Myanmar - ReliefWeb News
In order to provide medical care for the survivors of floods in Myanmar, Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation have continued to partner with local hospitals to hold free clinics for cataract sufferers throughout the country. Over the past 6 years, we have served some 5,000 patients helping them regain their vision. Following an earlier humanitarian relief of rice distribution in Taikkyi Township, the medical team traveled to this location to host a free clinic and performed cataract surgeries for about 100 seniors.
Tzu Chi volunteers from Yangon, Myanmar headed to a temple in Taikkyi Township to hold a free medical clinic and check the eyes of the patients before they undergo a surgery. Some 100 patients suffered from cataract and need to receive an operation to regain their vision.
U Ba Sit, one of patients, said that: "When I was about 2 years old, I was naughty that I threw broken glass up in the air, causing one of my eyes to become blind. Now I have cataract in the other eye. Life has become difficult since I lost vision in both of my eyes."
Since 2011, Tzu Chi volunteers have continued to partner with local hospitals to offer free medical services for cataract sufferers throughout Myanmar, benefiting more than 5,400 patients.
Nay Lin, Yadarna Hospital superintendent, shared that: "I can collaborate with charity groups from abroad with my specialty to help patients. I feel thankful and will continue to work with Tzu Chi to host free clinics for cataract sufferers."
In the operating room, the doctors made every effort to help the patients regain their vision. After the successful surgery, patients were happily sharing the joyous news.
U Wee Mar Lar, one of patients, also said that: "As a missionary, I need my vision to read Buddhist sutras. I feel lucky to have received surgery from you free of charge. I am surprised that I can still regain my vision even though I am old."
U Kyaw Khin, one of Tzu Chi volunteers, shared that: "After Tzu Chi helped these cataract sufferers to regain their vision, they felt blessed and loved. They can spread the love they have received from Tzu Chi throughout their hometown to help the needy."
Tzu Chi volunteers not only accompanied the patients to receive medical treatment, but as well continued to care for them with post surgery checkups, allowing them creating a better future with a clear vision.
World: IASC Task Team on Accountability to Affected Populations, and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (AAP/PSEA) - Progress Report January 2016-Sept 2016
Foster a culture of accountability and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse at all levels of the humanitarian system.
Encourage institutionalization of AAP and PSEA within humanitarian organizations, including local and national NGOs, INGOs, Red Cross Red Crescent movement and UN Agencies.
Support operationalization of AAP and PSEA at collective level as well as individual agency level.
Support Humanitarian Country Teams operationalise accountability and PSEA, including provision of technical support (both remotely and on site), capturing and sharing good practice on AAP and PSEA, and dissemination of practical guidance for cluster and the intercluster coordination groups on strengthening AAP and Protection throughout the Humanitarian Program Cycle;
AAP/PSEA placement within humanitarian procedures and processes in the field: Mapping of current initiatives, interagency projects and key reports related to AAP and PSEA in 2016; Support the reinforcement of the responsibilities on AAP and PSEA for the Humanitarian Coordinator role
Ensure the PSEA workstream complements other PSEA-related initiatives and addresses gaps at the field and global levels, strengthen investigation and protection responses to SEA allegations, Support issues raised following the CBCM pilots and during the discussion on global SOPs
It is often people’s immediate community that provides the first, last and perhaps best tactical response for many people affected by or under threat of displacement. In the 23 feature theme articles in this issue of FMR, authors from around the world – including authors who are themselves displaced – explore the capacity of communities to organise themselves before, during and after displacement in ways that help protect the community.
FMR 53 also includes eight ‘general’ articles on other aspects of forced migration.
This situation analysis is the first ever study in Myanmar to provide a systematic understanding of the experiences of children with disabilities and their families, informed by robust, qualitative evidence.
Children with disabilities have the same rights as all children. Given the same opportunities to flourish as any other child, they have the potential to lead fulfilling, dignified lives and to contribute to the social, cultural, and economic vitality of their communities. Yet surviving and thriving can be especially difficult for children with disabilities. Across the world, they face challenges as a result of their impairments and the many barriers that society casts in their way.
According to the World Health Organization’s Report on Disability, approximately one billion people in the world are living with a disability, with at least 1 in 10 being children and 80% living in developing countries.
They are often likely to be among the poorest members of the population, to have limited access to education, and to be at greater risk of violence. Their disabilities also often exclude them from receiving proper humanitarian assistance in emergencies.
To address these disparities, a country needs relevant and high quality data to guide policy formulation and implementation Myanmar is no exception. To deliver on their commitments under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Myanmar signed in 2011, policy makers require solid evidence on which to base their decisions.
This Situation Analysis of Children with Disabilities in Myanmar aims to bridge this information gap. It analyses the current situation of children with disabilities in relation to realizing their rights and accessing basic services, as well as their life experiences in their communities. It focuses on identifying the barriers created by society that prevent children with disabilities from enjoying their human rights. This includes identifying negative attitudes; environmental and communication barriers; gaps in policies or their effective implementation. The report also reveals that children with disabilities in Myanmar are less likely to access services in health or education; rarely have their voices heard in society; and face daily discrimination as objects of pity. It also highlights how inadequate policies and legislation contribute to the challenges these children face.
This study is the result of a close collaboration between the Department of Social Welfare, Ministry of Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement and UNICEF. It also benefited from the generous financial support of Development Partners Australia, Denmark, EU, Norway and the UK under the Myanmar Quality Basic Education Programme (QBEP), for which we would like to express our deepest thanks.
UNICEF hopes that the information available in this publication will be used by policy makers, development partners and Disabled Persons Organisations to promote the realization of the rights of all children with disabilities. The document should also help guide mainstreaming of disability across all of our policies and programmes, both in development and humanitarian action, to improve the quality and inclusivity of social services provided.
This Situation Analysis is thus an attempt to make visible what is otherwise kept invisible – the plight of children living with disabilities. In this way, the analysis can inform positive responses to disability in Myanmar, and strengthen our joint commitment to the rights of these children, and their inclusion and participation in the lives of their communities,– as a matter of principle, equity, and for the benefit of all.
Bertrand Bainvel UNICEF Myanmar Representative
Nay Pyi Taw, 27 September 2016- The first ever situation analysis in Myanmar to provide a systematic understanding of the experiences of children with disabilities and their families was launched today by the Department of Social Welfare, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, in collaboration with UNICEF.
The study, which was supported by the Multi Donor Education Fund, comprising Australia, Denmark, the European Union, Norway and the United Kingdom, analyses the current situation of children with disabilities in relation to realizing their rights and accessing basic services, as well as their life experiences in their communities. It also focuses on identifying the barriers created by society that prevent children with disabilities from enjoying their human rights. This includes identifying negative attitudes; environmental and communication barriers; gaps in policies or their effective implementation.
“By providing analysis and information on the challenges and barriers faced by children with disabilities in their daily lives, and in accessing social services, this report sets out the key areas where action is urgently required to ensure their social inclusion and full participation in society”, explained Dr. U Win Myat Aye, Minister, Ministry of Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement. “Therefore, I encourage all stakeholders to study the report, consider its recommendations, and support national efforts to enhance the realisation of rights for children with disabilities”.
The report reveals that children with disabilities in Myanmar are less likely to access services in health or education; rarely have their voices heard in society; and face daily discrimination as objects of pity. It also highlights how inadequate policies and legislation contribute to the challenges these children face.
The information available in this publication should be useful for policy makers, development partners and Disabled Persons Organisations to promote the realization of the rights of all children with disabilities, as stated in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which the country signed in 2011. The situation analysis can also help guide mainstreaming of disability across all policies and programmes, both in development and humanitarian action, to improve the quality and inclusivity of social services provided.
“This situation analysis is thus an attempt to make visible what is otherwise kept invisible - the plight of children living with disabilities”, said Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar. “In this way, the analysis can inform positive responses to disability in Myanmar, and strengthen our joint commitment to the rights of these children, and their inclusion and participation in Myanmar society - as a matter of principle, equity, and for the benefit of all.”
UNICEF in Myanmar
UNICEF has been working with the Government and the people of Myanmar since 1950. In partnership with the Government and the civil society, UNICEF’s current focus of work aims at reducing child mortality, improving access and quality of education and protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation. For more information about UNICEF and its work in Myanmar. Please visit: http://www.unicef.org/myanmar. Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unicefmyanmar
For more information please contact:
Mariana Palavra, Communication Specialist, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09795452618, email@example.com
Htet Htet Oo, Communication Officer, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09250075238, firstname.lastname@example.org
Myanmar: Responding to disasters before they happen: Trainings build resilience in Myanmar’s Dry Zone
Daw Mi Mi Htun, of the Relief and Resettlement Department (RRD) in the Sagaing Region of Myanmar, used to think that the department's main responsibility was to address disasters and emergencies after they occur.
However, after attending a three-day event with 20 local government officers on Community Based Disaster Risk Management in Monywa, Daw Mi Mi Htun learned that much could be done to protect lives and livelihoods before disasters strike.
"I realize that there is a lot that my department should do before a disaster to minimize losses. I’m going to apply the knowledge and tools I learnt here in my work and train my colleagues and communities," said Daw Mi Mi Htun, expressing a sentiment echoed by her peers.
Along with a similar training conducted in Nyaung U on 31 August to 2 September 2016, which 27 local government officials attended, the workshops were conducted as a first step towards reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience of dry zone communities to slow and rapid onset disasters. The trainings covered topics on Community-based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM), including conceptualising and mapping risk, vulnerability and resilience; linkages between development and climate and disaster risks; and most importantly, the role of communities in reducing disasters risks and vulnerabilities to enhance development gains.
In Myanmar, climate change is causing an increase in the prevalence of drought events and an increase in the occurrence of flooding and storm surges. According to the National Natural Disaster Management Committee, in July and August 2015 alone, flooding and landslides displaced 1.7 million people and caused 125 deaths. At their peak, the floods affected over 9 million people across 12 of Myanmar’s 14 states and regions, destroyed 15,000 homes, and more than 840,000 acres of agricultural crops.
In order to improve responses and mitigate disaster risks for people living in the Dry Zone, the trainings were conducted as part of the Adaptation Fund Project – Addressing Climate Change Risks on Water Resources and Food Security in the Dry Zone of Myanmar. In the Dry Zone, where water is scarce, vegetation cover is thin, and soil is severely eroded, communities in the region are particularly vulnerable to climate variability. Through these trainings, the project is working to strengthen community capacity to respond to disasters which are increasingly threatening human lives and assets under a changing climate.
According to UNDP Technical Specialist, Karma Rapten, “the training provided an opportunity for local government officials to enhance their knowledge on key concepts, tools, best practices, processes in CBDRM and the skills required to train other stakeholders subsequently.”
The project will also reduce vulnerability by working to establish CBDRM Committees in 70 dry zone villages - thereby providing last-mile connectivity in disaster risk communication from the national to district to township levels and ultimately to the communities.
2015 was a very significant year for Myanmar, marked by two historic milestones: the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October which brought the country one step closer to ending one of the world’s longest running civil wars; and democratic elections of the national and local parliaments in November resulting in a landslide win by the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Both events have reinforced the country’s democratic transition which began a few years ago.
UNDP has been present in Myanmar since the 1960s. The current country programme 2013-2017 aims to help Myanmar manage a “triple transition”: nation-building, including securing sustainable peace with ethnic minorities; state-building, including democratizing and modernizing state institutions; and economic liberalization, moving the country towards a more open, fair, responsible and transparent market system.
In 2015 UNDP’s country programme continued to provide support to Myanmar’s democratic transition, making specific contributions in the fields of public administration reform, decentralization and improved service delivery. UNDP seized the momentum of the political transition to foster the launch of various institutional reform initiatives and built coalitions among national stakeholders such as national, local governments, civil society and international development partners. UNDP also facilitated South-South knowledge sharing, provided direct policy advice, and helped to establish a knowledge base through a nationwide mapping exercise on the state of local governance in Myanmar.
UNDP’s work on parliamentary development also continued in 2015. UNDP forged a strong partnership with the national parliament, and helped build capacities of region and state assemblies as well as those of parliamentary staff and enabled MPs to discharge their legislative, oversight and representative roles more effectively.
The unprecedented floods and landslides that affected Myanmar in July and August of 2015 demonstrated the vulnerability of the country to natural disasters. UNDP was at the forefront of international support to national stakeholders for an effective transition from relief to recovery after large parts of the country were affected by the floods and landslides. UNDP is the lead agency in the UN system, partnering with the government’s Recovery Coordination Centre, for undertaking recovery and rehabilitation needs assessments (including a post-disaster needs assessment). UNDP helped to coordinate activities across ministries, between national and local authorities, in partnership with private sector, civil society and international actors. In addition, UNDP provided direct livelihoods support to thousands of households in Rakhine and Chin States, where the disaster’s impact was most severe, and encouraged a “build back better” approach to recovery efforts.
UNDP supported the successful conduct of the 2015 national and local elections (the first multi-party general elections since 1990), with the procurement of over 50,000 solar lamps which allowed transparent vote counting in polling stations without access to electricity including those affected by the floods, and the provision of indelible ink to all polling stations, which addressed concerns about possible double-voting.
2015 was also an important year at the global level, with the adoption by UN Member States of a new Global Agenda for Sustainable Development, including agreement on 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a new agreement on climate change as well as a new agreement on disaster risk reduction. UNDP provided support to the Government of Myanmar to prepare for and participate in all these events.
It is a privilege for UNDP to support the people and government of Myanmar in their quest for more inclusive, just and sustainable development. We are very grateful to all our partners, including our donors, for their very generous support and engagement in UNDP’s work.
UNDP stands ready to provide whatever support is required to assist Myanmar’s democratic transition and the country’s path towards a peaceful and resilient future.
Southeast Asia has a complex history of migration within and outside the region, linked to uneven economic development and income disparity, demographic and social change, urbanization, transnational and civil conflict, and persecution. Migration flows within the region are often driven by mixed motivations, and many such movements are unregulated or unauthorized. Countries within the region must often simultaneously contend with irregular labor migration, asylum and refugee flows, and populations at risk of displacement as a result of persecution, exclusion, or a limited ability to generate basic livelihoods.
The May 2015 humanitarian crisis stemming from irregular maritime flows of Rohingya (a persecuted minority in Myanmar) and Bengalis in the Bay of Bengal brought these issues into sharp focus. Long-term systematic persecution and interethnic violence in Myanmar (also known as Burma), and a lack of livelihood opportunities in Bangladesh (where many displaced Rohingya have fled) led to a surge in maritime migration to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
This report examines the key features of migration in and through Southeast Asia and assesses the policy challenges and responses to the May 2015 maritime flows of Rohingya and Bengalis in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. The humanitarian crisis highlighted that the present array of policies and practices in Southeast Asia are not meeting the needs of policymakers, migrants, or the public—and fall short of balancing the need to prevent displacement and protect those who are displaced. The report concludes with a series of recommendations as policymakers recognize the further development of protection infrastructure must be a priority.
Market day is on Wednesday this week in Mongsi, a small town of around 6,000 people in northern Shan State. It is a busy day for Daw Jhone Zay. The 45-year-old mother of three and proud grandmother of an energetic little boy sets out early to set up her stall with the products she got from a wholesaler the day before.
This week she has sweet litchi, ruby-red tomatoes, fresh green beans, chili, cucumber, cabbage and potatoes, brought mostly from Lashio to Mongsi via the bumpy Asia Highway.
This is Daw Jhone's Zay's fourth year in an internally displaced people's camp near Mongsi. She fled here with seven other family members because of an increase in the fighting around her village, three hours' drive. Before fleeing, Daw Jhone Zay owned a small grocery shop and sold goods at the local market.
Despite having very little in the way of money or space, but with a fierce determination to provide for her family, Daw Jhone Zay used her business skills and part of her shelter normally dedicated to the kitchen to set up a shop. She began by selling a few chicken eggs, noodles, washing powder and some snacks for children – items high in demand in the camp.
At the end of last year, based on a business plan developed following a training session with the ICRC, she received a conditional cash grant of 134,000 MMK (110 USD) to help her build her business. She was able to invest in diversifying her inventory and maintaining sufficient stock levels to meet the demand. While maintaining her business in the camp, she now partners with two women from the host community to rent a stall in the Mongsi market and sells fresh produce every week.
"I speak Kachin, but I have also learned Chinese and Shan, which serves me well in town," says Daw Jhone Zay. "Before, I didn't have money to have my own space in the market, so I was selling for shop owners from the side of the road. But it was not enough."
Daw Jhone Zay is one of 29 people who received a cash grant from the ICRC in her internally displaced people's camp managed by the Kachin Baptist Church. Six months after receiving the grant, and four years since fleeing her village, she is at last able to adequately support her family of eight, no longer having to borrow money for extra food, clothes, school fees and health services: "Now, I can play my role without worry."
The ICRC instituted this "conditional cash grant" programme in January. While purely humanitarian in nature – beneficiaries are selected among particularly vulnerable poor families – this type of programme seeks to contribute to the local economy by generating new goods and services. This approach also seeks to contribute to the stability of the area, rather than disrupt the market by distributing to people food and other goods brought from outside the area.
"This was a pilot project in northern Shan State. While most people opted for livestock-raising businesses, Daw Jhone Zay was a pioneer with her small shop business model. What she chose for her activity was very beneficial for her, enabling her to safely provide for her family, and her partnership with local women was a good step in building ties between the local community and the displaced population," says Martin Samtan, ICRC field officer in charge of the programme.
So far in Myanmar in 2016, more than 860 families have received conditional cash grants to set up or restart small businesses. These benefit more than 4,330 people who are directly or indirectly affected by conflict.
Breakdown of a ceasefire agreement in KACHIN State in 2011 caused waves of displacement with over 90,000 IDPs dispersed across 150+ camps or camp-like settings, including areas of Northern Shan State (Shan). An additional 7,000 IDPs are staying with host families. About 50% of camps are located in non-government controlled areas (NGCA) with very limited access.
In RAKHINE State, displacement occurred in 2012 due to inter-communal clashes and burning of houses. From an initial caseload of 140,000+ IDPs in 2013, last year 20,000+ persons were able to vacate their temporary shelter and assisted to build their own individual houses through a process of owner-driven construction. 60% in their place of origin, 40% in new locations. This resulted in the number of camps (or camp-like settings) decreasing from 67 to 38. Still, almost 120,000 IDPs reside in camps where overcrowding and lack of privacy remain huge problems and in structures that were originally designed and built in 2013 to be temporary and last two years. During the rainy season conditions worsen as there are inadequate drainage systems. Significant restrictions on freedom of movement limit access to livelihoods, healthcare, food, education and other basic services. This also affects parts of the non-displaced population.
KACHIN/SHAN Key priorities remain 1) humanitarian assistance being wellmanaged and coordinated; 2) participatory and community-based development approaches are integrated into planning and implementation; and 3) when return or relocation is possible, IDPs are well-prepared to rebuild their lives permanently within a reasonable amount of time and be able to contribute to social cohesion. Many shelters that were built before Cluster activation did not meet minimum standards/guidelines, significantly. Addressing these needs plus the fact that unless solutions are found it remains a perpetual cycle of replacing sub-standard/no longer habitable temporary shelters. Need for mass blanket NFI distributions have passed but some NFIs for vulnerable cases continue.
RAKHINE While through Cluster partners and their camp management activities there is good coverage of over 90 per cent of the IDP caseload, the need to reform the Camp Management Committees (CMCs) remains the single biggest and most persistent challenge. The CMC’s responsibility fails to be enforced, they are appointed not elected, fail to be representative of their residents and have proved corrupt, violent, block humanitarian assistance, prone to extortion and yet benefit from impunity. Constructive engagement/advocacy with the government continues as to how they could be reformed but tangible action is critically dependent upon the authority of the State. NFI needs are more acute due to over-crowded conditions, severe restrictions on freedom of movement and access to basic services. Most temporary shelters have been subjected to a 4th rainy season, which results in massive temporary shelter repair and maintenance needs of US$3.9 million this year. 60 per cent has been raised has/or is being implemented. A gap of US$1.5 million remains.
At the national and sub-national level the Cluster has four key priorities:
Coverage of needs, both operational and adequate resources, notably funding;
Equity of assistance; adherence to standards, including building national capacity.
Overall it remains a operationally centric Cluster with delivery against the needs as its main priority.
Funding & Staffing
As Lead agency UNHCR has (since Cluster inception) funded the vast majority of camp management activities across Rakhine, Kachin/Shan. In Kachin/Shan partners are local (faith-based) NGOs (see overleaf). Rakhine State (a vastly different context) partners are international NGOs (see overleaf). It proves more challenging to raise funds for Kachin/Shan than Rakhine, the latter more high-profile.
UNHCR supplies the bulk of staff at national and sub-national level, which at the operational level includes many national colleagues whose day-to-day roles are critical. Consistent with its operational focus, the staffing structure is light at the national level in Yangon, one dedicated person with far more resources deployed to the sub-national/operational level. The Cluster also benefits from IOM support plus standby partners NORCAP, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Their support is vital to the success of the Cluster.
Information management capacities exist at national and sub-national level. The field generates regular data, which is shared at the national level for triangulation and wider dissemination. See overleaf (and website links) for some of the key information management products.
A JIPS initiated camp profiling exercise for Kachin/Shan in 2013 has proved successful to the point that it has been conducted another 4 times. Similar efforts are underway for Rakhine State, again directly supported by JIPS and co-led by DRC and the Cluster Lead. Regular monthly camp monitoring reports for Rakhine need to be improved. Following the direct support of IOM/DRC this is being addressed.
Security & Other Issues
Security and access remain issues in both areas but in Kachin/Shan the situation is much more acute with low-level conflict particularly prevalent during the dry season months. In 2016, access to both government and non-government controlled areas has decreased even more while bureaucratic hurdles increased.
In Rakhine State the Camp Management Committees remain the single biggest challenge (see overleaf for more details).
This Situation Update describes events occurring in Hlaingbwe and Paingkyon townships, Hpa-an District between March and May 2016, including the building of stupas, road construction, taxation and healthcare.
In April 2016 Sayadaw U Thuzana instructed his followers to build stupas in A--- village, Kwee Lay village tract, Hlaingbwe Township. Some stupas were built in villagers’ house compounds and one was built in an Anglican church compound.
In March 2016 a Border Guard Force (BGF) Commander and a Karen Peace Council (KPC) Commander joined hands with the Steel Stone Company to construct a road at the bottom of K’Lee Ma Mountain close to the KPC headquarters in Naw T’Yet New Town, Nabu Township. This road construction project was permitted by the Karen National Union (KNU) Hpa-an District administrators.
The KNU, the KPC, the BGF and the Tatmadaw collect taxes every year in Hpa-an District.
In 2015 the KNU built three hospitals in Paingkyon Township. The Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW), Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU), Emergency Obstetric Care (EmOC), community health workers (CHWs) and Maternal Child Health (MCH) are working together in these hospitals.
Since 18 September, torrential rainfall has caused flooding, mud flows and landslides in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. As of 22 September (09:00, UTC+8), 14 deaths were confirmed and nine people were reported missing while an additional 5,400 people were temporarily relocated. 81,000 people across 28 counties and 13 cities in the two provinces have been affected, including over 8,000 people who need immediate assistance. Local disaster management authorities have provided relief assistance to the affected communities.81,000 people affected
Flash floods in Garut, West Java on 21 September caused 33 deaths, with 20 people still missing and over 6,000 people temporarily displaced. Government agencies, the Red Cross, NGOs and the private sector are providing clean water, food, NFIs, shelter and rehabilitating critical infrastructure. Flooding was also reported in West Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara and Sampang, East Java on 24 and 25 September which left 2,000 houses under water. Local authorities provided relief to the affected people.6,000 people displaced
An estimated 4,000 people have been relocated to Hlaingbwe Township, Kayin State due to fighting between the Myanmar Army and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army splinter group. The State Government is leading the humanitarian response and has indicated that most needs including food, NFIs, education and health, are currently being met with the support of partners.4,000 people relocated
CHINA / PHILIPPINES
Typhoon Megi is projected to make landfall in Taiwan Province of China during the early hours of 27 September as a Category 3 storm, after which it is anticipated to track towards southeast mainland China as a weaker storm bringing significant rainfall. As of 26 September (11:00, UTC+8), the eye of Typhoon Megi (locally known as Helen) was located about 500 km east of the municipality of Basco, Batanes, Philippines with maximum sustained winds up to 150 km/h near the centre and gusts up to 185 km/h. It continues to move towards the Batanes Group of Islands and Taiwan Province of China at 20 km/h. The outer bands of the typhoon are expected to bring heavy rains over Batanes. The Government has raised the tropical cyclone warning signal for the Batanes Group of Islands to no. 2 (anticipating 61 to 120 km/h winds in the next 24 hours with light damage possible for medium- to high-risk structures). Megi is forecasted to affect areas that were recently hit by Typhoon Meranti.
- 1,038 people in Kedah and 102 people in Perak were evacuated because of flooding.
Flood sumberged 51 houses in Quang Binh Province.
- Nearly 500 houses were submerged by flood in Taungdwingyi, Magway.
- About 8,000 families affected by flood in Ayutthaya.
- Flood also happened in seven provinces, submerging 5,118 houses.
- 16,648 people in Batanes were affected by Typhoon Meranti.
- Meanwhile in Albay, 24,290 people experiencing water shortage.
- 30 people died and 6,300 people were evacuated due to the flashflood in Garut, West Java Province.
- Flood also affected 4,930 people in Medan and submerged 2,953 houses in Langkat.
- 177 houses in Tidung Island were damaged by strong wind.
- Landslide affected 300 families in Sumedang and 330 families in Central Lombok.
433 Cholera, 2015
433 Choléra, 2015
Cholera remains a significant public health problem in many parts of the world. In 2015, 42 countries reported a total of 172454 cases including 1304 deaths, resulting in an overall case fatality ratio (CFR) of 0.8%. This represents a 9% decrease in the number of cases reported compared with 2014 (190549 cases).
Cases were reported from all regions, including 16 countries in Africa, 13 in Asia, 6 in Europe, 6 in the Americas, and 1 in Oceania.
Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, Kenya, and the United Republic of Tanzania accounted for 80% of all cases. Of cases reported globally, 41% were from Africa, 37% from Asia and 21% from Hispaniola. Imported cases were reported from 13 countries.
Le choléra reste un problème majeur de santé publique dans de nombreuses parties du monde. En 2015, 42 pays ont notifié un total de 172454 cas de choléra, dont 1304 décès, soit un taux de létalité (TL) global de 0,8%. Cela repré-sente une baisse de 9% du nombre de cas par rapport à 2014 (190549 cas). Des cas ont été signalés dans toutes les régions, notamment dans 16 pays d’Afrique, 13 pays d’Asie, 6 pays d’Europe, 6 pays des Amériques et 1 pays d’Océanie. L’Afghanistan, Haïti, le Kenya, la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) et la République-Unie de Tanzanie ont représenté 80% du total des cas. Sur l’ensemble de ceux notifiés à l’échelle mondiale, 41% provenaient d’Afrique, 37% d’Asie et 21% de l’île d’Hispaniola.
Des cas importés ont été signalés dans 13 pays.
Fighting between Myanmar government forces and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin State has intensified over the past few days, driving some 2,000 people to flee rural rural villages for larger towns, a Kachin leader said on Friday.
"Clashes have escalated to the level of heavy weapons recently, with no more small arms fighting, especially in the mountainous area northeast of Waingmaw and northeast of Laiza," Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) spokesman Dau Khar told RFA's Myanmar Service. The KIO is the political arm of the KIA.
"The government side has not mentioned any casualties, except those in Kokant region. We have two killed on our side,” the spokesman added. He did not elaborate on the government casualties.
"At about 4.00 pm yesterday, government forces launched an offensive using some heavy weapons and a clash ensued between them and KIA, near In-Kham-Bon Hill east of the Myitkyina-Bhamo road," KIA Information Officer Lt. Col. Naw Bu told RFA.
"No posts have fallen but several skirmishes have occurred during the past three days. And I think there will be more fighting since the Myanmar Army is intent on disarming all the ethnic armed groups. Right now the fighting is close to the security perimeter of KIA Laiza headquarters and there could be really serious battles if the fighting gets any closer,” he added.
Fighting started in several areas of Kachin State since August, then paused for several days while Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi convened the first round of her signature 21st Century Panglong Conference in the capital Naypyidaw, drawing representatives from most of the ethnic armies that have battled the government for decades.
Since fighting resumed in June 2011, ending a 17-year ceasefire between the former military government and the KIA, Myanmar's Army has attacked the KIA's Laiza headquarters and nearby units with aircraft and artillery, the online news website The Irrawaddy reported.
The KIA has not yet signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) that many other groups agreed to in October, but KIO leaders joined the Panglong Peace Conference in late August in what they called a show of good will.
The Irrawaddy also reporting that fighting since Sept. 2 in Karen State between the Myanmar Army and splinter group of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) armed group had displaced about 4,000 civilians, including many women and children.
Reported by Wai Mar Tun and Myo Zaw Ko for RFA's Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Paul Eckert.
Australia: The Australia-Cambodia refugee relocation agreement is unique, but does little to improve protection
By Madeline Gleeson
The refugee relocation agreement between Australia and the Kingdom of Cambodia—which marked its second anniversary in September 2016—is simultaneously one of the most extraordinary yet underwhelming components of Australia’s efforts to deter asylum seekers from reaching its territory by boat. The agreement is extraordinary in that it is the first of its kind, involving a traditional resettlement country relocating refugees to a developing country with limited capacity to meet their needs. It is underwhelming, however, in that just five people have been relocated to Cambodia to date under the accord, of which only one still remained in Cambodia at this writing.
In its basic terms, the agreement is straightforward. Formally recorded in a memorandum of understanding, the agreement provides that Cambodia will offer permanent settlement to people who originally sought asylum in Australia, were forcibly transferred to the Republic of Nauru for a refugee status determination process, have been determined to be refugees, and voluntarily accept an offer of settlement in Cambodia. The cost of the whole arrangement—believed to run as high as AUD 55 million in total—is covered by Australia alone (Nauru is not a party to the agreement).
Apart from these basics, few details about the Cambodia agreement have been clear. Its 17 articles and operational guidelines raise more questions than they answer. Secrecy has shrouded every aspect of its implementation, making it difficult for the Australian public and policymakers—or indeed the refugees whom the accord would impact—to assess how it operates in practice.
Two years on from the September 26, 2014 signing of the agreement, this article takes stock and seeks to answer some of the outstanding questions. What does the Cambodia agreement actually entail? What went wrong? And did it ever hold promise as a new model for responsibility sharing, or was it always doomed to fail?The Cambodia Agreement in Context
Australia has a long history as a destination country for asylum seekers arriving spontaneously by boat, and refugees resettled through formal programs. After the number of people arriving by boat first peaked in 2001, with 5,516 arriving on 43 boats, the government of Prime Minister John Howard introduced a suite of measures to deter people from trying to reach Australia by sea. These combined measures—including boat turnbacks, offshore processing in Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG), and temporary protection visas for refugees settled in Australia—caused the number of boat arrivals to fall dramatically. When the incoming government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd subsequently dismantled these policies in 2008, asylum seekers once more began to set out for Australia by sea in increasing numbers, with arrivals reaching a peak of 17,202 people on 278 boats in 2012. They came from a range of countries, with significant numbers from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Sri Lanka in particular.
Over the past four years, in response to this increase, Australia has progressively returned to a highly restrictive set of policies to block and deter asylum seekers arriving by boat. Since August 2012, all asylum seekers who have reached Australian waters, and some others intercepted along the way, have been liable to removal offshore for processing in the Pacific (although in practice no new arrivals have been transferred from Australia to a regional processing center since December 2014). Under this policy, asylum seekers arriving between August 2012 and 2014 were screened and detained in Australia before being forcibly transferred to one of the two remote Pacific islands that had previously been used under the Howard-era policies: Nauru and Manus Island. Upon arrival, asylum seekers were detained for lengthy periods in harsh conditions to await the outcome of their cases.
While this policy formally remains in place, Australia also began turning back boats in September 2013, and since 2014 all asylum seekers intercepted at sea have been returned to their points of departure as a matter of practice—including to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Meanwhile, the issue of what to do next with those who have been found to be refugees on Nauru or Manus Island remains unresolved.
Between August 2012 and July 2013, under Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s controversial “no advantage” policy, asylum seekers transferred to Nauru and PNG were given no indication of when they would ultimately be resettled in Australia if found to be refugees. Successive Australian governments have adopted an even stricter position: No one arriving in Australia by boat on or after July 19, 2013 and sent offshore for processing will ever be eligible for resettlement in the country, no matter how long they wait.
The purpose of removing Australia as a possible settlement country for anyone arriving by boat is ostensibly to deter asylum seekers from attempting to reach protection in Australia by “irregular” means. However, this policy has done nothing to resolve the backlog of some 2,000 people who have already been transferred offshore and continue to struggle on Nauru and Manus Island without any clear plan for their futures.
In October 2015 the processing center in Nauru became an “open center,” giving people greater freedom of movement around Nauru. Similar measures were adopted for the PNG center in May 2016. But movement is still restricted for people on both islands, and there are real security concerns for vulnerable groups. At the same time, the indefinite nature of their situation continues to have deleterious impacts on people’s health and well-being. The Australian governments of Prime Ministers Rudd, Tony Abbott, and now Malcolm Turnbull have affirmed with unwavering consistency that resettlement in Australia is not an option for these men, women, and children. But what other viable alternatives exist?The Search for a Resettlement Country
In July 2013, Peter O’Neill, the Prime Minister of PNG, agreed to allow some refugees processed on Manus Island to settle locally, though not necessarily in Manus. By late 2014, however, a domestic plan to implement this promise was yet to be approved. As efforts to finalize a national resettlement plan progressed, UNHCR continued to highlight the formidable challenges and protection concerns that non-Melanesian refugees would face in the country. Safe and sustainable integration into the socioeconomic and cultural life of PNG would not be available for everyone found to be a refugee at the Manus Island processing center.
The situation on Nauru was even more tenuous. While the Nauruan government had appeared in 2013 to make a similar offer to settle some refugees, the small republic had limited capacity to do so. Asylum seekers and those determined to be refugees would be permitted to stay in Nauru on an ongoing basis (either in the processing center or outside of it in dedicated residential areas), holding temporary visas renewed every few months at the expense of the Australian government. But Nauru, like PNG, had not offered to take the entire transferred refugee population off Australia’s hands for good.
New Zealand extended a modest offer to resettle 150 refugees per year, possibly from Nauru or Manus Island, but it was turned down by an Australian government concerned about “putting a bit of Kiwi sugar on the table for people smugglers,” in the words of then-Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.
And so the Australian government faced an immense political difficulty. It continued to insist throughout 2014 that refugees would never be resettled in Australia from Nauru or PNG, but it needed to find an alternative—fast. As the search for a suitable settlement country continued, those detained offshore entered another year of waiting for news about their future. Tensions built as more information leaked out of each detention center about the conditions inside, the United Nations increased pressure for Australia to bring its policies in line with international standards, and two young men died as a result of their incarceration on Manus Island. The physical and mental health of the people being held offshore was reported to be in rapid decline.
This is where Cambodia came into play. After extensive negotiations with various countries, the Australian government appeared to identify Cambodia as its best and last hope to avoid backtracking on its position of no resettlement in Australia. While the Cambodian government secured a significant financial commitment under the agreement, Australia hoped to have finally found the last missing piece of its offshore processing polices: a durable, long-term solution.A New Form of Resettlement?
Asylum seekers arriving at the frontier of a signatory to the Refugee Convention (such as Australia) generally fall within the responsibility of that country, and resettlement is usually a process by which refugees move from countries of first asylum to others that are better positioned to meet their protection needs.
The September 2014 agreement flipped this general practice on its head. Under the new approach, refugees seeking asylum in one country are not only forcibly transferred to a second country with no track record of refugee processing, but are then given no real choice other than to “volunteer” for relocation to a third country that has never before resettled refugees through any formal process. Each step of the process is overseen and financed by Australia, the country which ordinarily would have responsibility for processing and settlement.
With governments around the world looking for new ways to manage large-scale displacement and allocate responsibility fairly between them and their regional neighbors, this new approach of contracting out processing and settlement might appear promising. In practice, though, it has proven a failure on multiple fronts.Where Did the Cambodia Agreement Go Wrong?
The Cambodia agreement was controversial from the outset. After being negotiated in secret, without transparent consultation with parliament or civil society in either Australia or Cambodia, Morrison and Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng toasted the signing of the accord with champagne at a ceremony in Phnom Penh. The mood was less celebratory on Nauru, where a wave of protests and a dramatic spike in self-harm swept through the asylum seeker and refugee populations.
The Cambodia agreement came the same week as news of an Australian law that would make people who had arrived by boat before July 19, 2013 eligible for temporary protection visas in Australia. The sense of injustice at the alternative fate in Cambodia for those who had arrived after this date was too much for some on Nauru. Emergency medical transport scrambled to evacuate a teenage girl to Australia after she reportedly swallowed washing powder and began vomiting blood. Other women who had also ingested laundry detergent received medical treatment on the island. A group of men and boys stitched their lips together. Unaccompanied children slit their wrists with razors. There were rumors that one man slit his own throat while another beat his head against a fence and with a rock until he lost consciousness, in the presence of children. Staff in the camp reported multiple mass suicide pacts.
The terms of the agreement—insofar as they were subsequently made available to the public—added to the confusion. Key details were missing or unclear, and contradictory statements by Australian and Cambodian government officials suggested there may never have been consensus on the most important matters.
How much would the entire arrangement cost, in terms of payments to Cambodia and for settlement services once refugees were there? The agreement was open-ended and vague, never mentioning specific dollar amounts. How many people would the agreement cover? Morrison claimed that as many as 1,000 refugees could be relocated, but Kheng said only that “three to four” refugees would be accepted at first as “a trial.” When would the agreement be activated? It was initially suggested that the first refugees would be relocated before the end of 2014, but by 2015 it began to look as if nobody would go to Cambodia at all.
During early visits by Cambodian delegations to Nauru in the first few months of 2015, no volunteers for relocation were forthcoming. Rumors began to spread about what was happening on the island at this time, and how far the Australian government might have been prepared to go to avoid the embarrassment of the agreement failing before it began. Confidential sources claimed Australian immigration officials had approached particularly vulnerable asylum seekers within the detention center on Nauru, and put pressure on them to accept relocation even though they had not yet had their asylum claims determined. If these rumors were to be believed, people had been offered a fast track to a positive refugee determination if they elected to go. Some staff claimed that refugees were promised all manner of services and support in Cambodia, regardless of whether or not they really existed.
This uncertainty about the entitlements, services, and quality of life that refugees could expect in Cambodia was one of the greatest obstacles to implementation of the agreement. It was not clear where people would be housed, and whether after an initial period of adjustment they would be forced to move outside the capital city, where appropriate support might not be available. There were no guarantees that Australia would continue to guarantee access to health services, education, and employment opportunities for as long as required by refugees relocated to Cambodia. For refugees struggling with life in limbo on Nauru, it was an impossible choice between staying in hardship or going to the unknown.
Four people did eventually take up the deal, touching down in Phnom Penh on June 4, 2015, and they were joined by a fifth refugee in November. Little was ever heard about what happened to them after arrival, but by June 2016 the original four would have chosen to go home rather than remain in Cambodia—despite having been found to hold a genuine fear of persecution in Iran and Myanmar, their countries of origin. The only one who remained was 26-year-old Mohammed Rashid, a Rohingya man from Myanmar, who said he could not go home because his country of origin would not recognize his citizenship. “I feel unwell, lonely, and sad,” Rashid told Australian journalists in March 2016. “I fear that I will die here.”
The Australian government has periodically suggested that more refugees may be considering relocating to Cambodia, but no such movement has materialized. Two years on, the Cambodia agreement has proven to be arguably the most expensive and ineffective way of relocating one single person, to a country he has said he would leave if he could.What Lies Ahead for the Cambodia Agreement?
The future of the Cambodia agreement (and any other arrangement of a similar nature that might be reached) is inextricably linked with the future of Australian offshore processing policies.
Four years after reopening the centers on Nauru and Manus Island, the Australian government still has no answer to where and when the people found to be refugees there will be resettled. As domestic and international pressure builds for the situation to be resolved, the Supreme Court of PNG has ruled the detention of people at the male-only center on Manus Island to be illegal and unconstitutional, thereby triggering their “release” into a new phase of limbo. The men previously detained at the center now have some freedom to move around Manus Island, but remain limited in their ability to move on from there, and are fearful of violent clashes with some of the locals. The PNG and Australian governments have indicated that further announcements will be made “in due course,” but details of the alternative arrangements under consideration have yet to emerge. Some refugees have been moved to Lae, the second-largest city in PNG, but there are grave fears for the safety and well-being of these and other men who may be sent there and expected to integrate. On Nauru there appear to be even fewer options about where refugees might ultimately be settled.
Other than Cambodia, various possibilities have been floated, including the Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Canada, and Malaysia, but no concrete resettlement offers have materialized. Meanwhile the Australian government has contracted a new organization to provide services to the lone refugee still left in Cambodia under the agreement. Whereas previously the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was contracted to fill this role, the agency appears to have been either replaced or supplemented by Connect Settlement Services, which provides settlement services to refugees on Nauru. Rumors abound about what might have triggered the change, and the reasons why IOM might have pulled out of its agreement with Australia. As with most aspects of Australian asylum policy, the truth is murky.Lives in Limbo
Looking to the future, there are two imperatives. First, the men, women, and children found to be refugees on Nauru and the men on Manus Island need an urgent resolution to their cases. After years of waiting in limbo, living in conditions falling well short of what is required by minimum human-rights standards, and exposed to violence and abuse that has been widely documented by rights groups, the United Nations, and Australian government inquiries, the people being held offshore face dire issues of mental health and overall well-being. Experts on both islands describe adults and children deteriorating so quickly and drastically that they do not have years or even months of resilience left. An outcome is long overdue.
Second, refugee-rights organizations make clear that this outcome must be appropriate to people’s needs. In addition to the basic services and support that any resettlement country and program should provide, the resolution to these cases must take into account the additional harm they have endured during their prolonged detention and time spent in limbo in Nauru and PNG. Many of these adults and children will require long-term psychological support to help them recover from their experiences since arriving in Australia. Organizations working with these groups say specialized counseling will be particularly necessary for those who have been raped, assaulted, or otherwise abused in the detention centers or settlement camps, as well as for the families that have fallen apart as a result of detention conditions.
Human-rights groups also point out that appropriate access to a suitable health-care system will be vital for the people with serious health concerns that have been left unaddressed or inadequately treated for months or years on end. Those whose education and employment have been interrupted during their detention will also need additional support to help them regain their independence and rebuild their lives.
Above all, the 2,000 people who have been trapped in the “parallel universe” of offshore detention for the last few years will need strong communities to help them readjust to freedom, and settle into life in their new countries. Australia’s legal obligations to remedy the harm caused by its policies would suggest that people can only be resettled to countries where these services are already in place, and which have the capacity to meet their needs now—not at some aspirational point in the future.Sources
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By NYEIN NYEIN / THE IRRAWADDY| Friday, September 23, 2016
The Burma Army conducted airstrikes on Friday in Kachin State’s Waingmaw Township, continuing a weeklong offensive against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), a KIA spokesperson has told The Irrawaddy.
Offensives against the KIA’s Brigade 5 have been ongoing since earlier this week, while military maneuvers have increased against other KIA brigades—2, 3 and 4—in Kachin and northern Shan states for months, according to KIA spokesman Lt-Col Naw Bu.
Naw Bu said “two helicopter gunships shot at the Lai Hpau Bum [or Lai Hpau post] for about 30 minutes, starting at 2 p.m.” on Friday.
He told the Irrawaddy that since Tuesday, Burma Army troops used 120 mm and 105 mm artillery to attack Lai Hpau and nearby outpost Nhkaram, which are about three kilometers away from the Myitkyina-Bhamo highway.
The KIA troops are a security unit, used to defend the KIA headquarters in Laiza, which is about 30-40 kilometers from the current area of engagement.
Since fighting renewed in June 2011—after a 17-year ceasefire between the former military government and the KIA—the Burma Army has used its air force and artillery to attack the Laiza headquarters and its surrounding units numerous times.
The KIA has not yet signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), which is a necessary step to take part in the national political dialogue at the decision-making level. However, leaders from the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization, joined the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference—also called the Union Peace Conference—held in late August.
Naw Bu said that the offensives could be an effort to “put pressure on the KIA” to sign the NCA, in order to “implement the Burma Army’s plan to bring the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of non-state armed groups,” which was raised by military representatives during the Union Peace Conference.
He added that the KIA “would have to continue defensive actions against the Burma Army troops.” The combined forces of the government’s Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 381, LIB 121, Infantry Battalion (IB) 360, IB 50, IB 260 and IB 29 are stationed in the area. Since mid-2011, many locals in the area have fled their homes and those displaced are still unable to return.
The Irrawaddy tried to contact the government, its National Reconciliation and Peace Center and military spokespersons but they could not be reached for comment.