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Bahrain plans govt unit for volunteers
05 December 2005
by Dalal Al Alawi

Manama, Bahrain: A government department dedicated to volunteer work will be established, as part of Social Development Ministry's new organizational structure in Bahrain.

Social Development Minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi said the decision to establish a unit for volunteers was done to highlight the importance of volunteer work. She also announced plans for the setting up of a Social Work Fund to finance various projects and programmes carried out by civil society organizations.

"The ministry aims at making volunteer organizations active partners in achieving social and economic development in the country," she said in a statement marking the International Volunteer Day, which falls on December 5.

As part of the celebrations, the ministry is hosting today an awards ceremony in honour of volunteers as well as a number of civil society organizations, to be held the Bahrain Society of Engineers, in Juffair.

Dr Al Balooshi said her ministry is currently working to establish a Social Work Fund to be administered by  a selected number of experts in the private sector.

"This will have a main role in the process of administering funds for non-profit organizations, and provide financial and technical support to their activities," she said. "Volunteering is an extension of true and active patriotism that deepens social participation for the sake of a promising future."

Dr Al Balooshi said the day was an opportunity to revise plans and programmes in order to study the reality of local volunteers' work and difficulties volunteers and organizations face.

She said further efforts would be exerted to implement legislation that support civil society organizations.

International Volunteer Day was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1985.

UN secretary general Kofi Annan yesterday called on people to remember the large numbers of citizens who, through voluntary work, bring hope to so many of the world's disadvantaged.

"Let us ensure that this wonderful resource, available in abundance to every nation, is recognised and supported as it works towards a more prosperous and peaceful world," he said in a statement marking the day.

"The past year's natural disasters have highlighted the invaluable contributions of volunteers in our communities.

Later this month, the UN General Assembly will consider progress in encouraging volunteer service since the  International Year of Volunteers in 2001.

Mr Annan said it would be an occasion for member states to build on the achievements of the Volunteer Year, as well as an opportunity to take new steps to realize volunteerism's potential in the development process.