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South Asia

  • Written by Senan Hogan

Afghan human-rights activist wins Tipperary International Peace Prize

Dr. Sima Samar presenting her report on Sudan during the UN Human Rights Council 9th session. Dr Samar is Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan and the Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Flickr/UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre.The 2010 Tipperary International Peace Prize has been awarded to Afghan human-rights activist Dr Sima Samar.

The Tipperary Peace Convention said in statement said that Dr Samar was "an amazingly brave woman who has risked her life to fight for the rights of women and girls in both Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Dr Samar leads the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. A medical doctor by profession, she served as the UN Special Rapporteur to monitor human rights in Sudan from 2005 to 2009.

Also on the shortlist for the Tipperary Peace Prize was former Irish president Mary Robinson and the Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi who was finally released after 15 years of house arrest in November. The UN's top official in Gaza, Irishman John Ging, was also in the running for the accolade.

  • Written by Divya Gupta

India: Project nearly halves infant deaths

Jharkhand and Orissa are among the cluster of poor states that account for the most of India’s one million infant deaths and 78,000 maternal deaths per year, according to UNICEF. Both areas are marred by conflict between left wing insurgents, known as Naxalites, and the Indian government."It's no age to die" says the doctor whose work has helped dramatically cut infant and maternal mortality rates across the states of Jharkand and Orissa. The NGO says its approach - which puts women centre-stage - works even in the poorest areas.

It is just getting light in Chakradharpur, a small village in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, as a dozen women from the Ho tribal community gather outside one of the mud houses. Sitting cross-legged on a large jute mat, around half of the women have infants in their arms.

It’s an informal set-up: chicks and hens flutter nearby; two women are breast-feeding their newborns; while other babies lie naked on the mat and toddlers occasionally totter over to their mothers.

Two facilitators call the meeting to order and roll out a chart with photos stuck to it. By the end of the meeting little piles of tamarind seeds have formed in front of each picture on the chart.

  • Written by Panos

Pakistan floods: What the future holds

Forests along the Indus have made way for agricultural land, now also flooded. Photo: Jaspreet Kindra/IRIN.Neighbourly action in Pakistan's Charsadda district prevented the floods from being an even greater disaster. But what trouble does climate change spell for the region's future?

When the waters of the River Swat, swollen from unprecedented rains that fell over the Hindu Kush region in Pakistan burst their banks, the villagers of Charsadda District barely had time to escape from their homes. There was no modern early warning system in place but community leaders, hearing of flooding upstream in the valley of Swat, quickly warned their neighbours about imminent flash flooding and so many lives were saved.

  • Written by IRIN mw/pt/cb

Bangladesh: Move to stem drowning deaths

One-third of Bangladesh floods annually during the summer monsoon season. Photo: David Swanson/IRIN.

[DHAKA] (IRIN) An estimated 18,000 children will die this year - 50 a day - in drowning accidents in Bangladesh, one of the most flood-prone parts of the world, according to the International Drowning Research Centre in Bangladesh (IDRC-B).

The goal of the centre, set up with Australian government funding, is to prevent drowning through research and advocacy about First Aid, and to share drowning prevention best practices with developing countries.

A parent body, the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research in Bangladesh (CIPRB), already provides local swimming classes.

  • Written by IRIN jk/he

Pakistan: Floods second worst this decade

Lahore resident Jamila Hasan and her daughter negotiate their way across a flooded street. Photo: Tariq Saeed/IRIN.

[JOHANNESBURG] The floods in Pakistan, which have killed at least 1,200 people so far, are already the world's second worst in the decade from 2001 to August 2010, according to the Belgium-based Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).

"The numbers of people killed are very high for a natural event [like a flood], which is among the easier disasters to predict and plan for," said CRED director Debarati Guha-Sapir. CRED looks at how disasters affect human health and collaborates with World Health Organization (WHO).

  • Written by Michael Arthur

Delhi's Common-poverty Games

In preparation for the upcoming 2010 Commonwealth Games, Delhi is bursting with expensive construction and renovation projects. But these measures will do little to alleviate the living conditions in its slums, says Michael Arthur.

Few would describe Delhi as a calm and peaceful city. But the noise pollution has reached a crescendo recently as construction workers toil day and night. This October, once the baking north Indian summer has eased, Delhi will stage the 2010 Commonwealth Games. In a city where millions live in utter destitution, vast stadiums are being constructed at immense cost.


  • Written by IRIN us/mc/at/mw

Sri Lanka: Menik Farm IDPs gradually returning home

A scene inside the Menik Farm camp outside Vavuniya following heavy rains on 17 August 2009. Menik Farms is the largest of 14 camps in the district, with more than 208,000 residents. Photo: Contributor/IRIN.

[COLOMBO] The population of Sri Lanka's largest remaining camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) is dwindling at a rate of up to 2,000 people a week, with efforts being stepped up for the remaining 50,000 IDPs to return home.

"Every week, some 1,000 or 2,000 people are leaving for their homes. We in the government are doing this with the support of other international agencies, including UN agencies," Deputy Minister of Resettlement Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan told IRIN.

The 6.5 sqkm Menik Farm is by far the largest of eight displacement sites, including five Menik Farm zones, still in operation after the closure of about 40 others dotted around the Trincomalee, Jaffna, Mannar and Vavuniya districts since the war with the Tamil Tigers ended in May last year.

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