Myanmar - ReliefWeb News

Syndicate content
ReliefWeb - Updates
Updated: 21 min 32 sec ago

World: CrisisWatch N°134 - 1 October 2014

1 October 2014 - 9:19pm
Source: International Crisis Group Country: Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, China - Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region), Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Serbia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), World, Yemen, Zimbabwe, South Sudan preview

The U.S. expanded its aerial campaign against Islamic State (IS) militants in late September with strikes in Syria’s north and east. The operation, which targets both IS and fighters linked to al-Qaeda’s central leadership and the affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra, risks alienating other rebel groups in Syria and strengthening support for IS. The mainstream armed opposition faced another serious blow when most of the senior leadership of the influential group Ahrar as-Sham was killed in an unexplained bomb blast in early September. Meanwhile, IS continued its advance on the ground, including around the predominantly Kurdish city Kobani near the Turkish border causing some 160,000 Kurds to flee. (See our recent report and commentary on the possible fall of greater Aleppo and the impact this could have on the wider Syrian rebellion).

In Iraq, the beheading of captive U.S. journalists and a British aid worker by IS militants drew strong condemnations. U.S. President Obama vowed to dismantle the group’s “network of death” and several countries, including France and the UK, joined the U.S.-led aerial campaign against IS. Adding to the sectarian divides that aided IS’s initial rise, Iran continued to support Shiite militias in central Iraq, while Western and Iranian support for the Kurdish Regional Government provoked additional tensions by bypassing Baghdad. (See our recent commentary on the rise of the Islamic State, alternatively known as ISIL, ISIS or Daesh.)

The Syrian conflict continued to spill over into Lebanon. In September jihadi groups executed three Lebanese soldiers captured the previous month in the eastern city of Arsal, exacerbating ethnic and communal tensions, and sparking attacks on Syrian refugees. Clashes between the Lebanese army and Syrian rebels also continued in the east leaving several soldiers, Sunni militants and Hizbollah members dead.

Weeks of anti-government protests led by Yemen’s Huthis degenerated into several days of fighting in the capital Sanaa in mid-September. Over two hundred were killed as the Huthis clashed with rival forces loyal to General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and, to a much lesser extent, Sunni Islamist fighters around Iman University. Large parts of the security forces sided with the Huthis who seized key parts of Sanaa, including government buildings, and were allowed to control security in the city. A new peace deal and power sharing agreement signed on 21 September called for the implementation of national dialogue outcomes and the government to be replaced, but the balance of power on the ground has shifted solidly towards the Huthis. Prospects for a Huthi withdrawal from the capital remain uncertain: a new prime minister has yet to be appointed, and since the agreement Huthis have surrounded and entered the homes of political enemies as well as attacking the home of Yemen’s national security chief Ali al-Ahmadi in late September. (See our most recent report on Yemen’s Huthis.)

After months of deadlock, Sudan’s armed and political oppositions signed a statement on principles for a national dialogue process that would include them both. The government, the SPLM-N and Darfur rebels agreed to meet in October – under the auspices of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel – to discuss a possible cessation of hostilities in all conflict areas. The African Union Peace and Security Council welcomed the planned talks.

September 2014 – Trends

  • Deteriorated situations Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen
  • Improved situations

October 2014 – Watchlist

  • Conflict risk alerts Syria
  • Conflict resolution opportunities Sudan

Democratic Republic of the Congo: US restricts military assistance to some states that recruit and use children

1 October 2014 - 12:46pm
Source: Child Soldiers Initiative Country: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, South Sudan

The US government is continuing to exercise pressure through the application of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) by granting partial waivers to some states in order to end their unlawful recruitment and use of children in conflict. In its 2014 Trafficking in Persons report, the US Department of State listed nine states, namely the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Myanmar, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Chad, this year, does not figure in the list compiled by the US State Department.

Following the determination of President Obama on the CSPA announced today, CAR, the DRC and South Sudan will be entitled only to limited military assistance. This is the second year in a row that DRC is not granted full military assistance due to its failure to end the recruitment and use of children by its military. While last year CAR was denied any form of military assistance under the CSPA, this year it will be able to obtain limited military assistance. South Sudan last year was granted a blanket waiver but in light of the recrudescence of child recruitment and use during the recent conflict, the US will provide only restricted military support.

President Obama decided to waive the application of the CSPA for Rwanda, Somalia and Yemen, despite their record on child recruitment, on grounds of US national interest. Somalia and Yemen have been listed in the Trafficking in Persons report since the adoption of the CSPA in 2008, yet they have consistently benefitted from blanket waivers.

As a result of this year’s presidential determination, the only countries for which the restrictions imposed by the CSPA will fully apply are those whose governments do not have military relations with the US, namely Myanmar, Syria and Sudan.

Child Soldiers International welcomes the decision of President Obama to continue using partial waivers as a way of maintaining leverage in countries where children are still recruited and used in conflict; however consistently granting persistent perpetrators of child recruitment blanket waivers could undermine the credibility and impact of the CSPA. Blanket waivers send the wrong message that child recruitment and use can be sidelined by political considerations. This is in contrast with the position adopted by the US and a significant number of other UN member states in their firm support to the UN campaign ‘Children Not Soldiers’, which aims at ending state child recruitment by 2016.

Background

Chad has also been de-listed from the Annex to the Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, issued in May 2014.

For general information on how countries, including the US, should refrain from transferring arms or military assistance to states where there is a risk of child recruitment or use, please see:

• Child Soldiers International, Louder than words: an agenda for action to end state use of child soldiers, September 2012, Part IV.

Text of the US Presidential determination on waivers to the CSPA.

For more information contact Child Soldiers International at +44 (0) 20 7367 4110

Myanmar: Burma budgets US$110 million for education

1 October 2014 - 5:04am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

By DVB

Burmese Education Minister Dr Khin San Yee announced last week at an educational seminar in Rangoon University that 110 billion kyat (US$110 million) is to be allocated for educational reforms.

She said that the Ministry of Education will appropriate a budget for the fiscal year 2015-16 to: improve the status of schools in the border region; to set up kindergartens and preschool classes in remote areas to enforce compulsory education; and to set up digital libraries.

Of recent, the government has received much flak for neglecting a crumbling education system. Education, especially in the rural areas, is in dire need of reforms, including an infrastructural upgrade, increases in teachers’ salaries, and investment in adequate training facilities for teachers. Many critics and teachers within the Burmese education sector have blamed the low education budget as a leading factor in causing such a sub-standard quality of education.

Political instability and civil war exacerbated the problem. In ethnic regions, conflict has frequently caused schools to close. In internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in Arakan and Kachin, children have only minimal access to education.

This once again widens the education gap between different communities in the country. A senior education coordinator for the IDP camps, Arlo Kitchingman, who works with Save the Children, told DVB that, with government education apparatus not in place in these IDP camps, NGOs have stepped in to provide basic emergency education to the children.

Pressure has been mounting on the Burmese government to focus towards educational reforms as more and more networks have been consistently protesting the draft National Education Bill. Despite Burma being lauded as a country with a high literacy rate – 92 percent – the quality of education was severely affected during the military era.

The compromised level of education affecting Burma’s emergence as a global market player after opening up to international investors and trade partners was reflected in the global competitiveness report of 2014, where the country was ranked at the bottom. “Poor quality education” and “inadequate educated workforces” were listed as major hindrances to business growth.

Economists and global development agencies have also pointed out that human capital must be developed within Burma to accelerate economic growth. The Asian Development Bank’s assistant chief economist, Cyn-Young Park, pointed out in September that Burma will be able to “unlock its full potential” by investing and increasing its spending in education.

In January this year, President Thein Sein pledged to increase the education budget from the allocated 5.43 percent to 5.92 percent for the fiscal year 2014-15. This was followed by plans to implement free middle school education in Burma.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Peace Monitoring Dashboard: Sept 2014

1 October 2014 - 3:29am
Source: Myanmar Peace Monitor Country: Myanmar, Switzerland preview

Myanmar: Bus passengers injured in Hpa-an ambush

1 October 2014 - 2:36am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

By NAW NOREEN

Two civilians were injured on Sunday when a passenger bus was hit by shrapnel from an explosive device in Myaing Gyi Ngu Village near the Karen State capital of Hpa-an.

Local police officers said the device exploded as part of an ambush by the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) on the Burmese army’s 22nd Infantry Division, which was reinforcing troops to Myaing Gyi Ngu. The incident took place near Thamanya Hill, a main DKBA stronghold, about 40km southeast of Hpa-an.

“The incident occurred in Hpa-an’s Wekayin Village on 28 September. There were eight people travelling in the bus when a shell landed nearby, and two male passengers were injured by shrapnel,” said a local police officer, adding that the victims were being treated at hospitals in Hpa-an and Kawkareik.

Saw Soe Myint, the DKBA’s liaison officer in Myawaddy, confirmed that fighting had taken place in Myaing Gyi Ngu, but denied that the DKBA was responsible for the incident in which the passenger bus was hit.

“There have been reports claiming the DKBA was behind the ambush that resulted in civilian injuries, but our investigation has found that the attackers were not wearing DKBA uniforms. Nevertheless, we are sad to hear about the incident,” he said.

On 26 September, a fire-fight broke out in Kyaikmayaw, Mon State, between DKBA and Burmese government forces, leaving one soldier reportedly injured. Saw Soe Myint said the Karen militia’s leadership has been negotiating with Burmese military officers to prevent further clashes from breaking out.

Despite the fact that a ceasefire between the DKBA and Burma’s government forces was signed in 2011, occasional skirmishes have erupted between the two armies.

Tensions were exacerbated on 19 September, when a drunken DKBA captain was gunned down by Burmese security forces in Myawaddy.

The DKBA is a group of primarily Buddhist soldiers that broke away from the Karen National Liberation Army in 1994.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Internal Displacement in Kachin and northern Shan States (1 September 2014)

30 September 2014 - 11:38pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar preview

Myanmar: Myanmar: UN chief urges country to move beyond ‘narrow agendas’ and towards cooperation

30 September 2014 - 1:30pm
Source: UN News Service Country: Myanmar

Myanmar has shown progress in areas of socio-economic development, national reconciliation and democratization, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed today, while also warning that the Asian country still faced “critical hurdles” as it approached its impending elections.

In remarks delivered to the Meeting of the Partnership Group on Myanmar, held on the margins of the General Assembly in New York, Mr. Ban celebrated the move by the Government to invite ethnic armed groups to join the country’s ongoing peace process, stating that “open discussions on issues like power, resource sharing and a federal union based on equality, democracy and self-determination are signs of a serious commitment to a united Myanmar.”

“Now is the time to move beyond narrow agendas and towards cooperation,” said Mr. Ban, who added that the UN would “continue to play a constructive role” in developing Myanmar’s path towards peace.

Meanwhile, addressing the continuing ethnic hostilities in Rakhine state, the Secretary-General said he remained “deeply troubled” by the situation and warned that the conditions of vulnerable populations, including those in internally displaced persons camps, remained “precarious and unsustainable.”

Myanmar has been plagued by simmering tensions between Buddhist and Muslim communities since June 2012. The worst of the clashes affected hundreds of thousands of families in Rakhine state, the country’s second poorest region, with a population of more than three million.

In addition, restrictions on the freedom of movement of hundreds of thousands of people in Rakhine severely compromised their basic rights to food, health, education and livelihoods, leaving them dependent on humanitarian assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The Secretary-General also emphasized Myanmar’s impending elections as a watershed moment for the country and noted that the Myanmar Parliament would have a “crucial” role as the country takes decisive measures on national reconciliation, engages in political dialogue with its diverse ethnic groups, and debates a range of matters including control of hate speech as well as a host of other socio-economic and developmental issues.

“The Government has taken some positive steps,” Mr. Ban concluded.

“Translating recent commitments into visible action will help ease tensions and create the foundation for a long-term equitable solution.”

Myanmar: Sectarian Violence in Myanmar Threatens Livelihood of Muslims

30 September 2014 - 1:19pm
Source: New York Times Country: Myanmar

By PHILIP HEIJMANSSEPT. 28, 2014

MANDALAY, Myanmar — It has been more than a month since Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, was rocked by deadly anti-Muslim riots. Broken windows and large dents in the facades of a dozen small Muslim-run businesses are the only visible reminders of when about 300 radical Buddhists rode into town wielding swords and bricks, killing two people.

Read the story on the New York Times

Myanmar: Myanmar calls during Assembly debate for UN development aid to solve communal fighting

30 September 2014 - 1:07pm
Source: UN News Service Country: Myanmar

Taking the podium at the General Assembly today, Myanmar called on the United Nations to provide development aid for its troubled Rakhine state, where tensions between Buddhist and Muslim communities have affected hundreds of thousands of families.

“In addressing the root cause, we are working for peace, stability, harmony and development of all people in Rakhine State,” Myanmar Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin told the Assembly as it entered the second week of its 69th annual high-level meeting.

“As development is one of the main challenges in Rakhine state, I would also like to invite the international community particularly the United Nations to provide much-needed development assistance there.”

Just last week Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply troubled” by the situation in Rakhine, the country’s second poorest region with a population of more than three million, and he warned that the conditions of vulnerable populations, including those in internally displaced persons camps, remained “precarious and unsustainable.”

On other issues the Minister called for urgent action to address a slew of crises, including climate change which is threatening many developing countries dependent on agriculture, terrorism, the Ebola epidemic and the hurdles that hobble poorer countries as the Assembly begins drawing up the post-2015 agenda for global sustainable development for decades to come.

On his own country’s peaceful transformation from the military Government to a multi-party democratic system, he noted that media freedom is getting more space, the Government is working with all ethnic armed groups to reach a nationwide ceasefire, and there has been steady progress promoting human rights and combating human trafficking.

But, he added: “Since our democracy is still in its infancy, we are facing a multitude of daunting challenges like other countries in transition. The government has a long to-do list with limited capacity.”

Some 196 speakers are expected to have addressed this year's debate, which wraps up tomorrow. Meeting since last Wednesday on the theme of “Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda,” the speakers include representatives from the 193 UN Member States, as well as the Observer State of the Holy See, the Observer State of Palestine and the delegation of the European Union.

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 24–30 September

30 September 2014 - 8:48am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen, South Sudan preview

Iraq:Up to 13% of IDPs are located in areas that are currently not considered accessible by humanitarian actors. The overall number and geographical spread of IDPs pose a major challenge for provision of assistance. Approximately 1.5 million individuals are in need of emergency food assistance. An estimated 580,000 people are in urgent need of emergency shelter assistance.

Libya:New figures indicate 227,000 people are displaced within Libya, 166,000 of whom have become IDPs since May. Fighting continues; the new Government has asked for international assistance to fight Islamist militias.

Sudan: Fighting between the Maaliya and Rizeigat tribes has reportedly displaced 55,000 people (11,000 families) in Adila locality in East Darfur. Many people are taking shelter with host families in the area.

Updated: 30/09/2014. Next update: 07/10/2014

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

Myanmar: In Central Mon State, Villagers Flee as Soldiers Hunt for Karen Rebels

29 September 2014 - 5:27pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By LAWI WENG / THE IRRAWADDY| Monday, September 29, 2014

KYAIKMAYAW TOWNSHIP, Mon State — Win Thein, a resident of Shwe War Chong village, said he had suddenly found himself in the vicinity of an eruption of violence on Friday, as Karen rebels and government forces engaged in bouts of heavy fighting in the hills and rubber plantations surrounding his village in central Mon State.

“Look, I still have to wear this, I could not go back to my village,” he said, holding up a dirty shirt that he has worn since fighting began four days ago.

Win Thein and has family were among a group of about a dozen villagers travelling on a boat on the Same River to the township capital Kyaikmayaw on Monday, where they joined a group of about 100 villagers who were seeking refuge from fighting in the area.

Weeks of growing tensions and incidents between the Burma Army and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and other, smaller ethnic Karen rebels boiled over into full-scale clashes at several locations in eastern Burma groups on Friday, leading to some of the worst fighting in the region since the government signed bilateral ceasefires with the rebel groups in 2012.

Heavy clashes between the DKBA and the army, involving mortar fire and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), were reported in Mon State’s Kyaikmayaw Township and near Karen State’s Myawaddy town over the weekend.

Fleeing villagers in Kyaikmayaw Township said they heard gunfire at around 10 am on Monday morning, but no further violence was reported during the rest of the day.

The unrest began on Friday during a scheduled meeting between the DKBA and government security forces at a rebel base in Kyaikmayaw Township.

Tensions rose so much that DKBA rebels detained the 20 security forces at the meeting, causing a Burma Army unit stationed near the base to launch an attack to secure the release of the government officers inside.

DKBA fighters fired assault rifles and mortars to repel the attack, injuring two soldiers. The stand-off continued until Saturday morning when the DKBA took the weapons from the officers and released them. After that, the rebels fought their way out of the base and disappeared into the countryside.

An Irrawaddy reporter and photographer undertook a three-hour trip from the Mon State capital Moulmein by boat and motorbike to reach Shwe War Chong village on Monday morning and witnessed about 100 government soldiers along the road and in the largely abandoned village.

A source with the New Mon State Party, another rebel group in the area, said he estimated that some 1,000 soldiers had been deployed to search for the Karen rebels.

Soe Naing Oo, a Special Branch police officer in Shwe War Chong village, said five DKBA fighters were killed during the fighting in recent days, but refused to answer questions about the number of casualties on the government side.

The troops in Shwe War Chong were deployed to hunt down the DKBA fighters who fled into the countryside. About a dozen tired-looking soldiers put down their weapons, including several shoulder-fired RPG launchers, while resting at a tea shop in the village. They could be overhead discussing the operations.

“I shot one [rebel] who was hiding to shoot at us; he was staying in a tree. I saw he was hit and fell from the tree. I tried to go over and get his dead body, but they [rebels] were very quick and dragged the body away,” one soldier told his captain.

Shortly afterward, an officer warned reporters to leave and not to take any pictures of the troops. “It is not safe to be here as there is fighting, but the situation will be stable soon,” he said.

Maj. Win Hlaing of the Border Guard Force, a government-commanded Karen militia supporting the army, shouted to reporters, “Don’t you guys want to go back well, or do you want trouble?”

Win Hlaing shouted at his militiamen as they stopped to buy snacks at a local shop, “Don’t lose your gun and equipment. You should keep all your equipment all the time with you. If you lose it, I will punish you!”

According to residents at Donkachit, an ethnic Mon village near the fighting that had not been abandoned, RPG and mortar fire had landed not far from their homes throughout the day on Sunday. Government schools and health clinics were shut down as civil servants fled.

“There are no nurses and school teachers. They all went back to the [major] towns,” said a 50-year-old Mon woman, who declined to be named out of fear for reprisal from authorities. “We haven’t seen such heavy fighting in this area in 15 years.”

Nai Tun Maung, a resident of Donkachit village, said, “We do not know exactly what we should do. We wanted to go to check on our rubber plantations, but we were worried about the fighting.”

Myanmar: Heavy Fighting Erupts Near Myawaddy, Residents Flee Homes

29 September 2014 - 1:42am
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By SAW YAN NAING / THE IRRAWADDY | Saturday, September 27, 2014

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Heavy fighting erupted between the Burma Army and a Karen rebel group, the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), around noon on Saturday on the outskirts of Myawaddy and dozens of residents are fleeing their homes to escape the violence, local residents and rebel sources said.

Fighting began near the town on the Burma-Thai border at around 11 am and lasted until about 1:30 pm. Heavy weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) were fired, according to witnesses.

An official from the Border Guard Force (BGF), a government-commanded Karen militia in Myawaddy, told The Irrawaddy, “DKBA troops fired RPGs at a Burmese army military vehicle when it came into the town. Then they started to exchange gunfire. It is still going on [at 1 pm] at the Asia highway.”

The nearly completed super highway, locally known as the Asia Highway, connects Myawaddy with Rangoon.

Maj. Saw Zorro, a liaison officer of the Karen National Union (KNU), the largest ethnic Karen armed group with a base in Myawaddy, confirmed that gunfire was exchanged around noon and that some residents who live nearby the fighting areas fled.

“Some local residents fled their homes to hide as the fighting broke out. We heard the government troops are now blocking the road that leads to the fighting area,” he said.

According to the KNU official, government forces blocked the road around 1 pm and residents shut their shops and left their homes. An area of the road between Myawaddy and Thingya Nyi Naung village has been closed off by the Burma Army.

One resident who runs a small restaurant on the Asia Highway near Myawaddy said on Saturday, “They fired heavy weapons. It’s frightening. It happened just outside my shop. We shut down my shop and are now going to Myawaddy town [for safety].”

Thailand’s Channel 7 showed video footage on Saturday afternoon of dozens of Myawaddy residents fleeing the fighting and crossing the bridge over the Moei River that separates Burma and Thailand.

When The Irrawaddy contacted police in Myawaddy town for comments an officer confirmed that clashes had occurred but refused to elaborate the detail, saying that the police are trying to observe the incident.

On Friday, in central Mon State’s Kyaikmayaw Township, DKBA forces had also fought with government forces. The rebels detained eight soldiers and police officers at their base, and injured two soldiers in an exchange of fire. On Saturday, reports from the area suggested that fighting had continued at Kyaikmayaw Township.

In recent weeks, tensions have been rising between government forces and Karen rebel groups operating in the border town of Myawaddy, Karen State, despite the fact that the groups have bilateral ceasefire agreements with the government.

The situation worsened after a number of small explosive devices were found in Myawaddy and the Burma Army ordered the rebels not to enter the town when armed. On Sept 19, the military shot and killed a DKBA soldier after he supposedly was drunk driving on a road outside of Myawaddy.

The Karen National Union (KNU), the largest Karen rebel group, has managed to stay out of the rising tensions.

Additional reporting by Kyaw Kha.

Myanmar: Business Leaders and Health Experts Gather in Yangon for First Regional Meeting on Corporate Sector Engagement in Malaria Control in the Asia-Pacific

28 September 2014 - 11:57pm
Source: Roll Back Malaria Country: India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea preview

(29 September, Yangon, Myanmar) More than 100 leaders from the health, development and corporate sectors have gathered in Yangon to participate in the seminal regional forum on Opportunities for Corporate Sector Engagement in Malaria Control in the Asia-Pacific. In advance of the 2015 enactment of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement and broader ASEAN economic integration, this one-day meeting seeks to identify tangible opportunities for strengthened public-private partnerships to support regional malaria control strategies and drive progress toward country-specific development targets.

Health leaders urge that the corporate sector can and should play a central role to continued success of regional malaria control efforts. With large-scale private sector projects giving way to a highly mobile workforce, experts reiterate that stronger public-private partnerships will strengthen efficiencies, expand access for hard-to-reach communities and spur innovations in the face of challenges like drug resistance.

“Now more than ever, engagement from all sectors – including corporate enterprises – to sustain regional malaria control activities and drive broader development is paramount,” Deputy Director of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, Dr. Thomas Teuscher, said while moderating the morning’s opening plenary session. “Through the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, with opening borders and booming economies, we have a tremendous opportunity to work across sectors and borders, particularly in the Greater Mekong sub-Region, to ensure value for our investments and maximize the impact of our malaria control efforts.”

With 22 malaria-endemic countries accounting for approximately 32 million cases of infection each year and 47,000 associated deaths, the Asia-Pacific region carries the second highest burden of disease outside of Africa. Intense scale-up of interventions in the Asia-Pacific has seen over 80 million cases and over 100,000 deaths to malaria averted since 2000, with many countries reducing and – in some cases like Japan, Singapore and Taiwan – even eliminating the disease. However, some 2 billion people in the region remain at-risk of infection. India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea bear the largest burden of the disease, together accounting for 89% of all malaria cases in the region.

Increased financing will be critical to further advancements. In the Asia-Pacific specifically, international resources to fight malaria are predicted to shrink as some countries cut spending under the mistaken belief that the disease is on the wane. Specialists suggest that new funding sources,, including from international donors and national budgets, will be needed to scale-up elimination efforts and prevent a resurgence of the disease in areas where it is currently under control. International and domestic financing for malaria control efforts globally peaked at US $2.5 billion in 2012, amounting to less than half of the estimated US $5.1 billion needed annually through 2020 to achieve universal coverage of malaria control interventions around the world.

“We have seen huge progress as a result of highly effective drugs and generous international financing,” said Dr. Ben Rolfe, Executive Secretary ad interim of the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA). “As Asia grows, we have the opportunity to secure resources from within the region and eliminate malaria whilst the drugs we have are still effective. It will be critical to secure political will, and strong partnerships with the private sector if we are to see an Asia-Pacific free of malaria by 2030.”

Parasite resistance to artemisinin, the core compound in the WHO-recommended artemisinin-based combination therapy, has been detected in five countries in the Asia-Pacific region: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. If resistance were to spread to or emerge in India or sub-Saharan Africa, the public health consequences could be dire, as no alternative antimalarial medicine is available at present with the same level of efficacy and tolerability as ACTs.

Through a series of panel discussions and breakout sessions, the meeting’s organizing partners aim to mobilize non-state and corporate actors to support regional strategies through local workforce and community programs, public-private partnerships and innovative financing initiatives that will help unlock additional resources to eliminate malaria and effectively reduce the spread of drug resistance. Examples of existing programs and engagement opportunities were drawn from countries throughout the region, including Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam.

Co-hosted by the RBM, APLMA and GBCHealth – in partnership with the Myanmar Health and Development Consortium, Malaria No More and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and with the financial support of Sanofi – this one-day forum comes just months before Myanmar will host the ASEAN and East Asia Summits in November and reaffirms the country’s role as an emerging leader in the region’s response to malaria.

“GBCHealth is pleased to support our partners in engaging the private sector in the Asia-Pacific on malaria control and elimination efforts,” said Sancia Dalley, Director overseeing GBCHealth’s corporate malaria programs. “Our experience working with companies across Africa have yielded excellent lessons in workplace program development and community engagement efforts that can be applied to this region and ultimately provide shared value for corporate and public sector stakeholders”.

Malaria control has consistently proven to be one of the best global health investments, generating high return on low investments. Impacting all 8 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), malaria prevention and treatment serves as an entry point to help advance progress against other health and development targets across the board by reducing school absenteeism, fighting poverty, and improving maternal and child health. With less than 500 days until the 2015 deadline of the MDGs and beyond, continued success toward a malaria-free region will require commitment across all sectors to continue scaling-up activities, saving lives and, ultimately, sparking greater economic development.

#

Media contact:

For more information, to arrange a media interview or for inquiries related to potential attendance at the forum, please contact:

Mr. Trey Watkins
Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership
+1 347 931 0667; +95 (0) 99 7231 7323
kwatkins@rbmny.org
*Mr. Watkins will be available at the Sule Shangri-La in Yangon from 27-29 September.

Ms. Isabella Sway-Tin
Myanmar Health & Development Consortium
i.swaytin.mhdc@gmail.com

About Malaria

Under the coordination of RBM and the technical leadership of the World Health Organization, malaria death rates have decreased by approximately 42% globally and 49% in Africa alone – where 90% of all malaria-related deaths still occur – since 2001, contributing to a 20% reduction in global child mortality and helping drive progress towards the UN MDG 4. Collective efforts have helped avert an estimated 3.3 million deaths between 2001 and 2012 – 69% of which were in the 10 countries with the highest malaria burden in 2000 – and more than half of the 103 countries that had ongoing malaria transmission in 2000 are meeting the MDG of reversing malaria incidence by 2015.

Despite these advances, almost half of the world’s population remains at risk from malaria, with an estimated 207 million cases of infection around the world each year and 627,000 deaths. Around the world, a child still dies from malaria every minute.

The Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM)

RBM is the global framework for coordinated action against malaria. Founded in 1998 by UNICEF, WHO, UNDP and the World Bank and strengthened by the expertise, resources and commitment of more than 500 partner organizations, RBM is a public-private partnership that facilitates the incubation of new ideas, lends support to innovative approaches, promotes high-level political commitment and keeps malaria high on the global agenda by enabling, harmonizing and amplifying partner-driven advocacy initiatives. RBM secures policy guidance and financial and technical support for control efforts in countries and monitors progress towards universal goals.

The Asia-Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA)

APLMA was born out of the 2013 East Asia Summit and seeks a malaria-free Asia-Pacific, aiming to contain the spread of drug resistant forms of malaria and reduce malaria cases and deaths by 75% by 2015 by expanding the fight against the illness out from the health sector into the arenas of regional trade in counterfeit or low-quality medicines, migration, deforestation and climate change. To accelerate progress on malaria control and elimination and accelerate containment of artemisinin drug resistance, APLMA will unite countries and promote regional political leadership and collaboration; APLMA will drive progress and accountability to reduce malaria cases and deaths by 2015 and contain the spread of drug resistant malaria, undertake high level policy advocacy in the Asia-Pacific and keep malaria high on the region’s agenda.

GBCHealth

GBCHealth is a non-profit organization dedicated to leveraging the power and resources of the private sector to meet today's most pressing health challenges, including accelerating business action to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Founded in 2001 under the leadership of Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, GBCHealth has worked with hundreds of companies, individually and in partnership, to address health issues in their workplaces and communities where they operate. GBCHealth currently serves as the Focal Point for the Private Sector Delegation to the Global Fund Board, as the Focal Point for the Roll Back Malaria Partnership's Private Sector Constituency, and as the lead implementer of the Corporate Alliance for Malaria in Africa (CAMA).

Myanmar: EXCLUSIVE-Rohingya could face detention under Myanmar draft plan

27 September 2014 - 11:26pm
Source: Reuters - AlertNet Country: Myanmar

By Jared Ferrie and Thin Lei Win

YANGON/BANGKOK, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Myanmar's national government has drafted a plan that will give around a million members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority a bleak choice: accept ethnic reclassification and the prospect of citizenship, or be detained.

Read the full article

Myanmar: Ensuring that Assistance Does Not Inadvertently Trigger Local Conflicts

26 September 2014 - 12:49pm
Source: UN Development Programme Country: Myanmar

[Nay Pyi Taw – September 26] How can you ensure that support to affect communities after a disaster does not lead to conflicts or compound pre-existing tensions in a community? What are some checks and balances that government and humanitarian/development workers can use to ensure that their work does no harm? Are conflicts necessarily bad?

These were some of the questions that were discussed at a two day workshop on conflict sensitive approaches to recovery, organized in Nay Pyi Taw by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Ministry of Border Affairs. The participants at the training were Ministry of Border Affairs’ officials from Rakhine, Kachin, Shan, Kayah and Chin, States as well as Sagaing, and Tanintharyi Divisions.

Participants said that the knowledge gained from the training will help them do their work differently.

“I have found this training to be very useful. I now understand better why certain groups and organisations behave the way they do. I also know that my actions will have an impact. With the new knowledge I have, I can help become a factor of positive influence on people rather than a negative influence,” said Daw Kyo Kyi Lwin, who works in Kayah State.

Daw Nilar Kyi, who works in a vocational school in Maungdaw, in Rakhine State said the training helped her better analyse the situation in Rakhine.

U Myo Lwin who also works in Rakhine State said that through the discussions at the training he noted that effective communication played an important role in preventing conflicts.

“One of the most important things that I have learnt is that people have capacities to rebuild. If we want to assist them, we have to strengthen these capacities to help them recover,” said Daw Thi Lwin Myint, Assistant Director for human resource development who works with youths in border areas.

Rich discussions, engaging group work and real life case studies were some of the highlights of the two day workshop which concluded today.

“It is inspiring to see the level of understanding and analysis that lies with government officials. This builds a good foundation to take forward the conflict sensitive recovery work,” said Richard Smith key facilitator of the training.

The training in Nay Pyi Taw was part of a series of being conducted for government and UN/INGOs humanitarian partners in Rakhine, Kachin and Yangon. A total of 100 government and humanitarian/recovery partners have benefited from these trainings.

Myanmar: Myanmar peace talks end without resolution: official

26 September 2014 - 10:07am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

09/26/2014 13:26 GMT

YANGON, September 26, 2014 (AFP) - Myanmar's latest attempt at securing a historic ceasefire deal with ethnic armed groups ended in frustration Friday, the government's chief negotiator said, as talks snagged on military and political disagreements.

Peace in ethnically-diverse Myanmar is seen as crucial to the country's future as it looks to reform under a quasi-civilian government that replaced outright military rule in 2011.

But while all sides have publicly stated their desire for peace, long-held mistrust and continuing fighting in northern Kachin state have overshadowed the process.

"The moments when you have almost reached your goal are the most difficult times," said Aung Min, a former general at the forefront of the peace efforts, as the talks ended without the long-awaited ceasefire announcement.

A new round of talks is due to be held in October.

Efforts to reach a settlement aimed at ending decades of civil conflicts that have plagued the country's minority borderlands have been a key priority of the government.

It has inked ceasefires with 14 of the 16 major armed ethnic groups, but deals with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in Shan state have so far proved elusive.

The latest round of discussions were the sixth such talks, as representatives from the ethnic groups, government and the still powerful army inch towards a mutually acceptable agreement.

The talks have seen consensus on large parts of a draft nationwide ceasefire accord.

But important stumbling blocks remain -- particularly the scope of future political dialogue and the concept of a federal armed forces.

Naing Han Tha, who led the ethnic group negotiators, said the discussion was ultimately "not successful" but the goal of peace was "getting closer".

nan/klm/pj/jg

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Myanmar Revamps Human Rights Panel Amid Criticism from Rights Groups

26 September 2014 - 1:55am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Myanmar President Thein Sein reshuffled the National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) on Thursday just as civil society groups issued a scathing report criticizing the authorities for not addressing its weaknesses under a new law that institutionalizes the body.

Under a presidential order, Thein Sein revamped the previous 15-member commission, removing nine officials and adding five new members in a newly constituted 11-member body.

The previous commission has been accused of ignoring thousands of complaints it has received since its formation three years ago, and civil society groups say the panel has lost the trust of the people due to a lack of transparency.

Two local nongovernmental organizations, Burma Partnership and Equality Myanmar, slammed a recently passed law which will institutionalize and dictate the role of the MNHRC from 2015, saying it does not ensure the panel will be independent enough from the government to carry out its mandate.

“The MNHRC received many reports from the people [since its formation], but we don’t know how effectively they have been investigated by the commission,” Aung Myo Min, executive director of Equality Myanmar told RFA’s Myanmar Service, adding that the panel does not effectively communicate with the country’s civil society groups.

“We heard that some of the cases were referred to the relevant ministries, but the ministries don’t have enough power to resolve these cases. [The commission] is attempting to resolve them without challenging government policies, which lessens its effectiveness and makes it lose the people’s trust.”

Thein Sein’s office did not elaborate on why the commission membership was revamped.

Chairman Win Mra was among those maintained in the revamped body, while previous member Sit Myaing was promoted to vice-chair.

Non-governmental groups were not consulted on the new appointments which comprised mostly former civil servants, reports said.

Burma Partnership and Equality Myanmar said Win Mra and Sit Myaing had both served as Myanmar’s ambassadors to the United Nations during the previous military junta rule when human rights abuses were rampant.

The two officials had consistently denied that rights violations had occurred when they were UN envoys.

Other maintained in the commission were Nyunt Swe, Nyan Zaw, Than Nwe and Khin Maung Lay, while the new members are Zaw Win, Yu Lwin Aung, Myint Kyi, Mya Mya, and Soe Phone Myint.

Panel criticism

According to the report by the two groups, of particular concern was the MNHRC’s failure to probe reports of human rights abuses amid communal violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and armed conflict in Kachin state, two areas where the panel “has done almost nothing.”

“The MNHRC, in times when an independent, principled investigation into human rights abuses is required, has proven to be ineffective and has actually contributed to the culture of impunity and hate in certain parts of [Myanmar],” said the report, titled “Burma: All The President’s Men.”

Commission chairman Win Mra had explicitly stated that the panel could not investigate abuses in active conflict zones, it said, “ruling out Kachin state and the ongoing atrocities there.”

The report also accused the MNHRC of failing to thoroughly investigate a “massacre” of more than 40 Muslim Rohingyas in Rakhine state’s Du Char Yar Tan village.

The MNHRC had said it found no evidence of the massacre, but the report claimed the 40 were “killed with police involvement,” citing information from the United Nations and aid groups.

“Old forms of human rights violations continue and in some areas of the country they have increased significantly despite the new government and establishment of the MNHRC,” Khin Ohmar, coordinator of Burma Partnership, said in a statement on Thursday.

“Religious violence and the violence and war crimes committed by the [Myanmar] Army are resulting in the most serious of human rights violations in [Myanmar’s] long suffering ethnic areas. It is deeply disappointing to see that the MNHRC, despite the atrocities, is not taking a stand and an action for the victims.”

Additionally, the report listed criminal charges against journalists, as well as rights abuses linked to land confiscation for foreign-invested special economic zones, as issues that the commission has not seriously investigated.

Enabling law

Soon after taking power from the country’s former military regime in 2011, Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government issued an executive order for the creation of a national human rights commission.

The creation of the commission was immediately met with criticism as it was not approved by parliament, while the panel lacked a legislative text with a clearly defined mandate that adhered to universal human rights standards.

In March, the government enacted a law which will go into effect in 2015, providing the MNHRC with a mandate.

But Burma Partnership and Equality Myanmar said that under the new legislation, the commission lacks independence from the government and, in particular, the President’s Office, delegitimizing it as an institution.

“The funding of the institution as well as the benefits for individual members are under too much control of the executive, potentially limiting their independence,” it said.

“As for dismissal, the enabling law does not offer guarantees that prevent arbitrary dismissal which is crucial to effectiveness and independence,” the report said, adding that commission members can be dismissed on order of the president or union parliament speaker.

Regarding the selection of staff members, “there are no provisions to ensure an open and transparent recruitment procedure that would safeguard against nepotism.”

Aung Myo Min told RFA that he was “unsatisfied” with the law, which did not incorporate recommendations by civil society groups during its draft phase, and expressed concerns that NGOs had not been part of the selection process for the new MNHRC members announced Thursday.

“According to the draft [version of the] law, the commission has [the mandate] to discuss with the public and civil society organizations, but we haven’t been made aware of anything that the commission has done,” he said.

“The commission members are the people charged with solving our problems, but we [civil society groups] were not asked to select the new commission members. If the commission members don’t have any motivation to change, the commission won’t develop. It would be for show only and the people won’t trust or depend on it.”

Recommendations

The report said that in order to be seen making substantive progress, the MNHRC “needs to effectively tackle one of the myriad deteriorating trends in the human rights situation in [Myanmar]” to demonstrate a degree of independence and the political will to investigate rights abuses.

It called on Myanmar’s government, parliament and military to allow the panel unrestricted access to active conflict and ceasefire areas with guarantees of protection, and to amend the enabling law to ensure that the committee consists of more civil society representatives.

The report also called for a change to the enabling law to set up an independent mechanism for dismissal procedures, and to establish parliament as the source for the MNHRC funding and salaries for its staff members.

The MNHRC should regularly engage with civil society organizations, and speak out publicly on cases of arrest and intimidation of rights defenders, it said.

Reported by Kyaw Thu for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Myanmar: Myanmar Military releases more than 100 children from armed forces

25 September 2014 - 2:43pm
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar 25 September, 2014 – The Myanmar Armed Forces (“Tatmadaw”) released 109 children today, demonstrating its continued commitment to professionalize its security forces, ensuring that they become and remain ‘child free’.

To date a total of 472 children and young people have been discharged since the signing of an Action Plan in June 2012, to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children. Today’s release of 109 children is the largest of such discharges. It was attended by Union Minister for Defense, Lieutenant General Wai Lwin and follows soon after the release of 91 children and young people in August 2014

“The United Nations welcomes today’s release of a further 109 children and young people. We are witnessing an increasing number of children coming out of the Tatmadaw, indicating the accelerated efforts of the Government of Myanmar and the Tatmadaw to put an end to the harmful practice of recruiting and using children,” said Ms. Renata Lok-Dessallien, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, and co-chair of the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on grave violations against children (CTFMR).

Since 2007, the Tatmadaw, as well as seven non-state armed groups, have been listed on the UN Secretary-General’s list of parties to conflict who recruit and use children. In response to this listing, the Government developed and signed an Action Plan with the CTFMR in June 2012, setting out measures to end and prevent the use and recruitment of children.

“Today’s discharge is a result of intensified discussions between the Government and the CTFMR on how to speed up efforts to make the Tatmadaw child free. We commend the progress achieved so far including the issuing of a new directive which seeks to prevent enrollment at battalion level, continued CTFMR access to military facilities, and the setting-up of billboards nationwide to raise awareness that the recruitment of children - those under the age of 18 years - is illegal,” said Mr. Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar and co-chair of the CTFMR.

The release comes ahead of the review of the Action Plan on Friday 26 September where the CTFMR and Government will take stock of progress made and identify remaining steps to end the recruitment and use of children by the Government armed forces. Among the primary issues that the CTFMR is looking for is the strengthening of the legal framework, the strict implementation of age verification procedures, and the reinforcement of accountability mechanisms to prevent further recruitment into the ranks of the Tatmadaw.

“Ending the recruitment and use of children in the armed forces is critical as Myanmar strives to strengthen the broader protection of its children and to guarantee their rights,” Mr. Bainvel concluded.

Background

  • All young people released were children under 18 at the time of the signing of the Joint Action Plan in June 2012.

In addition to the Tatmadaw, there are seven non-state armed groups listed by the UN Secretary-General as being “persistent perpetrators” in the recruitment and use of children in Myanmar. They are the:

  1. Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA)
  2. Kachin Independence Army (KIA)
  3. Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)
  4. Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council
  5. Karenni Army (KA)
  6. Shan State Army South (SSA-S)
  7. United Wa State Army (UWSA)

About the UN Country Taskforce on Monitoring and Reporting on grave violations against children (CTFMR) United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1612 mandates the UN to establish UN-led CTFMRs in countries where there is verified evidence that Grave Violations against children are being committed by parties to a conflict, either by armed forces and/or by armed groups. The CTFMR is tasked with establishing a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) which documents, verifies and reports to the UNSC on Grave Violations against children.

The CTFMR is also mandated to provide a coordinated response to such grave violations. The CTFMR was established in Myanmar in 2007 and is co-Chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator and the UNICEF Representative in Yangon. The CTFMR in Myanmar includes relevant UN agencies (ILO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UN OCHA, the UN RCO and WFP), Save the Children and World Vision.

Hotline In November 2013, UNICEF supported the Myanmar Government to launch a nation-wide campaign to raise awareness on its population on its commitment to end use and recruitment of Children by Tatmadaw. As part of this campaign, and on behalf of CTFMR, UNICEF and World Vision are managing 2 hotlines (09-421166701 and 09-421166702) where anyone can alert and report suspected cases of children being recruited by the Tatmadaw.

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information please contact:
Alison Rhodes, Chief, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: (+95) 1 2305960-69 (Ext. 1446) arhodes@unicef.org
Ye Lwin Oo, Communication Officer, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication, UNICEF Myanmar, 09 511 3295 (m), ylwinoo@unicef.org.
Melanie Sharpe, UNICEF New York, +1 917-485-3344, msharpe@unicef.org

Myanmar: Myanmar Military releases more than 100 children from armed forces

25 September 2014 - 7:39am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar 25 September, 2014 – The Myanmar Armed Forces (“Tatmadaw”) released 109 children today, demonstrating its continued commitment to professionalize its security forces, ensuring that they become and remain ‘child free’.

To date a total of 472 children and young people have been discharged since the signing of an Action Plan in June 2012, to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children. Today’s release of 109 children is the largest of such discharges. It was attended by Union Minister for Defense, Lieutenant General Wai Lwin and follows soon after the release of 91 children and young people in August 2014

“The United Nations welcomes today’s release of a further 109 children and young people. We are witnessing an increasing number of children coming out of the Tatmadaw, indicating the accelerated efforts of the Government of Myanmar and the Tatmadaw to put an end to the harmful practice of recruiting and using children,” said Ms. Renata Lok-Dessallien, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, and co-chair of the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on grave violations against children (CTFMR).

Since 2007, the Tatmadaw, as well as seven non-state armed groups, have been listed on the UN Secretary-General’s list of parties to conflict who recruit and use children. In response to this listing, the Government developed and signed an Action Plan with the CTFMR in June 2012, setting out measures to end and prevent the use and recruitment of children.

“Today’s discharge is a result of intensified discussions between the Government and the CTFMR on how to speed up efforts to make the Tatmadaw child free. We commend the progress achieved so far including the issuing of a new directive which seeks to prevent enrollment at battalion level, continued CTFMR access to military facilities, and the setting-up of billboards nationwide to raise awareness that the recruitment of children - those under the age of 18 years - is illegal,” said Mr. Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar and co-chair of the CTFMR.

The release comes ahead of the review of the Action Plan on Friday 26 September where the CTFMR and Government will take stock of progress made and identify remaining steps to end the recruitment and use of children by the Government armed forces. Among the primary issues that the CTFMR is looking for is the strengthening of the legal framework, the strict implementation of age verification procedures, and the reinforcement of accountability mechanisms to prevent further recruitment into the ranks of the Tatmadaw.

“Ending the recruitment and use of children in the armed forces is critical as Myanmar strives to strengthen the broader protection of its children and to guarantee their rights,” Mr. Bainvel concluded.

Background

All young people released were children under 18 at the time of the signing of the Joint Action Plan in June 2012. In addition to the Tatmadaw, there are seven non-state armed groups listed by the UN Secretary-General as being “persistent perpetrators” in the recruitment and use of children in Myanmar. They are the:

Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) Kachin Independence Army (KIA) Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council Karenni Army (KA) Shan State Army South (SSA-S) United Wa State Army (UWSA) About the UN Country Taskforce on Monitoring and Reporting on grave violations against children (CTFMR) United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1612 mandates the UN to establish UN-led CTFMRs in countries where there is verified evidence that Grave Violations against children are being committed by parties to a conflict, either by armed forces and/or by armed groups. The CTFMR is tasked with establishing a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) which documents, verifies and reports to the UNSC on Grave Violations against children.

The CTFMR is also mandated to provide a coordinated response to such grave violations. The CTFMR was established in Myanmar in 2007 and is co-Chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator and the UNICEF Representative in Yangon. The CTFMR in Myanmar includes relevant UN agencies (ILO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UN OCHA, the UN RCO and WFP), Save the Children and World Vision.

Hotline In November 2013, UNICEF supported the Myanmar Government to launch a nation-wide campaign to raise awareness on its population on its commitment to end use and recruitment of Children by Tatmadaw. As part of this campaign, and on behalf of CTFMR, UNICEF and World Vision are managing 2 hotlines (09-421166701 and 09-421166702) where anyone can alert and report suspected cases of children being recruited by the Tatmadaw.

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information please contact: Alison Rhodes, Chief, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: (+95) 1 2305960-69 (Ext. 1446) arhodes@unicef.org Ye Lwin Oo, Communication Officer, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication, UNICEF Myanmar, 09 511 3295 (m), ylwinoo@unicef.org. Melanie Sharpe, UNICEF New York, +1 917-485-3344, msharpe@unicef.org

Myanmar: Myanmar frees dozens more child soldiers from army: UN

25 September 2014 - 7:39am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

09/25/2014 11:08 GMT

YANGON, September 25, 2014 (AFP) - Myanmar's army Thursday released 109 children and young people from its armed forces, the United Nations said, commending the country's "accelerated" efforts to end the use of child soldiers.

The move was the largest single release of child recruits since the formerly junta-ruled nation committed to ending the recruitment and use of children in its "tatmadaw" army in a June 2012 pact with the UN.

A total of 472 children and young people have been released since then as the military has slowed -- but not yet completely halted -- its use of children.

"We are witnessing an increasing number of children coming out of the Tatmadaw, indicating the accelerated efforts of the Government of Myanmar and the Tatmadaw to put an end to the harmful practice," Renata Lok-Dessallien, UN resident coordinator in Myanmar, said in a statement.

There are no verifiable figures on how many children are currently serving in Myanmar's huge military, which has faced a slew of accusations over rights abuses, including the forced recruitment of children to work as porters or even human mine detectors.

This latest release comes soon after the army freed 91 children and young people from the armed forces in August. All of those released were under the age of 18 when the June 2012 pact was signed.

Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF representative in Myanmar, commended progress including a new directive to prevent child enrolment at battalion level and nationwide billboards raising awareness that the recruitment of children is illegal.

A quasi-civilian regime led by former general Thein Sein has won praise and steered Myanmar out of decades of isolation.

But ending rights violations is a key demand of the international community, which has embraced reforms in the once pariah state since the end of outright junta rule in 2011.

pj/jg

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse