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9 October 2007The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has issued a wide-ranging new guide on teaching good eating habits to primary school children in an effort to reduce malnutrition and diet-related diseases.

The agency notes that one of the most effective strategies for overcoming malnutrition and chronic diet-related diseases, such as excess weight and obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, is educating school children in healthy nutrition.

Good nutrition education helps children become aware of how to eat a well-balanced diet, how to prepare and handle food safely, and how to avoid food-related risks.

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New York: (Agencies): 8 October 2007 Participation of over 80 countries and groups in the General Assembly’s high-level dialogue on interreligious and intercultural understanding showed the importance Member States place on the issue, the 192-member body’s president said today at the close of the first event of its kind at the United Nations.

Srgjan Kerim urged participants to “go forth and strive to build a new culture of international relations based on human rights and security, mutual cooperation and respect for international law.”

The high-level dialogue is “an important avenue to achieve this goal,” he said in his closing remarks to the event, which drew the participation of over 80 Member States and representatives of civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith groups and the private sector.

While the UN is an excellent forum for dialogue, he emphasized that it must not stop there.

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JERUSALEM (AP) — The cumulative impact of years of violence and closures, of disrupted schooling and endemic poverty is clear from the stark exam results of Gaza’s school children.  

Large numbers of students in U.N.-run schools in Gaza have flunked achievement tests in math and Arabic, the agency said Thursday, attributing the poor showing to violence, overcrowding and poverty.

More than two-thirds of students in grades four through nine failed math, and more than one-third did poorly in Arabic, said the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which runs schools for more than half a million children of Palestinian refugees across the Arab world. Ninety percent of Gaza sixth-graders failed the math test, UNRWA said.

In contrast, Palestinian students at U.N. schools in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan are doing better than their counterparts in government schools, indicating that a stable environment is key to learning, UNRWA said.

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5 October 2007 – It will not be possible to meet the goal of providing quality education for all children by 2015 without an additional 18 million new teachers worldwide – 4 million in Africa alone – the United Nations said today on the occasion of World Teacher’s Day.

The growing shortage of qualified teachers is the main challenge to the realization of international education targets, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said in a message issued to mark the Day.

“But the challenge is more than one of just numbers,” Director-General Koichiro Matsuura added. “The quality of teachers and teaching is also essential to good learning outcomes.

In the message, which is co-signed by the heads of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the organization Education International, Mr. Matsuura noted that in many countries not all children are able to go to school or learn basic skills since there are simply not enough teachers.

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5 October 2007 – The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today unveiled its first guide explaining the range of palliative care services available for the millions of people across the world living with advanced stages of cancer.

Aimed at public health planners, particularly in developing countries, the guide provides information on how to devise the most effective methods of providing palliative care, including details of low-cost public health models.

WHO’s Director for Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion, Benedetto Saraceno, said simple and low-cost models can be adopted in ways that reach the majority of the population, even in poor countries where most cases are not diagnosed until the late stages of cancer.

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1 October 2007 – With millions of people on the move around the world, the top United Nations refugee official today called for new strategies to tackle the causes, scale and complexity of global displacement and migration.

“The present century is a time of human displacement,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres said at the opening of the weeklong annual meeting of the agency’s governing Executive Committee. “With each economic opportunity and departing vessel, with every calamity and conflict, the 21st century is being marked by people on the move.”

After several years of decline, the number of refugees fleeing conflict and persecution rose last year and continues to climb in 2007, according to UNHCR. At the end of last year, the agency was caring for 32.9 million people, including nearly 10 million refugees, 13 million people displaced internally within their own countries and 5.8 million stateless people.

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3 October 2007 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Special Olympics International today launched a partnership to advance the rights of children with intellectual disabilities to mark the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, focusing on health care, education, recreational sports and employment policies.

“Special Olympics helps those with disabilities to develop their full potential,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said in the Chinese port city. “This new partnership will help make the point that children with disabilities have the same rights as all other children. They are entitled to adequate health care and quality education, and to live in an environment that protects them from abuse, exploitation and disease.”

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2 October 2007 – Addressing the General Assembly’s first-ever observance of the International Day of Non-violence, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that communities around the globe were “increasingly mired in rising intolerance and cross-cultural tensions. We see extremist dogma and violent ideologies gaining ground, as moderate forces retreat.

“And we have witnessed lethal force being used against unarmed and non-violent marchers who exemplified the very spirit of the Mahatma’s teachings,” he added, referring to the recent wave of peaceful protests witnessed in Myanmar.

Mahatma Gandhi, the man who inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world a “personal hero,” Mr. Ban said that “by incorporating non-violence into everyday life, the Mahatma inspired countless individuals to lead better, more meaningful lives.”

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The United Nations today (Monday, 2/10/2007) marked the International Day of Older Persons with appeals for sustainable pension programmes and the release of the first guide on age-friendly cities, recommending a range of measures from well-lit sidewalks to bus drivers’ waiting until senior citizens are seated before starting off.

"Sobering statistics show that some 80 per cent of the world’s population are not covered by social protection in old age," Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a message marking the Day. "Finding ways to provide economic support for a growing number of older persons, through sustainable pension programmes and new social protection measures, is a daunting task, particularly in developing countries."

"Our views on what it means to be old are changing all the time. Where older persons were sometimes seen as a burden on society, they are now increasingly recognized as an asset that can and should be tapped," he added, noting that population ageing brings significant economic and social challenges for developed and developing countries alike.

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GENEVA: (AFP-1/10/2007): The UN Human Rights Council has failed to handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a balanced fashion, the council’s chair said in an interview published Saturday.

Costea suggested in the interview with the daily Le Temps that the council was concentrating too much on human rights abuses by Israel, adding that he was dissatisfied.

“On this point, the council has failed,” he said, days after US President George W. Bush attacked the body for perceived anti-Israeli bias.

“The council must remain simple, and concentrate on the human rights dimension, but it must look at the stance of all sides, not only one country.”

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