Vienna, 21 November 2005 Press release

Kyrle presents UN Vienna Civil Society Award 2005


Prize goes to three initiatives from Colombia, Iran and Belarus

Vienna, 21 November 2005 - "Civil society is an indispensable partner in dealing with global questions and problems. It supplements the efforts of governments and international organisations in many ways. We need the enthusiasm and energy of committed citizens who demonstrate their exceptional solidarity with people in need," said Johannes Kyrle, Secretary General at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, today at the presentation of the UN Vienna Civil Society Award 2005.

This award is presented every year to persons and organisations for outstanding contributions to the fight against crime, drug abuse, corruption, human trafficking and terrorism. The initiative is the result of a successful collaboration between the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the City of Vienna. Today’s ceremony took place in the presence of the Director General of the United Nations Office in Vienna and UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, and the President of the Diet of the Province of Vienna, Erika Stubenvoll.

This year’s UN Civil Society Awards were won by the following organisations:

"Mothers against Drugs" from Belarus, which has 160 members in twelve centres spread across the entire country, looks after drug-addicted juveniles and prisoners who are infected with HIV/AIDS. This impressive initiative was started by a few Belarusian women and mothers and has already been presented in 1,200 state schools, colleges and universities in over 30 cities. As part of the initiative, the anonymous "Your Choice" advice centre was created to offer drug addicts medical and legal assistance.

"Albergue Infantil de Bogotá" from Colombia helps street children to escape from the drug scene through a combined therapy consisting of classical and alternative medical treatment and a training programme tailored to the individual’s needs. The children also learn about preventing addiction, dealing with sexuality, health and nutrition programmes. Since its foundation (the first project was launched in 1958 following the establishment of the organisation by Yolanda Pulecio de Betancourt), 5,000 children have benefited from the assistance offered under this initiative.

"Rebirth Charity Organization" from Iran offers a twelve-stage treatment and rehabilitation programme for drug addicts. To date the organisation has helped around 20,000 addicts to make a new start. Half of those treated have managed to turn their back on addiction completely. The project has 26 treatment and rehabilitation centres in 11 Iranian provinces, a staff of 20 as well as 250 full-time voluntary helpers. It was founded by former drug addicts and is still managed by them today.

In his address, Kyrle thanked Director General Costa for his efforts to involve civil society more closely in the UNODC’s work programme and for the good collaboration in the selection of this year’s prize winners. He also assured the UNODC of Austria’s continuing support.

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