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      UNIS/NAR/705
           30 November 2000
     UN to Present Award to Grassroots Leaders 
    In Fight against Drug Abuse and Crime

    VIENNA, 30 November (UN Information Service) – The UN in Vienna, along with the Austrian government and the City of Vienna, will honour two individuals and two organizations for their “outstanding contributions to the global campaign against drug trafficking, organized crime and terrorism” at a ceremony on Tuesday, 5 December in the Vienna City Hall.

     Faced with the world-wide spread of what Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called “problems without passports”, the UN has increasingly sought to forge new partnerships with civil society. With that in mind, the UN Vienna Civil Society Award was inaugurated last year by the three co-sponsors.

     The presentation will take place from 7 to 8 p.m., attended by Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl and  Pino Arlacchi,  Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna.  Queen Silvia of Sweden, who has been supportive to the world-wide effort to combat drug abuse, will be present at the ceremony.

     The four recipients of this year’s Award – chosen from more than 140 nominees from around the world – are:

    Fundación País Libre , a Colombian organization which combats kidnapping, which has become rampant in the country over the past few years. Founded by a former kidnapping victim, the group strives to raise public awareness about the problem and to assist victims and their families.

    Since 1991, members have organized marches and media campaigns directed against kidnapping and its consequences. In 1993, one of Fundación’s projects was converted into Colombia’s first anti-kidnapping laws. The organization has aided more than 250 families each year. 

    Ameena Beedillae , who has been campaigning against drug addiction and related crime in the Klong Toey slum in Bangkok since 1986. Ms. Beedillae,  73, joined the Anti-Drugs Volunteer Association in the squatter community in which she lives, helping the group to expand to cover 13 communities with 600 volunteers.

    Ms. Beedillae, a trained public health worker, has opened up her home to community residents for basic health care, teenage discussion groups and meetings. Since she began her work, the number of new addicts in the slum has substantially decreased and the Thai government has come to regard Klong Toey as a model community in the fight against drugs. 

    “Les Amis des Drogués” , a Chad association dedicated to preventing drug abuse and reintegrating addicts into society and the work force. Members work closely with schools, youth centres, churches and other institutions to help hundreds of children and adults to avoid drug abuse and recover from addiction.

    The association trains young people in agriculture, enabling them to become independent workers and conducts media campaigns on the seriousness of drug abuse and addiction. Family members of drug addicts are included in the group’s rehabilitation schemes to help bring the patients back into their family circles.

    Roger Lewis (posthumously), who worked for 30 years to bridge gaps in understanding about drug problems and their wider context at the local, national and international levels. International recognition of his work has made drug market research an indispensable tool in developing policies to tackle the problem.

    In the late 1980s, Mr. Lewis worked in Edinburgh to provide health services for drug users, prostitutes and gay men, while promoting understanding of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among various components of society and the state. He also co-founded figure in Release, one of the first organizations in the UK to offer support to people with drug-related problems and which will receive his Award.

     The winners will each receive a special medallion, a personalized certificate and a share of $100,000 in prize money.

     Commenting on the Award, Mr. Arlacchi, who is also Executive Director of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), said  “The success of UN endeavours in the fields of drug abuse and crime prevention depends ultimately on the decisions people make about the way they live their lives. We must therefore reach people, and the Civil Society Award aims at focusing world attention on  individuals and groups who have found successful ways to do so.” 

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