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World: GenCap Annual Report: 1 January to December 2014

26 August 2016 - 5:08am
Source: Inter-Agency Standing Committee Country: Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Ukraine, World, Yemen

2014 Annual Narrative Report of IASC Gender Standby Capacity Project

The GenCap Project was established in 2007 as an inter-agency resource under the auspices of the IASC Sub-Working Group on Gender and Humanitarian Action (now the Gender Reference Group and Humanitarian Action) and in collaboration with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). The Project’s aim was to respond to the recognition that gender needed to be better integrated in humanitarian response, and was part of the IASC Humanitarian Reform. The Project deploys Senior Gender Advisors to strengthen the humanitarian system’s capacity in gender mainstreaming and gender equality programming.

This annual narrative report of the GenCap project provides an overview of the main project activities, outputs and impact in 2014 within the three main project focus areas: 1) the deployment of senior experts on mission; 2) gender training delivery and capacity building efforts; and 3) efforts to influence the system towards stronger ownership and awareness of Gender Equality Programming (GEP). 2014 marked the implementation of year one of the Project’s first three year strategy1 (endorsed in March 2015). The annual project strategy meeting (October 2015) was an opportunity to take stock of the strategy implementation in terms of giving stronger emphasis on GenCaps’ strategic advisory role to the HC/HCTs, sustainability of efforts, and the role of the GBV window within the larger project. The strategy was updated to reflect the SC decision to continue GBV deployments throughout 2016 and to make a stronger effort to streamline GenCap and GBV deployments and team building.

In 2014, the project has moved forward on the strategy implementation by giving increased focus to monitoring, preparing the ground for IASC Gender Marker adaptation and gradual handover to the cluster leads, with the main focus of deployments at country level and based on criteria set in strategy. Global level support targeted global clusters and HPC processes with coordinated SRP country support and country missions, and capacity building of Advisors to enable a more strategic engagement with HC/HCTs.

As the GenCap project was established within the framework of the IASC, the SU participated as an observer at most IASC Gender Reference Group (GRG) meetings to stay abreast with policy level debates and advocacy. The GenCap project also provided support to the 2014 review of the implementation of the IASC Gender Policy Statement2 and input to the GRG issued Gender Alerts.

Myanmar: Earthquake Damage in Myanmar: Dispatch of Assessment Team

25 August 2016 - 8:23am
Source: Government of Japan Country: Myanmar
  1. On August 25, the Government of Japan will dispatch the Assessment Team consisting of two members including officials of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to Myanmar following serious damage caused by the earthquake occurred on August 24.

  2. The Assessment Team will investigate the needs of the affected areas and coordinate the possibility of further emergency humanitarian assistance based on discussions with the Government of Myanmar and International Organizations.

Myanmar: Emergency Assistance to Myanmar in Response to the Flood Disaster

25 August 2016 - 8:20am
Source: Government of Japan Country: Japan, Myanmar
  1. On Thursday, August 25, the Government of Japan decided to provide emergency relief goods (blankets etc.) to Myanmar through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in response to the request from the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar following serious damage from the floods in the country.

  2. Myanmar suffers from the floods caused by heavy rain since the beginning of July, and according to the Myanmar Government, as of August 21, at least 9 people were dead , approximately 480,000 people were affected and many people evacuated from their home.

  3. The Government of Japan decided to provide emergency assistance to Myanmar in response to the request from the Myanmar Government, from the humanitarian point of view for the victims as well as in light of the friendly relationship between Japan and Myanmar over many years.

Thailand: Myanmar: Refugee and IDP Camp Populations: July 2016

25 August 2016 - 5:13am
Source: The Border Consortium Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Myanmar: Myanmar weighs damage after earthquake rattles Bagan pagodas

25 August 2016 - 5:05am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar
Bagan, Myanmar | AFP | Thursday 8/25/2016 - 11:25 GMT

by Phyo Hein KYAW

Myanmar took stock of toppled spires and crumbling temple walls in the ancient capital Bagan Thursday after a powerful earthquake hit the country, killing three and damaging the top tourist destination.

Two young girls and a man died in Magway region where the 6.8 magnitude quake struck Wednesday evening, cracking buildings across the centre of the country and sending tremors that were felt as far away as Bangkok and Kolkata.

On Thursday Myanmar's new civilian president Htin Kyaw travelled to Bagan -- the country's most famous archaeological site -- to inspect some of the nearly 200 pagodas damaged by the quake.

The ancient city is home to a vast plain of more than 2,500 Buddhist monuments that are among Myanmar's most venerated religious sites and a top draw for its growing tourism industry.

Teams of government-dispatched engineers and architects spent the day surveying the wreckage, while workers cleared piles of bricks, swept the grounds and sorted through fragments of murals.

"We will take experts' opinions and then try to see what is the best way to restore it. But it will be a very lengthy process and quite expensive," the president told reporters after visiting several of the damaged stupas.

Zaw Htay, a government spokesman, said Myanmar's de facto leader and veteran democracy activist Aung Sang Suu Kyi has urged authorities "not to rush" in renovating the damaged temples.

"Police are taking measures to prevent the loss of our ancient heritage and cultural art works," he added in a statement on Facebook.

Bagan's sweeping expanse of centuries-old ruins -- which make for a staggering sunset vista -- have survived wars, earthquakes and tropical sun.

In the city's heyday, between the 9th and 13th centuries, it was the capital of a powerful kingdom and one of Asia's most important centres for learning.

"It's really heartbreaking. I cannot even eat," said Tin Hla Oo, a trustee of the three-story Htilominlo pagoda, which was badly damaged by the quake.

"We are suffering because this is a great loss, as these (pagodas) are priceless."

Haphazard renovation

Earthquakes are relatively common in Myanmar, which lies in a tectonically active region.

The last major quake to seriously damage Bagan struck in 1975 and was followed by a controversial restoration effort under the military junta that stepped down in 2011.

Experts said the haphazard renovation work, much of it hastily done with modern materials, significantly altered the original architecture and design of some monuments.

In recent years, as the country undergoes a democratic transition and opens up following decades of isolationist junta rule, UNESCO has worked directly with the government to safeguard the monuments.

"We believe this time the restoration will follow international standards," said Sardar Umar Alam, the head of UNESCO's office in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city.

The agency dispatched experts to Bagan Thursday and is working directly with government ministries, he added.

"It takes time to know how the structures are stabilised and how bad the actual damage is -- if a roof collapses, how much it affects different walls and mural paintings," said Alam.

Suu Kyi, the former political prisoner whose party swept landmark elections in November, is faced with the tough task of modernising an impoverished country whose economy was eviscerated by its former military leaders.

She is formally barred from the presidency by a junta-era constitution but has been ruling through her proxy president Htin Kyaw and her post as state counsellor, a powerful position her party crafted after taking office.

Travel to Myanmar used to be reserved for the well-heeled and intrepid, prepared to endure the travails of a country under junta rule with patchy electricity and limited communications.

But foreign tourists have poured in since the military stepped down, many of them making a beeline for Bagan.

This year Myanmar is on track to welcome 5.5 million tourists, nearly a million more than 2015, according to Tint Thwin, director-general of Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

bur/ssm/ds

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Myanmar Taps Former U.N. Chief to Lead Advisory Commission on Troubled Rakhine

25 August 2016 - 3:03am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

The Myanmar government has chosen former United Nations chief Kofi Annan to head a newly formed advisory commission to help resolve human rights issues in troubled Rakhine state where the majority of the country’s Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority group lives.

“The nine-member Advisory Commission, a national initiative to resolve protracted issues in the region, will be chaired by former secretary-general of the United Nations, chairman and founder of the Kofi Annan Foundation and noble laureate, Mr. Kofi Annan, and will be composed of three international and six national persons of eminence who are highly experienced, respected and neutral individuals,” said an article in the government newspaper _Global New Light of Myanmar _based on an announcement issued Wednesday by the office of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.

She will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Kofi Annan Foundation, a Geneva, Switzerland-based nonprofit organization that works to promote better global governance and achieve a fairer more peaceful world, the article said.

The commission is tasked with reviewing humanitarian and development issues, access to basic services, the assurance of basic rights, and the security of the Rakhine people in western Myanmar, the article said, though it did not mention the Rohingya by name.

The Rohingya Muslims, most of whom live in Rakhine, have borne the brunt of decades of routine discrimination that also has affected the state’s other minority groups, including ethnic Rakhine, Kaman Muslims, Christians, and Hindus.

“The commission will undertake assessments and make recommendations by focusing on conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance, rights and reconciliation, institution building and promotion of development of Rakhine state,” the article. “It will also examine international aspects of the situation, including the background of those seeking refugee status abroad.”

The commission’s Myanmar members, which include both Buddhists and Muslims, are Win Mra, chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC); Thar Hla Shwe, president of Myanmar Red Cross Society; Aye Lwin, a Muslim leader and founder of the interfaith group Religions for Peace Myanmar; Mya Thida, president of the Obstetrical and Gynecological Society of the Myanmar Medical Association and member of the Myanmar Academy of Medical Science; Khin Maung Lay, member of the MNHRC; Saw Khin Tint, chairwoman of the Rakhine Literature and Culture Association in Yangon and vice chairwoman of the Rakhine Women’s Association.

Besides Annan, the two other international members of the commission are Ghassan Salamé, a Lebanese academic and former senior advisor to Annan when he was U.N. secretary-general, and Laetitia van den Assum, a career Dutch diplomat and former advisor to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

After holding meetings with all relevant stakeholders, international experts and foreign dignitaries, the commission must submit its findings and recommendations to the Myanmar government via Aung San Suu Kyi and publish a report within 12 months, the article said.

Dismantling discrimination

London-based rights group Amnesty International welcomed the creation of the commission to address the human rights situation in Rakhine.

“For the commission to be truly effective, it must ensure an independent, impartial and thorough investigation of human rights violations in Rakhine state,” said Rafendi Djamin, the group’s director for South East Asia and the Pacific. “Only when the facts have been established can Myanmar move towards accountability and dismantling the systemic discrimination that Rohingyas face.”

“However, a commission isn’t needed to take immediate steps to restore rights and dignity to the Rohingya and other Muslims in Rakhine state,” he said. “A first step would be to lift the restrictions on their freedom of movement, and allow them the chance to seek education, employment, aid and assistance.”

Some 140,000 Rohingya Muslims were displaced after violence erupted four years ago between them and Rakhine Buddhists, leaving more than 200 dead and tens of thousands homeless after their houses were destroyed. The Rohingya, who bore the brunt of the attacks, were later forced to live in refugee camps.

About 120,000 Rohingya currently remain in the camps, while thousands of others have fled persecution in the Buddhist-dominated country on rickety boats to other Southeast Asian countries in recent years.
The government does not consider the Rohingya to be full citizens of Myanmar and denies them basic rights, freedom of movement, and access to social services and education.

Other plans for Rakhine

On June 1, the Myanmar government created the Central Committee for Implementation of Peace and Development in Rakhine State to put impoverished and strife-torn Rakhine on a path to peace and development.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto national leader, chairs the 27-member committee which include all government ministers and Rakhine state officials.

The National League for Democracy government has pledged to spend more than 70 billion kyats (U.S. $5.9 million) to develop Rakhine by financing goods and services that promote human resources, open migrant resource centers to help workers and conduct a transparent.

Kofi Annan, who was the U.N. secretary general from 1997 to 2006, and the United Nations jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

He also was the predecessor of current U.S. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will visit Myanmar at the end of August to participate in the government’s Panglong Peace Conference, an effort spearheaded by Aung San Suu Kyi to foster permanent peace and national reconciliation in Myanmar after decades of ethnic separatist civil wars.

Reported by Kyaw Soe Lin for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Myanmar: OCHA Update: Earthquake in Central Myanmar

25 August 2016 - 2:15am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake killed three people and damaged buildings, including dozens of pagodas, across central Myanmar late yesterday, 24 August. The epicenter of the quake was 25 kilometres W of Chauk, 59 kilometres NNW of Yenangyaung, 70 kilometres SW of Pakkoku, and 207 kilometres NW of Nay Pyi Daw and the depth was 84 kilometres. The quake was also felt across southern Myanmar and as far away as Bangkok in Thailand and Dhaka in Bangladesh.

The Government’s Relief and Resettlement Department (RRD) is leading the response and spent last night collating information on damage, confirming the most severe impacts were seen in communities along the border between Magway and Mandalay. The overall humanitarian impact has been relatively low despite the earthquake’s magnitude. According to RRD, four schools have been damaged in Mandalay, Magway and Rakhine. A hospital has been damaged in Pakokku where one person was injured and other buildings affected. Two houses collapsed near the quake’s epicenter of Chauk. A total of 125 pagodas were damaged or destroyed, the majority of those in the Bagan-Nyaung U archaeological area. The ceiling of the Parliament building in Nay Pyi Taw was also damaged.

The Myanmar Government is continuing to assess damage across the earthquake zone and, along with the Myanmar Red Cross Society and other local partners, is supporting affected communities. Humanitarian organizations stand ready to support the Government but no major needs have been identified and there has so far been no request for international assistance. OCHA continues to monitor the situation and will advise of any emerging needs.

Myanmar regularly experiences earthquakes and this is the fourth tremor higher than magnitude 6.0 since 2008. Earlier this year, another 6.9 magnitude quake struck near Mawlaik in Sagaing but there were no casualties and no major damage was recorded.

For more information please contact: Pierre Péron | Public Information and Advocacy Officer, Myanmar Tel: +95 9250 198 997 | E-mail: peronp@un.org | Twitter: @pierre_peron

Myanmar: Earthquake Intensity and Population Density Myanmar (2016-08-24 17:04 at epicenter)

25 August 2016 - 12:30am
Source: Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on earthquakes in Italy and Myanmar

24 August 2016 - 10:55pm
Source: UN Secretary-General Country: Italy, Myanmar

The Secretary-General's thoughts are today with the people of Italy and Myanmar following the earthquakes that struck the two countries on 24 August.

While reports on the impact of the earthquakes are still coming in, it is evident that lives have been lost and infrastructure has been damaged. In Italy, it is reported that an estimated 120 people have been killed and over 360 injured. In Myanmar, initial reports indicate that a number of buildings, including schools, pagodas and houses have been damaged in Naypyitaw, Mandalay and Magway regions.

On behalf of the United Nations, the Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the Governments of Italy and Myanmar and to everyone affected, particularly to the families and friends of those killed and injured.

The United Nations stand ready to offer its support should that be requested.

Myanmar: A Gentleman’s Agreement’: Women’s Participation in Burma’s Peace Negotiations and Political Transition

24 August 2016 - 8:48pm
Source: Human Rights Watch Country: Myanmar

Burma: Ensure Women’s Role in Peace Talks

Government, Ethnic Armed Groups Should Promote Women’s Rights in Political Transition

(New York, August 25, 2016) – Burma’s government and ethnic armed groups should ensure that women meaningfully participate in efforts to end the country’s longstanding armed conflicts, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government should also make women’s rights a priority as Burma continues its political transition. In late August 2016, the National League for Democracy-led government that was elected in November 2015, and various armed groups will meet at the “Panglong 21st Century Peace Conference” to begin talks.

The 18-page report, “‘A Gentleman’s Agreement’: Women’s Participation in Burma’s Peace Negotiations and Political Transition,” examines women’s participation in peace efforts in Burma and the devastating impacts of the country’s wars on women. Women have been almost entirely absent from nearly four years of peace negotiations to end the fighting in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi heads the National League for Democracy, and a few other women hold leadership positions in groups involved in these negotiations, but there have been only 10 women among 195 senior delegates in 8 major peace efforts since 2012.

“Women in Burma are entitled to a meaningful and comprehensive role in determining their country’s future,” said Sarah Taylor, women’s rights advocate at Human Rights Watch. “Burma’s women have long endured abuses but have worked hard to advance human rights. Their voices should now be front and center.”

In May 2016, Human Rights Watch spoke with more than 25 Burmese women’s rights activists, armed group representatives, ceasefire monitors, and foreign diplomats. Women’s groups reported that government officials and leaders of non-state armed groups have long treated women with disdain or as “spoilers” when they pressed for the inclusion of women’s rights in talks. One leading women’s rights activist said “tea break advocacy”– during breaks in meetings – has often been the only space for women to influence delegates in ongoing negotiations.

Women in Burma need a greater role in the peace process not only because they suffer many of the consequences of the conflicts, but also because their participation can help ensure that a full range of human rights concerns are addressed in any peace agreement, Human Rights Watch said. This is crucial for obtaining a long and durable peace.

Burmese civilians have been victims of abuses during armed conflict since Burma’s independence in 1948. Fighting between government forces and ethnic armed groups has surged on and off in recent years, and ceasefire agreements have unraveled.

In addition to including women as full partners in peace talks, the new government should abolish or revise laws enacted by the previous administration that curtail the rights of women and criminal laws that provide inadequate protection to women, Human Rights Watch said. There is no specific law criminalizing violence against women at home or sexual harassment in the workplace, nor does current law allow women to seek protection from the state, including restraining orders on violent men.

International human rights law and the principles contained in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions on women, peace, and security oblige governments to take steps to remove discrimination against women in public life, and to respect their right to take part in public affairs. Such action should set the standard for the essential role of women in Burma in preventing and ending armed conflicts. This includes peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response, and post-conflict reconstruction.

“Burma’s government and military and ethnic armed groups should all commit to promoting respect for women’s rights,” Taylor said. “These parties can start at the upcoming Panglong Peace Conference by ensuring that women have a prominent place at the negotiating table.”

“‘A Gentleman’s Agreement’: Women’s Participation in Burma’s Peace Negotiations and Political Transition,” is available at:
https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/08/25/gentlemans-agreement

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on women and armed conflict, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/topic/womens-rights/women-and-armed-conflict

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Burma, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/burma

Myanmar: Burma: Ensure Women’s Role in Peace Talks

24 August 2016 - 8:48pm
Source: Human Rights Watch Country: Myanmar

Government, Ethnic Armed Groups Should Promote Women’s Rights in Political Transition

(New York, August 25, 2016) – Burma’s government and ethnic armed groups should ensure that women meaningfully participate in efforts to end the country’s longstanding armed conflicts, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government should also make women’s rights a priority as Burma continues its political transition. In late August 2016, the National League for Democracy-led government that was elected in November 2015, and various armed groups will meet at the “Panglong 21st Century Peace Conference” to begin talks.

The 18-page report, “‘A Gentleman’s Agreement’: Women’s Participation in Burma’s Peace Negotiations and Political Transition,” examines women’s participation in peace efforts in Burma and the devastating impacts of the country’s wars on women. Women have been almost entirely absent from nearly four years of peace negotiations to end the fighting in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi heads the National League for Democracy, and a few other women hold leadership positions in groups involved in these negotiations, but there have been only 10 women among 195 senior delegates in 8 major peace efforts since 2012.

“Women in Burma are entitled to a meaningful and comprehensive role in determining their country’s future,” said Sarah Taylor, women’s rights advocate at Human Rights Watch. “Burma’s women have long endured abuses but have worked hard to advance human rights. Their voices should now be front and center.”

In May 2016, Human Rights Watch spoke with more than 25 Burmese women’s rights activists, armed group representatives, ceasefire monitors, and foreign diplomats. Women’s groups reported that government officials and leaders of non-state armed groups have long treated women with disdain or as “spoilers” when they pressed for the inclusion of women’s rights in talks. One leading women’s rights activist said “tea break advocacy”– during breaks in meetings – has often been the only space for women to influence delegates in ongoing negotiations.

Women in Burma need a greater role in the peace process not only because they suffer many of the consequences of the conflicts, but also because their participation can help ensure that a full range of human rights concerns are addressed in any peace agreement, Human Rights Watch said. This is crucial for obtaining a long and durable peace.

Burmese civilians have been victims of abuses during armed conflict since Burma’s independence in 1948. Fighting between government forces and ethnic armed groups has surged on and off in recent years, and ceasefire agreements have unraveled.

In addition to including women as full partners in peace talks, the new government should abolish or revise laws enacted by the previous administration that curtail the rights of women and criminal laws that provide inadequate protection to women, Human Rights Watch said. There is no specific law criminalizing violence against women at home or sexual harassment in the workplace, nor does current law allow women to seek protection from the state, including restraining orders on violent men.

International human rights law and the principles contained in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions on women, peace, and security oblige governments to take steps to remove discrimination against women in public life, and to respect their right to take part in public affairs. Such action should set the standard for the essential role of women in Burma in preventing and ending armed conflicts. This includes peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response, and post-conflict reconstruction.

“Burma’s government and military and ethnic armed groups should all commit to promoting respect for women’s rights,” Taylor said. “These parties can start at the upcoming Panglong Peace Conference by ensuring that women have a prominent place at the negotiating table.”

“‘A Gentleman’s Agreement’: Women’s Participation in Burma’s Peace Negotiations and Political Transition,” is available at:
https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/08/25/gentlemans-agreement

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on women and armed conflict, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/topic/womens-rights/women-and-armed-conflict

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Burma, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/burma

World: Informe de la Representante Especial del Secretario General para la Cuestión de los Niños y los Conflictos Armados (A/71/205)

24 August 2016 - 3:33pm
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

Resumen

Este informe se presenta a la Asamblea General conforme a lo dispuesto en su resolución 70/137 sobre los derechos del niño, en la que solicitó a la Representante Especial del Secretario General para la Cuestión de los Niños y los Conflictos Armados que siguiera presentando informes a la Asamblea General sobre las actividades emprendidas en cumplimiento de su mandato, con información de sus visitas sobre el terreno, y sobre los progresos alcanzados y los problemas que subsisten en relación con la cuestión de los niños y los conflictos armados. El informe abarca el período comprendido entre agosto de 2015 y julio de 2016. En él se describen las tendencias actuales y también se reflexiona sobre los 20 años transcurridos desde que la Asamblea, mediante su resolución 51/77, creó el mandato relativo a los niños y los conflictos armados. Además, en el informe se proporciona información acerca de las visitas sobre el terreno realizadas por la Representante Especial, su colaboración con organizaciones regionales y asociados internacionales y el diálogo con partes en conflicto, y se incluye una actualización sobre la campaña “Niños, No Soldados”. También se plantea un conjunto de desafíos y prioridades de la agenda de la Representante Especial y se concluye con una serie de recomendaciones para mejorar la protección de los niños afectados por los conflictos.

I. Introducción

1. En su resolución 70/137, la Asamblea General solicitó a la Representante Especial del Secretario General para la Cuestión de los Niños y los Conflictos Armados que siguiera presentando informes, tanto a la Asamblea como al Consejo de Derechos Humanos, sobre las actividades emprendidas en cumplimiento de su mandato, con información de sus visitas sobre el terreno, y sobre los progresos alcanzados y los problemas que subsisten en relación con la cuestión de los niños y los conflictos armados. La solicitud se basó en el mandato otorgado por la Asamblea en su resolución 51/77, en la que recomendó, entre otras cosas, que la Representante Especial procurara que se tomara mayor conciencia y promoviera la reunión de información acerca de los sufrimientos de los niños afectados por los conflictos armados, y estimulara la cooperación internacional para asegurar el respeto de los derechos de los niños en esas situaciones. En consonancia con ese mandato, y de conformidad con lo solicitado por la Asamblea en su resolución 70/137, en el presente informe se proporciona información actualizada sobre la campaña “Niños, No Soldados”. También se ponen de relieve los progresos alcanzados durante el último año y se resumen las prioridades inmediatas, así como los objetivos de más largo plazo fijados para impulsar la cuestión de los niños y los conflictos armados, en colaboración con los Estados Miembros de las Naciones Unidas, las entidades de las Naciones Unidas, las organizaciones regionales y subregionales y la sociedad civil.

II. Estado de la cuestión de los niños y los conflictos armados

A. Panorama general de las tendencias y los desafíos

2. La Representante Especial presentará este informe a la Asamblea General 20 años después de la aprobación de la resolución 51/77, por la que se estableció el mandato relativo a la cuestión de los niños y los conflictos armados. El 20º aniversario del mandato brinda la oportunidad de hacer un balance de los numerosos logros obtenidos y poner de relieve las esferas que están más rezagadas. En su informe pionero acerca de las repercusiones de los conflictos armados sobre los niños (A/51/306), que fue presentado a la Asamblea en 1996, Graça Machel describió la brutalidad extrema a que estaban expuestos millones de niños atrapados en conflictos y demostró el carácter central de la cuestión para las agendas internacionales de derechos humanos, desarrollo y paz y seguridad.

3. Si bien ha habido progresos sustanciales en los últimos dos decenios, como se indica en el presente informe, en el segundo semestre de 2015 y a principios de 2016 persistían graves problemas para la protección de los niños afectados por los conflictos armados. La intensidad de las violaciones graves de los derechos de los niños aumentó en una serie de situaciones de conflicto armado. Preocupó especialmente la proliferación de agentes que participaban en los conflictos armados. Las operaciones aéreas transfronterizas realizadas por coaliciones internacionales o Estados Miembros a título individual, especialmente en zonas pobladas, produjeron entornos sumamente complejos para la protección de los niños. Los efectos en los niños de la incapacidad colectiva de prevenir conflictos y ponerles fin son graves: existen regiones en crisis y las violaciones de los derechos de los niños se están agravando en varios conflictos. Las violaciones se relacionan directamente con el ultraje al derecho internacional humanitario y el derecho internacional de los derechos humanos por las partes en los conflictos.

4. Los conflictos prolongados han tenido efectos considerables en los niños. En la República Árabe Siria, según el Enviado Especial para Siria, el conflicto ya ha causado la muerte de más de 400.000 personas, incluidos miles de niños. En el Afganistán, en 2015 se registró el mayor número de bajas infantiles desde que las Naciones Unidas empezaron a documentar sistemáticamente las bajas civiles en 2009. En Somalia, la situación siguió siendo peligrosa para los niños: el número de violaciones de derechos registradas no mostró señales de disminuir en 2016, y centenares de niños fueron secuestrados, reclutados, utilizados, brutalmente muertos y mutilados. Cabe señalar, como ejemplo sumamente inquietante, la situación en Sudán del Sur, donde los niños fueron víctimas de las seis categorías de violaciones graves de sus derechos, en particular durante las brutales ofensivas militares lanzadas contra las fuerzas de la oposición. El deterioro de la situación en julio de 2016 es especialmente preocupante por la situación penosa de los niños. En el Iraq, los intensos enfrentamientos armados y los ataques contra la población civil perpetrados por el Estado Islámico en el Iraq y el Levante han causado la muerte de miles de civiles, entre ellos muchos niños. En el Yemen, el conflicto ha continuado intensificándose, con niveles alarmantes de reclutamiento, muerte y mutilación de niños y ataques contra escuelas y hospitales.

World: Rapport de la Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général pour le sort des enfants en temps de conflit armé (A/71/205)

24 August 2016 - 3:04pm
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

Résumé

Ce rapport est soumis en application de la résolution 70/137 de l’Assemblée générale relative aux droits de l’enfant, dans laquelle l’Assemblée prie la Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général pour le sort des enfants en temps de conflit armé de continuer à lui présenter des rapports sur les activités menées en exécution de son mandat, notamment sur les visites qu’elle effectue sur le terrain ainsi que sur les progrès réalisés dans le cadre de l’action engagée pour lutter contre les violences faites aux enfants et sur les problèmes qu’il reste à surmonter en la matière. Le présent rapport décrit l’évolution de la situation sur la période comprise entre août 2015 et juillet 2016. Il revient aussi sur les 20 années écoulées depuis la création du mandat du Représentant spécial pour les enfants et les conflits armés, en vertu de la résolution 51/77 de l’Assemblée générale. Le rapport contient également des informations sur les visites effectuées sur le terrain par la Représentante spéciale, sur sa coopération avec les organisations régionales et les partenaires internationaux et sur le dialogue qu’elle a engagé avec les parties, ainsi que sur les avancées de la campagne « Des enfants, pas des soldats ». Il décrit certaines des difficultés rencontrées et les domaines sur lesquels son action porte en priorité, et se termine par une série de recommandations visant à améliorer la protection des enfants touchés par les conflits.

I. Introduction

1. Dans sa résolution 70/137, l’Assemblée générale prie la Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général pour le sort des enfants en temps de conflit armé de continuer à lui présenter des rapports sur les activités entreprises en application de son mandat, notamment sur les visites qu’elle effectue sur le terrain, les progrès réalisés et les obstacles restant à surmonter dans le cadre de l’action menée en faveur des enfants touchés par les conflits armés. Cette demande découle du mandat donné par l’Assemblée générale dans sa résolution 51/77, qui recommande que le Représentant spécial fasse prendre davantage conscience de la condition dramatique des enfants touchés par les conflits armés, incite à recueillir des éléments d’information sur cette situation et oeuvre à l’établissement d’une coopération internationale qui permette de faire respecter les droits des enfants pendant les conflits armés. Conformément à ce mandat, et comme l’Assemblée le demande dans sa résolution 70/137, le présent rapport rend compte de l’évolution de la campagne « Des enfants, pas des soldats ». Il met également en évidence les progrès réalisés au cours de l’année écoulée et expose les priorités immédiates ainsi que les projets à exécuter à plus long terme dans le cadre de l’action engagée en faveur des enfants touchés par les conflits armés, en collaboration avec les États Membres, les organismes des Nations Unies, les organisations régionales et sous-régionales et la société civile.

II. Bilan des travaux exécutés sur le sort des enfants en temps de conflit armé

A. Aperçu des tendances et des difficultés

2. La Représentante spéciale présentera ce rapport à l’Assemblée générale 20 ans après l’adoption de la résolution 51/77 qui a créé le mandat pour le sort des enfants en temps de conflit armé. Ce vingtième anniversaire est l’occasion de dresser un bilan des nombreuses avancées réalisées et de mettre en lumière les domaines dans lesquels il faut encore progresser. Dans son rapport historique (A/51/306) présenté à l’Assemblée générale en 1996, Graça Machel décrivait l’extrême brutalité subie par les enfants pris dans un conflit et soulignait que cette question devait s’inscrire au coeur de l’action internationale pour les droits de l’homme, le développement, la paix et la sécurité.

3. Malgré les progrès substantiels accomplis ces vingt dernières années, comme le démontre le présent rapport, le deuxième semestre 2015 et le début de l’année 2016 ont encore été marqués par de sérieuses difficultés qui ont entravé la protection des enfants touchés par un conflit armé. Les violations graves à leur encontre se sont intensifiées sur de nombreux terrains de conflit et la multiplication des acteurs engagés dans ces troubles a été très préoccupante. Les opérations aériennes transfrontalières menées par des coalitions internationales ou à titre individuel par des États Membres, notamment dans des zones habitées, ont créé des conditions très défavorables à la protection des enfants. L’échec collectif à prévenir et faire cesser les conflits a de graves conséquences pour les enfants, car des régions sont en proie à l’instabilité et les violations commises contre des enfants s’intensifient dans différentes zones de conflit. Ces violations sont la conséquence directe du peu d’intérêt apporté au respect des droits de l’homme et du droit international humanitaire par les parties au conflit.

4. Les conflits prolongés ont des effets considérables sur les enfants. Selon l’Envoyé spécial pour la Syrie, le conflit en République arabe syrienne a causé la mort de plus de 400 000 personnes, dont des milliers d’enfants. En Afghanistan, on a dénombré en 2015 le plus grand nombre de victimes parmi les enfants depuis 2009, quand l’Organisation des Nations Unies a commencé à recenser systématiquement les victimes civiles. En Somalie, les enfants sont toujours en grand danger : le nombre de violations constatées ne semble pas diminuer en 2016 et des centaines d’enfants sont enlevés, enrôlés, utilisés, brutalement tués et mutilés. L’exemple du Soudan du Sud est l’un des plus inquiétants, car les enfants y ont été victimes des six violations graves, en particulier pendant les violentes offensives militaires contre les forces d’opposition. Le sort des enfants est très préoccupant en raison de la détérioration de la situation depuis juillet 2016. En Iraq, l’intensité des affrontements armés et des attaques visant les civils menés par l’État islamique d’Iraq et du Levant a causé la mort de milliers de civils, dont de nombreux enfants. Au Yémen, l’escalade continue du conflit s’est accompagnée d’un nombre alarmant d’enfants recrutés, tués et mutilés, mais aussi des attaques contre les écoles et les hôpitaux.

World: Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (A/71/205) [EN/AR]

24 August 2016 - 2:25pm
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

Increasingly Complex Conflicts with Devastating Impact on Children, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Warns General Assembly in Annual Report

23 Aug 2016

New York – In her annual report to the General Assembly, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, highlighted the devastating impact on children of increasingly complex conflicts, despite concerted efforts and significant progress achieved over the past year.

“The impact on children of the collective failure to prevent and end conflict is severe, with regions in turmoil and violations against children intensifying in a number of conflicts,” Leila Zerrougui said in the report, which covers the period from August 2015 to July 2016. “The violations are directly related to the denigration of respect for international humanitarian and human rights law by parties to conflict.”

Emerging crises and protracted conflicts profoundly disrupted children’s lives during the reporting period. She noted that the proliferation of actors involved in armed conflict and cross-border aerial operations created highly complex environments for the protection of boys and girls. In 2015, and again in the first half of 2016, Afghanistan recorded the highest number of child deaths and injuries since the UN started systematically documenting civilian casualties in 2009. In Syria and Iraq, violence continued unabated. In South Sudan, following a year during which children were victims of brutal violations, hopes for improvement all but evaporated with the resumption of conflict last month. In Yemen, the escalation of conflict continued with alarming levels of child recruitment, killing and maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals.

Twentieth anniversary of the children and armed conflict mandate

The report also takes stock of the achievements accomplished in the twenty years since the publication of Graça Machel’s report, “Impact of armed conflict on children,” which led to the creation of the mandate of the Special Representative by the General Assembly. Since 2000, over 115,000 children have been released as a result of action plans and advocacy. Engagement with non-State armed groups is growing and recently contributed to a historic agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP to release all children in the ranks of the FARC-EP.

The advocacy generated by this mandate, and reinforced by the campaign “Children, not Soldiers”, has led to a global consensus among Member States that children do not belong in security forces in conflict. This progress in addressing recruitment and use over the last 20 years has been built upon and utilized in work to reduce other grave violations, notably sexual violence and attacks on schools and hospitals.

In that regard, the new development agenda brings new opportunities to reinforce and create synergies with the child protection agenda. The Special Representative called on the General Assembly in her report to pay special attention to children affected by conflict to fulfil the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, she called for adequate resources for education in emergencies and for support to children disabled during conflict.

Protection challenges posed by violent extremism

Other issues addressed in the report to the General Assembly include the impact of violent extremism on children. During the reporting period, children were severely affected, and often the direct targets of acts intended to cause maximum civilian casualties. Recruitment and use of children, abductions and other grave violations were prevalent concerns as armed groups controlled large swaths of territory. The Special Representative urged Member States to avoid responding to these threats with operations that can “create or add to real or perceived grievances in the affected population.”

The report also states that increasingly large numbers of children have been arrested, detained, used as spies and for intelligence gathering, or even sometimes sentenced to death for their alleged association with parties to conflict.

“Detention of children should always be the last resort for the shortest time possible and guided by the best interests of the child. If they are accused of a crime during their association with armed groups, children should be processed by the juvenile justice system rather than by military or special courts,” said Leila Zerrougui.

Attacks on health care and protected personnel

In the past months, attacks on medical facilities, including aerial bombardments, have increased concerns over the protection of health care in conflict. This has severely disrupted access to lifesaving assistance for children growing up in conflict zones, and can have long-lasting consequences as it often takes years to rebuild capacity. The Special Representative calls on all parties to conflict to take clear measures to protect hospitals as outlined in the report.

Displacement

Armed conflict has resulted not only in human casualties, but also in an ever growing number of displaced children. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, an unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced away from their homes among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are children. In the Report, the Special Representative encourages Member States and other partners to support initiatives to help displaced children rebuild their lives, particularly through ensuring that education is prioritised in emergency settings.

Recommendations

The Report ends with recommendations to the General Assembly and Member States, which include:

  1. To ensure that Member States engagement in hostilities, including in efforts to counter violent extremism, are conducted in full compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law

  2. To highlight the rights of children displaced by conflict and the obligations of States of origin, transit and destination

  3. To treat children allegedly associated with non-State armed groups as victims entitled to the full protection of their human rights

  4. Encouraging Member States concerned by the “Children, not Soldiers” campaign to redouble their efforts to fully implement their Action Plan

  5. To take appropriate measures to reintegrate children, giving special attention to the needs of girls

  6. To ensure that special attention is paid to children affected by armed conflict in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Read the full report at: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N16/234/89/PDF/N1623489.pdf?OpenElement

For more information please contact:
Sharon Riggle or Stephanie Tremblay
Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict,
Tel: +1 212 963-9614 – Mobile: +1 917 288-5791
riggle@un.org or tremblay@un.org

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Myanmar: Shan groups warn Salween dam could fuel conflict

24 August 2016 - 1:17pm
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

By LIBBY HOGAN / DVB 24 August 2016

Shan community groups are calling for the suspension of a Chinese-backed dam on the Salween River that they say risks exacerbating conflict and environmental problems in northern Shan State.

At a press conference held in Bangkok on Tuesday, the groups warned that preparations to begin construction on the 1,200-megawatt Naung Pha dam project, located between the towns of Lashio and Hopang in northern Shan State, appear to be going forward despite concerns about its impact.

The hydropower dam, backed by the Chinese state-owned Hydrochina Corporation and a local consortium called the International Group of Entrepreneurs, will export 90 percent of the electricity it generates to China.

In a statement released ahead of the press conference, the groups noted that the project is located “in one of Shan State’s most contested areas, where there is ongoing fighting between the Burma Army and ethnic armed groups west of the dam site and a tenuous ceasefire with the heavily armed United Wa State Army to the east.”

Speaking to DVB after the press conference, Sai Khur Hseng of the Shan Sapawa Environmental Organisation (SSEO) said that dam could also have a damaging effect on the government’s ongoing efforts to end decades of civil war in the country.

“This dam will have an impact on the peace process as it is in the armed-group area,” he said, adding that there were also concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) being carried out by Australia’s Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC).

“Mostly they [SMEC] give short notice for the consultation and so only the local community finds out about it,” he said. “This is why we organised a press conference, as this is not a good process.”

In response, community leaders organised a rally against the dam on 5 August, attended by about 250 people from nine villages in Tangyan Township, as well as representatives of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy. On 21 August, community leaders from Hopang, Kunlong, Tangyan, Lashio and Hsenwi organised another protest.

DVB contacted SMEC for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Matthew Smith, founder of Fortify Rights, which has reported on human rights abuses in the region, also warned about the dangers of building a dam in an area of active conflict.

“We share the concerns of the Shan communities and our primary concern is the proximity of the dam project to the armed conflict area. There should be a lasting solution to the ongoing armed conflict before projects like these move forward.”

He said there is ample evidence that carrying out mega-projects in conflict zones only makes a tense situation worse.

“These multi-million or multi-billion-dollar projects can influence the decision-making of political leaders, and this can be a toxic cocktail of interests when you introduce these projects into areas of armed conflict,” he said.

SSEO’s Sai Khur Hseng also raised concerns about the environmental impact of the project.

“Recently in Hopang, there has been flooding, even without the dam. So if they go ahead with building the dam, the local people are scared that their villages will be further under water,” he said, adding that the area is prone not only to floods, but also to earthquakes. Hopang lies on the Nam Ting fault line and has reported several small earthquakes in the last few weeks, he said.

As part of the effort to raise awareness of the risks posed by the dam, the Shan Human Rights Foundation released a report detailing issues surrounding the project on Tuesday.

Myanmar: Insufficient Aid to Naga Region Contributes to More Measles Casualties

24 August 2016 - 1:06pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By NYEIN NYEIN / THE IRRAWADDY| Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The death toll from a measles epidemic has risen to 68 in Burma’s remote Naga Self-Administered Zone, according to a regional lawmaker and other relief workers providing support to the affected areas.

An emergency response team dispatched to the area says the situation is particularly critical in Kesan Salin and Kesan Karlan villages in the Dong Hee sub-township of Nanyun Township.

The spread of the outbreak has been linked to the poor transportation infrastructure in the mountainous region in Burma’s far north; with many areas only accessible by motorbike, the overland delivery of necessary medical aid and vaccinations has been difficult.

Sing Maung, the Sagaing Division parliamentarian representing Nanyun Constituency No.1, told The Irrawaddy that out of the 68 confirmed deaths, around 40 have been children under 10 years old, many of whom have been in his constituency.

“There are no medical doctors who have arrived yet to these areas,” he said, pointing out that he had been told that regional healthcare providers would be sent. After visiting multiple communities stricken with measles, he said that at least four villages urgently need physicians on standby to better control the disease and provide support and guidance regarding its prevention.

In early August, after the measles outbreak had been ongoing for two months and claimed 38 lives, the crisis received national attention from the public and the media; at the time, the illness had not yet been identified. The National Health Laboratory, under the department of Medical Services within the Ministry of Health and Sport, later confirmed the disease as measles in the Naga region’s Lahe Township, where the illness first appeared. The lab, however, did not provide the same confirmation in Nanyun Township, where children afflicted with the illness also coughed blood and suffered from severe congestion.

Local government has been criticized by local activists for a slow and inefficient response to the epidemic.

“Twenty-four more people, the majority of them children, died in those villages in Nanyun township within a week’s time,” said Shu Maung, the secretary of the Council of Naga Affairs, which led the emergency response team to the area.

“They need the immediate support of medicines as well as preventative measures to fight against the disease,” he said. His group led a press briefing in Rangoon on August 16 and urged the government to take action.

The community-based emergency response team also has been sending medical supplies to the affected areas, but it took at least eight days to reach the remote villages, Shu Maung explained.

Following the criticism of the government’s response—particularly regarding the failure to facilitate the use of a helicopter to deliver aid more efficiently—the Sagaing regional government’s social welfare minister Dr. Zaw Win traveled to some affected villages in the Naga region to provide food and medical support earlier this week.

Myanmar: Lower House Approves Annulment of Emergency Provisions Act

24 August 2016 - 1:05pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By HTUN HTUN / THE IRRAWADDY| Wednesday, August 24, 201

The Lower House approved a bill on Wednesday that repeals Burma’s controversial 1950 Emergency Provisions Act.

The bill, which proposes the abolishment of the 66-year-old law, was drafted and submitted to the Parliament by the Lower House Bill Committee.

Tun Tun Hein, committee chair, argued that the Emergency Provisions Act had been used by previous governments to stifle political dissent.

“Today, there are less than a handful of laws in force that are as notorious and ill-famed as the Emergency Provisions Act. For emergency occasions, provisions in the state of emergency in the [2008] Constitution can be applied,” Tun Tun Hein told the Parliament.

The Emergency Provisions Act was originally enacted in March 1950 by the government of Burma’s first prime minister, U Nu, in response to the civil war that erupted in the wake of the country’s independence. The law grants sweeping authority to the government to prosecute individuals who disseminate “false news” or are otherwise determined to have “jeopardized the state.” Successive governments have abused it to suppress dissidents.

The act carries the death penalty and sentences of up to life in prison for treason or sabotage against the military. It also dictates up to seven years in prison for a sweeping range of other “offenses” against the state.

Military lawmakers and the Defense Ministry defended the Emergency Provisions Act, and suggested making some changes to the law rather than scrapping it.

In response to different views among the lawmakers, the bill was put to vote, with the majority voting to annul the controversial act.

In 2015, during ex-president Thein Sein’s administration, the National League for Democracy (NLD)—the then-leading opposition party—proposed scrapping the legislation at a Lower House legislative session; many within the NLD’s leadership were subjected to the Emergency Provisions Act under the military regime.

However, the move failed as the chamber was under the wider influence of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party majority at the time.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

Myanmar: Myanmar: M-6.8 Earthquake in Magway Region (24 August 2016)

24 August 2016 - 12:45pm
Source: Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: President U Htin Kyaw tours Ayeyawady Region, assists flood-affected people

24 August 2016 - 12:39pm
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, August 19

President U Htin Kyaw met with flood-affected people sheltering at temporary camps in Ayeyawady Region yesterday, offering assistance in their livelihoods and rehabilitation.

The president and his entourage comprising Union ministers arrived at Pathein, Ayeyawady Region, yesterday via a special flight of the Tatmdaw.

They flew to Thabaung, a flood-hit township in the region and there met the local people sheltering at Kanyinchaung Monastery and presented relief supplies to them.

During the visit, President U Htin Kyaw encouraged the flood-affected people, pledging that the Union government would assist in their rehabilitation.

He also spoke with members of the Ayayawady Region Parliament on efforts pertaining to the rehabilitation of flood-affected people.

The president also went to Ngathaingchaung, Kyonpyaw, Pathein and Kangyidauk and provided relief supplies to the flood-affected sheltering at temporary relief camps. The flood, which began in mid-June, has affected 504,471 people from 123,643 families in 19 townships of Ayayawady Region.

The Ayaywady Region Government has set up 362 shelters for flood-affected people, provided 4,639 bags of rice and spent more than K140 million on aid. Meanwhile, the Ayeyawady Region Relief and Resettlement Department has spent more than K145 million up to 18 August providing aid and construction materials.

The National Disaster Management Committee provided authorities with more than K200 million for the relief and rehabilitation of the flood-affected in the region.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Kofi Annan to head Commission on Rakhine state

24 August 2016 - 12:01pm
Source: Amnesty International Country: Myanmar

The establishment of a high-level commission headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is a welcome step towards addressing the human rights situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, Amnesty International said today.

“Today’s announcement is a sign that Myanmar’s authorities are taking the situation in Rakhine state seriously. But it will only have been a worthwhile exercise if it paves the way for the realization of human rights for all people in the state,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

Rakhine state on the western coast of Myanmar is home to many minority groups that have faced decades of human rights violations and abuses, in particular, the persecuted Rohingya minority. The situation there has deteriorated markedly since 2012, when clashes between different groups sparked waves of violence, culminating in scores of deaths, destruction of property and mass displacement.

“The commission should investigate decades of discrimination against minorities in Rakhine state, ensure accountability, recommend reparations, and lead efforts at reconciliation,” said Rafendi Djamin.

The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, described by state media as a national body, appears to be the most credible and independent attempt yet to address longstanding human rights violations in Rakhine state, with former UN Secretary Kofi Annan and Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi steering the effort.

The commission is composed of three international members and six from Myanmar, including representatives from the Buddhist and Muslim communities.

“The inclusion of international members should highlight how the situation goes beyond Myanmar’s borders. But the commission would have benefited from the presence of Myanmar’s other ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Rohingya,” said Rafendi Djamin.

The Rohingya, who predominantly live in Rakhine State, have faced decades of institutionalized discrimination and denial of their rights. The state’s other minorities also face discrimination, including ethnic Rakhine, Kaman Muslims, and Christian and Hindu communities.

Little is currently known about the commission’s mandate beyond the announcement’s broad focus on conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance, rights and reconciliation, institution building and development in Rakhine state. It is due to submit a report on its findings to the government after one year.

“For the commission to be truly effective, it must ensure an independent, impartial and thorough investigation of human rights violations in Rakhine State. Only when the facts have been established can Myanmar move towards accountability and dismantling the systemic discrimination that Rohingyas face,” said Rafendi Djamin.

“However, a commission isn’t needed to take immediate steps to restore rights and dignity to the Rohingya and other Muslims in Rakhine State. A first step would be to lift the restrictions on their freedom of movement, and allow them the chance to seek education, employment, aid and assistance.”