20 November 1999
In this issue:
|1. FEATURE - top|
ASIAN ECONOMIC JUSTICE BEYOND 2000
By Marissa de Guzman and Walden Bello
If we rely on the news these days, we will get the impression that Asia
is on the rebound and on the fast track to recovery. Experts say that the worst is
definitely over. Almost every Asian country is registering positive or respectable growth
rates thereby attracting foreign capital and investments once more. We have apparently
gained foreign investors' confidence once again.
(This presentation was made by Marissa de Guzman at the Consultation "FROM CRISIS TO KAIROS CCA URM BEYOND 2000" held in Bangkok 1-4 October, 1999)
|2. NEWS in Brief - top|
Global Campaign for Education
Ten years after the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child guaranteed education for all children, the promise is still a distant dream. Over 125 million children, most of them young girls, never even see the inside of a classroom. Another 150 million children receive schooling of such low quality and such high cost that they drop out of school soon after they start.
Not willing to let this injustice continue, a powerful alliance of international organisations and national movements have joined forces to launch a Global Campaign for Education. The campaign intends to mobilise public pressure on governments to fulfill their promises to provide free, quality education for all people. Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires governments to make primary education compulsory and available free to all, while Article 29 calls for education that develops children's full human potential and prepares them for responsible life in a free society.
Bringing together organisations working in 180 countries, the campaign's steering committee includes: Education International (the world organisation of teacher unions), Oxfam International, ActionAid, the Global March Against Child Labour, the South African NGO Coalition, the Campaign for Popular Education (Bangladesh), and the Brazilian National Campaign for the Right to Education. This campaign marks the first time that leading social organisations have joined together in a determined drive for universal education.
North Korea trapped in vicious circle of poor nutrition
North Korea's severe food crisis cannot be resolved without international aid, economic growth and the country's integration into the global economy, two UN food agencies said in a report published recently.
"Given the scale of the problem and its root causes, future food supply prospects are almost entirely contingent on international food and rehabilitation assistance," said the report by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The country's nutritional situation remained "fragile" in spite of Pyongyang's efforts to redress chronic food shortages.
The agencies said "economic growth and the ability of the country to integrate itself into the global economy" were further requisites before any improvement was likely.
Failing these "food availability and health and nutritional standards will continue to fall markedly." The report follows a 10-day fact-finding mission by FAO and WFP officials to North Korea last month. According to the two agencies living standards in North Korea have significantly declined in the last four years. "Widespread starvation has only been averted by concerted national efforts and the unprecedented volume of humanitarian food assistance provided by the international community," said the report.
The two agencies expected food supply to remain "precarious over the next 12 months" but said some improvement had been made in rice production this year due mainly to the increased use of fertilizers, adequate irrigation and the absence of serious pest and disease attacks.
Based on population figures provided by Pyongyang, grain demand for food and other uses for 1999/2000 is said to be 4.76 million tonnes. This leaves a deficit of about 1.29 million tonnes, of which the government is expected to import 300,000 tonnes, said the report.
A further 370,000 tonnes is covered by expected food aid imports, leaving 623,000 tonnes of grain that will need to come through assistance programmes.
HK TOY Coalition Campaigns for compensation to victims of Zili fire
A campaign has begun against a toy firm's failure to compensate victims
and their families following a fire at a Hong Kong-funded factory in Shenzhen six years
ago yesterday that killed 87 and 47 injured workers.
The Italian firm Artsana S.p.A./Chicco pledged two years ago to give victims a total of $1.3 million in compensation, but decided this year to divert the money to charities instead. It said mainland red tape had thwarted its attempts to get a full list of victims.
A Hong Kong concern group dissatisfied with the move decided to launch the protest and a rally to mark the sixth anniversary of the Shenzhen Zhili Handicraft factory fire on November 19, 1993.
The co-ordinator of the Hong Kong Coalition for the Safe Production of Toys, May Wong Yuet-may, said: "The victims helped Chicco make profits. It should be responsible for giving compensation.
"Some injured victims are waiting for the money to undergo surgery."
The group said it had passed Chicco a list of 40 victims and the company should be able to find the others.
"We strongly condemn the hypocrisy, insensitivity and gross negligence of Chicco," the coalition said.
It demanded Chicco stop diverting the $1.3 million for other purposes, make more efforts to locate the victims and compensate them.
Coalition convenor Chan Ka-wai said labour unions in Ireland, France and Italy had joined the campaign.
International Aid Workers struggle to rescue refugees
International aid workers are being forced to mount "commando-style snatch-and-run operations" in West Timor to rescue refugees from the grips of increasingly violent militia gangs, officials said yesterday.
Mr Robillard said the return of refugees to East Timor was depriving the militias of their bargaining power and they were getting increasingly desperate.
"The more people return to East Timor, the more vicious the attacks become," he said.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees sent a convoy to one camp on Thursday to pick up 100 refugees who had registered to go home. But only 17 people showed up because of threats by militiamen, said spokesman Kris Janowski.
He said the UNHCR yesterday had to "hurriedly extract" 76 people from Tua Puka camp, which is militia controlled, and drive off at top speed before thugs could respond.
Mr Robillard spoke of chaotic scenes in the camps as refugees clamoured to get on board vehicles before militiamen could separate families or kidnap children.
|3. RESOURCES Received - top|
Communication and Debt
Key issues in Global Communication, World Association for Christian Communication, 1999.
|4. Urgent APPEAL - top|
HONDA WORKERS PROTEST DISCIPLINARY
Send protest letters to:
|5. ANNOUNCEMENT - top|
Documentation for Action Groups in Asia (DAGA):