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Myanmar: Humanitarian Action for Children 2015: Myanmar

29 January 2015 - 7:49pm
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

UNICEF is requesting US$24.9 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children in Myanmar in 2015.

Myanmar continues to face protracted emergencies in Kachin, northern Shan, and Rakhine States, placing over 536,0001 people, including 240,000 children, in need of humanitarian support. The civil conflict in Kachin and northern Shan has displaced more than 99,000 people since 2011, and inter-communal violence has displaced nearly 140,000 people in Rakhine since 2012. Additionally, 297,000 persons have been cut off from essential services by these crises, and their needs are compounded by Myanmar’s high exposure to natural hazards. In Rakhine, the conflict has deteriorated chronic underdevelopment, with global acute malnutrition rates (GAM) over 20 per cent in some areas, health services relying on mobile clinics, and low education access for all students, including only 8 per cent of adolescents in camps attending basic non-formal education. In Kachin and northern Shan, stunting is a major concern, as is access to adequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities. Children continue to face limited access to basic education and are at risk of protection issues, including recruitment and use by armed forces and armed groups, mine risks, gender-based violence and unsafe migration practices.

Humanitarian strategy

In 2015, UNICEF will continue to support the Government of Myanmar’s response to the humanitarian needs of over 536,000 children, men and women affected by conflict and natural hazards. UNICEF and partners are expanding assistance to children under age five with severe acute malnutrition, and are linking with national resilience-building platforms. UNICEF plans to support community-based solutions for increased access to water and improvement of its quality, WASH facility maintenance and hygiene promotion. UNICEF and partners will continue education support by providing temporary learning spaces (TLS) and capacity building on child-friendly education for volunteer teachers and school committees. UNICEF will continue to mitigate child protection risks through: psychosocial support in safe community spaces; mine-risk and life-skills education; and the release of children associated with armed forces. As lead of the WASH cluster, nutrition sector, and child protection sub-sector, and co-lead of the education sector, UNICEF will continue coordinating with partners to provide life-saving and sustaining services with a results-based approach. UNICEF is investing in child-centred preparedness and disaster risk reduction strategies, while ensuring programmes are conflict-sensitive and that they decrease vulnerabilities for children.

Myanmar: Myanmar: IDP Sites in Rakhine State (Nov 2014)

29 January 2015 - 3:49pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: KNU, Govt to Build ‘Model Village’ for IDPs

29 January 2015 - 3:14pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar, Thailand

By SAW YAN NAING / THE IRRAWADDY

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Karen rebels have teamed up with the Burmese government to build a new “model village” for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in southeastern Karen State, The Irrawaddy has confirmed.

The village, built from scratch and named Lay Kay Kaw, is located in Kawkareik Township near the Thai—Burma border, according to Maj. Saw Zorro, a liaison officer for the Karen National Union (KNU) who is based in Myawaddy. The new settlement is under the authority of the KNU’s 6th Brigade.

“As far as I know, [the village] is intended to house wives and children of KNU members who have been living in displacement camps in the jungle. The village is for IDPs and is like a low-cost housing project,” Maj. Saw Zorro told The Irrawaddy by phone.

News of the project surfaced on Tuesday after local media erroneously reported that the government and the KNU were building model villages to house refugees returning from Thailand, where some 130,000 people live in nine officially recognized camps along the border. The official confirmed that the village is currently under construction but clarified that it is designed to accommodate IDPs closely associated with Karen rebels.

An estimated 500,000 IDPs live in remote settlements within southeastern Burma, displaced by decades of conflict between the Burma Army and various ethnic armed groups, including the KNU’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA).

A similar model village was built by the KNU last year in rebel territories under the 7th Brigade. Family members of KNLA soldiers have already occupied the settlements in Mae Taree and Maw Poe Kay and receive support from the KNU, Maj. Saw Zorro said.

The official’s comments dispelled any connection between the new village and the possible repatriation of refugees residing in Thailand, but sources on both sides of the border predicted that return could be forthcoming. The United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, will soon begin a verification process in collaboration with the Thai government which aid workers view as a preparatory step for any future voluntary returns.

Vivian Tan, a spokeswoman for UNHCR in Asia, confirmed that the model village is not related to forthcoming verification projects and that the agency has not been informed of the IDP resettlement. She emphasized that the development “is not linked to the upcoming verification exercise in the nine refugee camps in Thailand.”

Refugee verification could be a precursor to repatriation, however, according to Duncan McArthur, partnership director of The Border Consortium (TBC), an aid coordination agency that has assisted refugees along the Thai-Burma border for more than 20 years.

McArthur said that the verification program “seems primarily related to monitoring and assisting refugees if they leave the camps and return to Burma,” adding that “it seems to be the case” that the process is linked to eventual repatriation.

The process itself will consist of identifying those refugees aged 11 years old and older who are registered with the UNHCR. Those who have been registered by agency will receive “smart cards” containing personal data that will help the UNHCR and other aid workers to identify them and provide continued support if they return to Burma.

Refugees have expressed concern that many people will soon be denied support if they are not registered, which poses problems for those who have not been processed for various reasons.

In July 2014, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha signaled a growing inclination to repatriate Burma’s refugees when he met with the Commander-in-Chief of Burma’s Armed Forces Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing in Bangkok. The two reportedly discussed plans for the eventual return of refugees in Thailand’s temporary shelters.

World: Communications with Communities (CwC) 2014 Update

29 January 2015 - 1:59pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Central African Republic, Iraq, Myanmar, Philippines, South Sudan, World

Highlights

  • Iraq, Page 3
  • South Sudan, Page 4
  • Central African Republic, Page 4
  • Philippines, Page 5
  • Myanmar, Page 6
  • World Humanitarian Summit, Page 6

In 2014, there was a sharp rise in the number of people affected by conflict and millions were forced to flee and became dependent on humanitari- an aid for their survival. As the scale and frequency of humanitarian crises increased throughout the year, many humanitarian actors recognized that communication is a form of assistance as important as water, food and shelter.

World: Rapport mondial 2015: Événements de 2014

29 January 2015 - 6:38am
Source: Human Rights Watch Country: Algeria, Bahrain, Central African Republic, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea, Haiti, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

(Beyrouth, le 29 janvier 2015) – Les gouvernements commettent une grave erreur lorsqu'ils délaissent les droits humains dans leurs réponses à de graves défis sécuritaires, a déclaré Human Rights Watch aujourd'hui, à l’occasion de la publication de son Rapport mondial 2015.

Cette 25e édition annuelle du Rapport mondial de Human Rights Watch, dont la version intégrale en anglais. comprend 656 pages (la version abrégée en français en compte 186), examine les pratiques en matière de droits humains dans plus de 90 pays. Dans son introduction, le Directeur exécutif Kenneth Roth montre à quel point l’approche consistant à « serrer les rangs » en ignorant les droits humains adoptée par de nombreux gouvernements au cours de l'année tumultueuse qui vient de s'écouler, est contre-productive.

« Les violations des droits humains ont joué un rôle prépondérant dans le déclenchement ou l'aggravation de bon nombre des crises actuelles », a déclaré Kenneth Roth. « Or, pour résoudre ces crises, il est essentiel de protéger ces droits et de tenir les auteurs de violations pour responsables de leurs actes dans un cadre démocratique. »

La montée du groupe extrémiste État islamique (également connu sous les sigles EI ou EIIL en français, ISIS en anglais, et Daesh en arabe) est l'une de ces crises internationales au cours desquelles les droits humains ont été relégués au second plan, selon Human Rights Watch. Pourtant, l’EI n'a pas surgi de nulle part. Outre le vide sécuritaire apparu dans le sillage de l'invasion américaine de l'Irak, les politiques abusives et sectaires des gouvernements irakien et syrien et l'indifférence de la communauté internationale à leur égard ont favorisé l'émergence de ce groupe armé.

Tandis que le Premier ministre irakien Haider al-Abadi a promis une forme de gouvernance plus représentative, son gouvernement continue de s'appuyer essentiellement sur les milices chiites qui procèdent toujours au massacre et à l'épuration des populations civiles sunnites en toute impunité. Les forces gouvernementales attaquent également des civils et des zones peuplées. Il est tout aussi important de réformer le système judiciaire répressif et corrompu et de mettre un terme aux politiques sectaires pour que les sunnites aient le sentiment d'avoir leur place en Irak que de mener l'action militaire pour mettre fin aux atrocités commises par l’EI. Or, jusqu'ici, Haider al-Abadi n'a pas mis en œuvre les réformes essentielles promises.

En Syrie, les forces du président Bashar al-Assad ont délibérément et sauvagement attaqué des civils dans des zones occupées par l'opposition. L'usage indiscriminé d’armes létales, les plus notoires étant les bombes barils, rend la vie insupportable pour les civils.

Pour autant, le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies n’est pas intervenu, car la Russie et la Chine ont fait usage de leur droit de véto pour bloquer les initiatives concertées visant à mettre un terme au carnage. Les États-Unis et ses alliés ont permis que leur action militaire à l'encontre de l’EI éclipse les initiatives visant à contraindre Damas à mettre un terme à ses exactions. Cette inquiétude sélective permet aux recruteurs de l’EI de se présenter à leurs soutiens potentiels comme la seule force prête à contrer les atrocités commises par Bachar al-Assad.

Une dynamique similaire est à l'œuvre au Nigeria, où les questions de droits humains sont au cœur du conflit. Le groupe armé islamiste Boko Haram s’en prend aux civils ainsi qu’aux forces de sécurité du Nigéria, bombardant des marchés, des mosquées et des écoles et kidnappant des centaines de filles et de jeunes femmes. L'armée nigériane a souvent réagi de manière excessive en arrêtant des centaines d'hommes et de garçons suspectés d'avoir apporté leur soutien à Boko Haram, en les emprisonnant, les torturant et en en tuant parfois certains. Pourtant, pour conquérir le « cœur et l'esprit » des populations civiles, le gouvernement devra enquêter de façon transparente sur les abus présumés impliquant l'armée et condamner les auteurs d'exactions.

Cette tendance à faire fi des droits humains lorsque l’on est confronté à un défi sécuritaire est un problème également révélé ces huit dernières années aux États-Unis. Un comité du Sénat américain a publié le résumé d'un rapport accablant sur des actes de torture commis par la CIA ; or, le président Barack Obama a non seulement nié l'utilisation de la torture par des forces sous son commandement, mais il a aussi refusé d'enquêter, et a fortiori de poursuivre, les commanditaires des actes de torture détaillés dans le rapport du Sénat. Ce renoncement à ses responsabilités légales rend plus probable le fait que les futurs présidents considéreront la torture comme une option politique et non comme un crime. En outre, cela affaiblit grandement la capacité du gouvernement américain à faire pression sur d’autres pays pour qu’ils poursuivent leurs propres tortionnaires, a ajouté Human Rights Watch.

Dans de trop nombreux pays, notamment le Kenya, l'Égypte et la Chine, les gouvernements et les forces de l’ordre ont répondu aux menaces réelles ou perçues de terrorisme par l'instauration de mesures abusives qui, au bout du compte, alimentent les crises, a déclaré Human Rights Watch. En Égypte, la répression contre les Frères musulmans par le gouvernement envoie le message complètement contreproductif que si les islamistes politiques aspirent à accéder au pouvoir par les urnes, ils seront réprimés, ce qui pourrait encourager des actions violentes. En France, la réponse du gouvernement à l’attaque commise contre Charlie Hebdo, qui consiste à s’appuyer sur une loi antiterroriste pour poursuivre les auteurs de propos qui ne font pas réellement l'apologie de la violence, pourrait avoir pour un effet négatif sur la liberté d'expression et d'encourager d'autres gouvernements à recourir à de telles lois pour faire taire ceux qui les critiquent.

Relever les défis en matière de sécurité exige non seulement de contenir certains individus dangereux, mais aussi de reconstruire le tissu moral qui sous-tend l'ordre social et politique, a estimé Human Rights Watch.

« Certains gouvernements commettent l'erreur d'envisager les droits humains comme un luxe à ne prendre en compte que dans des temps moins difficiles, au lieu de les considérer comme une véritable composante de l'action politique » a affirmé Kenneth Roth. « Plutôt que de traiter les droits humains comme une contrainte encombrante, les décideurs politiques feraient mieux de reconnaître qu’il s’agit de repères moraux pouvant faciliter la sortie de crise et de situations de chaos. »

Myanmar: Myanmar: Snapshot of Humanitarian Issues (31 December 2014)

29 January 2015 - 1:38am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

Since 2011, more than 240,000 people in total have been displaced in Myanmar, primarily in Rakhine and Kachin states. In south eastern Myanmar, a large number of people remain displaced following many years of armed conflict. Emergency preparedness is a major challenge as Myanmar is one of the most disaster prone countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Malaysia: Rohingya refugees say traffickers in Malaysia abuse and kill

28 January 2015 - 7:21pm
Source: Reuters - AlertNet Country: Malaysia, Myanmar
  • Thousands of Rohingya have fled to Malaysia

  • Refugees face threat of abduction and death

  • Penang police say no Rohingya murders there last year

By Aubrey Belford

BUKIT MERTAJAM, Malaysia, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Abul Kassim, a Rohingya asylum seeker, was snatched from his home in the northern Malaysian state of Penang on Jan. 12. The next morning, his beaten and bloodied body was found.

Read the full article

Myanmar: A mass call from Myanmar’s civil society to drop ‘Nation, Race and Religion’ bills

28 January 2015 - 2:27pm
Source: Mizzima News Country: Myanmar

Written by Matt Roebuck

The four proposed bills to “Protect Nation, Race, and Religion,” have been accused of contravening a number of national and international frameworks, including the constitution of Myanmar, by 180 civil society organisations.

The organisations including; women’s networks that span the entire country, from multiple ethnic and religious backgrounds; generic pressure groups such as Generation Wave; and special interest lobbies such as the Sagaing Region Farmers Union, publicly released their comments in a January 28 statement.

The groups recommendation is that these four proposed bills be dropped as their enactment could “destroy the stability of Myanmar society” by “inciting hatred, discrimination, conflict and tension within diverse religious communities, and also communities of a single religion,” said the release.

The four draft bills they refer to; the proposedReligious Conversion Law , Health Care for Controlling Population Growth Law, Myanmar Buddhist Women ’s Special Marriage Law, and the Monogamy Law, “would invite international ridicule,” say the groups.

The draft ‘Religious Conversion Law’ comes in for criticism for allegedly contravening Section 34 of the Constitution of Myanmar in that “Every citizen is equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess and practise religion subject to public order, morality or health and to the other provisions of this Constitution” and Section 364 which states “The abuse of religion for political purposes is forbidden,” and bans any act that “is likely to promote feelings of hatred, enmity or discord between racial or religious communities.”

They also suggest the draft law contravenes Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” but no specific explanation of how the draft law is breaks these charters is mentioned within the groups’ analysis.

However, the groups’ recommendations do say that “Religion, family planning and reproduction, and marriage are subjects integral to the private lives of people. The Government cannot and should not control these areas of people’s lives through laws.”

Analysis on the other laws is more specific; identifying that in the groups’ opinion, the draft ‘Health Care for Controlling Population Growth Law’“aims to legalise state control over women’s sexual and reproductive rights, including family planning and birth spacing.” This move they believe to be in violation of Article 16.1.e of the ‘Convention on the Elimination of the All Forms of Violence Against Women’;a provision which refers to the rights of a woman to determine these decisions for herself.

They also say that the “law would impact upon the registration of the birth of children who were born not in line with this draft law (both access to registration and ability to register),” and that this contravenes the dictate of the‘Convention on the Rights of a Child’ that very child has the right of life.

The third draft law, the ‘Myanmar Buddhist Women’s Special Marriage Law’ comes in for criticism from the groups for violation of human rights “because it is controls a person’s conditions of marriage and their private life.”

They also insist the law includes a number of provisions that “reinforce gender stereotypes” and“discriminates against people from minority religions, especially non- Buddhist men,” by for example “excluding parents who are not Buddhist from child guardianship.”

The final draft, that of the‘Monogamy Law’ comes in for criticism for lack of any protection that states “that polygamy, under any custom or religion is prohibited,” and that the law negatively impact on women and the children of polygamous relationships, say the group.

The recommendations of the groups’ comments also conclude that the government should focus on the reformation of the constitution and the development of the peace process, for these are the most pressing issues that face Myanmar today.

Syrian Arab Republic: R2P Monitor - 15 January 2015 Issue 19

28 January 2015 - 12:38pm
Source: Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect Country: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic

R2P Monitor:

» Provides background on populations at risk of mass atrocity crimes, with particular emphasis on key events and actors and their connection to the threat, or commission, of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

» Offers analysis of the country’s past history in relation to mass atrocity crimes; the factors that have enabled their possible commission, or that prevent their resolution; and the receptivity of the situation to positive influences that would assist in preventing further crimes.

» Tracks the international response to the situation with a particular emphasis upon the actions of the United Nations (UN), key regional actors and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

» Suggests necessary action to prevent or halt the commission of mass atrocity crimes

Syria {p. 2}
Iraq {p. 4}
CAR {p. 5}
Nigeria {p. 7}
Sudan {p. 9}
South Sudan {p. 11}
DR Congo {p. 12}
Burma/Myanmar {p. 14}
Libya {p. 15}

Myanmar: Explosion Injures Two in Hpakant

27 January 2015 - 9:51pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By SAW YAN NAING

Tensions remain high in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township after a bomb exploded in the town on Monday, injuring two people, according to local sources.

The explosion occurred outside the Jade City Hotel, a well-known hotel in the downtown area of Hpakant, located near a military base of the Burma Army’s Light Infantry Division (LID) 66.

Shwe Thein, head of the Hpakant branch office of the National League for Democracy (NLD), told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that local residents are living in fear following the blast on Monday evening.

“The bomb went off around 6 pm,” he said. “It injured two people but no one died. Burma Army [soldiers] and police were deployed in the town. They formed an emergency checkpoint at the entrance to Hpakant town and searched everyone who entered.”

Recent fighting between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) that broke out in the township on Jan. 15 forced up to 2,000 people to flee their homes, with many taking shelter in local churches.

Local residents are fearful that renewed fighting could erupt at any time. “We have to be on alert since the fighting broke out in Hpakant [on Jan. 15]. We live in worry,” Shwe Thein said.

The NLD official added that mining companies involved in the region’s lucrative jade industry were continuing to operate despite the instability, with Burma Army troops and police providing security.

Reverend Lama Yaw of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) told The Irrawaddy that the two men injured in Monday’s explosion were father and son.

“The bomb hit an old man and his son. We don’t know who is behind the explosion. But we also don’t think it will be disclosed,” Lama Yaw said.

On Jan. 15, a drive-by bombing involving an unknown motorcyclist at a police station in Lone Kin village, Hpakant Township, injured four family members of a police officer.

Local relief groups continue to voice concern for hundreds of villagers displaced in Hpakant with limited access to food, water and medical supplies. Some local sources have accused the military of using trapped villagers as human shields and forcibly conscripting some men into the Burma Army.

“We heard some 80 villagers, all men, were forced to go with Burma Army troops when they attacked the KIA recently,” Zua Naw of Tat Kaung Church in Myitkyina told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

Fresh fighting between Burma Army troops and allied forces of the KIA and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) also occurred in northern Shan State’s Namkham and Kutkai townships over the past few days, according to rebel sources.

TNLA spokesperson Mai Aie Kyaw confirmed to The Irrawaddy that fighting had broken out on Sunday and continued sporadically until noon on Tuesday.

Mai Aie Kyaw said government troops attacked TNLA forces when the latter group attempted to destroy a poppy plantation in an area of Namkham Township controlled by the Pansay militia, an influential local militia led by Kyaw Myint, a state-level parliamentarian from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

According to the TNLA’s information department, fighting in Namkham Township on Tuesday began around 8 am between TNLA Battalion 478 and Burma Army units from LID 88. No causalities have yet been reported.

The KIA and the TNLA are the only two major ethnic armed groups that have not signed ceasefire agreements with the Burmese government.

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 21-27 January 2015

27 January 2015 - 10:43am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Snapshot 21-27 January

Nigeria: Boko Haram attacks continue, with Borno state capital Maiduguri and nearby military bases targeted on 25 January. Security forces pushed BH back from Maiduguri, but further attacks are expected. BH also raided villages in Michika local government area, Adamawa state. There are reports that BH has forbidden the use of vehicles in areas under its control.

Ukraine: 13–21 January has been the deadliest period since the ceasefire declaration of 5 September. The death toll had increased by 200 since the beginning of January, with at least 5,086 people killed in total as of 21 January. 10,948 people have been wounded. The number of IDPs has increased by almost 50,000 since 14 January.

Updated: 27/01/2015. Next update: 03/02/2015

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

Myanmar: Vocational Training Comes to Former Conflict Areas in Myanmar

27 January 2015 - 5:55am
Source: International Organization for Migration Country: Myanmar

Myanmar - This week sees the launch of a ground-breaking vocational training project in Myanmar, through the joint efforts of IOM, the Swiss Government, and the Government of Myanmar.

The project targets 3,000 disadvantaged people in conflict-affected regions in Myanmar, and was officially launched in Kayin State yesterday, with a launch in neighbouring Mon State scheduled for tomorrow.

The Local Vocational Training project is one component of a multi-year, multi-phased programme on vocational skills development funded by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by the Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation (Swisscontact) and Germany’s Institute for Vocational Training, Labour Market and Social Policy (INBAS).

IOM is partnering with these organizations in the implementation of local vocational training in Kayin and Mon States to enable the programme to reach remote areas, long affected by conflict.

The launch ceremony in Kayin State was attended by the Chief Minister for Kayin State U Zaw Min, the Union Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security U Htin Aung, and Ambassador of Switzerland to Myanmar Christoph Burgener.

“I am happy that this training will be community-based,” said Chief Minister U Zaw Min at the launch ceremony. “Now those people facing hardship will be given opportunities to improve their economic status while taking care of their families. This project will be very much welcomed by the rural as well as the urban population and we will support the project for the benefit of the region.”

Deputy Minister U Htin Aung noted: “As Myanmar is implementing reforms, upgrading of the skills of our people is critical. Therefore this project supports one of our key national priorities.”

Swiss Ambassador Christoph Burgener described the project as “bringing skills opportunities to the people here in the region and having rural women and men employed or self-employed, not only trained, and using their vocational skills development to make a widespread impact on poverty reduction.”

The first phase of this project will run through January 2018 and will offer 90 town-based courses and 80 village-based courses in high demand labour segments.

For more information please contact

Kieran Gorman-Best

IOM Myanmar

Tel: +95 94317 1025

Email: kgormanbest@iom.int

Myanmar: IOM, Partners React to Trafficking, Gender-Based Violence in Northern Myanmar

27 January 2015 - 5:54am
Source: International Organization for Migration Country: Myanmar

Myanmar - Conflict re-erupted in northern Myanmar’s Kachin State in 2012, and since then close to 100,000 people have been displaced. Recent reports show a worrying upward trend in violence against women in camps for displaced people in the Kachin and northern Shan State, along with trafficking for sexual and labour purposes.

To address this, IOM Myanmar, UNFPA and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) will hold a three-day training workshop from 28 to 30 January to help organizations involved in humanitarian response tackle these issues.

Kachin State NGOs, women’s networks and alliances, faith-based organizations and local foundations will be trained by IOM, UNFPA, and DRC trainers on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and counter-trafficking awareness. The event will focus on how to reach internally displaced people in the most remote, non-government controlled or conflict-affected areas, which currently receive little or no support from the international community.

IOM Myanmar Chief of Mission Kieran Gorman-Best noted: “Gender-based violence is a serious, life-threatening protection issue which requires the attention and support of the international community. We are pleased to cooperate with so many local civil society and faith-based organizations to integrate human trafficking activities into their work.”

This message was reiterated by Janet Jackson, Myanmar Representative of UNFPA, who said: “This event provides an opportunity for local and international organizations, including UN agencies, to learn, exchange and find solutions collectively.”

The workshop is jointly organized by UNFPA, DRC and IOM, with the support from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund.

For more information, please contact

Kieran Gorman-Best

IOM Myanmar

Tel. +95 94317 1025

Email: kgormanbest@iom.int

Malaysia: Asia Pacific Region: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (20 - 26 Jan 2015)

26 January 2015 - 6:31am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines

MALAYSIA

Between mid-Dec and mid-Jan, heavy seasonal rains and strong winds affected large parts of Malaysia causing severe and extensive flooding in Terengganu, Pahang, and Kelantan. In addition to the three most affected states, four other states in Peninsular Malaysia (Perak, Johor,
Selangor and Perlis States) and one state in East Malaysia (Sabah) also experienced floods due to the heavy rainfalls.

At the peak of the flooding, more than 230,000 people were evacuated and at least 17 people were confirmed dead. The Prime Minister of Malaysia put the total number of people affected at 400,000. As of 23 Jan, a few thousand people remain displaced and many more continue to be accommodated by host families or relatives.

8,400 people affected 17 people killed

OCHA continues to monitor flooding in Sabah and Sarawak where over 8,400 people were displaced. Local media reports indicate that while numbers in evacuation centers in Sarawak increased to over 5,700 people, numbers in Sabah dropped to almost 2,700 people.

INDONESIA

Floods have inundated approximately 2,300 houses in eight sub districts in North Kalimantan and East Kalimantan since 21 Jan. Furthermore, floods in Rundeng and Longkip Sub Districts in Aceh Province inundated 300 houses and displaced over 4,230 people since 17 Jan. Also, floods occurred in East Java affecting 214 families in two villages since 19 Jan. Local disaster management authroties and the Indonesian Red Cross are responding to all flooding events.

4,230 people displaced in Aceh

MYANMAR

On 14 Jan, fighting broke out in the Hpakan area of Kachin State between the Government of Myanmar Army and the Kachin Independence Army. More than 1,000 people were displaced from Aung Bar Lay and surrounding villages, north-east of Hpakan. Displaced people and other civilians in the areas are in need of humanitarian assistance but access for humanitarian organisations remains restricted due to the proximity of the conflict area. Local NGOs, with support from UN and international NGOs and the Myanmar Red Cross, have delivered some assistance (food, blankets, mats and other basic items) to nearby areas. Local authorities are reportedly providing some assistance.

1,000 people displaced

PHILIPPINES

Insecurity and armed clashes increased in North Cotabato province, Central Mindanao as well as the province of Maguindanao. On 20 Jan, armed clashes occurred in Tulunan municipality between two groups considered to be Moro and Christian settlers. Over 110 people fled their homes.
Response to the conflict, related to a longstanding clan feud, depleted available resources while insecurity remains a concern, according to local officials.

110 people fled

Tropical Storm Mekkhala, the first typhoon of the year in the western Pacific, hit eastern Philippines on 16 Jan. A fact finding mission was conducted in Eastern Samar province to assess the extent of damage. Local authorities reported that the overall impact was minimal and does not require a humanitarian response. Mekkhala curved back into the sea off eastern Luzon and dissipated on Jan 21.

Myanmar: Burma: “Peaceful Assembly Law” Fails to End Repression

26 January 2015 - 1:16am
Source: Human Rights Watch Country: Myanmar

Cease Arrests of Peaceful Protesters, Amend Laws

(New York, January 25, 2015) – The authorities in Burma should stop arresting peaceful protesters and immediately and unconditionally free those imprisoned, Human Rights Watch said today. Burma’s donors should press for amendments to Burmese law so that it protects the rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression.

“Burmese authorities are escalating arrests of people protesting peacefully over things like land and education,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Many have been sentenced to ridiculous prison sentences, undercutting government claims that it is genuinely reformist.”

Despite the passage of supposed reforms to the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law (“the Peaceful Assembly Law”) in June 2014, Human Rights Watch said that Burmese authorities have arrested dozens of people for peaceful protests in recent months. Among those arrested for “unauthorized” assemblies were:

  • On December 31, 2014, Tin Tun Aung, a land rights activist, was sentenced to one month in prison for violating the Peaceful Assembly Law during a protest by thousands of farmers about land takings he organized in Magwe region in September. At sentencing he was given the choice of paying a 10,000 Kyat (US$10) fine or a one-month prison term. He chose the prison term, arguing that paying any fine was an admission of guilt.

  • On December 30, 2014, Naw Ohn Hla, Sein Htwe, Nay Myo Zin, and Ko Tin Htut Paing were arrested outside the Chinese embassy in Rangoon when they were peacefully protesting against the controversial Letpadaung copper mine in Monywa and the killing by police of an unarmed protester at the mine site on December 22. The four were charged under the Peaceful Assembly Law and several provisions of the penal code, including rioting, obscenity, preventing a public servant from the discharge of his duty, offenses against public tranquillity, and intimidation. In two court appearances on January 13 and 20, additional section 18 charges were laid by other township authorities. All four have been denied bail. The authorities has since arrested and charged several other individuals involved in the protest.

  • On December 22, 2014, 14 people who participated in a peaceful protest for two weeks outside Rangoon’s Town Hall building land evictions were arrested and charged under the Peaceful Assembly Law and for obstructing the sidewalk (section 341) under the Penal Code. They were released on bail and appeared in court in early January. The case is ongoing.

  • On December 21, 2014, five leaders of a peaceful protest in Rangoon, including prominent former political prisoner Ko Ko Gyi, were charged by South Okkalapa township police under the Peaceful Assembly Law for relocating a demonstration away from the site approved by authorities. The group of about 100 were protesting the acquisition of a sports field by authorities for a construction project.

  • Also in December, more than 30 student protesters, most from the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), were charged under the Peaceful Assembly Law for a series of protests throughout Burma against the controversial National Education Bill being considered by the national parliament. The protesters were granted bail. The authorities have also used the Peaceful Assembly Law to arrest solo protesters, even though it defines a “peaceful assembly” as one comprised of “more than one person.” For example, Zaw Mying was arrested on International Peace Day and charged under the law for a solo protest in which he held signs with slogans such as, “Please let hate and grudges end in the 20th century,” and “We want to be proud of our country in the international community.”

Burdensome Process and Onerous Terms

Protesters can be charged under the Peaceful Assembly Law for violating one of a variety of limitations that the law places on freedom of speech and assembly. Those wishing to hold an assembly must apply for “consent” to do so five days in advance. The organizer of an assembly held without a permit is criminally liable even if the assembly was peaceful and caused no disruption of public order.

The application process not only requires basic date, time, and place information about the planned assembly, but seeks unnecessarily invasive information about the assembly’s purpose and schedule, as well as names and addresses of organizers and speakers. In a country with a long history of repression of protests under military rule, such provisions can easily intimidate protest organizers and participants.

Recent amendments to the law further specify that the application for consent must include not only the topic of the assembly but “the chants that are allowed.” Those who recite or shout chants “other than the ones approved” may be jailed for up to three months.

The authorities have often consented to protests with onerous terms and then arrested demonstrators for failing to comply with those terms, even if the protests passed off peacefully and there was no reasonable basis for imposing those terms. Consent for protests in Rangoon, for instance, have sometimes limited the protest site to Kyaikkasan Race Track, which is nowhere near the government offices that are often a target of the protests and out of public view. Protesters who have then held their assembly in a more appropriate location have been arrested.

Protesters can also be arrested for violating various vague and broadly phrased limits placed on speech by the statute. They must not “talk or behave in a way to cause any disturbance or obstruction, annoyance, danger or a concern that these might take place.” They “must not say things... .that could affect the country or the Union, race, or religion, human dignity and moral principles.” Finally, they “must not spread rumors or incorrect information.” Violation of any of these restrictions can result in a sentence of up to three months in jail.

Under international law, restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly must be formulated with sufficient precision to enable an individual to regulate his or her conduct accordingly. People participating in an assembly cannot know what might be considered to cause “annoyance” or affect “human dignity and moral principles,” nor can they know what the police might consider “incorrect” information. Moreover, the vague and subjective terms in the statute facilitate abuse by officials looking for a way to silence government critics or others saying things the government does not like.

The restriction on speech that may “disturb” or “annoy” others is particularly troublesome, Human Rights Watch said. As the European Court of Human Rights concluded in 1976, freedom of expression is applicable not only to information or ideas “that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population.” The fact that others may be offended by the speech is not a basis on which to restrict what is said at the assembly, but rather a reason to facilitate and protect the assembly.

The United Nations special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, has stressed that those wishing to exercise their right to peaceful assembly should not be required to obtain permission to do so. The imposition of criminal penalties on individuals who fail to ask the government for consent to exercise their right to peaceful assembly is an unacceptable interference with their right to freedom of assembly under international law. The government has an obligation to facilitate peaceful assemblies “within sight and sound” of their intended target. When it fails to meet that obligation, arresting and prosecuting those who seek to assemble in a more appropriate venue is a disproportionate and inappropriate response.

Human Rights Watch called on the government of Burma to immediately and unconditionally release all those arrested for participating in peaceful protests. The Peaceful Assembly Law and the Penal Code should be amended to:

Require only notification, not prior government approval, for holding peaceful protests;
Eliminate criminal sanctions for unauthorized peaceful protests;
Significantly narrow the overly broad statutory restrictions on free expression, including by removing the ban on “incorrect” information, limits on political speech, and ending requirements to identify chants in advance. “The arrest of peaceful protesters does not augur well as Burma heads towards elections later this year,” Adams said. “Election season will see many protests, which must be permitted and protected if the process is going to be truly democratic. There is no reason parliament can’t promptly amend the laws to allow protests in line with international standards. ”

Myanmar: Listening to Communities – Karen (Kayin) State

25 January 2015 - 10:52pm
Source: Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies Country: Myanmar

Conversations with over 100 people from all walks of life across Karen (Kayin) State in Myanmar took place to better understand different views on the peace process and the current needs of their communities. Employing listening methodology as the primary research method, analysis pulled out common and reoccurring themes in the minds of those who participated. This publication raises their voices and draws upon the insight and wisdom of people directly affected by ongoing conflict and the Myanmar peace process.