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Myanmar: With 99 days to go before Myanmar elections, UNICEF urges candidates make children the clear winner

1 hour 18 min ago
Source: UN News Service Country: Myanmar

1 August 2015 – The top UN children's representative in Myanmar reminded candidates from more than 80 political parties running in historic elections 99 days from today “to make new commitments for children” to improve spending for health, education and social welfare that remains the lowest in the Southeast Asian region.

“Building a better future for Myanmar's children is the most strategic and important investment that can be made in Myanmar's future,” said UNICEF representative Bertrand Bainvel. “In this important election, UNICEF calls on all political parties and all voters to make sure one group – Myanmar's children – is the clear winner.”

Mr. Bainvel made his appeal in an address earlier this month to representatives of more than 80 political parties at the invitation of the Chairperson of the Union Election Commission.

Despite progress made, millions of children in Myanmar still lack opportunities, with long-term consequences.

UNICEF cited that in recently released 2014 Census data for Myanmar, 4.4 million children aged 5 to 18 years still do not attend school, 10 million children live in poverty, and children are over represented in the poorest sections of the population.

Although Myanmar's spending on health and education has recently increased, but it is still the lowest in the [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] ASEAN region, and among the lowest globally.

“A 6 per cent increase in the share of the government's budget – from 9 percent to 15 percent – dedicated to education, health and social welfare, would not only result in better lives and prospects for millions of Myanmar children, it would also be a smart investment in the country's future and bring Myanmar closer to the ASEAN average,” Mr. Bainvel said.

Mr. Bainvel also urged parties to prioritize the critically important first 1000 days in the life of a child, to achieve universal free and compulsory education by 2020, to expand social welfare and social protection interventions and to build a solid protection system for children.”

“What happens in this election can have a critical positive impact on children's lives today, and that will benefit the whole country profoundly tomorrow,” he said.

UNICEF identified the following areas that would aid Myanmar's development: setting up cash transfers for all pregnant women and children up to two years of age in 2016; hiring and deploying 6000 social work case managers across 330 integrated service delivery centres in 2016; registering all children at birth by 2017; immunizing all children using government resources by 2020; reducing under 5 mortality rate by 50 per cent by 2020; halving child malnutrition by 2020; reducing school dropout rates of children under 10 by 70 per cent by 2020; lifting more than 3 million children out of poverty; and eliminating the recruitment and use of children under 18 in the armed forces across the country by 2017.

UNICEF's current focus of work in Myanmar aims at reducing child mortality, improving access and quality of education and protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation.

Myanmar: Chin State Capital Faces Possible Food Shortages Due to Heavy Rains, Landslides

3 hours 19 min ago
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Division — Torrential rains in Hakha have triggered landslides and caused many houses to collapse, blocking roads and leading to concerns of possible food shortages in the Chin State capital in northwestern Burma.

“We can no longer buy rice, charcoal or drinking water in Hakha. All roads have been blocked by landslides. People are in great trouble. Children at the relief camps were fed with plain rice and pickled tea-leaf salad,” said Sung Zi Mang, vice president of the Chin National League for Democracy, which is now carrying out relief efforts in Hakha.

All roads leading to the state capital have been cut off since Wednesday after heavy rains caused landslides.

Situated at over 6,000 feet above sea level, many houses in Hakha are built on mountain slopes. Heavy rains caused the foundations of some buildings to weaken, with more than 100 houses collapsing since last week, according to rescue workers.

Some of the affected have sought shelter in the homes of relatives while more than 150 people from 33 households are taking refuge at the City Hall.

“So far we haven’t received any food supplies from the government. Without any help, we could face a total food shortage in the next three days and the situation will deteriorate. More than 2,000 people need aid. Hakha is facing a state of emergency,” Sung Zi Mang said on Friday.

Nearly all houses in Khwa Be, a village four miles from Hakha, had collapsed as of Thursday night, forcing villagers to stay in the forest, according to Aung Tun Lin, the state capital’s municipal chief.

“We have landslides everywhere. A township administrator and team are now on a mission to rescue the villagers in Khwa Be. All roads have been blocked. There’s no rice at shops,” he said.

Sung Zi Mang said landslides had also hindered rescue efforts.

“When we drove to rescue people from their collapsed houses, the roads were blocked. It made it very difficult for rescue work,” she said.

Landslides were also reported in Falam and Paletwa, where some buildings and bridges had collapsed due to heavy rains.

Kalay, a town in neighboring Sagaing Division, has also suffered from floods which have cut off transportation. Many people are now in relief camps.

The road connecting Falam and Kalay was blocked by a landslide, causing a shortage of rice, a staple food in Burma, according to local people.

In the past week, several regions in Burma have been inundated due to torrential rains.

Up to 110,000 people were severely affected by flooding throughout the country, with 21 deaths reported in July, according to an update released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on July 30, citing government statistics.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and published in state media on Thursday, more than 50,000 acres of farmland are under water in Irrawaddy Division. In Sagaing Division, more than 100,000 acres of farmland are reportedly inundated.

Prominent Burmese meteorologist Tun Lwin has urged the government to announce a state of emergency nationwide and facilitate urgent rescue work.

Myanmar: Statement from Mr Eamonn Murphy, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. - Myanmar Floods

5 hours 49 min ago
Source: UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar Country: Myanmar

I am very concerned by the extensive flooding that has caused loss of life and property in several areas of Myanmar over the past days.

On behalf of the United Nations, I extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families of victims and to all communities affected by the floods.

I commend the ongoing efforts being led by the Myanmar authorities and military, civil society groups, local organizations, and the Myanmar Red Cross Society.

The UN and international humanitarian organizations have offered their support and are already working closely with the Myanmar authorities at local, State, and Union levels to assess urgent needs and are providing support to the humanitarian response.

We have dispatched assessment teams to the most affected areas to evaluate the humanitarian situation and identify priorities in terms of water and sanitation, shelter, food, and other relief items.

Myanmar is prone to natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, and earthquakes. Over the past years, the UN has worked with the Myanmar Government on contingency plans to improve emergency response preparedness and on disaster risk reduction programmes to strengthen the resilience of communities in times like these.

Myanmar: Severe flooding hampers rescue efforts in Myanmar, at least 27 dead

8 hours 59 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar | AFP | Saturday 8/1/2015 - 07:22 GMT | 354 words

Severe flooding across Myanmar hampered rescue efforts on Saturday as thousands sheltered at monasteries after rising waters triggered by torrential rains killed at least 27 people, officials said.

Heavy monsoon rain has battered vast swathes of the country in recent weeks, decimating tens of thousands of homes and fields and leaving people stranded in remote villages in a disaster testing the government's limited relief operations.

"Most of the country is flooded now," said a director at the social welfare ministry who did not want to be named, explaining that all but one of Myanmar's 14 provinces and regions were affected by the flash floods, rising waters and landslides caused by the downpour.

Rescue efforts by Myanmar authorities and local aid groups were under way but they are "struggling to access flood-hit areas", the official said, adding that there was no update to Thursday's death toll of 27 due to disrupted communications.

Western Rakhine and Chin states are among the four worst affected areas and on Friday President Thein Sein declared them "national disaster affected regions", according to the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar (GNLM) newspaper.

These regions "have seen huge destruction and face difficulty returning to normal conditions", GNLM reported, citing the government announcement.

In Maungdaw township in Rakhine, houses and office buildings have been destroyed, trees uprooted and damaged roads sealed off due to violent storms, a local government official told AFP, adding that rescue camps have been opened at monasteries.

Rakhine already hosts some 140,000 displaced people, mainly Rohingya Muslims, who live in exposed make-shift coastal camps following deadly 2012 unrest between the minority group and Buddhists.

"More than 7,000 people are sheltering in rescue camps at 23 monasteries in Minbyar town. We need drinking water urgently. Our road communication is cut," Khin Zaw Win, a resident in Minbyar, a town in northern Rakhine, told AFP.

Myanmar is struck by annual monsoon rains that are a lifeline for farmers but can also prove deadly, with landslides and flash floods a common occurrence.

This year's floods have destroyed at least 30,000 acres of farmland, according to GNLM, and damaged a further 73,000.

hla/pj/st

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Bangladesh: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar/Burma - Tropical Cyclone KOMEN (ECHO Daily Flash of 31 July 2015)

9 hours 23 min ago
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office Country: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar

KOMEN made landfall on 31 July in the area of Sandwip in Chittagong Division in southern Bangladesh. It then moved west over Noakhali, weakening.

As of 31 July there have been reported four deaths in Cox's Bazaar, one in Noakhali and one in Patuakhali, also 270 000 people have been sheltered in Cox's Bazaar, over 53 000 in Chittagong and 8 000 in Noakhali.

Heavy rain has also affected the eastern India State of west Bengal. As of 31 July Red Warnings for very heavy rainfall and strong winds are still in affect in the States of Odisha and West Bengal.

Heavy rain has also been affecting the state of Rakhine in western Myanmar. As of 31 July several homes have been damaged.

Myanmar: In Myanmar, clean water to cook, bathe and grow food – all for about $2

13 hours 24 min ago
Source: Pact Country: Myanmar

PALE TOWNSHIP, MYANMAR

It’s hard to overstate the difference that reliable access to clean water makes – something that the people of Ohn Hnauk village in central Myanmar are learning firsthand.

Recently, Pact’s Shae Thot program partnered with UN-Habitat to renovate a hand-dug well and provide a pump house and engine, a 1,500-gallon overhead water tank and main pipelines to bring running water to all of the village’s 160 homes. Each has its own tap-stand and water meter.

Like all of Pact’s work, the project was carried out in partnership with the local community and in a manner that ensures lasting impact. Each household contributed $8.70 to cover the cost of installing pipeline to an individual dwelling, and the village has established a collective fund for operations and maintenance. After consulation with the the community, a new Village Water Committee has begun collecting $0.31 for every 200 gallons of water used.

That means households are spending about $2 per month for water.

Given the benefits, families in Ohn Hnauk say the cost is well worth it.

Before the new water system, the entire village relied on the same hand-dug well. It was always surrounded by stagnant water, which polluted the well and spread disease.

And a typical family had to fetch water three or four times each day, which added up to three to four hours of effort. Now households can spend that time at work or tending to businesses to boost their income. For many, the extra money they make in a single day is enough to cover the month’s water bill.

Families now have the clean water they need to cook, bathe and grow food.

Shae Thot is a wide-ranging, integrated five-year development program that Pact launched in Myanmar in 2011 with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Working with residents and local organizations, the program is making lasting improvements in maternal and child health, economic opportunity and food security, and water, sanitation and hygiene.

In each village where Shae Thot works, Pact helps form committees called Village Development Committees, comprised of democratically elected village members who are independent from local authorities. Through the committees, Pact supports inclusive and participatory village decision-making and transparent and accountable community planning, implementation and monitoring.

Since Shae Thot began, the program has improved access to drinking water for nearly half a million people.

Myanmar: Swollen river warning

13 hours 44 min ago
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Major waterways reACH dangerous levels: weather bureau

By Ye Myint

Yangon, 31 July — Water levels in Myanmar’s five major rivers — the Ayeyawady, Chindwin,
Thanlwin, Sittoung and Ngawun — are dangerously high and likely to exceed flood warning benchmarks over the next three days, the weather bureau said Friday.
According to the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, the Ayeyawady River exceeded its danger level by 10 centimetres in Ayeyawady Region’s Hinthada Township as of 12.30 pm on Friday.
Despite being 71 centimetres under the warning point in Sagaing Region’s Sagaing Township, the bureau forecast the Ayeyawady to reach its danger mark over the next two days.
The Chindwin River is likely to remain above its danger level over the next three days in Kalaywa Township of Sagaing Region, having already exceeded the benchmark by 143 cm as of Friday afternoon.
In the region’s Mawlike, the Chindwin is expected to be above its danger level within next 24 hours, the department said.
Meanwhile, the Thanlwin River is already 92 cm above its danger level in Kayin State’s Hpaan Township and is likely to remain above the benchmark for the next three days.
Likewise, the Sittoung and Ngawun rivers are likely to be above their danger levels for three more days, after measuring 115 and 57 centimetres above their respective warning points in Madauk, Bago Region and Ngathaingchaug, Ayeyawady Region, the department added.
The weather bureau also warned of heavy rain in Magway,
Sagaing, Bago, Taninthayi and Yangon Regions, as well as Rakhine and Chin States, due to the deep depression formed over Bangladesh.—GNLM

Myanmar: Cyclone Komen weakens, heavy rainfall continues across Myanmar

13 hours 46 min ago
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Yangon, 31 July — Cyclone Komen was likely to gradually weaken from Friday afternoon onward as it continued moving northwest into Bangladesh, according to a weather bureau forecast.
Due to the storm, regionally heavy rainfall is expected across the country as the monsoon is strong to vigorous in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal, the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology said in its forecast Friday.
Severe flooding over the past few weeks inundated nearly 400,000 acres of farmland, destroying nearly 30,000 acres and damaging more than 73,000, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation.
The ministry plans assist flood-hit farmers across the country in planting rice by distributing seeds and ploughing fields with stated-owned machinery when the flood recedes, the ministry said.—GNLM

Myanmar: Four regions, states severely hit by floods: gov’t

13 hours 46 min ago
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Yangon, 31 July —The Union government announced Friday that two regions and two states have been severely affected by floods.
The announcement signed by President U Thein Sein stated that Chin and Rakhine states, as well as Sagaing and Magway regions, have seen huge destruction and face difficulty returning to normal conditions.
Meanwhile, a national disaster preparedness committee is making evacuation and resettlement efforts in Ayeyawady and Bago regions, as well as Kayin and Mon states, which are also experiencing floods.
Heavy rain in June and July has caused floods and landslides across wide parts of the country.—GNLM

Myanmar: Torrential rains force Mone, Kyeeohn-kyee-wa dams to release water

13 hours 48 min ago
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Yangon, 31 July — Torrential rains have raised the water levels of the Mone and Kyeeohn-kyee-wa dams in Magway Region close to capacity, forcing the opening of spillways to allow outflows, an irrigation officer said Friday.

The water levels of the dams are 35.7 and 32.4 feet over their spillways, respectively, U Soe Min Lwin said in a Facebookposting at 7 p.m., with declining trend of water inflow into the Mone Dam.
The dams and power intake structures are still in good condition but is being closely watched by irrigation staff, he added, warning that people living downstream may need to be moved to higher ground if the heavy rains persist.

As there has been continued water outflow from spillways of Mone and Kyee-ohn-kyee-wa dams, irrigation officers are preparing emergency response plans, the Myanmar News Agency reported.
According to local sources, the outflow of river water from Mone Creek and spillways of the dams has forced people in Sedoktara and Pwintbyu Townships to abandon their homes, but some have been stranded.

GNLM

Myanmar: Crops damaged by floods in states and regions

13 hours 49 min ago
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, 31 July — Crops were damaged during heavy rains during June and July in the some states and regions. The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation is taking necessary measures to grow crops in damaged farmland as soon as water level recedes.

Although 524,895 acres of farmland were flooded in 12 states and regions during the period, flood water decreased in 121,728 acres of farmland until 31 July and arrangements are underway to grow crops in the recovered farmland soon.

MNA

Myanmar: Flood victims receive cash assistance, relief supplies

13 hours 51 min ago
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Mandalay, 31 July — Social organizations, concerned citizens and the Mandalay Region government recently provided cash and emergency supplies to flood evacuees at relief camps in NyaungU,
Singu, Madaya, Thabeikkyin and Mogok townships, where heavy rains have caused flash flooding since 24 July.
The region government donated cash and relief supplies worth more than K133 million, including construction materials.
Local residents and World Vision also donated personal goods, clothes, household utensils and construction materials to 57 households in Thabeikkyin Township and 30 households in Mogok Township.
Dr Kyaw Zin Oo and party of Thabeikkyin Township Public Health Department provided medical care to the evacuees.

Tin Maung (Mandalay)

Myanmar: Myanmar: Peace Monitoring Dashboard: July 2015

31 July 2015 - 8:47am
Source: Myanmar Peace Monitor Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Myanmar flood toll rises as more torrential rain forecast

31 July 2015 - 4:00am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar | AFP | Friday 7/31/2015 - 07:06 GMT

Major floods have killed at least 27 people across Myanmar and inundated the homes and fields of tens of thousands more, a disaster relief official said Friday, warning of further heavy rains.

Weeks of unrelenting rain has deluged swathes of northern and western Myanmar, trapping people in remote villages and stretching the country's already threadbare rescue capabilities.

Rising waters, flash floods and landslides have destroyed roads, railways, bridges and houses, according to a report in Friday's state-run Global New Light of Myanmar, which warned that a cyclone brewing in the Bay of Bengal was likely to bring further misery to coastal and western regions.

"As of Thursday, 27 people have died around the country and four are missing in the Mandalay region," Chumhre, the director of the Relief and Resettlement Department at the social welfare ministry, told AFP.

Around 150,000 have been displaced or had their livelihoods affected by floods, Chumhre, who goes by one name, added.

Authorities have asked people to move to safer places in the worst-hit areas of Kalay, in northern Sagaing region, and Sittwe, the capital of western Rakhine state, as flights to the city's airport were cancelled.

Rakhine already hosts some 140,000 displaced people, mainly Rohingya Muslims, living in exposed make-shift coastal camps following communal violence three years ago.

A resident from Bumay village on the outskirts of Sittwe said newly-built houses at several nearby displacement camps were flooded after storms on Thursday.

"People had to run for their lives. Some people are now sheltering at schools in Thechaung and Bumay villages," he told AFP, withholding his name.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said more poor weather was forecast.

"More people are likely to be affected by flooding and strong winds over the next few days, in particular in Rakhine State," OCHA said in a statement late Thursday.

The military is working with local aid groups to carry out rescue and relief operations, the UN added.

Kachin in the north and Shan and Karen states in the east have also been badly hit by torrential rain.

hla-klm/apj/pj/ds/as

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt visits displaced people in Myanmar’s Kachin State

31 July 2015 - 1:57am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Myanmar

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt travelled to Myitkyina township in Kachin State on Thursday, where over 100,000 people have been displaced since a cease-fire agreement between the Myanmar armed forces and ethnic armed groups broke down in 2011.

She spoke with displaced families and heard about challenges related to access to basic services, particularly health care. A 90-year-old woman described how she has been displaced for most of her life, approximately 10 times since the 1960s, and most recently in 2012.

Jolie Pitt also spoke with a family who had just arrived after fleeing Sumprabum township in northern Kachin State and spending 10 days in the forest. “We have relatives and friends who are still stranded in the forest. They need help urgently,” the head of the family said.

Jolie Pitt stressed the importance of humanitarian access to assist the displaced families. No local or international humanitarian actors have been able to access this conflict area since clashes started in late June this year.

“Women and girls need to have a meaningful and active role in the peace process,” said the Special Envoy. “With cease-fire talks and the upcoming elections, it’s essential that all of Myanmar’s people, including those displaced, can be engaged in decisions that affect their future.”

Media contact:

Vivian Tan, +95 94500 65968

Kasita Rochanakorn, +95 94480 27892

Myanmar: Overview of Flood Inundated Area in Sagaing, 24.07.2015

31 July 2015 - 12:06am
Source: Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Tornado destroys more than 30 households in Myanaung Tsp

30 July 2015 - 11:07pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Myanaung, 30 July — A tornado damaged more than 30 households Wednesday including one religious building worth K23.5 million in Ayeyawady Region, village-tract Administrator U Zaw Moe reported.
The tornado hit Nandawgyun Village in Maekhinchaung Village-tract in Myanaung Township of the region around 1:45 pm and lasted roughly five minutes.
There are 87 households in the village, with residents also facing flooding from the Ayeyawady River. Evacuees are being accommodated at a relief camp in the compound of the basic education school in the village.

Nay Win Zaw (Myanaung)

Myanmar: Flash flood causes damage to farmlands

30 July 2015 - 11:05pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, 30 July—Flooding caused by heavy rains in June and July caused damage to farmlands across the nation, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation.
Among 395,656 acres of inundated farmlands, flash flood placed 116,500 acres of farmlands under water and caused damage to 23,102 acres in Sagaing Region.—MNA

Myanmar: KBZ Bank donates cash for flood victims

30 July 2015 - 11:03pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, 30 July — Kanbawza Bank Ltd donated K150 million for flood victims across the country Wednesday to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Yangon. On behalf of KBZ Bank Chairman U Aung Ko Win, Senior Executive Director U Nyo Myint and Executive Director U Aung Kyaw Myo presented the cash donation to UMFCCI President U Win Aung.
Recently, Kanbawza Bank Ltd donated K200 million for flood victims in Kawlin, Wuntho, Kanbalu,
Kyunhla, Chatthin, Budalin and Mogaung and K380 million to the Wailukyaw Foundation, which is providing relief for victims.

MNA

Myanmar: UNICEF supports mine risk education in Burma/Myanmar

30 July 2015 - 1:58pm
Source: DanChurchAid Country: Myanmar

UNICEF has granted 106,983 USD to facilitate the Mine Risk Education (MRE) work of DCA in Myanmar, which seeks to educate the local population about the threats related to landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), and to increase the number of local organizations being able to mitigate the landmine threat in their daily work.

Decades of conflict between government forces and non-state armed groups continues to have a direct and damaging impact on the population of Myanmar, since large areas of the country, especially along the border to Thailand, has been contaminated with landmines and ERW.

Today, almost 200,000 people are living in communities at risk of accidents from landmine and ERW; with up to 100,000 being children, but the Union of Myanmar has yet to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to provide MRE for the local population in Myanmar in order to avoid future accidents.

The grant from UNICEF allows DCA to continue supporting the development of a government approved Mine Risk Education toolkit, which will be utilized across the Mine Action sector in Burma/Myanmar.

Previous cooperation between UNICEF and DCA includes the conduct of a large Knowledge Attitude and Practice Survey, mapping risk behaviours and perceptions in the local population towards landmines and other ERW. Findings from this study is directly informing the design of the MRE toolkit.

Furthermore, with the grant from UNICEF, DCA seeks to increase the number of local organizations being able to mitigate the threat of landmines and ERW in their daily work.

Finally, as part of the new cooperation with UNICEF, DCA will study how to further expand the existing MRE toolkit by including communication forms such as video and radio in MRE delivery.

The project starts the 1st of July 2015 and has a duration of six months.