Stevie® Awards Announce Winners in 19th Annual International Business Awards® from Across the Globe

FAIRFAX, Va., Aug. 15, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — High–achieving organizations and executives around the world have been recognized as Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners in The 19th Annual International Business Awards , the world's only international, all–encompassing business awards program.

Winners were selected from more than 3,700 nominations submitted by organizations in 67 nations.

A complete list of all 2022 Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners by category is available at

More than 300 executives worldwide participated on 11 juries to determine the Stevie winners.

The top winner of Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Awards is HALKBANK of Istanbul, Turkey with 32. Other winners of multiple Stevie Awards include IBM Corporation (21), LLYC (20), Deutsche Post DHL (19), Abu Dhabi Ports Group (17), Viettel Group (17), OPET (15), Telkom Indonesia (13), ZER (13), Ayala Land Inc. (12), Ooredoo (12), Globe Telecom (10), PJ Lhuillier, Inc (PJLI) (10), Enerjisa Enerji (9), Wolters Kluwer (9), Strategic Public Relations Group (8), pH7 Communications (8), Tata Consultancy Services Inc. (8), Adfactors PR (8), Jeunesse Global (7), Bank of Montreal, (6), Canadian Tire Corporation (6), HeyMo The Experience Design Company (6), Octopus Energy (6), Sleepm Global Inc. (6), VUMI Group (6), and VNPT VinaPhone Corporation (6).

IBM, a multinational technology corporation headquartered in Armonk, NY USA won nine Gold Stevie Awards, more than any other organization in the competition.

All organizations worldwide are eligible to compete in the IBAs, and may submit nominations in a wide range of categories for achievement in management, marketing, public relations, customer service, human resources, new products and services, technology, web sites, apps, events, and more.

The awards will be presented during a gala event in London, England on October 15, 2022.

About the Stevie Awards
Stevie Awards are conferred in eight programs: the Asia–Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, the Middle East & North Africa Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards , The International Business Awards , the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 12,000 entries each year from organizations in more than 70 nations. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Learn more about the Stevie Awards at

Marketing Contact
Nina Moore
+1 (703) 547–8389

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at–4f7d–41b6–bce7–4ba3619ac4ab

Afghan Refugees, Medical Visitors Bemoan Treatment in Pakistan

Action taken against stall-owners at the Refugees Bazaar in Peshawar. Afghan refugees say they are unfairly targeted by the authorities. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS

Action taken against stall-owners at the Refugees Bazaar in Peshawar. Afghan refugees say they are unfairly targeted by the authorities. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS

By Ashfaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR, Aug 15 2022 – Afghan refugees living in Pakistan face a host of problems, ranging from seeking medical treatment to shelter, business, police harassment and violence. Many of those affected have been there for four decades.

“Whenever we go to the local hospitals for treatment, we don’t get good services. As a result, we bank on unqualified doctors who charge a lower fee, but the treatment they provide us isn’t up to the mark,” Jamila Bibi, 48, told IPS. She lives in the Khyber district near the Torkham border with Afghanistan.

Bibi says she developed a gynaecological problem, but the local hospital denied her treatment.

“Later, we took a loan from our relative and went to a private hospital, but my condition had worsened. Doctors removed my uterus and sent a specimen to exclude cancer as the cause of the complications,” the bed-ridden mother of three said.

Most wealthy Afghans prefer to visit Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of Pakistan’s four provinces, to seek treatment in private hospitals. Many facilities in their home country don’t offer quality treatment because of ongoing conflicts that have plagued the area since 1979.

Afghans living in Pakistan and those seeking treatment and who want to visit Pakistan aren’t satisfied with how they are handled at the border and in the country.

“We reached the border on June 15 to undergo surgery for bilateral kidney stones in Peshawar, but the police kept us waiting for three days. When they cleared our documents and we reached the hospital, we were told that both (of my wife’s) kidneys had been infected and we had to stay for a month to cure the infection,” Muhammad Sattar, a Kabul resident, said.

Sattar, a carpet dealer, says doctors said his wife could have been operated on sooner had she arrived earlier, preventing the spread of the infection.

Dr Umar Amir, who deals with Afghan patients at the border, said that on an average day, 120 patients were allowed to come to Pakistan after checking their medical documents. “There is no delay in processing their documents,” he told IPS.

Pakistan is home to 3.3m registered refugees, most of who arrived after the Soviet Union’s invasion in 1979.

“One million (32 per cent reside in 54 refugees village, and 68 per cent in urban areas across Pakistan,” UNHCR’s spokesman Qaisar Khan Afridi told IPS. In addition to its dedicated refugee programmes, UNHCR has been supporting the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) initiative, which aims to mitigate the impact of the protracted refugee presence and promote social cohesion between Afghan refugees and their Pakistani host communities.

Since its launch in 2009, the programme has helped over 12 million people (85 per cent of beneficiaries are Pakistanis) across the country through some 4,300 projects worth more than USD 200 million.

Through RAHA, UNHCR has been strengthening the capacity of existing government hospitals and educational institutes.

“We don’t have any option except staying in Pakistan as Afghanistan is in ruins. We cannot go back due to extreme violence, lawlessness, and lack of economic activities,” said Muhammad Suhail (34). A scrap collector in Peshawar’s Karkhano Bazzar (Industrial Market), he says they were looked down upon by host communities.

Most of the refugees do odd jobs. He said they work as vendors, in tandoors (bread baking), rickshaw-driving, fruit, and vegetable-selling.

Only a few wealthy refugees, who own shops dealing in gold, crockery, grocery, cloth and general stores, are happy, and they even send money back home to support their relatives.

“We arrived here in 1988 and have a well-established business of cloth. We have employed 33 Afghans and have no issues with local police and host community,” Said Rehman (62) said. “My three sons and two daughters are married, and their children study in Pakistani educational institutions on seats allocated for Afghan refugees.”

Rehman disagreed with the impression that Pakistani were hostile towards Afghans. “Some residents were friendly, and others weren’t, but can we blame all the local people for disrupting the Afghan’s lives? Many of our relatives have married local men and women,” he said.

In Refugees Bazaar in Peshawar, Afghans say they face harassment from municipal authorities.

“Every day, the officials come and arrest our shopkeepers, which has badly harmed our businesses,” Ghulam Rasool, a cloth merchant, told IPS. Afghans own 95 percent of the shops at the bazaar which specialise in Afghan cultural goods.

“We purchase clothes from the market and get them stitched in Afghan style. We feel convenient in negotiating prices with the Afghan shopkeepers selling cosmetics, foot wears, fruits, meats and so on,” Shaheen Begum, a house woman, told IPS.

“In Pakistani shops, we face difficulties due to language barriers,” she said. “We often find the market closed due to raids by local authorities.”

Municipal officer Javid Khan said that many Afghan shopkeepers and vendors encroach on roads and were arrested for violating the laws. But the vendors were freed when they assured the authorities they would abide by the regulations.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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Expereo acquires Breeze Networks, further enhancing its SD-WAN/SASE practice and presence in the UK market

AMSTERDAM, Aug. 15, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The world's leading provider of managed network solutions, Expereo, has announced the acquisition of Breeze Networks, a managed service provider of SD–WAN/SASE technologies. The acquisition fuels Expereo's growth trajectory, further enhancing its SD–WAN/SASE practice, building on its expanding range of services to manage SD–WAN solutions at scale to partners and multinational enterprise customers across the globe.

This latest acquisition solidifies Expereo's ambition to complement its managed network solutions with world–class advisory practice providing guidance to organizations on their global transformation to software–defined and internet–based networking. With the full support of majority investor Vitruvian Partners and minority investor Apax Partners SAS, Expereo intends to continue its acquisition strategy.

Breeze Networks is a managed service provider of cloud–based (SD–WAN) network connectivity and security solutions for enterprises and government agencies. An innovative and flexible network integrator, Breeze sources and manages the best SD–WAN networking and security solutions on the market.

As part of the acquisition, Expereo welcomes Matthew Lea, CTO of Breeze Networks as Technical Portfolio Lead. His expertise will be a great addition to the knowledge base of Expereo's Technical team, led by CTO, Kristaps Petrovskis. Lea will drive Expereo's expansion plans for its SD–WAN/SASE practice, solidifying the company's presence in the UK market in his new role at Expereo.

"This acquisition comes at an exciting time, as we expand our SD–WAN services to address the growing need for agile, cost–effective cloud access and global network solutions in the market. With our shared vision to simplify global connectivity and provide world–class customer experience, the expertise of the team of professionals behind Breeze Networks will contribute great value as we join forces," comments Irwin Fouwels, CEO of Expereo.

"Having recently worked with Expereo on a global deployment for one of our customers, we witnessed first–hand the shared values of both companies and commitment to providing excellence in delivery and customer service. We are excited about joining the Expereo family and are certain that the global reach and scale of Expereo will be a benefit to all of our stakeholders,” says George Cowan, Managing Director of Breeze Networks.

The rapid adoption of cloud–based applications and SD–WAN technologies puts Internet–based WANs at the center of multinational companies' business models. Expereo is committed to simplifying the sourcing and management of such network solutions, whilst ensuring exceptional customer experience to cater to the needs of its MSP partners and multinational clients.

About Breeze Networks Ltd
Breeze Networks is a privately owned UK based supplier of SD–WAN based Network and Security Managed Services. Established in 2016 the company has designed and deployed a significant number of SD–WAN based global and regional networks to our customers in both the private sector and UK government agencies. The Breeze team have developed extensive knowledge and experience of best of breed SD–WAN/SASE products which allows us to help our customers on their Cloud transformation journeys.

About Expereo
Expereo is a leading global provider of managed network solutions including, Global Internet, SD–WAN/SASE, and Enhanced Internet. With an extensive global reach, Expereo is the trusted partner of 30% of Fortune 500 companies. It powers enterprise and government sites in more than 190 countries, helping customers improve productivity and empowering their networks and cloud services with the agility, flexibility and value of the Internet, with optimal network performance.

Expereo was acquired by Vitruvian Partners in April 2021. The international growth capital and buyout firm acquired a majority shareholding in Expereo from leading European private equity firm Apax Partners SAS.

Gender Equality & Women’s Rights Wiped out Under the Taliban

Women receive food rations at a food distribution site in Herat, Afghanistan. Credit: UNICEF/Sayed Bidel

By Sima Bahous
NEW YORK, Aug 15 2022 – In the year that has passed since the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan we have seen daily and continuous deterioration in the situation of Afghan women and girls. This has spanned every aspect of their human rights, from living standards to social and political status.

It has been a year of increasing disrespect for their right to live free and equal lives, denying them opportunity to livelihoods, access to health care and education, and escape from situations of violence.

The Taliban’s meticulously constructed policies of inequality set Afghanistan apart. It is the only country in the world where girls are banned from going to high school. There are no women in the Taliban’s cabinet, no Ministry of Women’s Affairs, thereby effectively removing women’s right to political participation.

Women are, for the most part, also restricted from working outside the home, and are required to cover their faces in public and to have a male chaperone when they travel. Furthermore, they continue to be subjected to multiple forms of Gender Based Violence.

This deliberate slew of measures of discrimination against Afghanistan’s women and girls is also a terrible act of self-sabotage for a country experiencing huge challenges including from climate-related and natural disasters to exposure to global economic headwinds that leave some 25 million Afghan people in poverty and many hungry.

The exclusion of women from all aspects of life robs the people of Afghanistan of half their talent and energies. It prevents women from leading efforts to build resilient communities and shrinks Afghanistan’s ability to recover from crisis.

There is a clear lesson from humanity’s all too extensive experience of crisis. Without the full participation of women and girls in all aspects of public life there is little chance of achieving lasting peace, stability and economic development.

That is why we urge the de facto authorities to open schools for all girls, to remove constraints on women’s employment and their participation in the politics of their nation, and to revoke all decisions and policies that strip women of their rights. We call for ending all forms of violence against women and girls.

We urge the de facto authorities to ensure that women journalists, human rights defenders, and civil society actors enjoy freedom of expression, have access to information and can work freely and independently, without fear of reprisal or attack.

The international community’s support for women’s rights and its investment in women themselves are more important than ever: in services for women, in jobs and women-led businesses, and in women leaders and women’s organizations.

This includes not only support to the provision of humanitarian assistance but also continued and unceasing efforts at the political level to bring about change.

UN Women has remained in country throughout this crisis and will continue to do so. We are steadfast in our support to Afghan women and girls alongside our partners and donors.

We are scaling up the provision of life-saving services for women, by women, to meet overwhelming needs. We are supporting women-led businesses and employment opportunities across all sectors to help lift the country out of poverty.

We are also investing in women-led civil society organizations to support the rebuilding of the women’s movement. As everywhere in the world, civil society is a key driver of progress and accountability on women’s rights and gender equality.

Every day, we advocate for restoring, protecting, and promoting the full spectrum of women’s and girls’ rights. We are also creating spaces for Afghan women themselves to advocate for their right to live free and equal lives.

One year on, with women’s visibility so diminished and rights so severely impacted, it is vital to direct targeted, substantial, and systematic funding to address and reverse this situation and to facilitate women’s meaningful participation in all stakeholder engagement on Afghanistan, including in delegations that meet with Taliban officials.

Decades of progress on gender equality and women’s rights have been wiped out in mere months. We must continue to act together, united in our insistence on guarantees of respect for the full spectrum of women’s rights, including to education, work, and participation in public and political life.

We must continue to make a collective and continuous call on the Taliban leadership to fully comply with the binding obligations under international treaties to which Afghanistan is a party.

And we must continue to elevate the voices of Afghan women and girls who are fighting every day for their right to live free and equal lives. Their fight is our fight. What happens to women and girls in Afghanistan is our global responsibility.

IPS UN Bureau


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The writer is UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women

Journalism Under Attack by Neo-Populist Governments in Central America

Reporters and photojournalists cover an Aug. 11 press conference at the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in San Salvador. Independent media outlets in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua suffer constant persecution and harassment by state entities and government officials in an attempt to silence them and discredit investigations into corruption and mismanagement of public funds. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Reporters and photojournalists cover an Aug. 11 press conference at the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in San Salvador. Independent media outlets in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua suffer constant persecution and harassment by state entities and government officials in an attempt to silence them and discredit investigations into corruption and mismanagement of public funds. CREDIT: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

By Edgardo Ayala
SAN SALVADOR, Aug 15 2022 – Practicing journalism in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador is becoming increasingly difficult in the face of the persecution of independent media outlets by neo-populist rulers of different stripes, intolerant of criticism.

The most recent high-profile case was the Jul. 29 arrest of José Rubén Zamora, founder and director of elPeriódico, one of the Guatemalan media outlets that has been most critical of the government of right-wing President Alejandro Giammattei, who has been in office since January 2020.

The union of Guatemalan journalists and the reporter’s family say the arrest is a clear example of political persecution as a result of the investigations into corruption and mismanagement in the Giammattei administration published by the newspaper, which was founded in 1996.”The last bastions of the independent press (in Nicaragua) are under siege and the vast majority of independent journalists, threatened by abusive legal actions, have had to flee the country” — Reporters Without Borders

“I definitely believe it is a case of political persecution and harassment, and of violence against free expression and the expression of thought,” Ramón Zamora, son of the editor of elPeriódico who has been imprisoned since his arrest, told IPS from Guatemala City.

A case out of the blue

The 66-year-old journalist is one of the most recognized in Guatemala and in the Central American region, and has been awarded several times for elPeriódico’s investigative reporting.

Zamora is being charged with money laundering, influence peddling and racketeering, although the evidence shown at the initial hearing by prosecutors “are poor quality voice messages that show nothing,” according to Ramón.

The preliminary hearing ended on Aug. 9 with the judge’s decision to continue with the case and keep Zamora in pre-trial detention. Prosecutors now have three months to present more robust evidence before taking him to trial, while the defense will seek to gather evidence in order to secure his release.

“We are going to clearly demonstrate as many times as necessary that this case was staged, that the evidence, or rather the evidence they have, cannot be stretched as far as they are stretching it,” said Ramón, 32, an anthropologist by profession.

He added that from the beginning President Giammattei showed signs of intolerance towards criticism of his administration.

“We knew he was an angry person, authoritarian in the way he acted, but we never thought he would go this far,” he said.

Since the arrest, Ramón said that his father is in good spirits, upbeat, although he has had problems sleeping, while the newspaper continues to be published in the midst of serious difficulties due to the temporary seizure of its bank accounts and liquidity problems to pay the staff and other costs.

On Friday Aug. 12, elPeriódico gave key coverage to a decree approved by the Guatemalan legislature that gives life to a Cybercrime Law, which could become another governmental tool to silence critics.

The newspaper quoted the organization Acción Ciudadana, according to which article 9 of this law “contravenes free access to sources of information – a right stipulated in the constitution; furthermore, it violates the Law of Broadcasting of Thought, restricting freedom of information.”

Zamora Jr. regretted that in Central America journalistic work is restricted and persecuted by governments and other de facto powers, as is happening in Guatemala with Giammattei, in El Salvador with the government of Nayib Bukele, and in Nicaragua, with that of Daniel Ortega.

“Ortega, in Nicaragua, is a mirror that we all have in front of us in the region, it is worrisome,” he said.

Journalist José Rubén Zamora, editor of elPériódico, one of the newspapers most critical of the government of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, leaves the courtroom on Aug. 9 after a judge ordered pretrial detention, on accusations of money laundering. But his family, the journalists' union and civil society organizations maintain that the case is part of political persecution promoted by the government. CREDIT: Courtesy of elPériódico

Journalist José Rubén Zamora, editor of elPériódico, one of the newspapers most critical of the government of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, leaves the courtroom on Aug. 9 after a judge ordered pretrial detention, on accusations of money laundering. But his family, the journalists’ union and civil society organizations maintain that the case is part of political persecution promoted by the government. CREDIT: Courtesy of elPériódico

Press freedom in free fall

In these three countries there is an openly hostile policy against the independent media, whose journalists suffer harassment, persecution, blackmail, intimidation and restrictions of all kinds in the line of duty.

Central America, a region of 38 million people, faces serious economic and social challenges after leaving behind decades of political strife and civil wars in the 1970s and 1980s, specifically in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Further progress towards democracy is undermined by attacks on or harassment of media outlets that criticize corrupt governments, according to reports by national and international organizations.

In this regard, the World Press Freedom Index 2022 report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) points out the decline suffered by Nicaragua, which dropped 39 positions in the ranking to 160th place out of 180, and El Salvador, which lost 30 positions, dropping to 112th place.

“For the second year in a row El Salvador had one of the steepest falls in Latin America,” the report states.

And it adds that since he took office in 2019, Bukele, described as a “millennial” leader with a vague ideology and an “authoritarian tendency…is exerting particularly strong pressure on journalists and is using the extremely dangerous tactic of portraying the media as the enemy of the people.”

According to the Association of Journalists of El Salvador (Apes), from January to July 2022, 51 incidents have been reported against the press, related to digital attacks and obstruction of journalistic work by state institutions, officials and even supporters of the ruling party.

Bukele himself, in press conferences, often accuses the media and even specific journalists, who he names, of being part of an opposition plan to discredit the work of the government.

A number of reporters have left the country to avoid problems.

Of those who have left the country, at least three have done so almost obligatorily because government agencies or officials have pressured them to reveal their sources of information, Apes Freedom of Expression Rapporteur Serafín Valencia told IPS.

“Bukele decided to undertake a wave of attacks against the press, although not against the entire press, but against those media outlets and journalists who have a critical editorial line and try to do their work in an independent fashion,” said Valencia.

With regard to Ortega in Nicaragua, the RSF report states: “Nicaragua (160th) recorded the biggest drop in rankings (- 39 places) and entered the Index’s red zone.”

It adds: ” A farcical election in November 2021 that carried Daniel Ortega into a fourth consecutive term as president was accompanied by a ferocious crackdown on dissenting voices.

“The last bastions of the independent press came under fire, and the vast majority of independent journalists, threatened with abusive prosecution, were forced to leave the country,” says the report.

“You can't kill the truth by killing journalists" reads a banner set out by press workers following the death of a colleague in Nicaragua, where the government of Daniel Ortega has shut down critical media outlets and forced many independent reporters into exile. CREDIT: Jader Flores/IPS

“You can’t kill the truth by killing journalists” reads a banner set out by press workers following the death of a colleague in Nicaragua, where the government of Daniel Ortega has shut down critical media outlets and forced many independent reporters into exile. CREDIT: Jader Flores/IPS

Guerrilla leader accused of being a dictator

One of the reporters who had to leave Nicaragua was Sergio Marín, who for more than 12 years hosted a radio program called La Mesa Redonda.

“There were very strong indications that my arrest was imminent,” Marín told IPS from San José, the capital of Costa Rica, the country he fled to on Jun. 21, 2021.

Marín said that the situation in Nicaragua was, and continues to be, untenable for independent media outlets and reporters since Ortega returned to power in January 2007, after a first stint as president between 1985 and 1990.

Ortega was a leader of the leftist guerrilla Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) that in July 1979 overthrew the Somoza dynasty’s dictatorship, which directly or through puppet rulers had been in power since the 1930s.

But the FSLN’s progressive ideas of justice and freedom were soon buried by Ortega’s new power dynamics: he forged obscure pacts with the country’s political and economic elites to set himself up as Nicaragua’s strongman, with actions typical of a dictator.

“With Ortega’s return to power in 2007, he began a process of isolation of journalists who ask questions that question power,” said Marín, 60.

Then, according to Marín, the government threw up a “financial wall”: denying state advertising to media outlets that were critical, or even advertising from private businesses allied with the Ortega administration.

That is when the first media closures began to be seen, he said.

The situation worsened with the popular uprising against the government in April 2018, massive protests that were stopped with bullets by the police, military and pro-Ortega paramilitary forces.

Around 300 people died in the repression unleashed by Ortega, said Marín.

These events were a turning point for journalism because, in the face of the crackdown, the media in general, except for pro-government outlets, came together in a united front.

“So the regime identified us as a key enemy, which must be silenced,” Marin added.

Since then, the Ortega government has maneuvered to close down independent media outlets and critical news spaces, such as those directed by veteran journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who is now also in exile in Costa Rica.

“Now, the newspaper El Nuevo Diario is closed, and La Prensa was taken over by the government and the entire editorial staff is in exile, and in total there are more than 70 journalists who have left the country,” he added.

In the first week of August Ortega stepped up harassment against dissenting voices, and began targeting Catholic priests. Since Aug. 4 police forces have been holding Bishop Rolando Alvarez, of the Diocese of Matagalpa, in the north of the country, in the Episcopal Palace.