuilding, youth-led peacebuilding, and music and the performing arts. A panel of international experts selected the winners from 406 applicants, the highest number we have received to date.

Video of award-winning initiatives

The winners — from Syria, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo — were announced at the Alliance for Peacebuilding annual conference, PeaceCon, on 3 October in Washington, D.C. Each received a $10,000 grant to contribute to their work.

“We’re happy to highlight and support the work of these local peacebuilders, because they know best how to tackle problems in their communities. The leaders of these three organizations are providing practical and creative solutions, and directly improving people’s lives,” said Peace Direct CEO Dylan Mathews.

Youth-led peacebuilding: Youth for Homeland in Yemen

Youth for Homeland, founded in 2014, works in rural areas of Yemen to engage communities in peacebuilding efforts, working mainly with young people to develop skills and find alternatives to violence. For example, when one community was fighting over limited water resources, the organization helped establish reservoirs to contain water over longer periods.

The organization plans to use the award to train more peacebuilders. “The main objective is to rehabilitate young people to become peace ambassadors and urge their colleagues and friends to not participate in the war anymore, so that we can contribute to the end of the war in Yemen,” said Abdullah al-Suraihi, founder of Youth for Homeland.

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Questions for this article:

How important is community development for a culture of peace?

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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Women-led peacebuilding: Open Art Space in Syria

Many children in Syria have known nothing but war. Three women, two of whom are artists, founded Open Art Space in the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2016. Their work connects children and young people inside and outside of Syria through peacebuilding.

Children participate in free weekly workshops, which offer a safe space to play and connect with one another, a chance to express themselves, and a way to learn about peace through art. To reach children more widely, the women created a website where children anywhere in Syria can practice drawing and art exercises to help process the violence they have experienced.

For co-founder Roula al-Khatib, this award enables the organization to “reach out to more Syrian children affected by the war in remote places to implement art and peace in their daily life. This is an opportunity for us to tell the world that despite the sad war in Syria, there are many people who are working very hard to retain peace back.”

Music and the performing arts: Amani Institute in DR Congo

The Amani Institute, founded in 2016 in North Kivu, DR Congo, uses theater to help young ex-combatants process trauma they have experienced and reintegrate into their communities. The technique of theater enables former fighters to interact with others, and acts as a springboard for dialogue, reconciliation and tolerance.

“This is an acknowledgement that our effort in the Democratic Republic of Congo is being recognized internationally,” said Joseph Tsongo, founder of the Amani Institute. “It will help us continue our work for the next generation and bring peace to the country.”

We celebrate this year’s winners, and all peacebuilding efforts taking place around the world.

We thank our sponsors: the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Away, the Bluegrass Ambassadors, the Pickwell Foundation and Humanity United for supporting this year’s awards and award ceremony.

For more information: contact@peacedirect.org

Australia: Antony Loewenstein wins the 2019 Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize


An article from Jerusalem Peace Prize

Australians for Palestine and the Australia-Palestine Advocacy Network are thrilled to announce that the winner of the 2019 Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize is journalist, author, and film-maker Antony Loewenstein

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Question for this article

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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Antony’s best-selling book “My Israel Question” generated a storm of controversy because of his forensic discussion of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the intimidatory way Zionist lobby groups have affected political discourse and news media to shape their version of Middle-Eastern politics. 

His foray into this veritable minefield saw him personally attacked and even shunned by his community and relatives.

He co-founded Independent Australian Jewish Voices and has said that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement “is a logical and non-violent response to human rights abuses in Palestine.

The award will be presented by last year’s prize winner Professor Emeritus Stuart Rees AM at a black-tie dinner in Queen’s Hall, Victorian State Parliament [Melbourne, Australia] on Friday  22 November 2019.  In response to the award, Antony will be in conversation with the celebrated journalist and television news presenter, Mary Kostakidis.