tagged w/ Nepal
The sixties may be long gone but the hippies haven’t. With alternative lifestyles which embraced peace, love and a whole lot of tripping out, the hippies had a profound influence on culture as we see it today. They still congregate in few corners of the world, practicing the ideals which they believe in and reliving the age which they so adamantly fought to keep alive. We look at some of these places where their spirit roamsThe sixties may be long gone but the hippies haven’t. With alternative... more
Nepalese woman accused of witchcraft and burned alive
From Manesh Shrestha, CNN
updated 11:36 AM EST, Sat February 18, 2012
A shaman accused Dhegani Mahato of casting a spell to make a relative sick
Mahato's family members set her afire in front of her daughter, police say
Police arrested 10 people, including an 8-year-old boy
Map of Nepal showing the location of the remote village of Madi where the woman was burned alive (AFP/Graphic)
Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) -- A 40-year-old mother of two was burned alive in central Nepal after she was accused of being a witch, police said Saturday.
Dhegani Mahato was attacked and set on fire by family members and others after a shaman allegedly accused her of casting a spell to make one of her relatives sick, Police Officer Hira Mani Baral said.
The attack occurred Friday in Bagauda in Chitwan district, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, Baral said by telephone.
Police arrested 10 people, including two shamans, five women and an 8-year-old boy, in connection with the burning.
"Those arrested have confessed to their crime and will be charged with murder," Baral said.
Mahato had just finished cleaning a cowshed early in the morning when she was attacked, Baral said.
She was beaten with sticks and rocks before being doused with kerosene and set afire, an attack witnessed by her 9-year-old daughter, according to the local police report.
Neighbors told police they were alerted to the attack but by then it was too late to save her.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai appealed to the people not to heed to shamans and faith healers.
The government announced 1 million Nepalese rupees (about $14,000) in compensation for Mahato's two children.
Nepalese woman accused of witchcraft and burned alive
From Manesh... more
Spoken-word poet BOB HOLMAN is on a search to record a Newari poet for the endangered languages cento, which will be presented at the United Nations in New York City. Pressed for time, he travels to Kathmandu and experiences the diverse languages and peoples of the mountainous country. In the midst of a national strike that shutdowns Kathmandu, he finds a young poet who reads a poem about her grandfather. Bob returns to New York City and jubilantly presents the cento at the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. (11 minutes, HD NTSC)
Produced in association with the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. This video and the tour was made possible by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Special thanks to Natasa Durovicova, Christopher Merrill, and Kelly Bedeian. Also special thanks to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, American Embassies in Kabul, Abu Dhabi, and Kathmandu, and the diplomats and local staff who organized the tours. Rattapallax is supported through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).Spoken-word poet BOB HOLMAN is on a search to record a Newari poet for the endangered... more
More than 250 people of different race and culture, including foreigner joins holding placards and banners demanding answers, representing Nepalese farmers in solidarity. Police stopped them from standing in front of the American embassy, which was there initial program.
"The ultimate goal of the protest is to put pressure on the Government of Nepal to
cancel their agreement with USAID and Monsanto Inc. and stop the proposed
hybrid maize pilot project from going ahead", on of the participant said.They also add "The introduction of Monsanto seed products into Nepal will have
disastrous consequences for the people of Nepal. Nepali farmers will
be forced into a relationship of dependancy with Monsanto Company.
Farmers will be worse off economically, soil and land will be
irreversibly damaged with the need for increased use of fertilizers.
thus decreasing chances of future livelihoods in farming and food
production. Nepal's international trade will also suffer.
http://www.demotix.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/large_610x456_scaled/photos/939565.jpgMore than 250 people of different race and culture, including foreigner joins holding... more
A magnitude-6.9 earthquake rattled most of Nepal Sunday, leaving at least six dead and some 24 seriously injured. The slow response to the quake puts a spotlight on Nepal’s dismal disaster preparedness record, despite a history of devastating earthquakes.
In Nepal, where seismologists have been warning that the region is due for “the big one,” people were relieved to read media reports that described the quake’s impact as relatively mild. The quake, centered in the Indian state of Sikkim, killed more than 50 people across India, Nepal, and Tibet.
“There is scant preparedness for a major quake,” says Suraj Shrestha, a civil engineer associated with National Society for Earthquake Technology – Nepal (NSET), a nongovernmental organization that seeks to build earthquake-safe communities in Nepal by 2020.
Nepal was fortunate because the epicenter was located far enough from major Nepalese cities to prevent more serious damage, Mr. Shrestha says.
Most of the country has been too busy focusing on how to respond to the Maoist insurgency that gripped the country for a decade until 2006. The country has yet to secure long-term peace.
The last time a major quake hit Nepal was in 1988. The magnitude-6.5 quake that hit the country then killed 721 people. Before that, the biggest recorded quake to strike the region was a magnitude-8.3 in 1934 that killed some 8,519 people, according to the government’s National Seismological Center.
Nepal introduced quake-resistant building code for the first time in 2003. But the code covers only a handful of cities, including the capital, Kathmandu. The code was the government’s response to the 1988 quake.
“Enforcement of the code remains very poor,” Shrestha says.
According to an estimate by the NSET, some 80 percent of the buildings in the country are not earthquake resistant.
“The risk is high. Yesterday’s quake was a wake-up call,” added Shrestha, who says he hopes the quake will lead to more stringent enforcement of building codes.
More at the linkA magnitude-6.9 earthquake rattled most of Nepal Sunday, leaving at least six dead and... more
Magnitude-6.9 quake kills 21 in India and Nepal
By the CNN Wire Staff
September 19, 2011 2:28 a.m. EDT
PHOTO: A man looks out a collapsed house just southeast of Kathmandu, Nepal, on Monday.
14 people die in India and seven more lose their lives in Nepal, the officials say
300 civilians, 22 tourists are rescued near India's border with Tibet, an official says
The quakes set off landslides that, with heavy rains, are hampering rescue efforts
A wall of the British Embassy in Kathmandu collapsed due to the quake, killing three
New Delhi (CNN) -- The death toll from a magnitude 6.9 earthquake -- and its aftershocks -- along the border of India and Nepal climbed to 21 Monday, officials said.
Fourteen deaths were reported in India with seven others in Nepal, according to each nation's Home Ministry. More than 90 have been injured in India.
The quake struck the northern Indian state of Sikkim, where seven people died, causing damage in West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. Five deaths were reported in West Bengal and two others in Bihar.
The dead include three in Nepal's capital of Kathmandu, who died when a wall of the British embassy collapsed, according to Kedar Rijal, Kathmandu police chief. They included an 8-year-old girl, her father and a third person.
The British Foreign Office confirmed a "compound perimeter wall" of the embassy collapsed, adding that its ambassador has met with the community and offered condolences.
Police said in a statement that two more people died in the Nepalese town of Dhara, about 217 miles east of Kathmandu. About a dozen people were injured when they jumped from their houses during the quake, police said.
The locations of the other two fatalities were not immediately available.
Communications to stricken areas are "much better now," Sikkim's chief secretary Karma Gyatso said Monday, adding cell phone connections have also improved in the northern Indian state. He added that rescuers have reached most of the hardest-hit areas, with more emergency crews set to be deployed over the course of the day.
Already, 300 civilians had been rescued in one such effort near Sikkim's border with China, said Indo-Tibetan Border Police spokesman Deepak Kumar Pandey. Some 22 tourists -- all of them Indians -- were also rescued in the same area.
The deaths, damage and recovery efforts came after a total of three quakes struck the region in rapid succession in a mountainous region.
The U.S. Geological Survey initially put the largest quake at 6.8 magnitude, later upgrading it to a 6.9, and the other two at magnitudes 4.8 and 4.6. All three occurred within an hour and 15 minutes, the U.S. agency said. The India Meteorological Department said the quakes were 6.8 magnitude, 5.7 magnitude and 5.3 magnitude.
The quakes set off landslides, which -- along with heavy rains -- were blocking roads and hampering rescue efforts, Pandey said. He expressed fears that the toll, as far as deaths and damage, could be more than is now known, anticipating more will be known once the sun rises Monday.
Authorities have reported power outages and downed phone lines in Sikkim.
Emergency crews were dispatched from different locations to the region, India's home ministry said in an alert to reporters. At least four fighter jets were carrying rescue officers to a neighboring region, where they travel by road to Gangtok, Sikkim's capital, according to the alert.
As for outside help, World Vision announced Sunday that it "has put its emergency response team in India on standby" to provide relief as requested. The nonprofit organization reported that the quake cut off phone communication and electricity in parts of Sikkim and West Bengal provinces.
"The whole earth was shaking and it lasted for two minutes," Paul Mathai from World Vision, who was 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the epicenter, said in a statement from the organization. "We were panicked, but all of us are safe."
That quake's epicenter was about 42 miles from the city of Gangtok and 169 miles east of Kathmandu, according to the geological survey.
CNN's Harmeet Singh, Manesh Shrestha and Bharati Naik contributed to this report.
Magnitude-6.9 quake kills 21 in India and Nepal
By the CNN Wire Staff... more
Nepali female actors say that despite a constitutional provision that ensures pay equality for men and women, their earnings are often half that of male counterparts. One star has stopped taking parts in movies for which men are paid more.
Basundhara Bhusal, 55, says she is the oldest living female actress in the Nepali film industry. She has acted in 135 feature films and 60 television series.
But despite her prolific career, she says she hardly earns enough to keep up with directors' wardrobe demands.
"Five years ago, the famous movie director Prakash Thapa scolded me for wearing the same clothes in many movies," she says. "But what did he know? I had to wear the same clothes in a bunch of movies because I didn't have money to buy a new wardrobe for every movie."
"Even today, female actors are paid almost 50 percent less than male actors," she says.
Bhusal says she has been advocating for equal pay among actors since long before the constitutional provision.
Richa Ghimire, one of the most popular female actors in Nepali cinema, says that female actors aren't only paid less than male actors for same amount of work in a film, but that they also earn less when they have larger parts than male actors.
"In my beginning years, despite having a substantially bigger role than that of the actor in the movie, I was paid much less compared to them," she says.
After acting in 21 movies, Ghimire says her pay hasn't increased.
"I was only paid 75,000 rupees [$1,050 USD] for my work while my co-actor Biraj Bhatta was paid 200,000 rupees [$2,790 USD] in the movie 'Giraftaar,'" Ghimire says, providing an example.
Read the full story at http://womensenews.org/story/labor/110610/nepali-female-actors-say-males-paid-much-moreNepali female actors say that despite a constitutional provision that ensures pay... more
ONDON (AFP) – A Nepalese soldier in the British army has been given a top bravery award by Queen Elizabeth II for his heroics in Afghanistan, where he single-handedly saw off more than 30 Taliban fighters.
Corporal Dipprasad Pun, 31, said he thought he was going to die and so had nothing to lose in taking on the attackers who overran his checkpoint.
He was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC), which is given in recognition of acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy.
Pun fired more than 400 rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine to repel the Taliban assault on his checkpoint near Babaji in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, last September.
Surrounded, the enemy opened fired from all sides and for 15 minutes Pun remained under continuous attack, including from rocket-propelled grenades and AK47 guns.
At one point, unable to shoot, he used his machine gun tripod to knock down a militant who was climbing the walls of the compound.
Two insurgents were still attacking by the time he ran out of ammunition, but he set off a Claymore mine to repel them.
Pun was given his medal in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London on Wednesday.
The CGC is second only to the Victoria Cross -- the highest honour for bravery in the face of the enemy.
"There wasn't any choice but to fight. The Taliban were all around the checkpoint. I was alone," he said.
"I had so many of them around me that I thought I was definitely going to die so I thought I'd kill as many of them as I could before they killed me.
"After that I thought nobody can kill us now -- when we met the enemy I wasn't scared."
Britain's Major General Nicholas Carter, who was commander of allied forces in southern Afghanistan during Pun's deployment, praised his efforts.
"The CGC does not get handed out lightly. It was a most remarkable achievement," he said.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110602/wl_uk_afp/britainmilitaryafghanistannepalawardONDON (AFP) – A Nepalese soldier in the British army has been given a top... more
Established basically as the private zoo by late Prime Minister Juddha Sumsher J.B. Rana in 1932, The Central Zoo is the only zoo in Nepal. The Government of Nepal finally opened the zoo to the public in 1956. The Zoo remained under the management of various Departments of the Government for various years. It was only when the zoo was managed meeting the standards when it was handed over to The National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) in December 1995. The Trust has developed plans and policies to maintain the zoo and improve the living conditions of animals.Established basically as the private zoo by late Prime Minister Juddha Sumsher J.B.... more
2 years ago
Ruins of 2,000-year-old buildings have been discovered in eastern Nepal, Xinhua reported.They were found during an excavation in Kichakbadhsthal in Jhapa district. Remains of walls made of bricks measuring 36 cm long, 26 cm wide and five centimeters thick have been unearthed. An earthen lamp and an urn were also found.Uddav Acharya, chief officer at the archeology department,Ruins of 2,000-year-old buildings have been discovered in eastern Nepal, Xinhua... more
Nepal's Lost Daughters
Victims of Child Slavery Learning to Fight Back
By Dialika Krahe
Hartmut Schwarzbach/DER SPIEGEL
Like many Nepalese girls from poor families, Urmila Chaudhary was sold into bonded labor until she liberated herself. Now 20, she works with a team of former victims, traveling throughout Nepal to free other girls from the clutches of their unrepentant masters.
The man who once bought Urmila squats on the threshold between her past and her new life, picking a piece of chewing tobacco from his teeth. He spits a black stream of saliva into a bucket next to him on the living-room floor. Urmila Chaudhary, who hasn't been his property for the last four years, kneels on the carpet at his feet and hands him a tray holding a cup of sweetened tea.
She ought to hate, curse and berate this man. But, instead, she bows to him and calls him "father."
Urmila was taken from her family and enslaved as a young child. Now 20, she has long, black hair and a gentle, melodious laugh. She wears blue smiley-face earrings and a colorful skirt with a red stripe along the hem, the traditional attire of women from Nepal's Tharu people. Her clothing says a lot about the story of Urmila and this man -- and about the thousands of other young girls who are sold every year as soon as they are big enough to look over the edge of a table and yet still young enough to grow into their new roles as servants.
Her former owner wears his black hair carefully parted, a bomber jacket and tracksuit pants. He was astonished when he saw Urmila on television and in a newspaper photo that depicted her standing next to the country's president.
"I thought you would have forgotten us," he says.
"No," Urmila replies.
Sold for 50 Euros
Urmila says she was five years old when this man, an attorney from a respected family, came to her village of Manpur, on the Rapti River, and made an offer that ended her childhood.
It was a day in January, just after the Maghi festival had begun, one of those cold days of the year when the Tharu celebrate the New Year. It's also the time of the year when they sell their daughters.
"I can still see him coming toward us," says Urmila. He was a man from the city, wearing sunglasses and a suit. "I had never seen such clothing," she says. She was sitting at the fire pit in front of the tiny mud-and-dung house where her family of 11 lived. Pumpkins grew on the straw roof, and pigs lay in shallow pits in the ground. Urmila was sitting there with her mother and brother as the man approached.
"I knew it was my turn," Urmila says. Her sisters and her sisters-in-law had all worked as kamalari, or slave girls. One sister had told her about the beatings she endured at the hands of the landowner who purchased her and the kitchen scraps she was fed. "I begged my mother not to send me away," Urmila recounts. Her mother said that she had no say in the matter.
Instead, the man spoke with her older brother because he was the one who supported the family. The man offered the brother money -- 4,000 rupees, or about €50 ($70) -- for his little sister Urmila. The family owed money to the landowner whose fields they farmed, there wasn't enough food and the children wore shoes made of bean pods tied to their feet with pieces of rope. Four thousand rupees. It was a lot of money. Urmila's brother agreed to the deal.
Millions of Child Slaves across the World
In Nepali, the word kamalari means "hardworking woman." But these aren't women being sold off and forced to work; they're children between the ages of five and 15, thin-armed girls forced to work 14-16 hours a day in the households of families, fully at the mercy of their owners and exposed to their moods and their beatings. About one in 10 of the girls is sexually abused.
Aid organizations estimate that 10,000 girls work as kamalari in Nepal. As long ago as 1956, the United Nations declared that forms of child labor and bonded labor were slavery and should therefore be outlawed. However, although human trafficking has been officially illegal in all countries for a long time, it still exists to a significant degree in about 70 countries. Indeed, roughly 27 million people across the world are victims of modern slavery -- living in debt bondage, as forced prostitutes and as bonded laborers. Between 40 percent and 50 percent of these are children, and many are in Asia.
In many poor countries, there is a tradition of using child slaves in private households. Children are practical because their personalities are flexible and their characters are as malleable as clay on the sculptor's wheel. Child slaves go by many names: the kamalari in Nepal, the restavék in Haiti and the abd in Mauritania.
The principle is almost the same everywhere. On the one side are the parents, who are unable to earn enough money to feed their children. On the other are the more affluent members of society, the landowners and businesspeople. In many cases, the people who buy children and raise them to suit their purposes are teachers, lawyers and politicians. The child slaves are rewarded with affection or extra meals, while punishments consist of being denied food, beaten and berated. In the end, they have no choice but to do their work without complaint.
Bought as a Present
Urmila was in the same position as most of the others. "Down there," she says, pointing to a door on the ground floor of the yellow townhouse, "down there in the room next to the kitchen is where I spent the first night." Her brother had taken her on the bus to Ghorahi, a noisy city in southwestern Nepal. With its cars and bicycle rickshaws, the place was completely unlike her village of Manpur. Urmila lay on a mat on the floor next to another girl the house's owner had bought. It was cold. A wedding was being held in the house. The son of the landowner had found a wife, and there were many relatives among the guests, including the owner's daughter. She lived in Katmandu, and Urmila had been bought as a present for her.
"She's so thin and small," the daughter said when she first saw Urmila. "How is she supposed to work properly?" From then on, Urmila was instructed to address the daughter as "maharani," or mistress, and her children as "prince" and "princess." A few days later, the daughter took Urmila with her to an apartment in Katmandu, where she was required to work for 12 people. It would be four years before she saw her parents again, and 11 before she was free.
Nepal's Lost Daughters
Victims of Child Slavery... more
Whoa...holy cow! Every once in a while someone in the world comes along and reminds us what a true hero really looks like. A 35 year-old Gurkha soldier named Bishnu Shrestha was riding a train when he suddenly found himself in the middle of a massive robbery. 40 men armed with knives, swords and guns stormed the train and began robbing the passengers.
Bishnu kept his peace while the gang snatched cell phones, jewelry and cash from other riders. But then, the thugs grabbed the 18 year-old girl sitting next to him and forcefully stripped her naked. Before the bandits could rape the poor girl in front of her helpless parents, Bishnu decided he had enough.
“The girl cried for help, saying ´You are a soldier, please save a sister´,” Shrestha recalled. “I prevented her from being raped, thinking of her as my own sister.”
http://www.logiccool.com/blog/591281-lone-nepali-soldier-defends-potential-rape-victim-against-40-men/Whoa...holy cow! Every once in a while someone in the world comes along and reminds us... more
Nepal's Supreme Court ruling deemed homosexual and transgender people equal citizens in Nepal, yet many sexual minorities are still without citizenship certificates, limiting their opportunities.
Bhawana Dhakal, 26, always hated wearing men's clothes.
But growing up in a society that does not accept people of the "third gender," or transgender, she says she had no choice.
"My family does not let me [leave] the house if I do not set off for [my] office in a boy's dress up," says Dhakal, who leaves home dressed as a man every day.
Today, like all workdays, she makes a pit stop on her way to work at the rented room where she changes into women's clothes and applies what she calls "a lot" of makeup every morning before 9 a.m. Then, she heads to work.
Dhakal has a masculine physique, but says she has always carried herself as a woman.
Dhakal was born a boy to a middle-class family in Kathmandu. She says that as she grew up, she realized she liked to wear her sister's dresses and at school preferred to play with the girls in her class rather than the boys.
But as she got older, her classmates began to tease her. Eventually, she says she was asked to leave the school when she revealed she was transgender, an allegation The Press Institute was unable to confirm with the school.
The Supreme Court of Nepal struck down the law that classified homosexuality as bestiality in 2007 and granted homosexual and transgender people full rights. However, many transgender people in Nepal say they have not been granted the citizen certificates needed to receive many of these rights, such as get jobs, enroll in schools or colleges, seek treatment in hospitals or inherit property.
Of the 200,000 people who identify as transgender in Nepal, a country of nearly 30 million people, only five have citizenship, says Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal's first openly gay politician. He is also the founder and chairman of the Blue Diamond Society, Nepal's leading organization for the rights of sexual minorities.
To date, there has been no official government data, as the Central Bureau of Statistics says it did not record the number of transgender people in its last census in 2001. In the new census, scheduled to be held this year, "sexual status" will be collected, Pant says.
Read the full story at Women's eNews http://womensenews.org/story/lesbian-and-transgender/110128/trans-people-in-nepal-live-without-citizenshipNepal's Supreme Court ruling deemed homosexual and transgender people equal... more
More info here: http://www.ecobold.com/nepalese-paper/
I recently came across Nepalese Paper owner and he told us about how it's made, why it's green, how strong it is and above all, how cool it is! Nepalese Paper introduces a broad range of the handmade paper, made from the inner bark of the wild shrub, known as “Lokta”. This bush has an ongoing growing process, even after being cut. Nepalese Paper was established in 1995 with the main objective of supporting the developing Nepalese traditional craft industry, thereby improving a family's standard of living in the rural and urban areas. Today, several stores carry Lokta paper.
The company’s items are different and exclusive. You can find wedding albums, photo albums and frames, journals and diaries, address books, stationary and boxed card sets, prayer flags, gift & wine bags, wrapping paper and other cool products. Due to the long fibrous handmade paper, it has a nice texture, it's durable and strong. You will be surprised by the variety of colors – they have everything, from plain light colors to dark colors with beautiful prints. Also there are in different sizes on each product category. It can be a useful gift to your relatives and friends! Interesting, unusual, unique, eco-friendly and 100% green, they will love it!!!
For wholesale the company has special offers, terms and conditions.
- Tree free
- 100% natural
- resistant to any insects
How is Lokta paper made?
According to Nepalese Paper, the Lokta bush is an evergreen shrub of the Daphne species, found in the mountainous parts of Nepal above 6500 feet. They can grow up to 10 feet in height and 2 inches in diameter, and are usually ready to be pruned four years after they sprout. Although there is no uniformity regarding the method of pruning, the modern method employing sharp knives, is considered superior to the older, traditional practice of breaking and tearing down the stalks. The harvesting of Lokta also serves other important purposes as well. It allows the plants root growth to accelerate to help hold the soil in place during the two monsoon seasons Nepal gets every year, and it is the only export crop the remote villages have, thus giving them a sustainable form of income, making for a better standard of living. Historically, all Nepalese legal and legislative documents are printed on Lokta paper because it is so durable. This authentic tradition has caught on with international interest because of the environmentally sound, and natural production.More info here: http://www.ecobold.com/nepalese-paper/
I recently came across... more
World AIDS Day comes amid progress, concern
By the CNN WIre Staff
December 1, 2010 2:32 a.m. EST
A giant red ribbon hangs on the White House for observance of World AIDS Day.
* The estimated number of children with HIV/AIDS in 11 Asian countries increases 46 percent
* The UN says the number of new HIV infections has dropped 20 percent in the past decade
* But the number of new HIV infections outpaces the number of people starting treatment
(CNN) -- As the global community commemorates World AIDS Day on Wednesday, international health organizations report both promising and sobering trends.
While the United Nations says new HIV infections have declined by almost 20 percent worldwide over the past decade, the estimated number of children living with HIV or AIDS in 11 Asian countries has increased by 46 percent between 2001 and 2009, the World Health Organization's South-East Asia office said Wednesday.
"In 2001, an estimated 89,000 children were living with HIV/AIDS," said Vismita Gupta-Smith, public information and advocacy officer for WHO's regional office in New Delhi, India. "In 2009, there are an estimated 130,000 children living with HIV infection," including recent HIV infection, advanced HIV infection and AIDS.
The 11 countries in the region are Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Liste.
But a report by a United Nations program released last month shows some encouraging news, including drops in AIDS-related deaths and new HIV cases.
Data from the 2010 global report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) shows that an estimated 2.6 million people became newly infected with HIV, compared with the estimated 3.1 million people infected in 1999.
Also in 2009, approximately 1.8 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses, compared with the roughly 2.1 million in 2004, according to UNAIDS.
Among young people in 15 of the most severely affected countries, the rate of new HIV infections has fallen by more than 25 percent, led by young people adopting safer sexual practices, according to UNAIDS.
"We are breaking the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic with bold actions and smart choices," said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS. "Investments in the AIDS response are paying off, but gains are fragile -- the challenge now is how we can all work to accelerate progress."
But not all the news from the UNAIDS report, which covered 182 countries, was good.
"Even though the number of new HIV infections is decreasing, there are two new HIV infections for every one person starting HIV treatment," UNAIDS said.
Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region most affected by the epidemic, with 69 percent of all new HIV infections, according to UNAIDS.
In seven countries, mostly in eastern Europe and central Asia, new HIV infection rates have increased by 25 percent.
UNAIDS said in the Asia-Pacific region, 90 percent of countries have laws that obstruct the rights of people living with HIV.
Despite the lower numbers of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths, UNAIDS said the demand for resources is surpassing the supply.
"Donor governments' disbursements for the AIDS response in 2009 stood at $7.6 billion, lower than the $7.7 billion available in 2008," UNAIDS said. "Declines in international investments will affect low-income countries the most -- nearly 90 percent rely on international funding for their AIDS programs."World AIDS Day comes amid progress, concern
By the CNN WIre Staff
December 1, 2010... more
Tiger Summit aims to save big cats
FILE - In this March 23, 2000 file photo, an Indian tiger looks on from a camouflaged cover of strawgrass in Ranthambhore National Park near Rajasthan AP – FILE - In this March 23, 2000 file photo, an Indian tiger looks on from a camouflaged cover of strawgrass …
By IRINA TITOVA and JIM HEINTZ Irina Titova And Jim Heintz – Fri Nov 19, 12:37 pm ET
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – Global wildlife experts and political leaders from 13 countries on Sunday open a meeting aimed at finalizing complex and costly plans to revive the world's tiger population, which has plummeted so sharply that it may be near the point of no return.
Although the fierce and wily tigers may be the epitome of power in their natural habitat, they have seemed nearly helpless against man. The World Wildlife Fund and other experts say only about 3,200 of the big cats remain in the wild, a severe plunge from an estimated 100,000 a century ago.
Their forest habitat is being eaten up by timber operations and construction, while poachers stalk the dwindling tiger populations, killing them for their skins and for body parts prized in Chinese traditional medicine. The wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC said in a report this month that more than 1,000 parts of tigers slain by poachers across Asia had been seized in the past decade.
"The Tiger Summit is our last best chance to ensure a future for these animals in the wild," Ginette Hemley, a WWF vice president, said in a statement Thursday.
The summit, which ends Wednesday, is hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has adroitly used encounters with tigers, polar bears and other wildlife to bolster his image, and was driven by the Global Tiger Initiative which was launched two years ago by World Bank President Robert Zoellick.
The summit intends to approve a wide-ranging program with the goal of doubling the world's tiger population in the wild by 2022 and to produce a declaration of commitment signed by government leaders from al countries that still have tiger populations: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam and Russia.
The summit also will be seeking donor commitments to buttress expenditures by each of the country's governments. A draft of the Global Tiger Recovery Program, expected to be approved at the meeting, estimates the countries will need $330 million in outside funding over the next five years to fulfill the plan. About 30 percent of that estimate would go toward programs to suppress the poaching both of tigers and of the animals they prey on.
For advocates, saving tigers has implications far beyond the emotional appeal of preserving an attractive and thrilling animal.
"Because tigers are apex predators at the top of the food chain in many Asian ecosystems, they are essential to the effective functioning of other parts of these ecosystems," the GTRP draft says. "Protecting tigers and their landscapes also protects a host of other endangered species and their habitats."
Over the past two decades, much has already been done to try to save tigers, but conservation groups say their numbers have continued to fall markedly, by about a third just since 1998.
In part, that decline is because conservation effors have been increasingly diverse and often aimed at improving habitats outside protected areas where tigers can breed, according to a study published in September in the Popular Library of Science Biology journal.
Putin has done much to draw attention to tigers' plight. During a visit to a wildlife preserve in 2008, he shot a female tiger with a tranquilizer gun and helped place a transmitter around her neck as part of a program to track the rare cats.
Later in the year, Putin was given a 2-month-old female Siberian tiger for his birthday. State television showed him at his home gently petting the cub, which was curled up in a wicker basket with a tiger-print cushion. The tiger now lives in a zoo in southern Russia.
Heintz reported from Moscow.Tiger Summit aims to save big cats
FILE - In this March 23, 2000 file... more