월요일, 12월 26, 2016

Dr. Sakena Yacoobi's Response on Winning the Award

It is a great honor to be chosen as a 2017 Sunhak Peace Prize Laureate. This year the Sunhak Peace Prize focuses its attention on the global refugee crisis.  It is a privilege to be recognized along with Dr. Gino Strada as someone who has contributed to helping refugees and helping in their resettlement.
I, myself, became a refugee in 1979 after the invasion of my country.  My family all became refugees.  I know what it feels like to be in a place where all of your rights have been taken away from you.  I know how it feels to lose everything you have, including your dignity and self-confidence.  That is why I founded the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), and that is why I have chosen to work with Afghan refugees and the resettlement of Afghan refugees and IDPs in Afghanistan for the last 24 years.  I wanted to find a way to help Afghans rebuild their self-respect and self-confidence; I wanted them to be able to trust again, rebuild their communities and reestablish their core values; I wanted them to able to live in peace and harmony and have a sustainable way of life.
When I first went to the refugee camps in Pakistan, I saw courage in the women, men and children, but I also saw despair and hopelessness.   I knew that I wanted to do something to transform the minds and spirits of my people. I knew that to build trust, I needed to listen to them; I needed to include them and their ideas in programs that they wanted, and I needed to ask each community to contribute something to their projects.  Their contributions would give them self-worth and dignity.  In other words, I wanted them to become partners with us. And, because education has changed my life, I decided that the solution to transforming the lives of my people lay in offering them holistic education—education that would empower them, give them health, critical thinking skills, and skills to earn a living so that they could be self-sufficient —education that would help them to be creative and have vision—education that gave them wisdom but also taught them about love and compassion.  Most importantly, because I am a spiritual person and I believe that God created all of us as equal human beings,   I made up my mind to include universal core values that bring peace and harmony for all in any work that I decided to do with my people.
When you share love, compassion and wisdom, you provide humanity with an indestructible base for living in peace and harmony that no one can take away. You create an environment where everyone respects each other’s rights and appreciates different cultures, traditions, religions and ideas. With love, compassion and wisdom as your base, then everyone globally can live in harmony and peace.
Globally, if all are educated and have equal opportunity for a holistic educational system, you can overcome poverty and disease.  Then, there is no war. We live in an era of conflict, mass displacement, growing hatred and great distrust.  We need to look at the situation deeply and remember that we are all humans created equally by God.  We must share and collaborate with each other to make this world a better place for everyone.

Doctor Sakena Yacoobi

Dr. Gino Strada, Response on Winning the Award

 I am honoured to receive the Sunhak Peace Prize. It encourages EMERGENCY and me to multiple efforts to pursue our mission of promoting peace and human rights worldwide. 
In 1994, I founded EMERGENCY with the aim of guaranteeing high standard, free-of-charge care to the victims of war and poverty. 
For 22 years, EMERGENCY has been treating over 8 million people in 17 countries, in the firm belief that the right to be cured is a fundamental human right. 
We work tirelessly in Afghanistan, where the number of war-wounded keeps increasing after 15 years of war. In Iraq, we contribute to the reception of tens of thousands of refugees and internally displace people. We provide medical care to entire families that have lost everything fleeing the war. 
In Italy, we treat hundreds of migrants that every week risk their lives in the Mediterranean Sea, looking for a better future away from home. 
Confronted daily with the suffering of war-victims, we have come to realise that war is the worst disease affecting humanity. 
In 1932, at a press conference gathering journalists from all over the world in Geneva, Albert Einstein stated “War cannot be humanised. It can only be abolished”. Some years later, in the 1955 Manifesto, Einstein and Bertrand Russell wrote: “Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?”
There is no alternative, especially today, when technologies with a mass destruction capacity million times higher than the bomb of Hiroshima are available. Humanity must renounce war. 
It may seem utopia, but, before the XIX century, even the abolition of slavery seemed utopian. 
As long as war remains a possible option to deal with severe crises, it is likely that someone will eventually resort to it. The abolition of war is the only guarantee for the future of humanity and our planet.

Doctor Gino Strada 

화요일, 12월 20, 2016

Main Achievement of Sakena Yacoobi

Devoted her life to Afghan ‘refugee education’

Sakena Yacoobi, the mother of Afghan education, has been a pioneering and devoted refugee educator for 21 years with the belief that education is the key to social reconstruction even under severe conditions of war and occupation.

Dr. Yacoobi began educating teachers in Afghan refugee camps where they had struggled to survive after decades of war and the complete collapse of the education and health system, and began to establish schools for boys and girls. In 1995, the Afghan Institute for Learning (AIL) was established to provide systematic refugee education, providing education and vocational training to 13 million women and children. Despite the Taliban regime's ban on women's schools, it successfully operated and educated more than 3,000 girls without incident.

Currently, AIL provides curricula from kindergarten to university education, and 44 education centers provide basic literacy education and various vocational courses, opening opportunities to refugees for income generation. Ultimately, it has been providing education in leadership, democracy, self-confidence, and capacity-building, aimed at fostering refugees to become independent citizens capable of critical thinking. As a result, refugees who have been educated at AIL have improved their self-confidence, economic power, and problem-solving abilities, and have been leading a successful community rebuilding process. The Afghan refugee community, which has experienced displacement for more than 30 years, now feels that education is a pathway to a better future and a key element for the country's reconstruction, and that educated young people will play a leading role in Afghanistan's future.

Presenting a holistic solution to the problem of the resettlement of refugees

Dr. Yacoobi introduced a holistic approach to rebuilding communities destroyed by war, providing an innovative solution to the problem of resettlement. This approach is a comprehensive and long-term solution to the problem of society as a whole, in order to overcome the inadequate educational, economic, socio-cultural and institutional constraints of refugee camps. It contributes to improving the overall quality of life and community development for Afghan refugees.

The Afghan Institute of Learning, an organization founded by Dr. Yacoobi, is providing technical assistance to four private schools, hospitals and radio stations at the private level. Since 1996, it has provided health education to more than 2 million women and children, which has significantly reduced infant mortality and maternal mortality during pregnancy and childbirth. It also continues to provide 'love and forgiveness' workshops to transform the refugees, who have been surrounded by social deprivation and anger, into positive leaders who can innovate in their local communities. Through radio broadcasting, it reaches more than a million people a day, dealing with social trends, health, family success models, human rights, literature, music, etc., and supports the desire of the refugees for a peaceful and fruitful life.

The entire community rebuilding process has been carried out in cooperation with the community itself, allowing the community to build a sense of ownership in the project. As a result of consultation, and organizing the projects needed by the community, rather than one-sided aid, it has revolutionized the refugee resettlement dynamic, providing a win-win situation for both the local community and government agencies.

Contributing to the improvement of human rights and the status of Muslim women

Sakena Yacoobi is committed to educating Muslim women with the belief that "to educate girls is to educate future generations." Due to some elements of Islamic culture opposing women's education, and as a result of protracted conflicts, Afghanistan has recorded the world's lowest literacy rate, with only 12.6% of women over 15 years of age being able to read and write. In order to address this serious situation, Dr. Yacoobi has been aggressively persuasive and has changed prejudices about women's education. As a result, many women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan are now educated, and in recent years Dr. Yacoobi even established a women’s university. She has provided family planning services and contraception advice in order to liberate women from unwanted childbirth. She also runs a women's legal counseling center in Afghanistan and provides legal advice services for women on issues such as domestic abuse, child custody, the right to inheritance, and marriage without consent.

Women who were isolated in their homes are now able to gather together and receive education through Women's Networking Centers. Women are given the opportunity to take part in classes, read and learn, engage in income-generating activities, participate in society, all of which has greatly improved their access to human rights and a higher quality of life.

Main Achievements of Gino Strada

Disseminating emergency aid at the forefront of conflict in Africa ∙ Middle East

Gino Strada is an Italian surgeon who, for 28 years, has been providing humanitarian relief to the victims of war and poverty, and refugees around the world.

He began his career as a war surgeon with the International Committee of the Red Cross (IRCR) in 1989, and in 1994 founded the international humanitarian  organization called EMERGENCY. EMERGENCY’s mandate is to provide high quality, free medical and surgical care to the victims of war, landmines and poverty. Over the years, EMERGENCY has been working in 17 countries, building and managing hospitals, Medical and Surgical Centres, Rehabilitation Centres, Paediatric Clinics, Primary Health Clinics, a Maternity Centre and a Centre for Cardiac Surgery. EMERGENCY is currently working in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Italy, Sierra Leone and Sudan.

In Afghanistan, EMERGENCY runs two surgical centres for war victims in Kabul and Lashkar-gah and one hospital in Anabah (Panjshir Valley), which includes a maternity centre. In 2007, EMERGENCY established the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, a Centre of Excellence in Sudan (Africa) providing free high-quality heart surgery to patients with acquired or congenital heart diseases. The Centre is the hub of a Regional Program for Cardiac Surgery and has received patients coming from 27 countries. At the Centre, EMERGENCY has performed more than 6,500 surgeries, and more than 56,000 cardiac examinations. The centre received world-class ratings for its work.

Since 2009, EMERGENCY has operated the only free-of-charge paediatric hospital in the Central African Republic. In 2014, when the Ebola virus (EVD) spread in West Africa, EMERGENCY established a 100-bed Ebola Treatment Centre in Goderich, Freetown, in cooperation with the British Cooperation.

The Centre, equipped with a 24-bed Intensive Care Unit, set up a revolutionary approach for the treatment of Ebola in West Africa. Since July 2014, EMERGENCY has also been very active in response to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, where it operates 6 primary healthcare centres in refugee and IDP camps. Since 2006, EMERGENCY has been running a widespread program in Italy to respond to the increasing needs of the migrant population from the landings at the Sicilian ports to urban ghettos and countryside shantytowns.

EMERGENCY cooperates with the United Nations to effectively respond to the needs of the population in danger. In 2008, EMERGENCY became an official partner of the United Nations Office of Public Information, and, since 2015, has obtained a special status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Taking the lead in protecting the dignity of human rights by guaranteeing the “right to be cured”

Gino Strada has actively promoted the value of peace, solidarity, and human rights, providing high quality, free of charge treatment without discrimination, in the firm belief that "the right to be cured" is a basic and inalienable right of all people.
In Africa, where there is little awareness of the availability of health care, his focus is on spreading the perception that health care supports the basic human right to live like human beings and that the state should take the lead. Through his active efforts, the governments of 11 African nations (Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda) have signed EMERGENCY's "Manifesto for a Human Rights-based Medicine" (a medical declaration of human rights) that recognizes "the right of people to receive medical treatment" and will make efforts to provide health care services free of charge.

In 2007, Dr. Strada established the first of the 11 Centres of Medical Excellence in Khartoum (Sudan), the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery. Building on the experience of the Salam Centre, in 2010, 11 countries adhered to the African Network of Medical Excellence (ANME), a project aiming at building Centres of Medical Excellence to strengthen National Heath Systems with a regional perspective.

This network hopes to promote and build peaceful relations in the region thanks an enduring cooperation in the medical sector. The construction works of the second centre, a Regional Hospital for Paediatric Surgery in Uganda, are about to start and are planned to end in December 2018.

EMERGENCY medical staff provides free medical and surgical care to all those in need without discrimination respecting three key principles: "equality," "high quality health care," and "social responsibility". EMERGENCY also provides thoroughly medical education and training to the national staff with the goal of handing over its facilities to local health authorities, whenever operational and clinical autonomy are fully achieved.

Leading the peace culture with "anti-war" and "prohibition of production of anti-personnel landmines" campaigns

Gino Strada is engaged in anti-war movements with a solid moral and political position that war must be abolished on the grounds that war tramples human dignity and life. As such, it cannot be justified for any reason.
In 1997, Gino Strada, who over decades has seen civilian casualties and human misery caused by land mines in conflict zones, enthusiastically campaigned to ban the production of mines in Italy, successfully achieved in 1998. In addition, he strongly opposed and campaigned against Italy's intervention in the war in Afghanistan in 2001, and in Iraq in 2003. In 2002, EMERGENCY organized a massive campaign with the support of half a million people protesting against the war.

In 2003, as the war in Afghanistan worsened and Iraq began, EMERGENCY started a mobilisation of the civil society and collected signatures for the anti-war movement, asking government groups to stop the fire “before hatred and violence become the only language of mankind."

The appeal was signed by world-renowned figures including MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, Le Monde newspaper Diplomatic editor Ignacio Ramonet, Former President of Italy (1992-1999) Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchù, 1986 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine Rita Levi Montalcini, 1997 Nobel Prize winner in Literature Dario Fo, and 1988 Nobel Prize winner in Physics Jack Steinberger, among others.

When, after intervening in the war, the Italian Foreign Ministry offered support to EMERGENCY's hospitals in Afghanistan, Dr. Strada declined the proposal stating that EMERGENCY could not receive funding from the Italian Government, which was actively contributing to the war.

Dr. Gino Strada is appealing to the world that, "In order to guarantee a peaceful future for mankind, war, which denies the human rights necessary for survival, should disappear, and the best thing the present generation can do for future generations is to work together to make a world without war."

월요일, 12월 19, 2016

Sunhak Peace Prize awarded to Dr. Gino Strada and Sakena Yacoobi(Published by The Washington Times, November 29 2016)

Dr. Gino Strada, who has provided medical and surgical care in 17 African and Middle Eastern nations for a quarter-century, and Sakena Yacoobi, who established multiple refugee-educational programs against considerable odds in Afghanistan, were named as co-recipients of the 2nd annual Sunhak Peace Price.

An Italian surgeon and an Afghan educator who consistently contributed to a sustainable and enduring international peace were named Tuesday as co-recipients of the 2nd annual Sunhak Peace Price — an international award that includes a cash award of $1 million.

Dr. Gino Strada, who has provided medical and surgical care in 17 African and Middle Eastern nations for a quarter-century, and Sakena Yacoobi, who established multiple refugee-educational programs against considerable odds in Afghanistan, share the award, which has been likened to the Nobel Peace Prize.

The pair had much competition, vying for the honor with 225 other nominees in 76 countries.

“As we face the largest number of displaced persons on a global scale since World War II, we must put forth transnational efforts for the common benefit of all mankind. It is with this critical situation in mind that the Sunhak Prize Committee has focused on the global refugee crisis,” said Il-sik Hong, former president of Korea University and chairman of the Seoul-based prize selection committee, upon announcing the two winners.

Both are innovative, determined stalwarts who led hands-on efforts in the field, often in harm’s way themselves. Both have produced quantifiable results and cultural changes through their work.

Dr. Strada established more than 60 medical and surgical facilities that continue to tend some 8 million vulnerable refugees facing such life-threatening dangers as landmines and constant wartime disruption.

“Gino Strada sees the right to be cured as a basic and inalienable human right. He is raising the bar, striving to provide high-quality medical treatment free of charge to the world’s poorest,” Mr. Hong said, noting that the physician also exacted agreements from 11 African nations to provide free health care for the afflicted.

“In addition, he built a world-class center for cardiac surgery in the middle of the African desert. With steadfast resolve, he is building a movement to oppose conflict and violence, based on a moral and political point of view that war cannot be justified, no matter what the reason,” Mr. Hong said.

Ms. Yacoobi has come to be known as “the mother of refugee education,” methodically establishing a network of innovative educational centers in Afghanistan. A special emphasis on girls and women includes legal counseling and practical health information that has significantly reduced infant mortality and improved maternal safety during both pregnancy and childbirth.

Her efforts have produced a stunning outreach and measurable success.

“Convinced that education is the only sustainable solution for the future of refugees, Sakena Yacoobi established the Afghan Institute for Learning in 1995, and for 21 years has provided educational and vocational training to over 13 million refugees,” Mr. Hong said.

“She has greatly improved the rights and social status of women in Islamic society. Even under the Taliban regime that strictly prohibited women from receiving education, she operated 80 underground schools at the risk of her own life, and managed to educate 3,000 girls,” he noted.

Dr. Strada and Ms. Yacoobi will be honored at a formal ceremony in Seoul on Feb. 3.

“In these troubled times, the willingness to cooperate among nations is being tested,” Mr. Hong said, adding, “Searching for the heroes of today was like searching for a steady ray of light in pitch darkness. The broad vision and change in our behavior advocated by the Sunhak Peace Prize will serve as a beacon of hope revealing the path to the 21st century civilization of peace.”

The award itself was established by Hak Ja Han Moon, wife of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who founded The Washington Times in 1982. The prize is intended to recognize and support those who have a calling to alleviate suffering, poverty and other challenges with muscle and conviction.

“Sustainable peace in the 21st century can only be accomplished by resolving the tensions and conflicts throughout the world, and by developing a global culture of mutual respect and cooperation,” the couple note in a “peace vision” rationale that emphasizes the concept of universal family and the importance of future generations.

“The Sunhak Peace Prize encourages all people to dedicate themselves to peace, choosing dialogue and cooperation over conflict and competition,” the rationale states, also noting that the prize is intended to foster a “sustainable culture of peace” that transcends national borders and ideologies.


The 2017 Sunhak Peace Prize Laureate Announcement Press Conference

The 2017 Sunhak Peace Prize Laureate Announcement 

​Press Conference

The Sunhak Peace Prize Committee held a press conference announcing its 2017 laureates on November 28 at the JW Marriot Hotel in Washington D.C.  Dr. Gino Strada, Italian doctor (68), and Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Afghan educator (66), have been selected as dual laureates to receive the prestigious award.

On the day of the announcement, among the various media outlets gathered to broadcast the laureates on television and newspaper, were 20 international journalists, including Korea’s three main broadcasting agencies--KBS, MBC, SBS—and other major media correspondents.

Committee Chairman, Dr. Il-Sik Hong announced the laureates stating, “At this time in history, we are crossing a bridge into a momentous new era, and we are being tested on the very essence of our humanity.”  He announced, “The Committee has chosen, as the 2017 laureates, Dr. Gino Strada, who provided medical and surgical care to victims of war and poverty, and refugees around the world, and Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, who presented an innovative solution for refugee resettlement through education.” 

Chairman Hong went on to state that “the Sunhak Committee annually presents a ‘future-peace agenda’ that will guide our shared human destiny toward peace.”  He also mentioned that “Observing the refugee and diaspora crises occurring throughout the world over, I am reminded once again of our Founders’ love for humanity, which has transcended national borders.”  Dr. Hong highlighted, “The great love for humankind with which the 2017 Sunhak laureates have sought to solve these problems has historical significance in our struggle for a sustainable peace.” 

Meanwhile, a video showing covered how the laureates were chosen, and focused the viewers’ attention on the seriousness of the global refugee crisis.  The Committee received a total of 225 nominations from 76 countries during this year March until June, 178 for individuals and 47 for organizations.  The global refugee crisis is the core theme for the 2017 awards, with the laureates being chosen for their remarkable strides on a global scale, and their proposal for a clear vision to solve the issue.

Dan Burton, a former member of the U.S. Republican Party, mentioned that “through the video we are shocked by the fact that 1 in every 113 people globally is now a refugee.”  He received an ovation after asking those in attendance to come together, urging for “greater awareness and cooperation to solve the refugee crisis.  The US should take a more leading role in solving the issue.”   

Among the 300 attendees were Larry Beasley, President of the Washington Times, Dr. Thomas Walsh, Chairman of the Sunhak Foundation, Hon. Jose de Venecia, Former Speaker of the Philippines House of Representatives, Hon. Tae-Ik Chung, President of the Korean Council on Foreign Relations, Rev. Sung-Il Cho, Director of FFWPU International Headquarters, Hon. Dan Burton, former member of the U.S. Republican Party, as well as over 70 incumbent diplomats from 56 nations worldwide.