Myanmar - ReliefWeb News
Harsh sentences seen as grave setback for press freedom in Burma
In the latest in a series of reverses for media freedom in Burma, a court in the central region of Magway today sentenced five newspaper journalists to ten years in prison with hard labour on charges of violating state secrets for reporting the existence of a chemical weapons factory.
After considerable progress since 2012, the harsh sentences confirmed that Burma has done a U-turn on freedom of information.
“This decision by the Magway court is a grave setback for press freedom,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific Desk. “Progress had been made but this case marks a return to a dark time when journalists and bloggers who did their job were jailed on national security charges or for allegedly trying to overthrow the government.”
The five journalists are Tint San, the CEO of Unity Weekly, and four of his reporters – Lu Maw Naing, Yarzar Oo, Paing Thet Kyaw (Aung Thura) and Sithu Soe. They were arrested in February over an article reporting that a factory had been turned into a chemical weapons plant and was getting frequents visits from top generals.
Their conviction comes at a tense time for journalists, with police investigations and threatening statements by politicians being used in an attempt to intimidate them.
Burma is ranked 145th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
07/10/2014 11:37 GMT
DHAKA, July 10, 2014 (AFP) - Bangladesh said Thursday it has barred official marriages between its nationals and Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya refugees, whom it claims are attempting to wed to gain citizenship.
Law minister Syed Anisul Haque said he has ordered marriage registrars not to officiate any unions between Bangladeshi nationals and Rohingyas and also between Rohingyas themselves, thousands of whom have fled to Bangladesh.
He said Rohingyas try to use the resulting wedding certificate to gain Bangladeshi passports and other documents, while Rohingyas who marry Bangladeshis could automatically qualify for citizenship.
"By registering their marriage in Bangladesh they try to prove that they're Bangladeshi citizens," he told AFP.
"We've told the marriage registers not to list any marriage of Rohingyas and also between a Rohingya and a Bangladeshi citizen in Bangladesh."
Law ministry spokesman Abdullah Al Shahin said marriage registrars have been warned of punitive action if they officiate any such marriages.
There are around 300,000 Rohingyas living in Bangladesh's southern coastal districts bordering Myanmar who have fled alleged persecution in the Buddhist-majority nation since the 1990s.
Sectarian clashes flared up two years ago in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, with fighting that has displaced about 140,000 people, mainly stateless Rohingya Muslims.
Bangladesh recognises only around 28,000 of the refugees in its country, who are entitled to food, basic housing and other aid provided by the United Nations.
The rest of the Rohingyas in Bangladesh live in slums set up in cleared forests and on beaches.
Bangladesh border guards regularly turn back Rohingyas caught trying to cross the Myanmar border.
Rights groups and charities have criticised Bangladesh's treatment of Rohingyas, claiming they lack basic healthcare and many are on the verge of starvation.
© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse
Imagine making $4 per day. Now imagine that money has to support a family of six. For Lin Lin, a 30-year-old wife and mother in Myanmar, that was her reality. In the Coca-Cola-produced video, “Every Bottle Has a Story: Meet Ma Lin Lin from Myanmar,” Lin Lin tells her story of working in the rock mines near her village in central Myanmar. Through a partnership between the Coca-Cola Foundation and Pact, Lin Lin now owns her own business and can provide for the needs of her family.
Since 2012, the Swan Yi project has been empowering women entrepreneurs in Myanmar. The project offers training and capacity building for women on how to create a business, market their products, and save money. Through savings-led village banks, woman can access loans to start small businesses and improve their livelihoods. Lin Lin’s story is one of thousands among women in Myanmar who the project will help by 2015.
By DVB 9 July 2014
Thailand’s authorities have banned Burmese refugees living on the Thai-Burmese border from leaving their camps, while they conduct a census to determine the exact number of refugees living in the country. There are nine refugee camps along the border and aid agencies say they provide relief to no less than 120,000 people.
Saw Honest, leader of Mae La, the biggest refugee camp in Thailand, said authorities have strictly warned its residents not to leave the camp and said they would punish those who do.
Anyone found in violation of the travel ban may face a series of punishments ranging from a week of labour or ration cuts to having their refugee status revoked, he said.
Residents who are staying outside their camps, including students and those working in nearby towns, have been ordered to return for the population count.
On Tuesday, a team of military officials and police officers began the census in the Umpiem refugee camp, which lies 90 kilometres south of Mae Sot.
“Officials have begun work to verify the number of people living in the Umpiem camp,” said camp chairman Saw Wahtee. “They came there at around 7am on Tuesday and gathered residents in one area together. Then they issued some papers to each person and told them to walk through a gate to another zone.”
“The Thai authorities said they just wanted to know the exact number of refugees in the country,” he said.
Recently, donor funding to the refugees has been cut and resettlement programmes terminated.
In June, a meeting was held in Mae Sot between the Thai army’s Internal Security Operations Command, regional commanders of border provinces, and NGOs that provide assistance to the refugees, to discuss whether it is time to begin preparing for the refugees to be repatriated.
No official decision was made.
By NANG MYA NADI 9 July 2014
A Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) delegation met with Burmese government officials in Naypyidaw on Tuesday to discuss how to prevent future clashes from happening between the ethnic armed group and the Burmese army in Shan State.
Khun Hseng, secretary general of the SSA-N, said that these clashes were happening in Kensi Mansam Township, home to the ethnic armed group’s Wanhai headquarters. He added that the mobilisation and reinforcement of government troops have led to heightened tensions between the two sides.
“We discussed how we can reduce tensions in the area — to prevent exacerbation of the issues and to keep clashes from breaking out – by demarcating territories from each side,” Khun Hseng said. “We believe that for now, the withdrawal of troops from both sides will relieve the situation.”
The establishment of a joint committee to monitor clashes was also proposed during the meeting, he said, adding that “delicate” issues such as the withdrawal of troops or demarcation of territory would take further negotiation.
According to the SSA-N, roughly seven Burmese army battalions entered the area and took positions across the town last week, causing locals to flee their homes in fear of renewed fighting. The SSA-N reiterated the need for the Burmese government to control their troops and their actions.
Union Minister Aung Min, deputy chairman of the government’s Internal Peace-making Work Committee and the government’s chief negotiator, joined the meeting, along with Union Minister Thein Zaw and deputy attorney-general Tun Tun Oo.
Although the SSA-N reached a union-level ceasefire agreement in 2012 with the government, more than 100 clashes have erupted between both sides since then.
07/08/2014 08:06 GMT
YANGON, July 8, 2014 (AFP) - Myanmar's reformist president has warned that newly-won media freedoms could be curtailed if stability is threatened by religious bloodshed shaking the former military-ruled country.
Thein Sein, whose administration has been accused of failing to stem two years of sporadic anti-Muslim violence, vowed "zero tolerance" against the perpetrators of fighting in the second largest city Mandalay that left two dead last week.
But he also fired a shot across the bows of the media, after inflammatory material posted online was blamed for stoking the unrest.
"We have attained one of the highest levels of press freedom in Southeast Asia, with the right to speak and write freely, because of political reform which is crucial in the transition process," the former general said in a speech published by state media Tuesday.
"However, if media freedom threatens national security instead of helping the nation, we warn that we will take action under existing laws," he added.
The latest unrest broke out on July 1 after an accusation of a rape of a Buddhist woman by two Muslim men from a local tea shop was spread on social media websites, prompting a crowd of hundreds to gather near the business, hurling stones and damaging property.
Violence continued for several days, despite a heavily increased security presence in the city, leaving one Muslim and one Buddhist dead and more than 20 people injured.
Police told AFP they had arrested nearly 400 people, mainly for breaking an overnight curfew.
Social media users were unable to access Facebook on Thursday and Friday nights, amid speculation that Myanmar had blocked the site to curb the spread of inflammatory comment online.
The website has since been accessible and neither the government nor Facebook have yet commented on the outage.
Buddhist-Muslim clashes have left at least 250 people dead and tens of thousands displaced since fighting first broke out in Myanmar's western Rakhine state in 2012.
Most of the victims have been Muslim and violence has often erupted as a result of rumours or individual criminal acts.
Radical Buddhist monks have been accused of fanning religious tensions, with Mandalay-based hardline cleric Wirathu posting a link to the rape allegations just hours before the unrest broke out.
Thein Sein said "serious action" would be taken against those involved in conflict.
Reforms under his quasi-civilian government, which took power in 2011, have included ending pre-publication censorship.
But activists have accused the government of backsliding on press reforms with the introduction of vague media laws and the prosecution of several local journalists.
© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse
Myanmar: Myanmar: IDPs in Kachin, Rakhine and the south-east face different challenges, but all need solutions
While Myanmar is proceeding with political and economic reforms and nationwide ceasefire negotiations, conflict in Kachin and northern Shan states is ongoing, and tensions in Rakhine persist. Up to 642,600 internally displaced people (IDPs) in these areas as well as the south-eastern part of the country still need support to rebuild their lives. During a recent mission to the country, IDMC’s Regional Analyst was able to identify some of the key issues that the different groups of IDPs in the country are faced with. These are analysed further in IDMC’s latest report.
Since the ceasefire agreements of 2011 and 2012 between the Government of Myanmar (officially known as the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar) and most ethnic non-state armed groups (NSAGs) operating in the south-east, armed conflict has waned and the lives of people in this area have improved.
In particular, up to 400,000 people internally displaced there can now move around more freely without fearing for their safety, and they are able to pursue a wider variety of job options. As well as this, negotiations over a nationwide ceasefire agreement are in the process, and a second draft was agreed between the government and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) in May.
In Kachin state and the northern part of Shan state, however, there have been fresh waves of fighting since 2011 between the Myanmar Armed Forces, also referred to as Tatmadaw, and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) as well as with smaller non-state armed groups (NSAGs). Here, a staggering 98,000 people are internally displaced, with many having had to escape again and again as clashes have followed them from one place of refuge to another.
In April, for example, thousands were displaced, and for some of them this was the second or third time they have had to flee since the resumption of fighting in 2011. Two thirds of all IDPs in Kachin and northern Shan are currently in areas controlled by NSAGs that are often remote and isolated, which makes it challenging to get aid to them. Local aid organisations are stretched beyond their capacity, while UN agencies and other international organisations face government restrictions on accessing IDPs in areas outside of government control.
Restricted access for humanitarian organisations has also been a challenge in Rakhine state in the west of the country. Here around 140,000 people, most of them Rohingya Muslims, were forced to flee their homes in 2012 when inter-communal violence flared between the state’s Buddhists and Muslims, and they remain internally displaced to this day. Most of them are staying in camps which they are not allowed to leave. This severely limits their livelihood opportunities and access to education and primary health care.
In March, support to the displaced in Rakhine state was interrupted after an extremist Buddhist mob attacked the premises and property of international organisations in the town of Sittwe. Those organisations withdrew their staff from the state, but they are now returning and resuming their assistance to the IDPs. Challenges remain, however, as they are only allowed to establish themselves in one designated neighbourhood of Sittwe town, and there is simply not enough space for all organisations whose help is crucially needed.
The inter-communal violence and displacement in Rakhine state has to be understood against a backdrop of a long history of deprivation and neglect of all of the state’s inhabitants by the central government. In a context of political and socio-economic exclusion, local Buddhists have increasingly targeted their grievances against Rohingya and other Muslims. While Rohingya have lived in Rakhine state’s territory for generations, they are effectively stateless because the Myanmar government sees them as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, while Bangladesh does not recognise them as Bangladeshis.
Durable solutions for Myanmar’s IDPs?
While the complexity of each of these situations must not be underestimated, the following elements are key for Myanmar’s IDPs to achieve durable solutions:
In Rakhine state, internally displaced people will only be able to rebuild their lives if a process of reconciliation between Buddhists and Muslims is initiated. Ideally, such a process would be linked to concrete steps to address the needs of all of the state’s inhabitants, particularly in terms of economic development and political representation. This, in turn, would help prevent further tensions, violence and, ultimately, future displacement.
In Kachin and northern Shan, international organisations should be granted unfettered access to IDPs, including those in areas controlled by NSAGs. Only measures taken by both sides will prevent further displacement, and ensure that these areas are included in the nationwide ceasefire agreement currently being developed. Further, the existence of landmines and unexploded ordnance prevents IDPs from going home. These need to be cleared so that they can safely return if they choose to do so. In addition, it is essential that internally displaced people receive the support they need to get their lives back on track.
In the south-eastern part of the country, it is hard to know the exact numbers of internally displaced people in the area because displacement has been going on for a long time and because it is difficult to distinguish IDPs from people who are not displaced. More organisations currently present on the ground should strive to gain a better overview of the numbers of people still facing challenges resulting from their displacement, and of their current situation.
Lastly, in order to facilitate peace-building, it is imperative that the government and the NCCT consult IDPs and enable them to participate more in the ceasefire and peace negotiations so that their needs can be addressed as part of this complex process that is happening in tandem with comprehensive nation- and state-building at this time.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to Myanmar’s different situations of internal displacement – each needs to be analysed and addressed within its own respective context. Only then will the country’s IDPs be able to rebuild their lives in a sustainable way.
For more information on the internal displacement situation in Myanmar, please see IDMC’s latest country overview: Comprehensive solutions needed for recent and long-term IDPs alike
Pakistan: Water, sanitation, and health services are urgent needs among the 780,000 registered displaced from North Waziristan (government figures). The data is being cleaned to check for duplication.
Iraq: Access to areas within the governorates of Anbar, Babylon, Diyala, Salah al Din, Kirkuk, and Ninevah remains difficult due to ongoing violence clashes, disruption of communication and transportation routes, and a widespread shortage of fuel.
Syria: Islamic State has reportedly expelled 60,000 people from the homes in Deir-ez-Zor. In Dar’a and Rural Damascus, barrel bomb attacks were reported. Some 200,000 Syrians are estimated to have died from chronic illnesses since the start of the conflict due to lack of access to treatment and medicines. Water and sanitation systems are deteriorating significantly.
Updated: 08/07/2014 Next Update: 15/07/2014
YANGON, 7 July 2014 (IRIN) - Recent heavy rain, coupled with the after-effects of a recent aid worker pull-out, is prompting health concerns in Myanmar's western Rakhine State for the more than 140,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) mostly from the persecuted Muslim Rohingya minority.
Riots in March amid tensions over perceived bias towards Rohingya Muslims in the area forced international humanitarian workers to pull out. Aid has trickled back but IDPs displaced by communal violence in 2012 remain in squalid camps. According to the UN, there are also 700,000 vulnerable people outside the camps who were receiving aid from multiple agencies.
"When it rains heavily, some camps are flooded, which make elderly people and children very vulnerable to get sick," said a local health worker who asked not to be named. "The displaced people are also vulnerable to water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and skin diseases because toilets, where they exist, get flooded and overflow due to the rain," he told IRIN.
According to government figures, Rakhine has received around 46 inches of rain so far in 2014. Historical data indicate that July is traditionally the heaviest rain month there, and it could mean nearly 46 more inches in this month alone.
According to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Rakhine, Myanmar's second poorest state, has historically received less investment in health care than other areas of the country. Before the March withdrawal of aid organizations, there were 47 organizations active in Rakhine, with 16 working in health - the most of any sector. After the departure of internationals the Ministry of Health took over the healthcare response.
Under Burmese law, the Rohingya are de jure stateless. There are an estimated 800,000 Rohingya in Myanmar and human rights groups say they have long faced persecution and discrimination.
A 2014 report by Fortify Rights, a Bangkok-based human rights organization, entitled Policies of Persecution: Ending Abusive State Policies Against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, noted that "Rohingya are prevented from travelling freely to neighboring village tracts or townships for medical treatment," and that such policies, coupled with the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the state were leading to "avoidable deaths".
Aid agencies are scrambling to get operations in Rakhine back to scale. Some services have improved in the past months, but a humanitarian shortfall and associated risks remain, officials say.
"Displaced people can easily get treatment without delay as there are mobile clinics in a few minute walk from the camps," said a government official speaking on the condition of anonymity due to a gag order on media interviews. He added that there had been diarrhoea outbreaks in some camps but they were controlled.
According to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were 15 teams operating mobile clinics for IDPs in Rakhine at the end of May, up from 11 during the previous month.
"As [IDP] camps are packed with people, any communicable diseases can spread easily among the people," the government official admitted, adding that people in camps getting the flu or a cold is a common occurrence.
Humanitarian officials say services remain limited.
"Some critical activities are still taking place at reduced levels," said Pierre Péron, OCHA's public information and advocacy officer in Myanmar. "There are still difficulties with the referral of severely malnourished children who have medical complications from IDP camps to Sittwe Hospital, due to continued limitations on medical referral services," he said, citing reports OCHA had received from organizations operating in Rakhine.
In April the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimated that services for 2,700 malnourished children in Rakhine were suspended by the aid agency pull-out.
"Humanitarian organizations continued to support Ministry of Health medical teams and national health institutions in restoring access to health care for displaced people and vulnerable communities," said Péron, pointing to an increase in the number of staff taking part in the government-led joint Rapid Response Teams from 83 people to 100. However, he explained, "MSF-Holland, [which] prior to March [was] the biggest healthcare provider in the state, remains suspended, leaving a critical gap in services, in particular in Maungdaw and Buthidaung," two towns near the border with Bangladesh.
Slow return of aid workers
"Many organizations are still operating at reduced capacity, with only 60 percent of UN and international NGO staff having been able to return to Sittwe [Rakhine's capital city] by the end of May," explained Péron. The limiting factor in many cases, he said, is available facilities.
During the March riots, offices of at least two UN agencies and a number of NGOs, as well as guest houses accommodating aid workers, were vandalized, damaged, or looted.
In April the government pledged to provide security to aid organizations and "cooperate with them on all levels", and agencies slowly began to return.
"The main constraint is the limited offices and premises available for the UN and INGOs in. a designated area where humanitarian organizations have been told they have to have their premises and where the government is providing additional security," said Péron.
MSF-Holland and Malteser International, have still not yet been allowed to resume their normal operations in Rakhine.
(EN): In Asia, Terre des hommes (Tdh) uses both action and advocacy in order to protect children from all forms of abuse, trafficking and exploitation. Tdh develops community awareness and informs relevant stakeholders with the aim of better protecting children and respecting their fundamental rights. The Foundation also works towards improving access to basic services (sanitation, schools, etc.) .Finally, during humanitarian crises, Tdh provides emergency aid, as well as technical, material and human support to the local populations.
(FR) : En Asie, Terre des hommes (Tdh) lie actions et plaidoyer afin de protéger les enfants contre toutes formes d’abus, de trafic et d’exploitation. Elle sensibilise les communautés et les acteurs concernés en vue de mieux protéger les enfants et respecter leurs droits fondamentaux. La Fondation travaille aussi à l’amélioration de l’accès aux services de base (infrastructures sanitaires, écoles, etc.). Enfin, lors de crises humanitaires, Tdh apporte une aide d’urgence et son soutien technique, matériel et humain aux populations.
Annual survey warns of severe consequences of ignoring global hate crime towards minorities and indigenous peoples
3 July 2014
Hate crime towards minorities and indigenous peoples is a daily reality in many countries across the globe, says Minority Rights Group International (MRG) in its annual report, but is often ignored by authorities.
The international organisation's flagship report, State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2014, focuses on ‘Freedom from hate' and presents compelling evidence showing that hate crime and hate speech are prevalent in all regions of the world.
But hate crime is widely ignored, under-reported and often left unchecked by governments, resulting in escalating violence against minorities, says MRG in the report.
'If governments ignore hate crime, the perpetrators see it as a green light to continue,' says Mark Lattimer, MRG's Executive Director. ‘The prevalence of hate crimes against minorities is widely under-estimated and is now being driven across borders by online propaganda, whether by sectarian jihadis or right-wing racists.'
The report finds that targeted violence often has a purpose. Anti-migrant rhetoric in Greece or sectarian violence in India serves to consolidate the power base of extremist organizations. Negative representations of indigenous groups in Guatemala or Uganda may provide justification for further exclusion or eviction from ancestral lands.
The impact of hatred may extend beyond discrimination to more visible extremes, as in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it drives the continuation of inter-ethnic conflicts. In the Central African Republic, hate speech and targeted attacks during 2013 were responsible for fomenting religious violence that has resulted in almost a million people being internally displaced.
Hate crimes send a message not only to the individuals targeted, but also to their communities. This is especially evident in violence against minority and indigenous women, with rape and sexual assault employed as a weapon of war or an instrument of oppression to fragment and humiliate entire civilian populations, says MRG.
In South Asia, for example, Dalit women are regularly subjected to sexual violence as a result of their lower caste status - often in response to their demands for basic rights.
The prevalence of demeaning or inflammatory language in political discourse, sermons, the media and online has very real implications for marginalized communities. The report highlights many countries in 2013 where rumours and incitement led to violence and loss of life.
In Burma, where a slow process of reform has opened up some degree of free expression, the situation for minorities is acute. In addition to reports of ongoing military abuses against ethnic minorities, a large number of Muslim Rohingya were murdered or displaced during 2013 by Buddhist vigilantes.
In Russia, official repression and discrimination of migrants from Central Asia and elsewhere has occurred alongside attacks and intimidation by extremists.
In Pakistan, despite the first democratic transfer of power between two elected governments in the country's history, hundreds of Shi'a were killed in targeted attacks and other minorities such as Ahmadis also singled out.
The 2011 Arab Spring has had mixed implications for ethnic and religious minorities in the region. In Egypt, for example, a new constitution was passed in January 2014 that contained a number of new legal guarantees for minorities. Nevertheless, 2013 was marked by a series of violent attacks against religious minorities.
In Syria, civil conflict took on an increasingly sectarian character during the year. In July, the United Nations estimated that more than 100,000 people had died in the violence and by the end of the year the number of IDPs stood at 6.5 million, while the refugee population grew to 2.3 million.
In Iraq, 2013 saw the country's highest death toll in five years, with smaller minorities such as Sabean Mandeans, Christians, Yezidis, Turkmen and Shabak continuing to be targeted with abductions and killings.
In Europe, the legacy of the 2008 financial crisis and the impact of austerity measures in many countries have played a major role in the rise of right-wing organizations with a strong anti-minority agenda. In Hungary, Jobbik's rhetoric against the country's Roma and Jewish minorities escalated as the party won a major place in mainstream politics, with its share of the national vote rising to more than 20 percent in the April 2014 elections.
Historical patterns of colonialism and segregation continue to be felt in some countries. In the USA migrants, Jews, African Americans and other minorities are still subject to vilification, particularly with the apparent rise of hate groups in recent years, in part due to anxieties over the country's changing demographics.
While the 2014 State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples documents disheartening levels of violence, harassment and verbal abuse across the world, it also includes many examples of how hatred is being countered by legislators, politicians, journalists, and communities, by addressing the root causes. Though there is still a long way to go before minorities and indigenous peoples across the world are able to enjoy freedom from hate, these and other initiatives highlighted in the report show some of the ways forward.
‘The impact on victims of violent crime is well-known, but when such crimes are motivated by ethnic or religious hatred, whole communities are made to feel under attack. Hate crimes need to be recognised as such, and the perpetrators punished.' says Mark Lattimer.
Notes to editors
Mark Lattimer, Executive Director, Minority Rights Group International
Minority rights activists from Kenya, DRC, South Sudan, CAR, Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Burma
Watch a video produced for the launch of the report. Please let the Press Office know if you use the video.
State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2014 is available for free download on 3 July 2014 Find more revealing case studies from around the world on hate crime on MRG's Minority Voices Newsroom
View a photo story about the volume on MRG's Minority Voices Newsroom
Minority Rights Group International is the leading international human rights organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples. We work with more than 150 partners in over 50 countries.
To arrange interviews please contact MRG's Press Office:
Emma Eastwood (London) T: +44 207 4224205 M: +44 7989699984 E: email@example.com Twitter: @MinorityRights
Author: Thin Lei Win
SITTWE, Myanmar (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The 400-odd Maramargyi ethnic minorities who have been living in ramshackle huts in the Set Yone Su displacement camp since sectarian violence wracked communities here in western Myanmar two years ago ostensibly practice the “right” religion – Buddhism.
Read the full article
During my visit to Burma and Laos I announced that the Australian Government will focus on increasing educational opportunities for primary and tertiary students, and improving teacher quality.
In Burma about half of the country’s five million school aged children do not complete primary school. In some districts of Laos only one quarter of girls complete primary school.
The Australian Government will provide $86 million over four years for education in Laos to help around 450,000 children achieve literacy, numeracy and other life skills for a better future.
In Burma, Australia will boost services in 43,000 schools and strengthen teacher training colleges for tertiary scholars. The funding ($27.8 million) is additional to Australia’s commitment to provide $24.6 million to promote economic growth and community engagement with the peace process.
Education is essential to the success of the Myanmar Government’s broader reform efforts. Improvements in education will help people develop the skills to take advantage of the expanding economic opportunities.
Australia will work with the Ministry of Education and the World Bank to expand the Myanmar Government’s school grants and stipends program that promotes education for all children. Australia’s investment will help strengthen the education system, train school managers and education officials and help the Myanmar Government decentralise its education management to the provinces.
Australia will also provide 50 long-term Australia Awards for Burmese students to study in Australia in 2015 – and we are also exploring opportunities within the New Colombo Plan to provide Australian students an opportunity to study in Burma.
In Laos, Australia will work with the Ministry of Education and Sports to achieve quality primary education for all Lao children, including the most educationally disadvantaged children – girls, children from ethnic minority groups and students with disabilities. The program will also strengthen the quality of training in eight Lao teacher training colleges and provide basic infrastructure, including the construction or rehabilitation of 300 schools.
As a member of the Global Partnership for Education, Laos will also benefit from Australia’s $140 million pledge as part ofthe Government’s new aid policy framework, and our overall investment in education this year of over $1 billion. Creating opportunities for children to obtain a quality basic education is an important part of creating a skilled labour force, necessary for economic prosperity and poverty reduction.
Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555
Today I announce the Australian Government will provide further support to boost economic growth, stability and development in Burma. This follows my constructive discussion with senior Myanmar Government figures, including President Thein Sein and Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin. Our support will assist Burma in its period of unprecedented change and development.
From the total package of $24.6 million, Australia will provide $5 million to the World Bank to support the Myanmar Government’s reforms to modernise Burma’s public financial management systems, to efficiently collect revenues and allocate resources for an equitable distribution of public services. A further $600,000 will support the International Finance Corporation to oversee regulatory reforms that will boost private sector development in Burma.
Australia will also provide $9 million to support the peace process in Burma, bringing our total contribution to $12 million since 2012. Peace and security is essential for the country to achieve long-term stability and economic growth, which could improve the lives of millions of people.
While progress is being made towards sustained peace, around 640,000 people in Burma remain displaced by conflict. Australia will provide an additional $10 million to support the urgent humanitarian needs of people affected by conflict across the country, including provision of food, water, sanitation and hygiene.
Our assistance will promote greater community engagement in the peace process by working with the Myanmar Peace Centre to support the participation of women and also effective ceasefire monitoring.
Australia was one of the first nations in the developed world to constructively engage with the Myanmar Government as it embraced economic, political and social reform.
Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555
Tin Zar Aung
The Myanmar Peace Center says it is unlikely that talks between the government and armed ethnic groups to finalise a draft ceasefire agreement will take place in late July.
A senior adviser to the MPC, U Hla Maung Shwe, said it had proposed that the talks take place late this month when it met members of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordinating Team, a coalition representing armed ethnic groups, in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai on July 6.
“We proposed a meeting to be convened in the last week of July but the minority ethnic groups will only be able to confirm their participation once they have held their summit conference,” said U Hla Maung Shwe, who participated in the Chiang Mai meeting.
The summit of armed ethnic organisations, including the 16 groups groups in the NCCT, is expected to be held in Chiang Mai from July 24 to 26, he said.
If the next proposed meeting between the government's Union Peace-making Work Committee and the NCCT cannot take place late this month it will represent a delay in finalising negotiations on a ceasefire.
“We had initially proposed the last week of July as a date for the signing of the agreement, however that now seems unlikely,” U Hla Maung Shwe said.
The two sides reported progress towards finalising a ceasefire accord at the end of the last round of negotiations that ended in Yangon on May 23.
By LAWI WENG & KYAW KHA / THE IRRAWADDY|
RANGOON — Ethnic armed groups and opposition political parties met on the Thai-Burmese border on Friday for the second day of talks organized by the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an alliance of ethnic armed groups in Burma.
According to a statement issued by the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, one of the participants in the talks, the gathering brought together various political forces for discussions about the government’s push to reach a nationwide peace accord, and opposition calls for amendments to the military-drafted 2010 Constitution.
Besides the UNFC and the 88 Generation group, the meeting was attended by representatives of the United Nationalities Alliance (an umbrella group of ethnic political parties) and the National League for Democracy, the country’s main opposition party.
Nai Hong Sar, head of the UNFC’s National Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that his group planned to present a report on its ongoing negotiations with the Burmese government at today’s meeting.
“We will discuss what we have done so far, and ask other people for their ideas. We will also ask them what they see as the obstacles to the peace process and how we can overcome them,” he said.
Ko Ko Gyi, a senior 88 Generation leader, said he urged the ethnic armed groups not to repeat the mistake they made in the past of signing separate ceasefire agreements without first getting guarantees that an inclusive political dialogue would follow.
“We should all be able to participate in this political dialogue together. We should all be united,” he said, adding that the process should also be transparent.
“We need to learn from the past, and also from the example of peace negotiations in other countries. This political dialogue should also be related to the issue of changing the Constitution,” he said.
Since taking power in 2011, President Thein Sein has introduced a series of political reforms and reopened negotiations with the country’s ethnic armed groups, urging them to sign a nationwide peace agreement as a first step toward a political dialogue.
The NCCT, which represents 12 ethnic armed groups, says a key stumbling block to reaching an agreement is the Burmese government army’s rejection of a federal union system.
World: Les pays d’endémie palustre s’unissent pour étendre la lutte contre la maladie afin de toucher les populations peu accessibles des migrants et des communautés mobiles
L'OIM et RBM collaborent pour améliorer l'accès aux interventions essentielles de lutte contre le paludisme
Victoria Falls, ZIMBABWE, le 5 juillet 2014: - Le partenariat Roll Back Malaria (RBM), en collaboration avec l'Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM), a invité les ministres de la Santé d'Afrique du Sud, l'Asie et d'autres régions d'endémie palustre, ainsi que le secteur privé à discuter de l'impact des migrations sur la lutte contre le paludisme afin de traiter conjointement le défi de fournir des services de santé adéquats aux communautés transfrontalière, mobiles et migrantes.
Avec 215 millions de migrants internationaux dans le monde entier, les gouvernements des pays d'endémie palustre reconnaissent de plus en plus l'importance d'adopter des solutions qui reflètent la réalité de la mobilité humaine aujourd'hui. Alors que la communauté internationale se prépare à l'agenda du développement pour l’après 2015, les délégués à Victoria Falls pourront discuter des solutions innovantes et durables afin d’intégrer les questions de la migration et de la mobilité humaine dans les politiques nationales, régionales et mondiales de santé, les stratégies et programmes, y compris dans la lutte antipaludique.
Le paludisme demeure un problème mondial de santé publique. On estime que 3,4 milliards de personnes sont à risque de paludisme dans le monde. En 2012, 207 millions de cas ont été enregistrés dans le monde, 90% des décès dus au paludisme se sont produits en Afrique subsaharienne. Au cours des quinze dernières années, les pays d'endémie palustre en Afrique australe et dans le monde ont cependant réalisé des réductions substantielles du fléau du paludisme. Si le paludisme est désormais limité à des zones éloignées, frontalières et forestières dans certains pays, les migrants et les populations mobiles représentent encore un pourcentage élevé du nombre total de cas de paludisme.
En 2007, la Communauté de développement d'Afrique Australe (CDAA) s'est engagée à éliminer le paludisme de la région, divers efforts ont été déployés pour réduire les décès et les cas de paludisme, tels que l’initiative "Malaria elimination 8". Bien que la transmission du paludisme dans ces pays ait été réduite de façon spectaculaire, la réintroduction du paludisme dans des pays à faible transmission reste un défi majeur. Le nombre croissant de mouvements internes et transfrontaliers en Afrique australe complique la tâche de l'élimination du paludisme dans la région.
" Nous sommes réunis aujourd'hui afin d’identifier les moyens efficaces pour élargir les interventions de lutte contre le paludisme pour les migrants et les populations mobiles. La lutte contre le paludisme nécessite une collaboration renforcée entre les gouvernements, les organisations internationales, la société civile et le secteur privé afin d’assurer l'accès universel aux services de santé pour les migrants vulnérables peu accessibles dans la région d'Afrique australe.", explique le Dr Parirentyatwa, Ministre de la Santé du Zimbabwe.
"Pour éliminer le paludisme de nos pays et du continent, nous devons non seulement renforcer les programmes existants de lutte contre le paludisme, mais aussi soutenir les mesures antipaludiques dans les régions éloignées et transfrontalières," ajoute-Mr James Macharia, Ministre de la Santé du Kenya.
"Les interventions de lutte antipaludique sont un bien public dont tous les gens dans le besoin devraient pouvoir bénéficier" a déclaré Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, Directeur exécutif de RBM. "Les services de santé adéquats pour les populations mobiles est un investissement pour la santé en Afrique."
"Tous les efforts de lutte contre le paludisme devraient prendre en compte les flux migratoires, la vulnérabilité des processus de migration et l'accès aux soins de santé pour les migrants vulnérables et les populations mobiles. Le paludisme est évitable et traitable. Cependant, la réalité est que le paludisme est une maladie mortelle qui ne connaît ni ne respecte les frontières ", a déclaré le Dr Erick Ventura, le coordonnateur régional pour la santé et les migrations pour l'Afrique australe de l'OIM.
Les interventions ciblant le paludisme doivent tenir compte des comportements favorables à la santé de la population migratoire dans la région. Les migrants, les réfugiés et les populations mobiles sont souvent à la recherche d’un traitement dans le marché informel auprès de fournisseurs privés, ce qui augmente le risque d'exposition à des médicaments de qualité inférieure ou à des monothérapies à base d'artémisinine par voie orale, ce qui peut contribuer à l’émergence de résistance aux médicaments. La région de l'Afrique du Sud peut bénéficier des expériences particulières qui ont déjà été mises en place dans les pays asiatiques comme le Cambodge, le Myanmar, la Thaïlande et le Viet Nam, dans le cadre de leurs programmes de confinement de la résistance à l'artémisinine. Ces mesures comprennent des campagnes de distribution de moustiquaires imprégnées d’insecticide, la mise en place de points de contrôle et la mise à disposition de tests de diagnostic et de services de soin sur les chantiers. Dans la région de la CDAA, une récente initiative de plaidoyer du partenariat RBM "Racing Against Malaria" a plaidé en faveur d’interventions antipaludique ciblées pour migrants, les populations mobiles et isolées. L'initiative a mis en évidence la nécessité d'un dépistage actif de parasites, de notification et de réponse rapide grâce à la surveillance basée sur les cas. RBM a plaidé pour que les dirigeants politiques montrent leurs engagements et à accroissent leurs efforts en mobilisant un financement national pour le paludisme.
Une lutte efficace contre le paludisme et son élimination nécessite un effort extraordinaire et une action mondiale concertée. Cette réunion de haut niveau devrait se traduire par une déclaration officielle d'engagement en vue d’atteindre les objectifs de lutte contre le paludisme liés aux objectifs du millénaire pour le développement (OMD) et d'accélérer les progrès vers l'élimination du paludisme dans les pays de la CDAA.
Contacts pour les médias :
Pour l'OIM :
- Gaone Dixon, Cell: +27 72 127 7094, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A propos du Partenariat Roll Back Malaria (RBM)
Fondé en 1998 par l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS), le Fonds des Nations Unies pour l’enfance (UNICEF), le Programme des Nations Unies pour le développement (PNUD) et la Banque mondiale, le Partenariat RBM est un cadre mondial visant à mettre en oeuvre une action internationale coordonnée contre le paludisme. Aujourd’hui, le RBM est un partenariat mondial public-privé regroupant plus de 500 organisations de différents secteurs, qui fournissent une plateforme neutre pour la recherche d’un consensus en vue de l’élaboration de solutions aux défis posés par la mise en oeuvre des interventions et stratégies de lutte contre le paludisme. Il assure la promotion d’un engagement politique à haut niveau afin que la lutte contre le paludisme reste au coeur des priorités de l’ordre du jour mondial et suit les progrès accomplis vers la réalisation des objectifs universels établis.
A propos de l'OIM
L'Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) est une organisation inter-gouvernementale dynamique et en pleine croissance, avec 151 Etats membres, engagés dans le principe que la migration humaine et ordonnée bénéficie migrants et de la société. Fondée en 1951, elle opère maintenant dans plus de 440 bureaux sur le terrain à travers le monde, l'OIM travaille avec des partenaires, le gouvernement et la société civile pour aider à répondre aux défis de la migration et de la mobilité, promouvoir la compréhension des questions de migration, favoriser le développement économique et social à travers les migrations; et respecter la dignité humaine et le bien-être des migrants et des populations mobiles.
L’accès à la santé est l'un des défis qui affectent les migrants et les populations mobiles. Les Initiatives de OIM "Migration et santé" visent à réduire les vulnérabilités et les défis rencontrés par les migrants et les communautés touchées par la migration de répondre à leurs besoins en matière de santé à travers toutes les phases du processus de migration.
World: Malaria-Endemic Countries Unite to Extend Malaria Control to Hard-To-Reach Migrant and Mobile Communities
IOM and RBM collaborate to improve access to key malaria interventions
Victoria Falls, ZIMBABWE, 5 July 2014: - Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), together with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has invited Ministers of Health from Southern Africa, Asia and other malaria-endemic regions, as well as the private sector to discuss the impact of migration on malaria control and elimination and address jointly the challenge of providing adequate health services to crossborder, mobile and migrant communities.
With 215 million international migrants worldwide, governments in malaria-endemic countries increasingly acknowledge the importance of adopting solutions that reflect the reality of human mobility today. As the global community prepares for the post 2015 development agenda, delegates in Victoria Falls will discuss innovative and sustainable interventions that will see migration and human mobility mainstreamed into national, regional and global health policies, strategies and programmes including in malaria control.
Malaria remains a major global health issue. An estimated 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria worldwide. In 2012, there were 207 million cases reported worldwide, with 90% of all malaria deaths occurring in Sub Saharan Africa. Over the past fifteen years, malaria-endemic countries in Southern Africa and around the globe have achieved substantial reductions in their malaria burden. While malaria is now limited to remote, border and forested areas in some countries, migrants and mobile populations still represent a high percentage of the total number of malaria cases.
In 2007, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) pledged to eliminate malaria from the region and diverse efforts have been deployed to cut malaria deaths and cases such as the 2009 Malaria Elimination 8 initiative. Although malaria transmission in these countries has been reduced dramatically, reintroduction of malaria from high-transmission to low-transmission countries remains a major challenge. The increasing number of internal and cross border movements in Southern Africa complicates the task of eliminating malaria from the region.
"We are here today to identify efficient ways to extend malaria control interventions to migrants and mobile populations. The fight against malaria requires strengthened collaboration between governments, international organizations, civil society and private sector to ensure universal access to health services for vulnerable and hard to reach migrants in the Southern Africa region," says Dr Parirentyatwa, Minister of Health, Zimbabwe.
"To eliminate malaria from our countries and the continent, we need to not only strengthen our existing malaria control programmes but also bolster malaria control measures in remote areas and crossborder regions," adds James Macharia, Minister of Health, Kenya.
"Malaria control interventions are a public good that all people in need should benefit from," said Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, RBM Executive Director. "Adequate health services for mobile populations are an investment in Africa's health."
"All efforts to address malaria should take into account migration flows, the vulnerability aspects of the entire migration process and access to health care for the vulnerable migrants and mobile populations. Malaria is preventable and treatable. However, the reality is malaria is a fatal disease that neither knows nor respects borders," says Dr. Erick Ventura, IOM Migration and Health Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa.
Interventions targeting malaria need to consider the health-seeking behaviors of the migratory population in the region. Migrants, refugees and mobile populations often seek treatment from unregulated, private vendors, increasing their risk of exposure to substandard drugs or oral artemisininbased monotherapies, which can be a factor in emerging drug resistance. The Southern Africa region can learn from special interventions, focusing on migrants that have already been put in place in Asian countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, as part of their artemisinin resistance containment programmes. These measures include insecticide-treated bed net distribution campaigns, the establishment of screening points, and the provision of diagnostic testing and treatment services at work-sites.
In the SADC region, a recent RBM advocacy initiative - Racing Against Malaria (RAM) 2 â€“ has called for targeted malaria interventions for migrant, mobile and remote populations. The initiative highlighted the need for active screening and parasite detection, notification and rapid response through casebased surveillance. It also called on political leaders to show their commitment and increase the engagement in mobilising domestic funding for malaria.
Achieving effective malaria control and elimination requires an extraordinary effort and global action. This high-level meeting is expected to result in a formal statement of commitment to reach the MDGrelated malaria targets and speed up progress towards malaria elimination in the SADC countries.
Mr Michel Aublanc, Cell:+33 1 69 286 286 (French)
About the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM)
The Roll Back malaria Partnership was founded by UNICEF, WHO, UNDP and the World Bank in 1998 as a global framework to coordinate global action against malaria. Today, RBM is a global publicprivate partnership made up of more than 500 organizations across sectors that provides a neutral platform for consensus-building, developing solutions to challenges in the implementation of malaria control interventions and strategies, promotes high-level political commitment to keep malaria at the top of the global agenda, and monitors progress towards universal goals.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is a dynamic and growing inter-governmental organization, with 151 member states, committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society.
Established in 1951 and now active in over 440 field locations worldwide, IOM works with partners, government and civil society to assist in meeting the operational challenges of migration and mobility, advance understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration; and uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants and mobile populations.
Access to health is one of the challenges that affect migrants and mobile populations. IOM Migration and Health initiatives are aimed at addressing the health vulnerabilities and challenges faced by migrants and migration affected communities by responding to their health needs throughout all phases of the migration process.
NEW YORK, 4 July 2014 - More than 105,000 children in Myanmar’s Rakhine State have been affected by inter-communal violence, including 78,000 displaced children living in rural camps in appalling conditions. They, and other vulnerable children, cannot wait. Their needs demand an urgent response.
Rakhine State is one of the poorest areas in Myanmar, with some of the lowest social and development indicators in the world. Half of all children under five in Rakhine State suffer from stunting; nearly 90 per cent are born outside of a health facility; and one in three children is not attending primary school.
Over the past year UNICEF has reached hundreds of thousands of children in Rakhine State with lifesaving assistance – including provision of therapeutic food and nutrition supplements to prevent and treat malnutrition, and support for water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives to stop the spread of pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria. In 2013, 300,000 children across Rakhine State were immunized against polio, with UNICEF aiming to reach 236,000 people with measles, polio, tetanus toxoid and other vaccines this year.
UNICEF will continue working with local and government authorities and our partners to meet the needs and promote the rights and well-being of all vulnerable children in Rakhine, regardless of their ethnicity, origin, religion, or language. But much more must be done to address the alarming conditions affecting so many children across the State, and to create the stable environment all children need to grow up safe, healthy and educated.#
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. For further information about UNICEF and its work, visit: www.unicef.org
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook
For further information, please contact:
Georgina Thompson, UNICEF New York, Mobile: +1 917 775 3874, email@example.com
07/05/2014 19:50 GMT
MANDALAY, July 5, 2014 (AFP) - Muslims in Myanmar's second-largest city accused police on Saturday of standing by as a Buddhist mob went on a rampage, torching a school and other buildings.
Angry mourners, some carrying crude weapons, rioted in Mandalay after the funeral of a 36-year-old Buddhist victim of the country's latest eruption of religious unrest, witnesses said.
A school and dormitory in the Muslim area of a cemetery on the outskirts of the city were seen charred and damaged on Saturday.
"More than 70 police were here but did nothing," said Win Naing, a Muslim donor to the school, who watched the attack from his hiding place in the home of a Buddhist friend.
He said some of the rioters were armed with sticks, metal pipes and even saws.
No children were believed to be in the school at the time and nobody was thought to have been injured in the attack.
Several days of violence, sparked by an accusation of rape, have also left a Muslim dead and 14 other people injured.
"Police could have stopped the mob but they did not," said Zaw Zaw Latt, a Muslim member of an interfaith group in the city.
Police said they did not provide extra security for the crowds because they did not believe they would turn violent.
"Yesterday we did not stop the mob because we thought they were just taking part the funeral, not an attack," said Ye Htut of the Myanmar regional police office.
At least 250 people have been killed across Myanmar since 2012 in Buddhist-Muslim clashes that have cast a shadow over the country's political reforms.
Police have been accused of inaction in the past and the government has deployed soldiers in some cases to restore order.
A night-time curfew has been imposed in Mandalay and nine people have been arrested in connection with the recent violence.
Police said they were boosting security measures as a precaution in other cities, including the main city Yangon which has a diverse population of religious and ethnic minorities.
Social media users were unable to access Facebook for the second straight evening Friday, amid speculation that Myanmar had blocked the site to curb the spread of inflammatory comment online. The website was working normally on Saturday.
Radical monks have been accused of whipping up religious tensions, with fiery warnings that the country's main religion is under threat from Islam.
A friend of the slain Buddhist man told AFP that a Muslim gang had used a "sword" in the attack.
The dead Muslim man, a popular local bicycle shop owner, was later killed while on his way to attend early morning prayers.
© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse