Myanmar - ReliefWeb News
Myanmar: Mass Event and Disaster Preparedness: A collaboration between Myanmar and Israel on Disaster Management
The training workshop on Mass Event and Disaster Preparedness was jointly organized by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Centre for International Cooperation (MASHAV), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel through the Embassy of Israel in Myanmar.
It marked the first step towards collaboration between the Government of Myanmar and the Government of Israel on Disaster Management. Since 1958, the Center for International Cooperation of the Foreign Ministry of Israel (MASHAV) has trained almost 200,000 course participants from approximately 140 countries, in Israel and abroad. Myanmar government officials from different departments have participated in capacity building programmes in Israel.
Representatives of the General Administration Department, Fire Services Department, Myanmar Police Force, Relief and Resettlement Department and Department of Health including key non-governmental agency, Myanmar Red Cross Society participated in the training workshop in Nay Pyi Taw.
They gained knowledge on the practices of emergency management, site and event management of Israel through lectures, drills and simulations on disaster and mass causality accident management, as well as site management and preparedness.
The Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Dr. Daw Myat Myat Ohn Khin, Chair of the National Disaster Preparedness Working Committee officially opened the workshop on 18 November 2014 in Nay Pyi Taw.
“By joining hands together and building disaster management capacity, we can build disaster resilience Myanmar,” said H.E Dr. Daw Myat Myat Ohn Khin. She encouraged the participants to learn best practices of Israeli as well as to share Myanmar experiences.
“To save lives is our main agenda of the Government of Israel and through this first joint effort will strengthen more collaboration between Israel and Myanmar on Disaster Management,” said H.E Mr. Daniel Zonshine, Ambassador of Israel in Myanmar.
Speaking at the opening of the training workshop, the UNDP Country Director, Toily Kurbanov congratulated the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement for its long-experience of providing Disaster Management Courses in states and regions since 1977, as well as establishing the Disaster Management Training Centre in Hinthada.
“UNDP is the key partner agency of Ministry in building institutional and technical capacity on disaster management. With UNDP’s experience working over 180 countries, we also see our role as a knowledge broker, builder of capacities and facilitator of exchanges and working with stakeholders including Governments and non-state entities. We believe that learning from each other among the different countries is useful in catching up the knowledge, methodology, expertise and resources that are already available,” said Mr. Kurbanov.
UNDP is committed to support national efforts towards disaster risk reduction through its three-year country programme for Myanmar (2013-2015). To this end, UNDP is supporting mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into the government’s policies, strategies and plans through policy advice, capacity development of government officials, pilot interventions at community level and global and regional knowledge sharing.
United Nations, United States | AFP | Friday 11/21/2014 - 23:50 GMT
The United Nations adopted a resolution Friday urging Myanmar to grant citizenship to its Rohingya Muslim minority, ramping up pressure on Yangon to scrap a controversial identity plan.
The measure was adopted by consensus in the General Assembly's rights committee following some wrangling with countries from the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which had sought stronger language.
The resolution expresses "serious concern" over the plight of the Rohingya in Rakhine state, where 140,000 people live in squalid camps after violence erupted between Buddhists and Muslims in 2012.
Under a controversial government-backed plan, the Rohingya would be forced to identify themselves as Bengali -- a term seen as disparaging -- in order to apply for citizenship. Those who refuse would be forced to live in camps.
Many in Myanmar's government and local Buddhists view Rohingya as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh, but the community maintains its has ancestral roots in the country.
The resolution urges the government to protect the rights of all inhabitants of Rakhine state and allow "equal access to full citizenship for the Rohingya minority," to "allow self-identification" and ensure equal access to services.
Myanmar's representative voiced opposition to the use of term "Rohingya" in the resolution and warned this would stoke tensions in Rakhine state.
"Use of the word by the United Nations will draw strong resentment from the people of Myanmar, making the government's effort more difficult in addressing this issue," said the delegate.
The representative emphasized that the government was seeking to address the issue.
The measure drafted by the European Union now moves to the full Assembly, where it is likely to be adopted again by consensus. A vote is held if the country targeted by the resolution requests it.
Despite criticism of the Rohingya's treatment, the resolution welcomes "continued positive developments in Myanmar" toward reform and notes that the government is making efforts to address the "complex situation in Rakhine state."
It calls for an office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to open "without delay" in Myanmar.
© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse
Rome, Yogyakarta, 21 November 2014 – The Jesuit Refugee Service observes with deep sadness yet another sudden retroactive change in the policy of Australia towards people seeking international protection in Southeast Asia. Yesterday, the government of Australia announced its decision to stop the resettlement of refugees who had registered with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Indonesia on or after the 1 July 2014. The number of refugees resettled by Australia from Indonesia will also be further reduced in 2015.
This is another blow for those attempting to gain access to protection via 'regular' channels available in Southeast Asia, namely the UNHCR refugee status determination (RSD) process. So far the change in Indonesia will affect more than 1,911 asylum seekers, mainly families from Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Sri Lanka and Syria. More than 4,300 refugees, who if returned home would be likely to experience serious harm, currently reside in Indonesia. A further 6,200 are currently awaiting the outcome of their application to UNHCR.
Due to the lack of any asylum legislation in Indonesia, or support provided to refugees, their fate lies in the hands of other nations willing to receive them on humanitarian grounds. This new policy of the Australian government will not stop people from going to Indonesia to seek UNHCR RSD and awaiting resettlement; it simply shifts the responsibility of resettlement to other countries and increases the burden on Indonesia, a country that only recently requested increased resettlement from Australia.
Danial* a former UN staff member of the Hazara minority from Afghanistan, fleeing threats to his life and seeking asylum in Indonesia, reflects on the recent decision:
"Limiting the number of humanitarian visas for refugees and rejection of those registered after July 2014 is disappointing. A cloud of grave concern has risen among refugees in Indonesia. The Australian government is ignoring the plight of those who have fled their homes fearing violence. This policy is of no help. It brings more uncertainty to the lives of refugees. It will mean that children will be without the opportunity to attend school for years to come."
"I'm here with seven other family members from Afghanistan. I worked for seven years with the UN and international community, including with the international forces. My car was hit with explosive devices left by the Taliban; I received threats from local commanders, government officials and the authorities. The Taliban came looking for my family on numerous occasions. I saw my friends killed; I was in the explosions; I collected bits and pieces of my friends…Regardless of the change in government policy in Australia, I cannot risk my life by going back to Afghanistan."
This sudden change follows an increase in the number of asylum applications in Indonesia over the last two months, with numbers returning to levels experienced in 2012 and 2013. This clearly demonstrates that stopping the boats does not resolve the plight of those in need for protection. The Australian government narrative – stopping the boats leaving Indonesia to save lives – does not add up.
This 'fortress' mentality of shutting the door in the face of increased humanitarian suffering is heartbreaking, cynical and out of touch with reality. Fortress policies put refugees at increased risk as they are forced to find alternative routes in search of safety. Smugglers are the only remaining option.
This new policy will be interpreted as a betrayal of the former Australian rhetoric of fostering regional protection for refugees. JRS hopes that Australia will renew its stand to support initiatives that increase protection for refugees in the region. We further call on Southeast Asian nations to remain committed to the humanitarian principles of non-refoulement and increasing the welcome and protection of people fleeing persecution in their home countries. Countries like Lebanon, offering hospitality to more than one million Syrian refugees, are an example to follow, unlike the policies being discussed and implemented by many Western nations.
Developing countries host 86 percent of the world’s refugees, compared to 70 percent 10 years ago. This is the highest number in more than two decades. Pakistan is host to the largest number of refugees worldwide (1.6 million), followed by Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Lebanon currently hosts the largest number of refugees in relation to its national population, where one out of four persons is a refugee.
The only way of stopping people fleeing is to ensure their safety at home. Yet many of the root causes and conditions forcing people to leave remain unaddressed. Closing our doors and hearts to problems will neither guarantee human dignity, nor enhance global or regional protection and stability.
- The name has been changed to protect the source.
For more information please contact:
International Communications Coordinator
Jesuit Refugee Service Borgo Santo Spirito 4 Rome, Italy
Tel: +39 06 69868 468; +39 346 234 3841
twitter: @stapletonjm; linkedin.com/in/stapletonjm en.jrs.net
By SAN YAMIN AUNG
RANGOON — More than 200 civil society organizations sent an open letter to Burma’s President Thein Sein on Thursday, calling on the government to promote child rights and draw up effective laws to protect the country’s youth from abuses.
Aung Myo Min, executive director of Equality Myanmar, said the letter was sent to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), with 234 civil society organizations both foreign and local signing on.
“Burma was one of the countries that signed the CRC but the government’s performance on child rights has been weak. So we, civil society, want to remind the government about their promises regarding the convention,” he said.
In the letter, the civil society groups said child labor issues, sexual violence, human trafficking and humanitarian conditions at camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) were among the most acute problems facing children in Burma.
“We have noticed that the sexual violence against children is severely rising,” said the civil society coalition, listing 11 requests in the letter including more government spending on education, health care and social welfare for children; legislative protections for violence against children including child soldiers; and encouraging a more inclusive education for all, including those with disabilities, as part of an overall effort to promote child rights.
“Some disagree about prioritizing child rights, but child rights abuses are problems that we need to solve immediately,” Aung Myo Min said.
Burma signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. While some progress has been made under the reformist government that took power in 2011, child soldiers remain within the ranks of the military and child laborers are still a common sight on the streets of Rangoon and among the country’s largely agrarian populations.
In Rangoon and Mandalay, celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and World Children’s Day were held.
Around 20 civil society organizations in Rangoon held an event to mark World Children’s Day at the National Races Village on Thursday. More than 500 children joined the event, which included discussions by children on child rights issues, as well as youth performances and games.
“We reduced the adults’ participation in today’s event. We mainly targeted children’s participation and arranged things based on the children’s decisions,” said Aung Myo Min.
He said the aim of the celebration was to raise awareness among parents and the broader public about child rights, and to encourage children to express their feelings. Organizers also hoped the event would encourage greater government attention to child rights issues.
In Mandalay, more than 1,000 children celebrated four days earlier on Sunday.
“We targeted street children, orphans, and children from philanthropic and monastic schools and the disabled, because they face discrimination more than other children and we wanted them to be happy at the event,” said Naing Naing from the Mandalay branch of Equality Myanmar.
He added that the government should implement the commitments laid out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as soon as possible.
More than 600 trafficking victims from Burma and Bangladesh have been rescued in the Bay of Bengal, a Bangladeshi navy spokesman in Dhaka said on Tuesday.
Many of those on board are thought to be Rohingya Muslims.
Large populations of stateless Rohingyas remain in displacement camps in Burma’s western Arakan State, as well as in neighbouring Bangladesh.
NGO the Arakan Project says traffickers pose a serious risk to the persecuted minority.
Myanmar: Making Public Finance Work for Children in Myanmar - An overview of public finance trends 2011-12 to 2014-15 [EN/MY]
In the Framework for Economic and Social Reform (FESR) , the Government of Myanmar (GOM) outlined the need to increase public expenditure in the social sector and for infrastructure to support economic growth and fight poverty. FESR also stated that government expenditure on health and education will increase, whilst defence expenditure will decline. Therefore, the United Nations Children Fund Myanmar, (UNICEF) in collaboration with the Myanmar Development Resource Institute - Centre for Economic and Social Development (MDRI-CESD) have developed this report examining current social sector expenditure and the fiscal space available to increase this spending.
In order to understand how public finance could be better oriented towards children, the objectives of this paper were:
• To identify and highlight trends in terms of public sector expenditures, their allocation and growth rates, especially those related to the “social sector”;
• To assess the overall impact of State-Owned-Enterprises (SOEs) on the budget;
• To examine the fiscal flow to the states/regions; and
• To analyse trends in revenue and expenditure.
Key Findings from this report include:
• The Government has made commitments to reduce Myanmar’s fiscal deficit, with projections currently suggesting it will decline to 5 per cent of GDP by 2014-15, from 9 per cent in 2012-13. However, it is still uncertain to what extent the supplementary budget might impact the final figure.
• SOE’s make significant contributions to government revenue and expenditure. Although their net contribution to the fiscal balance varies between SOEs, many are increasingly being exposed to market forces, which is expected to improve their overall impact on the fiscal balance and potentially increase fiscal space for children
• Social sector spending (health, education and social welfare) has increased since 2011-12, averaging between 5-9 per cent of total expenditure, compared to defence which still absorbed 13-15 per cent of total expenditure over the same period. Despite this, the proportion of expenditure allocated to defence has declined since 2011-12.
• Budget allocations for education rose from just under 4 per cent of the budget in 2011-12 and is projected to reach nearly 6 per cent in 2014-15.
• Expenditure on health tripled, from 1 per cent in 2011-12 to 3 per cent of the budget in 2012-13.
• Allocations for social welfare have declined from under 0.2 per cent of expenditure in 2011-12 to 0.1 per cent in 2014-15. Despite this, social welfare expenditure in absolute terms is at approximately the same level in 2014-15 as it was in 2011-12.
Key recommendations from this paper are that:
• An effective monitoring & evaluation system be developed in order to assist a move towards an outcome based budget management framework.
• A sustained expenditure focus on the social sector is required to improve socio-economic indicators in Myanmar.
• The time is opportune for Myanmar to consider the possibility of using increased revenues to direct resources towards efficient and equitable delivery of goods and services, especially those that are critical for children.
• Allocations and transfers to state and regions should be based on need, be linked to development indicators and/or be formula based.
• Exploration is conducted to ascertain whether efficiency gains could be achieved through the consolidation of some ministries, so as to minimise and avoid process duplication and leverage economies of scale in achieving common development outcomes.
• More analytical information is made publicly available to allow for deeper analysis of Myanmar’s fiscal position, in response to the Union Parliament’s request, and to inform parliamentary debate on sustaining investments in children.
• Myanmar’s budgetary classification is made consistent with the UN classification of the functions of Government Standard (COFOG) and Government Finance Statistics (GFS) standards, in recognition of the crucial role of fiscal policy to economic stability and growth. The Ministry of Finance (MOF) has been undergoing a Public Financial Management and Public Expenditure Review, cooperating with the international community in this process. This review process can form the basis of a shift towards adopting an internationally recognized budget classification system. Such a budget classification will support better understanding of what goes to children in the budget.
• The budget should, where possible, reflect local needs and should come from a local or ‘bottomup’ planning process in order to put children at the centre of the budget process
YANGON, 20 November 2014 (IRIN) - As Myanmar’s nationwide ceasefire negotiations continue, peace in many formerly war-torn regions has allowed state-run lifesaving services to gradually expand. But their provision is intensely politicized, and carefully crafted access strategies are vital, experts warn.
Protracted violence combined with what The Asia Foundation (TAF), an international development NGO focused on Asia, called the central government’s “extreme deficit in legitimacy” in ethnic regions meant that social services were often designed and implemented directly or indirectly by ethnic groups engaged in hostilities with the Burmese army.
However, service providers have begun to adjust by “converging” programmes, or attempting to align and unify the main elements of government and ethnic health organizations’ systems - service delivery, governance and leadership, workforce, and information systems - in an effort to increase impact while allowing the peace process to continue.
In 2011 President Thein Sein instituted reforms, stoking unprecedented encouragement from international donors; aid money jumped from US$355 million in 2010 to $504 million in 2012. But ceasefire negotiations with some opposition groups continue, and even peaceful ethnic regions remain mired in deep, complex poverty.
A UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report pointed to Myanmar’s “new aid paradigm” of “moving towards the approach seen elsewhere in the world, where donors work with the government and fund projects at local level”.
Nyunt Naing Thein, deputy chief of party for the Project for Local Empowerment, a programme run by the International Rescue Committee in Thailand, told IRIN: “As humanitarians, we are providing crucial services in a politically tense environment, so we have to be very careful with sequencing our own changes so that we don't jump the service provision aspects ahead of the politics.”
Myanmar’s Ministry of Health said that while there is no single national convergence policy “progress has been made… at the local and state levels, for example with training and [the] provision of vaccines and commodities.”
Experts say it is crucial that everyone from donors to practitioners see convergence as a matter of necessity, but carry out the process with patience. As services are scaled up and formalized in impoverished and isolated corners of the country, survival strategies developed during decades of violence and intimidation continue to be important.
Healthcare workers have been targeted by the government or army in some locations. “Community health organizations have filled the service gap left by the state, but work has often proved dangerous… The direct targeting of healthcare workers has included kidnappings by the Tatmadaw [Myanmar army], while government restrictions on movement prevented patients and healthcare workers accessing clinics. Individuals who contravened restrictions risked being shot on site by Tatmadaw forces,” said Katherine Footer, a research associate at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in a November 2014 article on violence against healthcare workers in eastern Myanmar.
Footer argued that healthcare workers’ experiences in tense areas led to the development of important survival tactics: “In the presence of chronic insecurity, development of self-protection strategies by [healthcare workers] and the communities they serve has been essential to maintaining a shadow healthcare system in eastern Burma and ameliorating, if not eliminating, restrictions to access.”
Myanmar researcher Ashley South argued in a 2010 Chatham House paper that “such local approaches to protection are particularly important in situations where international humanitarian actors have limited access - and especially in cases where the state is one of the main agents threatening vulnerable populations.”
International agencies supported many such efforts by setting up offices across the border in Thailand which, according to a 2012 article published by the Overseas Development Institute’s Humanitarian Practice Network (HPN), forged relationships between aid agencies and opposition organizations.
“As cross-border aid is often the only way to help highly vulnerable communities, agencies working in zones of ongoing armed conflict have little choice but to accept some form of relationship with insurgent groups,” the HPN paper explained, arguing that international agencies should do more to understand local protection strategies these workers used.
“This will not be a straightforward undertaking in south-east Myanmar, where the humanitarian agenda is highly politicized,” HPN researchers argued, however insisting that “local humanitarian activities can mobilise communities and help to build trust and capacity, and international donors can engage positively with such initiatives.”
Vaccinations, for example
“We have to strike a balance,” says Nyunt Naing Thein, pointing to vaccinations as an example of a crucial service that can be expanded through proper convergence.
“Sending government healthcare workers [to administer vaccines] won't make sense because they won't be accepted there by the communities or the ethnic armed groups that still control some territories,” he explained. “Sending ethnic health workers makes more sense, but they are not certified by the central authority or Ministry of Health,” he said, calling it “a situation where we want to get services like vaccinations expanded to people who need them, and we also want to respect the central government’s requirements to train and certify people who can administer vaccines.”
To solve this problem, the Project for Local Empowerment developed an accreditation partnership between a Burmese university and a Thai university.
“The ethnic health workers were much more comfortable accessing the training [in Thailand],” Nyunt Naing Thein told IRIN. “And the fact that the government agreed to do this, signals some respect for the work these people have been doing as humanitarians for decades, and a willingness to engage in supporting people everywhere in the country.”
Nyunt Naing Thein emphasized that all such processes should be carried out in a way that builds trust among the parties concerned.
Kim Joliffe, a researcher who authored the TAF report, warned: “In areas where trust is slowly being built but ceasefires remain fragile, rapid expansion of government presence can damage confidence and must be done with caution and better consultation.”
Joliffe told IRIN that social services and peace processes are interdependent: “Convergence of state and ethnic armed organization-linked systems should not be viewed as a strategy that can be pushed through, as it is dependent on the peace transition and will take time.”
He explained that convergence efforts could have long-term impacts on how government-run social services are shaped and reformed in conflict-affected areas, adding that: “It is crucial that support is maintained to existing structures on which hundreds of thousands people depend, particularly as ceasefires could break.”
Myanmar was ruled from 1962 to 2011 by a repressive military government that crushed dissent and fought protracted armed conflicts in the country’s border regions where ethnic minorities live. Social services in remote and contested areas were provided by everything from local NGOs linked to ethnic opposition groups to cross-border mobile teams - some of whom were known as “Back Pack Medics.”
The objective of this report is to deepen the understanding of the needs of the population living in IDP camps, host communities and villages with particular attention to Gender Based Violence (GBV), child protection, livelihoods and WASH. The report is the result of a multi-sectorial needs assessment carried out in October 2014 in the townships of Kutkai and Tarmoengye in northern Shan State and Mansi and Nam Kham in southern Kachin State by INTERSOS.
The assessment was conducted over a period of three weeks by a team of eight people (four men and four women) under the supervision of INTERSOS National Project Coordinator. The report is intended to be shared with protection and humanitarian actors in order to have a better understanding of gaps and needs.
Teknaf, Bangladesh: Bangladesh navy rescued more than 600 boatpeople from a large trawler - carrying Burmese flag - adrift in the Bay of Bengal on November 17, while they were trying to go to Malaysia by sea route, said Noor Mohamed, a local from Teknaf town.
On being tipped off, a team of Bangladesh Navy – Durjoy - went to the deep sea and rescued 600 boatpeople or fortune seekers where the large trawler was waiting for passengers (voyagers) 50 nautical miles southeast of Saint Martin Island, according to Lt Commander Mostafa Kamal, who is in charge of the island's naval base and was on board Durjoy.
The 600 fortune seekers, including 20 women and children, were of Bangladesh and Burmese nationalities, Identities of the rescued could not be known immediately, Lt Commander Kamal said. “We detained 14 crew members of the wooden boat.”
“We expect to reach the shore in the early morning the next day (November 18) and the rescued fortune seekers will be handed over to Teknaf police,” said Lt Commander Kamal. But, Mukhter Hossain, officer-in-charge of Teknaf Police Station, told that the rescued persons will be handed over to Patenga Police Station of Chittagong.
Official also said that a group of traffickers take the fortune seekers to locations around Bangladesh-Burma sea border where Burmese or Thai carrying flags trawlers wait to take them to Malaysia.
According to local sources, some big trawlers of Burma, Thailand wait at the far end of Bangladesh sea borders to pick up fortune seekers or boatpeople for nearly two week or a month, to load the fortune seekers and then start their journey for Malaysia.
The traffickers –local - carry small groups or have 25-30 people by small engine boats, to reach the large trawler, local sources more added.
A boatpeople said that the traffickers take 200,000 to 250,000 taka from a fortune seeker after reaching Thailand.
Mostly Rohingya Muslims are continue going to Malaysia from Arakan State, Burma because of human rights abuses, harassments and have been denying the citizenship rights of Rohingya by the concerned authorities of Burma, said a Rohingya refugee elder on condition of anonymity.
Similarly, the registered or unregistered Rohingya refugees have been living in very inhuman condition in Bangladesh since over two decades, but they don’t see their future goals and durable solutions. So, Rohingya refugees are also going to Malaysia from the Bangladesh refugee camps for seeking best future , he further said.
Besides, hundreds of Bangladeshi people are leaving for Malaysia for seeking jobs by the sea route. If Bangladeshi people want to go to Malaysia by legal way, they will need more money. So, they are willing go to Malaysia from Bangladesh by risky boats, local people from Tekanf town said.
Most of the Bangladeshi fortune seekers from all over the country, arrived for searching traffickers to find the way to go to Malaysia by paying money. Nobody is hijacking or kidnapping anyone to send to Malaysia as the fortune seekers are looking way to go Malaysia with cheapest, said Hamid, a boatpeople watchdog from border area.
The fortune seekers are lying that they were kidnapped by traffickers to send to Malaysia, when they were arrested by authorities – Bangladesh or Thailand- to save them and not to stay in jail, Hamid more said.
Similarly, the fortune seekers trafficking network also said their contact groups are not doing like kidnapping people from Bangladesh as they are getting fortune seekers with money. So they didn’t do another crime like kidnapping, they are already working crime as trafficking people.
Snapshot 12–18 November
Ethiopia: Waters have begun to recede from Leitchuor refugee camp in Gambella, but few refugees have returned to the camps so far, where alarming rates of severe malnutrition persist: 5.7% in Leitchuor, 7.8% in Kule, and 10% in Tierkidi. In SNNPR, flooding was reported, while in Oromia, water trucking has begun for populations affected by drought.
South Sudan: Bombing was reported in Maban, Upper Nile state, where over 125,000 Sudanese refugees are living. In Jonglei, heavy fighting has displaced about 35,000, while illegal checkpoints have been set up in Malakal Protection of Civilians site.
Nigeria: The Government is expected to extend the state of emergency for another six months, until May 2015, as a series of attacks and battles have taken place in the northeastern states. Mubi and Chibok, both taken by Boko Haram, have been retaken by government forces with the support of militias. Thousands have fled the fighting.
Updated: 18/11/2014. Next update: 25/11/2014
Just by saying the word “Rohingya” last week in Myanmar, President Obama entered the fray of a decades-long struggle for rights among the Muslim minority group in Myanmar. The Myanmar government would prefer that others not use the word; a 1982 law there classifies all Rohingya as “Bengalis,” despite the fact that most of the 1.3 million Rohingya living in Myanmar have never lived in Bangladesh, let alone emigrated from there.
The Rohingya crisis is escalating. The increased pressure, intimidation, and violence have led to a growing exodus from the region. Myanmar has issued an ultimatum to the Rohingya: They can qualify for citizenship if they are able to prove that their family has lived in Myanmar for more than 60 years. If they cannot, they face deportation. This law would likely render the vast majority of these people as stateless, joining the ranks of the 10 million stateless people all over the world today, according to UNHCR estimates.
Statelessness is certainly a human rights issue. It is also a development issue, and donors and multilaterals should acknowledge it as such, especially in funding legal identity or civil registration programs in developing countries.
What it means to be stateless
Not having a legal citizenship deprives people of legal identity. They cannot travel easily or participate in economic activities or social programs as others can. Today, 27 countries deny women the right to pass their citizenship on to their children. This means those born to a mother with valid citizenship will nonetheless remain stateless if their father is stateless, causing chains of statelessness that span generations.
By definition, the stateless have no legal claims to recognition or services from the governments of the countries that they live in. Their only formal agency lies in the ability of international groups such as UNHCR to identify stateless populations, to prevent new cases of statelessness from occurring, to provide some legal protection to the stateless, and to reduce the prevalence of statelessness as an international phenomenon. The 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons sets minimum standards of treatment for the stateless. They are entitled to the same rights as citizens with respect to freedom of religion and education, and are to enjoy the same treatment as non-nationals when it comes to employment, housing, and the right of association. The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness focuses on breaking the cycle of statelessness at birth by requiring states to grant citizenship to children born on their territory or born to their nationals abroad. It also prohibits the withdrawal of citizenship from nationals if doing so would result in statelessness. To date, the 1954 convention has 85 signatories and the 1961 convention only 61.
Mixed progress across countries
The key factor end statelessness is political will from countries themselves, and some have made progress in recent years. Since signing on in 2013 to the UN conventions noted above, Côte d’Ivoire simplified its process for naturalization, allowing many of the 700,000 stateless people there to gain citizenship. Similarly, a 2008 High Court ruling in Bangladesh caused 300,000 stateless Urdu speakers to be recognized as citizens.
Yet, many countries continue to withhold citizenship from long-time resident populations, resulting in statelessness. There have been dangerous precedents set in countries such as the Dominican Republic, where steps toward consolidating national identity through the provision of national ID cards have included in a constitutional court ruling that stripped de facto citizenship from tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent.
The role of donors
Solutions can be relatively low-cost and reforms can be simple. On November 4, UNHCR launched a 10-year campaign to end statelessness, called “I Belong.” UNHCR’s increased budget for statelessness aims to enact actions such as ramping up birth registration for the stateless, pushing countries to grant citizenship to the children of stateless parents, and eliminating discrimination based on gender or ethnicity when it comes to citizenship. Often, these changes can go hand in hand with existing efforts to ramp up legal identity for citizens. An organized international effort to pressure governments is the best shot at success.
Our research suggests that donors support at least half of all projects that deal with identification in developing countries and that they can play an important role in UNHCR’s “I Belong” campaign. The process of tightening up national identification systems in many developing countries should serve as a platform to engage the stateless populations as well (see our forthcoming CGD policy paper on the spread of national ID systems). UNHCR’s 10 Actions to end statelessness highlight the importance of ensuring birth registration, nationality documentation, and improving quantitative and qualitative data on stateless populations. An inclusive approach toward these groups should be high on donors’ priorities in order to ensure that countries’ civil registration infrastructure does not marginalize the most vulnerable. Inclusive systems are not only important from a human-rights perspective: they are also central to effective and capable governance and to enabling governments to benefit from the “Data Revolution” to help guide and monitor development programs and progress. Even as donors provide technical and financial assistance to strengthen civil registration and identification systems, they should encourage their client countries to ratify the Conventions in support of the goal of providing legal identity to all.
Context, main events of the months
“WASH in schools” orientation session in Rakhine
The WASH Cluster and UNICEF WASH Section organized an orientation session in Sittwe. The session included participants from NGOs working in WASH and Education, State Education Department, State Health Department, Minister of Social Affairs, Township Education Officers and Township Medical Officers. The overall goal was to increase understanding and awareness of the national WASH in school policy currently being developed and share existing tools in order to allow a harmonized implementation in Rakhine state, and strengthening the links with local authorities.
Hygiene kit Post Distribution monitoring
As part of the Cluster’s efforts to streamline monitoring and evaluation, a harmonized Post-Distribution Monitoring (PDM) system has been developed by the WASH Cluster collective to be used as a standard for all distributions allowing to monitor the distribution of WASH items and their relevance, also allowing to document the current impact of the kits.
Emergency Water Treatment training
As part of the Contingency Response Plan, communities at risk would be evacuated to pre-identified sites. The WASH agencies would then be requested to install water treatment units for the people. The training aims at providing the attendees the basics of the set-up of an emergency water treatment in order to supply safe drinking water. 18 participants from 8 NGOs and Government attended the training on the 9th and 10th of October in ACF Tet Khel Pyien center.
Humanitarian Response Plan 2015
The HRP 2015 has been designed by the WASH Cluster members. This was the opportunity to review the main strategic orientations and the main priorities for the next year. The detailed strategy exercise will be done during early December.
Ohn Taw Gyi South – a gap definitely covered
Following the departure of Malteser as the WASH agency in charge of this enormous camp (14000 IDP), Oxfam has been temporarily and partially covering until a definitive agency was identified. The official hand-over from Oxfam to DRC has taken place on the 25th of September, hand-over reports and joint assessments have been completed.
Kyaw Taw – approval for intervention finally granted
The conflict affected population in Kyauk Taw Township has remained uncovered since the beginning of the inter-communal violence in 2012 due to an array of challenges. After long months of negotiation for WASH interventions by Oxfam, the approval by the Township authorities has been granted. Joint technical assessment with authorities with authorities was completed and intervention is now ongoing.
Child safety and Awareness campaign
On 27th September, two children drawn in one latrine septic tank after the cover collapsed. This regrettable incident highlights once again the need of increase the safety in the camps for children. Following decided actions to be defined and deployed in the coming weeks include technical assessment of all latrines to identify the need of reinforcement of structural elements, preventive actions (such as fences…) and a large awareness campaign on child security. A multi-sectorial group led by Protection and WASH has been set-up and will develop the plan. All clusters/sectors have been requested to support the wide dissemination of the key messages through all sectors.
Ceramic Water Filters distribution
Following the WASH Cluster strategy for all camps and villages, the CWF distribution are progressing all across Rakhine state. Every beneficiary receives a detailed training on the importance of the water quality and filter handling and maintenance. The initial results seem to show that the acceptance is very good, although more detailed results will be available during the coming weeks when the PDM results will be made available.
Continued heavy rains caused more flooding and landslides across Indonesia. Flooding has killed one person and damaged 30 houses in West Sumatra Province and inundated 372 houses in Riau Province. In West Java Province, a landslide injured three people and flash floods from the Cisangli River inundated approximately 220 houses, affecting 1,200 people.
Flooding affected over 53,000 people in Aceh Barat Daya and Aceh Jaya Districts.
In early Nov, flooding also damaged over 10,330 houses in Aceh Selatan and Nagan Raya Districts. Local authorities are responding to these events, deploying teams and relief items. International assistance was not requested or expected.
1 person dead 54,200 people affected
A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia on 15 Nov at 09:31. The epicentre was located approximately 158 kms off Bitung District, North Maluku Province. The earthquake was felt in Ternate and Sitaro of North Maluku Province, and Manado of North Sulawesi Province. The Indonesia Agency for Meteorology (BMKG) confirmed a 0.9 meter tsunami wave hit Jailolo (20 kms from Ternate, North Maluku) at 09:43 Jakarta time and 0.01 metre tsunami in Tobelo at 10:24 Jakarta time. Latest reports from the National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) indicate the earthquake caused light damage in North Sulawesi Province and there were no casualties.
Humanitarian agencies have conducted a desk review of secondary data and compiled a draft report on the landslide that occurred in Meeriyabadda Estate, Haldummulla division, Badulla district on 29 Oct. The secondary data was provided by the Disaster Management Centre, Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, and international humanitarian partners to ascertain the needs, response to date and remaining gaps. Initial findings indicate 37 people died and 22 remain missing. Over 4,460 people are displaced and seeking support from 28 welfare centres in Badulla district.
22 people missing 4,460 people displaced
The Malaysian Government will launch a three-year programme to plant one million trees in the Cameron Highlands and halt construction of new hotels or condominiums in the area after five people died and five were injured when flash floods struck on 5 Nov. Massive illegal clearing in the Cameron Highlands was blamed for the flash floods which resulted in the landslides and mud floods.
More than 203 residents from 47 families in Kampung Baru and Bertam Valley were evacuated in the incident, which caused widespread damage. The Environment Minister handed out a contribution of RM1,000 (US$ 300) to each of the 33 families hit by the disaster and establish a new housing scheme.
5 people dead
Two years after a wave of violence hit the region, Myanmar’s Rakhine State has become a segregated zone. Two million ethnic Rakhine live apart from 1.2 million stateless Rohingya, who are trapped inside displacement camps or barred from leaving their villages. Ending this segregation and protecting the rights of the Rohingya are necessary components of Myanmar’s move toward democracy. However, the Rakhine leadership has rejected – both politically and with force – any reintegration of the two communities, and it is seeking to exclude the Rohingya from any role in the state’s development, distribution of resources, and political representation.
Recently, Myanmar’s central government developed a draft “Rakhine Action Plan” that would provide some Rohingya with the opportunity to apply for citizenship, but only if they identify as ethnically “Bengali.” Those who are found ineligible for citizenship, or who refuse to comply, would be rendered to internment camps. The plan as currently drafted is indefensible, and the international community must demand that it be revised to reflect the rights of Rohingya to self-identify, secure citizenship, and live without arbitrary restrictions on their movement, religion, education, and livelihoods. The plan must also support the positive development of all communities in Rakhine State.
The government of Myanmar should:
- Revise and make public for comment the draft “Rakhine Action Plan” to ensure consistency with human rights standards, including the rights to liberty, nationality, and freedom of movement; as well as the principle of non-discrimination;
- Make transparent any requirements associated with successfully securing citizenship through the citizenship verification process, and ensure that applicants have the right to due process, including legal assistance and an independent review of any adverse decision before a judicial body;
- Treat Rohingya who arrived in camps after June 2012 as internally displaced persons, register them in coordination with the UN Refugee Agency, and provide them with all necessary assistance;
- Immediately address important assistance and protection gaps in the Sittwe camps, including irregular access to camps for healthcare personnel, the abuse of Rohingya by members of the military and police, rapidly deteriorating communal shelters, and the need for secondary education facilities and staff.
The international community should:
- Insist that as a prerequisite to full normalization of relations, Myanmar must extend non-discriminatory protection to all people living in Rakhine State, provide citizenship to Rohingya born in or with longstanding ties to Myanmar, restore the rule of law, and prosecute perpetrators of violence consistent with due process;
- Provide increased levels of humanitarian and development funding to Rakhine State focused on increasing access to food and clean water, eradicating poverty, and improving health and nutrition standards; and
- Urge UN agencies and their implementing partners to improve camp management and ensure that all camp facilities are in conformity with protection-based physical planning; and that victims of crime, violence, and abuse have access to adequate health and psychosocial care, and other services.
Sarnata Reynolds and Jeff Crisp traveled to Myanmar in September 2014 and assessed the humanitarian response to displacement in Rakhine State.
Myanmar: As part of democratization, government puts special priority on raising education standard in belief that national education plays key role in nation building
Nay Pyi Taw,16 Nov
The following is the message sent by President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar U Thein Sein on the occasion of 94th Anniversary National Day.
I would like to extend heartiest greetings and best wishes to all the citizens of Myanmar on the auspicious occasion of the 94th anniversary of National Day, which falls on 16 November.
This significant day depicts the nationalistic sentiment displayed in the history of education in Myanmar. It is also on this historic day that the very first national education law designed to improve the quality of education for the entire citizenry came into effect.
The government has entered the Third Wave of Reform in implementing its all-round national development measures on all fronts.
A national concern is the emergence of an education system that is capable of taking the country to a new level of prosperity and developing reliable human resources while cherishing and promoting the language, literature, culture and tradition of every ethnic group.
As part of democratization, the government puts special priority on raising the education standard in the belief that national education plays a key role in nation building. It is through education that people can be aware of the importance of political stability, tranquility, unity, economic development, better living standards, and the preservation of cultural heritage.
Strenuous efforts are under way to design and up grade curricula at all levels that can meet national and international criteria, with the aim of bringing about youths who value a code of conduct, democratic practices and human rights. In addition, extensive measures are taken to make education compulsory and free for all school-age children.
Priority has been given to projects to reduce poverty and promote education standards from early childhood education to higher education including technical and occupational education. In doing so, emphasis is placed on the right to education for every citizen by implementing special and inclusive education programs.
Measures are being taken for the emergence of a free and active educational environment at universities and nurturing disciplined and patriotic youths capable of overcoming difficulties and challenges.
As the development of each region is essential for national development, it is important to utilize the strength and participation of local people and resources in the regional development tasks. It is necessary to explore natural resources in respective regions, to manage them for future use and to coordinate for the effective use of education resources at universities in combination with natural resources.
The entire national people are witnessing unprecedented development in the political, economic and social sectors and in the peace process since independence was regained in the new democratic nation that resulted from the cooperation of the entire national people. An evidence of achievements to be proud of in the international arena is the successful hosting of the ASEAN Summit and Related Summits and being able to lead the entire region for equitable development as the chair of ASEAN.
On this auspicious occasion, with all seriousness, I would like to urge all the national people, taking advantage of these achievements, to successfully overcome the difficulties and challenges along the democracy journey with the united strength of the entire national people and to march towards the goal of democracy with firm determination and active and united strength of the entire national people by upholding the objectives of the 94th Anniversary of the National Day such as:
(1) To uplift national prestige and integrity and to preserve the Union Spirit
(2) To uplift national education standards
(3) To preserve the independence and sovereignty of the nation
(4) To build a new, modern, developed nation.
By Amy Sawitta Lefevre
BANGKOK, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Thousands of Rohingya boat people who have left Myanmar in the past month have yet to reach their destinations, say relatives and an advocacy group for the persecuted minority, raising fears their boats have been prevented from reaching shore.
Read the full article on Reuters-AlertNet
IDP ration cuts averted for November and December
In October, WFP was facing a severe immediate funding shortfall, which would have resulted in 20 percent rice ration cuts for 200,000 internally displaced persons in Kachin, northern Shan and Rakhine. WFP advised funding partners about the impending food pipeline break but insufficient funding came through. Just in time, WFP managed to deploy advance financing against an indicative forecast from one funding partner and succeeded in temporarily averting the rice ration cuts for IDPs for November and December. Nevertheless, if urgent funding is not received, it will result in 20 percent rice ration cut for IDPs as of January 2015.
Myanmar: Humanitarian Implementation Plan (HIP) South East Asia and the Pacific (ECHO/-XA/BUD/2015/91000) Last update: 20/10/2014 Version 1
The activities proposed hereafter are still subject to the adoption of the financing decision ECHO/WWD/BUD/2015/01000
AMOUNT: EUR 18 000 000
This HIP covers the response to natural and man-made disasters as well as disaster preparedness, disaster risk reduction and resilience activities in South East Asia and the Pacific.
For the response to natural and man-made disasters, this HIP focuses largely on Myanmar/Burma and Thailand with the potential for interventions in response to new disasters also in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. These countries have been included because of their high exposure and vulnerability to natural disasters . As regards disaster preparedness, disaster risk reduction and resilience, the focus will be on specific actions in Vanuatu as well as support to regional initiatives in the Pacific and South East Asia, complementing the ongoing DIPECHO HIP for South East Asia 2014-2015.
Man-made disasters with humanitarian consequences are found in Myanmar/Burma and to a lesser extent in the Philippines (Mindanao).
Myanmar/Burma's population is estimated at circa 53 million people, of which 40% are ethnic minorities. The country ranks 150 of 187 in the 2014 UNDP Human Development Index . ECHO's Integrated Analysis Framework 2014-2015 identified extreme humanitarian needs. Since the 2011 elections, the Government has made progress particularly in the area of democratization and peace building. However, humanitarian needs have increased with the most urgent stemming from displacement following inter-communal violence in Rakhine State since June 2012 and renewed fighting in Kachin and northern Shan States since 2011. In Rakhine, Kachin and Northern Shan States a total of 255 000 IDPs live in camps or with host families .
The spill-over of inter-communal violence to other parts of the country in 2013 and 2014 is another destabilisation factor, while maritime migration movements from Rakhine State to other countries in the region are an additional concern. UNHCR estimates that 86 000 people, mostly Rohingya, have left since communal violence erupted in June 2012. Some of them are now housed in detention centres in Thailand and receive support from ECHO5 . In Bangladesh, there are at least 250 000 Rohingya. Only 24 000 of them are recognised refugees and live in official camps. The vast majority of Rohingya live in makeshift camps or within local communities.
The vulnerability of the population affected by the crises in Rakhine and Kachin States is assessed to be very high. Since 2004, Myanmar/Burma has consistently been on the ECHO Forgotten CrisesAssessment Index.
Following decades of civil war on the Eastern border, Thailand still hosts 119 000 Myanmar/Burma refugees/displaced persons in nine camps. Further to government ceasefire agreements with ethnic armed groups on the Eastern border (and pending the outcome of negotiations for a nationwide ceasefire), needs in the Southeast are more development-oriented than humanitarian. Durable solutions are needed after 30 years of the existence of camps.
Organised return on a voluntary basis, in line with international principles, is not yet on the horizon but this might change following a registration exercise in the camps in the second semester 2014. Appropriate conditions have yet to be created in Myanmar/Burma to receive a possible influx of returnees.
In the Philippines, fighting between the army and insurgent groups in Mindanao has fluctuated in terms of intensity since independence. The peace process initiated by President Aquino is perceived as a successful landmark. Although there are positive signs that it may result in sustained peace in Mindanao, the process has shortcomings. For example, splinter groups have emerged from the second major insurgent group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Eruption of violence, with potential humanitarian impact remains a possibility (as witnessed in September 2013 in Zamboanga city).
Bangladesh: Humanitarian Implementation Plan (HIP) Bangladesh (ECHO/BGD/BUD/2014/91000) Last update: 22/10/2014 Version 2
AMOUNT: EUR 13 500 000
0 . MAJOR CHANGES SINCE PREVIOUS VERSION OF THE HIP
As a result of devastating floods caused by monsoon rains in August 2014, over 600 000 very vulnerable people had their homes destroyed and lost all their crops in the North- West of the country. The most vulnerable have already reduced their food intake and cut meals and this state of affairs will only worsen, as the next harvest will only take place in March/April 2015. Their very survival is threatened, with winter coming. Only half of the people in need have received any humanitarian assistance so far (including EUR 1.6 million from the 2014 HIP) and there are still huge unmet needs in terms of food/livelihood recovery, WASH and shelter. It is therefore appropriate to increase the allocation under the present HIP by EUR 1 000 000.