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Myanmar: Changing lives in partnership: DCA-NCA Joint Country Programme Myanmar 2017-2021

24 February 2017 - 4:37pm
Source: DanChurchAid Country: Myanmar

Our vision

All people in Myanmar enjoy a dignified life, and are able to know and exercise the full range of their human rights in a safe, just and peaceful way, based on a true appreciation for diversity of all kinds, and respect for democratic rules and principles.

About DCA-NCA Myanmar

DCA-NCA works in partnership with civil society organisations, includ­ ing faith-based networks and institutions, to strengthen their contribution to building a vibrant, safe and prosperous Myanmar, together with the public and private sectors.

From 2017 to 2021, we have agreed with our partners to focus on three thematic programmes in two geographical areas, East and Southeast and in the Dry Zone in the middle of Myanmar.

Thematic areas

1. Fighting Inequalities

Goal: Communities and individuals, especially women and men who are civil society leaders, human rights defenders, survivors of gender-based violence, gain more knowledge and skills to confidently participate in decision making, and advocate for justice and quality public services.

  • Active Citizenship
  • Natural Resource Governance
  • Eliminating Gender-Based Violence

2. Saving Lives and Building More Resilient Communities

Goal: The poorest and most vulnerable rights holders, especially small-scale farmers and communities that are affected and displaced by natural disasters and/or armed conflict are able to survive and develop stronger preparedness and resilience to tackle and recover from extreme situations. Communities practice climate resilient livelihoods, experience food security, and know how to protect themselves against risks of mines and unexploded ordinances.

Communities are well-organised and take active part in assessing and responding to humanitarian needs and providing humanitarian assistance.

  • Resilient livelihoods, Food security, Climate change adaptation
  • Community-led Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Safer Communities and Mine Risk Education
  • Protection, resettlement and livelihood support to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
  • Humanitarian Action, specialising in cash grants and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)

3. Capacity Development of Partners Organisations

Goal: DCA-NCA partner organisations receive guidance and assistance to assess their own capacity building and development priorities, and to create plans and generate resources to improve their performance and impact. Partner staff and DCA-NCA own staff have opportunities for personal and professional growth, and experience a professional and ethical work environment where learning and innovation is highly encouraged.

DCA and NCA Globally

DCA was founded in 1922 as part of rebuilding efforts in war-torn Europe in the aftermath of World War I. DCA today remains a humani­ tarian and development organisation dedicated to helping and advo­ cating for oppressed, neglected and marginalised groups. DCA works in 19 countries in Africa, South and South East Asia and the Middle East. www.dca.dk

NCA was founded in 1945, in response to suffering and displacement in Europe at the end of the World War II. NCA now works in more than 30 countries in Africa, South and South East Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. www.nca.no

DCA and NCA work to protect and assist those most in need, regardless of their ethnicity, creed, political or religious affiliation.

As faith-based organisations, DCA and NCA value and support the role that religious communities and organisations can and do play in promoting human rights and contributing to development. We also support and encourage interfaith networks and initiatives aimed at improving education, tolerance, stability and peace, through develop­ ment and humanitarian action.

DCA-NCA Myanmar

DCA and NCA have supported partners and programmes in Myanmar since the early 1990s, and both our organisations established country offices here in 2008. From 2017, DCA and NCA started to operate as one joint NCA-DCA country programme, team and office. DCA-NCA works in close partnership with a few short-term partners and around 20 long-term core partner organisations in Myanmar.

ACT Alliance

NCA and DCA are members of the ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together), a coalition of 143 humanitarian organisations and churches across more than 130 countries working together to eradicate poverty, assist disaster-affected communities, and safeguard human rights. In Myanmar, the ACT Alliance Forum comprises of 9 members with a pilot joint project in Kayin state focused on building community capacity and resilience to natural disasters and conflict.

Core Humanitarian Standard

In January 2017, DCA in Myanmar was certified on the Core Humanitar­ ian Standard on Quality and Accountability {CHS).

DCA-NCA is fully committed to accountability and quality management in our policies and throughout our work, and we systematically com­ municate and seek to demonstrate these in the projects we support, and to all staff and partners. https://corehumanitarianstandard.org/

Donors

Current donors include: European Commission, Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA, German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO), Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), START Network, and UNICEF.

Partners - for a comprehensive list of partners and a look at the whole programme, read the brochure here (5.70 MB)

Myanmar: Emergency Grant Aid to residents and displaced persons in Rakhine State, Republic of the Union of Myanmar

24 February 2017 - 11:45am
Source: Government of Japan Country: Japan, Myanmar
  1. On February 24, the Government of Japan decided to extend Emergency Grant Aid of 10 million US dollars to residents and displaced persons affected by the destabilized situation in northern Rakhine State, Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

  2. This Emergency Grant Aid is to provide humanitarian assistance, such as provision of food, non-food items and shelters as well as cooperation which will contribute to the development such as nutrition program to residents and displaced persons in both communities of Muslims and Buddhists still in strained relations in Rakhine State through World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Besides, it is also expected to contribute to the peace-building through education and vocational training aimed at building trust between the two communities in the area.

World: Watch List 2017, Special Report N°3 | 24 February 2017

24 February 2017 - 11:38am
Source: International Crisis Group Country: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Chad, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), World, Yemen

Global Overview

Whether unprecedented or not, the challenges currently facing our global security are immense and cause for considerable alarm. It is difficult to think of a time in recent history when there has been such a confluence of destabilising factors – local, regional and global – hindering collective capacity to better manage violence. These overlapping risks, unchecked, could coalesce into a major crisis – indeed we are currently experiencing a spike in global conflict violence – without the safety net of solid structures to deal with it.

When Crisis Group was founded, its premise was that bringing field-based expert analysis to the attention of (principally) Western policymakers could effect positive change in both preventing and ending situations of deadly conflict. Much of that premise still holds, but for us, as for others, it is no longer sufficient: the West can no longer be viewed either as homogenous or an oasis of tranquility. Increasingly, too, its self-projected image as an unalloyed force for good is becoming exposed. Greater efforts are needed, and urgently, both to understand better the growing dangers of conflict seeping from one arena to another; and to engage a broader array of actors with the capacity to effect positive change.

This document seeks to do two things. First, it aims to highlight those conflicts which Crisis Group believes threaten to worsen significantly unless remedial action is taken. Inevitably perhaps, the countries selected represent a partial snapshot. For that reason we place them explicitly in their regional contexts. But even so, strong arguments can be made for the inclusion of others: examples include Afghanistan, Ukraine, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the South China Sea and Democratic Republic of Congo. A case could be made, too, for the Western Balkans, perhaps, or Central Asian states. That we could provide a rival, equally valid list is itself cause for concern. For each conflict, we seek to indicate the contours of possible policy responses based on ground-up analysis. In putting forward tentative prescriptions, our principal target is the European Union (EU), its institutions and member states, whether working directly or in conjunction with others. An underlying premise of this report is our belief that the EU has the potential – indeed faces an imperative – to bring to bear all the tools at its disposal fully to do its bit, in concert with others, to preserve the threatened field of conflict prevention.

Second, the list can be read as one document. Percolating through it are the range of interlinked dangers and stresses that makes this era so perilous. Essentially, these can be distilled down to three. First, an increasing fusion of the domestic with the international. Second, a sense of crisis overload. And third, growing uncertainty about hitherto assumed structures and institutions to collectively manage danger.

All ten conflicts possess international dimensions, in many instances overwhelmingly so. In such crowded landscapes – with a multitude of actors and equally broad range of motivations – navigating a route to peace becomes immeasurably more difficult. The growing prevalence of non-state armed groups and in some instances their propensity to fracture, together with the blending of licit and illicit economies, churns yet more this complex terrain. This increasing fusion of local and global is reflected further in heightened nationalism and ideological dogmatism, with – as things stand – the triumph of policies designed to cater to short-term tactical imperatives as much if not more than preserving or ensuring long-term stability. This can be seen in burgeoning intolerance to the mass movement of people, as actions are taken to stem or push back the flow without trying adequately to address the reasons why such movement is underway on such an unprecedented scale.

It can be witnessed in the resort to muscular security responses that can neither fully contain the threat nor address its underlying causes. And it is manifested in some actors resorting too readily to the rallying cry of counter- terrorism, with its playbook of repressive measures and eschewing the very inclusivity invariably essential to sustained peace. In the balance between soft and hard power, the latter currently is dominant.

All this, of course, is playing out against – and in part driven by – a growing diffusion of power globally. This in and of itself is not a bad thing, but the uncertainties such a shift throws up are cause for concern. Further, the stresses to which Europe is currently exposed; the revival of geopolitics; and uncertainty about the future direction of the trans-Atlantic alliance and the underlying commitment to the UN of its traditional power-brokers, represent significant challenges to hitherto durable assumptions about the role of international institutions and law, and the web of alliances built up in the past 70 years. So far so gloomy (and without touching on climate change or demographic trends). But this report also, we believe, contains within it ideas which might contribute to a needed course correction. In essence, it constitutes a call to learn old lessons amid these new dynamics.

What, in particular, might this mean for the EU? We posit two broad observations, outlined in more detail in the following pages. They sit on top of an underlying imperative to ensure that through their actions the EU and its member states do not contribute to generating further harm. In many instances where room for positive change is currently heavily circumscribed, avoiding worse constitutes progress.

First, we seek to identify what Europe’s leverage is with regards to specific conflicts and regions. Often it is indirect, but no less important for that. Frequently, too, we suggest it will involve maximising opportunities presented of shared interests and a division of responsibilities in their pursuit. In this regard, as in all others, speaking with as unified a voice as possible is imperative: dissonance can be exploited. Providing maximum support to the new UN Secretary-General in his efforts to revive that organisation’s work in conflict prevention must also be a priority.

Second, in virtually every crisis we cite, a better balance is required between the desire for quick impact and the need to put in place sustainable solutions. The two need not be at odds with each other – we should reject the notion that it is a binary choice. But it will require Europe to speak out more clearly in defence of core values – in deed, not simply rhetoric; to make clear that its humanitarian and development assistance is for those most in need, not solely for the pursuit of political ends; to nudge conflict parties toward pursuing peace through inclusive dialogue, not simply force; and to prioritise the pursuit of better models of governance, the absence of which is at the root of so many of today’s conflicts.

To some these may appear as thin reeds on which to float notions of charting a more positive course. But in the current atmosphere of uncertainty, through articulating clear, principled and strategic goals and how, tactically, it will seek to work toward them in conjunction with others, Europe has the opportunity to make a significant contribution toward a more stable and peaceful future. by dialogues with other regional organisations to develop an understanding

Myanmar: A National Education Strategic Plan for a prosperous, peaceful and united Myanmar [EN/MY]

24 February 2017 - 4:21am
Source: Government of Australia, UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar, 23 February 2017- The first National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) was launched today in Nay Pyi Taw by Myanmar’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The Plan includes a common policy framework which sets the strategic directions for the next five years; a clear road map for guiding all investments in the sector, both domestic and international; and a vehicle for coordinated implementation efforts.

“The Plan is based in fundamental principles, namely that education in Myanmar is a right of every child, regardless of race, sex, socio-economic and citizenship status, and abilities, and regardless of where they live; as well as that those who were not given the chance to go to school or dropped out should not be left behind”, affirms Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar and Development Partner co-chair. “This is an historic moment for the country, an affirmation of what Education in Myanmar should always have been - a key to the country’s development, social cohesion, peace and national unity”.

The Plan reaffirms that creative solutions and partnerships must be built to ensure that everyone is equipped with the skills to help them to continuously learn, chose and seize opportunities, and actively contribute to the country’s progress to democracy, peace and prosperity.

Thousands of teachers, headmasters, education experts, civil society organisations and parliamentarians have been contributing to the nation-wide comprehensive education sector review (CESR) initiated in 2012. The Plan launched today is a culmination of this effort, and is based on evidence and inputs through an unprecedented consultation effort in Myanmar’s recent history.

“The launch of the Plan is the achievement of a long journey which started with the education sector review, but it is also the beginning of a new one”, affirms Nicholas Coppel, Australia's ambassador to Myanmar and Development Partner co-chair. “We must continue to support this roadmap for the benefit of all children in Myanmar, so that it is owned by all stakeholders, and helps unite all actors in support of education.”

The Plan can be a flexible instrument in the discussions on decentralisation and convergence of systems between those run by the Government and those run by Ethnic groups; as well as on performance improvement with full involvement of headmasters, teachers, parents and children.

“Education is the key that unlocks the potential of individuals and of society as a whole’ ”, adds Nicholas Coppel

“At the same time, we need peace for ending displacements that interrupt classes and we need to make schools more respectful of minorities, their identities and their languages to fulfill every girl and boy’s right to education in Myanmar”, concludes Bertrand Bainvel.

Australian Aid Program in Myanmar

Australia’s development assistance in Myanmar aims to support the reform process by improving the quality of education; promoting peace and stability; and promoting inclusive economic growth and government management. For more information about the Australia aid program in Myanmar

Please visit: http://dfat.gov.au/geo/myanmar

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AustralianEmbassyMyanmar

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: https://www.unicef.org/myanmar

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unicefmyanmar

For more information please contact:

Mariana Palavra, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Myanmar, 099795452618, mpalavra@unicef.org Htet Htet Oo, Communication Officer, UNICEF Myanmar, 09250075238, hoo@unicef.org Jay Frere Harvey, Second Secretary, Australian Embassy, jay.frereharvey@dfat.gov.au

Myanmar: Locals Say Armed Groups ‘Disappear’ Civilians Caught in Northern Shan Conflict

24 February 2017 - 12:44am
Source: The Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By LAWI WENG 23 February 2017

NAMTU, Shan State — During recent clashes in northern Shan State, Shan and Palaung (Ta’ang) ethnic armed groups have “disappeared” civilian farmers from Namtu town, according to local community leaders.

The two armed groups—the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)—have fought sporadically since 2015, when the RCSS leadership signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with the Union government. The TNLA has refused to sign the NCA.

During a recent visit to Namtu town, Shan and Palaung rights groups and community leaders told The Irrawaddy that both ethnic armed groups had detained or “disappeared” civilians—a majority of them coming from Namtu—whom they accuse of supporting the other side in the ongoing conflict.

In November, the TNLA detained 11 ethnic Shan civilians, and the RCSS arrested 11 Palaung people, local leaders told The Irrawaddy.

Many of the civilians in Namtu are internally displaced persons (IPDs) who already had fled the conflict in their home villages and had moved to Namtu seeking safety, making their disappearances doubly tragic.

As soon as the civilians were detained in November, Shan and Palaung community leaders created a joint conflict resolution committee. The committee members agreed to work together for the release of all civilian detainees.

In December, the conflict resolution committee persuaded the TNLA to release 11 ethnic Shan detainees.

“We went three times to meet with our [TNLA] armed leaders, and we negotiated for them to release the Shan prisoners. We talked to the top level first, then the middle, and finally to the ground level soldiers. Finally, we won the release of the Shan detainees,” said Tar Aike Taike, a senior member of the committee.

However, the RCSS has so far refused to reciprocate, frustrating many Palaung people.

Tar Aike Taike said he feels unhappy that Shan community leaders have failed to persuade the RCSS to release its 11 Palaung prisoners, despite four months having passed. He said that no one knows if the Palaung prisoners are still alive.

“We want to know whether our people are still alive, or if they were they killed already. We have tried the best we can to free them, but the Shan community leaders have been unable to help us,” he said.

The 11 Palaung prisoners were farmers staying in Namtu Township. They were detained by the RCSS one day while walking to tend their garden in the nearby mountains.

The Irrawaddy also made phone calls to ethnic Shan members of the conflict resolution committee. Shan committee member Sai Hseng Linn blamed logistical problems for delaying the committee’s work.

“Yes, we formed the committee, but we have not met each other in person yet,” he said. “So we haven’t been able to work together to rescue those victims.”

The committee members need to meet each other face-to-face, and there needs to be more discussion by the committee in order to win the release of the ethnic Palaung prisoners, he told The Irrawaddy.

Sai Hseng Linn claimed that he did not have power to negotiate directly with the RCSS, and he alleged the other side—the TNLA—of detaining additional Shan people.

Committee member De De Poe Jaing, an ethnic Palaung leader, rejected Sai Hseng Linn’s statements. If the committee was so disorganized, she argued, how did we already get the TNLA to release 11 Shan prisoners?

“His [Sai Hseng Linn’s] words are just false,” she said. “Our [ethnic Palaung] people worked to have the 11 Shan prisoners released. But the Palaung prisoners are still disappeared.”

Myanmar: Myanmar: Populations at Risk - Current Crisis (15 February 2017)

23 February 2017 - 1:39pm
Source: Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect Country: Myanmar

Myanmar (Burma)

Stateless Rohingya in Myanmar (Burma) face systematic persecution that poses an existential threat to their community. The current counterinsurgency operation and ongoing human rights violations against the Rohingya amount to possible crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

BACKGROUND:

The situation in Rakhine state in northwest Myanmar remains dire following a series of attacks on border guard posts on 9 October 2016 by what appears to be a newly established armed group. Since the joint army-police counterinsurgency operation began on 10 October, there have been widespread reports of mass arrests, rape, forcible removal, extrajudicial killings and the widespread destruction of Rohingya buildings and mosques. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of January 2017 more than 23,000 people remain displaced in Maungdaw township as a result of the October attacks and subsequent security operations.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a 3 February report based upon interviews with civilians who fled from Myanmar since 9 October 2016, detailing "widespread and systematic" attacks against the Rohingya, including extrajudicial and summary executions, enforced disappearance, torture, as well as rape and other forms of sexual violence. The report reiterates that government forces have very likely perpetrated crimes against humanity. Based on additional victim and eyewitness accounts, Human Rights Watch presented findings on 6 February indicating that Myanmar government forces committed rape and other sexual violence against Rohingya women and girls in a "coordinated and systematic" manner.

On 29 January one of Myanmar's most prominent Muslim lawyers and adviser to the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, U Ko Ni, was murdered outside Yangon International Airport. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, called for an urgent investigation, noting "this appears to be another shocking example of a reprisal against those speaking out on behalf of the rights of others."

The Rohingya, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority group, have been systematically disenfranchised and marginalized under discriminatory laws in Myanmar. In March 2015 the former government invalidated the identification cards held by many Rohingyas, forcing them to apply for citizenship as "Bengalis," implying their illegal migration from Bangladesh. This follows the government denying Rohingyas the ability to self-identify on the national census of March 2014, the first since 1983.

Former President Thein Sein signed into law the last of four so-called "Protection of Race and Religion" bills in August 2015. These discriminatory laws place harsh restrictions on women and non-Buddhists, including on fundamental religious freedoms, as well as reproductive and marital rights. Rohingyas were largely disenfranchised in advance of Myanmar's historic November 2015 elections and continue to be denied citizenship and other fundamental human rights.

The cumulative impact of deteriorating living conditions, combined with ongoing persecution, has led tens of thousands of Rohingyas to flee to neighboring countries, where they are often subject to further abuse, human trafficking and refoulement. According to OCHA, an estimated 69,000 civilians have fled Rakhine state to Bangladesh since October. During January the government of Bangladesh announced its intention to transfer Rohingya refugees to an island in the Bay of Bengal before returning them to Myanmar.

While the previous government signed ceasefire agreements with several ethnic armed groups, conflict continues in other parts of Myanmar. Intensified conflict between Myanmar's military forces (Tatmadaw) and ethnic armed groups in Kachin and Shan state resulted in deteriorating humanitarian situation. As of January, there are 87,000 IDPs in Kachin state and 11,000 in Shan state.

ANALYSIS: The previous government's refusal to end discriminatory state policies against the Rohingya encouraged violations of their fundamental human rights and reinforced the dangerous perception of them as ethnic outsiders. The Protection of Race and Religion bills were intended to eradicate the Rohingya's legal right to exist as a distinct ethnic group in Myanmar. The NLD government, which has been in power for over a year, has yet to take any steps towards repealing discriminatory laws and anti-Rohingya policies.

The government's disregard for recent allegations by OHCHR and other international observers regarding government forces perpetrating atrocities against the Rohingya ensures that populations remain at risk in Rakhine state. The government's intention to investigate OHCHR's allegations through the local investigation commission, led by the retired army general and current Vice President Myint Swe, is problematic. International observers have deemed the commission not credible after interim findings published in January rejected overwhelming evidence of human rights abuses.

The killing of U Ko Ni, who was in the process of drafting a new constitution for the country, compounds the challenges facing democracy in Myanmar as his death could impede constitutional reform. With a pervasive culture of impunity, the Tatmadaw has not been held accountable for previous mass atrocity crimes. It appears that the NLD government is unable or unwilling to control the security forces operating in Rakhine state, threatening the safety of vulnerable Rohingya populations and other civilians.

The government of Myanmar is failing to uphold its primary Responsibility to Protect with regard to the Rohingya.

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE:

Following decades of military dictatorship, democratic reforms have contributed to rapprochement between Myanmar and the international community, including the lifting of sanctions. Citing progress on human rights under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, the European Union announced on 16 September that it would not be submitting a UN General Assembly human rights resolution on Myanmar for the first time since 1991, resulting in the closure of the office of the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar.

On 19 January the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) convened an Extraordinary Session in Malaysia regarding the situation of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar. The group released a Communiqué calling upon the OIC Secretary General to coordinate with the Myanmar government to allow a high-level OIC delegation to visit Rakhine state and requesting OIC representatives to engage with the UN and other international organizations regarding the Rohingya.

From 9-20 January Special Rapporteur Lee conducted her fifth official visit to Myanmar. At the conclusion of her visit Special Rapporteur Lee noted allegations of ongoing human rights abuses and raised alarm regarding widespread fear amongst civilians of potential reprisals by the government as punishment for speaking out. Special Rapporteur Lee will present a report about her visit to the Human Rights Council on 13 March.

On 6 February the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, reinforced that alleged crimes detailed in the OHCHR report "could amount to crimes against humanity" and "be a precursor of other egregious international crimes."

On 8 February Pope Francis made a statement in support of the Rohingya, who he said have suffered for years "simply because they practice their own traditions, their own Muslim faith."

NECESSARY ACTION:

The government must support the establishment of an independent, international Commission of Inquiry into the allegations of the commission of crimes against humanity by the security forces in Rakhine state.

While responding to the border post attacks, the NLD government and security forces must prioritize protection of civilians and ensure that all security operations in Rakhine state are fully consistent with international law. The government must expand accountability measures for human rights abuses committed by the security forces.

In Rakhine state the government must facilitate the safe, voluntary return of IDPs to their communities. All restrictions on access by humanitarian and human rights actors to Rakhine state must be lifted. Countries that receive Rohingya asylum seekers should offer them protection and assistance. ASEAN and OIC members should continue to urge the government of Myanmar to address immediate humanitarian concerns as well as the root causes of the crisis.

Last Updated: 15 February 2017

Myanmar: A National Education Strategic Plan for a prosperous, peaceful and united Myanmar

23 February 2017 - 11:06am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar, 23 February 2017- The first National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) was launched today in Nay Pyi Taw by Myanmar’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The Plan includes a common policy framework which sets the strategic directions for the next five years; a clear road map for guiding all investments in the sector, both domestic and international; and a vehicle for coordinated implementation efforts.

“The Plan is based in fundamental principles, namely that education in Myanmar is a right of every child, regardless of race, sex, socio-economic and citizenship status, and abilities, and regardless of where they live; as well as that those who were not given the chance to go to school or dropped out should not be left behind”, affirms Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar and Development Partner co-chair. “This is an historic moment for the country, an affirmation of what Education in Myanmar should always have been - a key to the country’s development, social cohesion, peace and national unity”.

The Plan reaffirms that creative solutions and partnerships must be built to ensure that everyone is equipped with the skills to help them to continuously learn, chose and seize opportunities, and actively contribute to the country’s progress to democracy, peace and prosperity.

Thousands of teachers, headmasters, education experts, civil society organisations and parliamentarians have been contributing to the nation-wide comprehensive education sector review (CESR) initiated in 2012. The Plan launched today is a culmination of this effort, and is based on evidence and inputs through an unprecedented consultation effort in Myanmar’s recent history.

“The launch of the Plan is the achievement of a long journey which started with the education sector review, but it is also the beginning of a new one”, affirms Nicholas Coppel, Australia's ambassador to Myanmar and Development Partner co-chair. “We must continue to support this roadmap for the benefit of all children in Myanmar, so that it is owned by all stakeholders, and helps unite all actors in support of education.”

The Plan can be a flexible instrument in the discussions on decentralisation and convergence of systems between those run by the Government and those run by Ethnic groups; as well as on performance improvement with full involvement of headmasters, teachers, parents and children.

“Education is the key that unlocks the potential of individuals and of society as a whole’ ”, adds Nicholas Coppel

“At the same time, we need peace for ending displacements that interrupt classes and we need to make schools more respectful of minorities, their identities and their languages to fulfill every girl and boy’s right to education in Myanmar”, concludes Bertrand Bainvel.

Australian Aid Program in Myanmar

Australia’s development assistance in Myanmar aims to support the reform process by improving the quality of education; promoting peace and stability; and promoting inclusive economic growth and government management. For more information about the Australia aid program in Myanmar

Please visit: http://dfat.gov.au/geo/myanmar

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AustralianEmbassyMyanmar

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: https://www.unicef.org/myanmar

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unicefmyanmar

For more information please contact:

Mariana Palavra, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Myanmar, 099795452618, mpalavra@unicef.org

Htet Htet Oo, Communication Officer, UNICEF Myanmar, 09250075238, hoo@unicef.org

Jay Frere Harvey, Second Secretary, Australian Embassy, jay.frereharvey@dfat.gov.au

Myanmar: UNICEF applauds as Myanmar signs the Paris Principles on children associated with armed forces and groups [EN/MY]

23 February 2017 - 5:00am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar, 22 February 2017- UNICEF welcomes Myanmar’s signature of the Paris Principles on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups on the occasion of the Paris 21st Feb 2017 Conference, organized by UNICEF and France.

The Conference marked the 10-year anniversary of the Paris Principles and Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces and groups. Myanmar is the 107th country to sign the Paris Principles, which are an important framework for the reintegration of children into civilian life.

"We congratulate the Myanmar Government for another important step to ensuring children who are wrongfully recruited are identified, released and receive long-term support.” says Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar.

The signature is also a positive sign of the ongoing cooperation between the United Nations and the Government, which resulted in the 2012 Joint Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children. Since then, important actions have been taken, including the release of 800 children from the ranks of the Myanmar Army.

"UNICEF reaffirms its support for the release and reintegration of all children, and take this opportunity to further encourage the Government to extend rehabilitation and support to children released from non-state armed groups, and to ensure their protection“, says Bertrand Bainvel.

UNICEF calls on the Government to continue to confirm its commitment to end recruitment and use of children by armed forces by adopting the new Child Law and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

“Whilst the peace discussions are ongoing and the 21st Century Panglong Conference scheduled for March, UNICEF reminds all parties on the importance to stop recruitment and use of children immediately without waiting for a peace agreement”, concludes Bertrand Bainvel.

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: https://www.unicef.org/myanmar

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unicefmyanmar

For more information please contact:

Mariana Palavra, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Myanmar, 099795452618, mpalavra@unicef.org

Htet Htet Oo, Communication Officer, UNICEF Myanmar, 09250075238, hoo@unicef.org

Myanmar: Monastic Education in Myanmar (State/Region Level) 2016-2017

23 February 2017 - 4:38am
Source: Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: No. of Schools and Students in Monastic Education in Myanmar (Township Level) 2016-2017

23 February 2017 - 4:36am
Source: Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

World: Amnesty International rapport 2016/17 La situation des droits humains dans le monde

23 February 2017 - 3:55am
Source: Amnesty International Country: Bangladesh, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Honduras, Hungary, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), World

PRÉFACE

Le Rapport 2016/17 d’Amnesty International rend compte de la situation des droits humains dans le monde en 2016. L’avant-propos, les cinq résumés régionaux et l’étude au cas par cas de la situation dans 159 pays et territoires témoignent des souffrances de femmes, d'hommes, d'enfants en grand nombre, qui ont subi les conséquences des conflits, des déplacements forcés, de la discrimination ou de la répression. Ce rapport montre aussi que, dans certains domaines, des progrès significatifs ont été accomplis en matière de protection et de sauvegarde des droits humains. Bien que tout ait été fait pour garantir l'exactitude des informations fournies, celles-ci peuvent être modifiées sans avis préalable.

Myanmar: Myanmar Rohingya Not Returning, Despite Halt in Crackdown

23 February 2017 - 2:33am
Source: Voice of America Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

Maaz Hussain

Many Rohingya Muslims who fled alleged killings and other rights abuses during a Myanmar military crackdown in northern Rakhine state say they are not willing to return to their homes, despite last week's announcement that the military operation in the region has ended.

Quoting Myanmar's national security adviser, Thaung Tun, a statement from the office of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi last week said the situation in northern Rakhine had been stabilized and the clearance operation by the military had been halted.

But many Rohingya say that despite the end of the military operation, the situation in Myanmar, also known as Burma, remains hostile for them.

"That military operation might have ended, but the oppression of the Rohingyas in Burma has not ended," Dil Mohammad, 30, a Rohingya refugee living in a shanty colony in the Cox's Bazar district of Bangladesh, told VOA. "Rohingyas still cannot freely go for livelihood-related activities like fishing, farming and collecting firewood in Burma. If some Rohingyas are found in such work, they are being arrested by police.

"Life continues to be full of hardships for all Rohingyas in Burma. In such a situation, I shall not return to Burma. I think as many as 96 or 97 percent of the new refugees in Bangladesh will not return to Burma."

Rohingya community leader Nurul Islam said most of the Rohingya who fled Myanmar during the recent military crackdown were so petrified by the killings and torture they witnessed that they are too scared to go back to their homes in Rakhine.

"Since violence subsided in Rakhine in the past weeks, some Rohingya from Bangladesh began returning to their homes," said Islam, the Britain-based chairman of the Arakan Rohingya National Organization, who is in Cox's Bazar now. "They are mostly those who had left part of their families in Rakhine while suddenly fleeing violence. They are going to Burma mostly to wind up their livelihood-related activities there and to bring the rest of their families back to Bangladesh.

"The military crackdown may have been halted, but crackdowns on the Rohingya in Burma are continuing in many other ways. All Rohingya refugees are aware of the risks and hardships they will face in Burma. So, Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh are largely not willing to return to Burma."

Abuse allegations

After nine policemen were killed in Rakhine on October 9 in an armed attack blamed on Rohingya insurgents, Myanmar's military launched a "clearance operation" in the area to ferret out the insurgents.

Soon after the operation started, Rohingya began fleeing the area, accusing soldiers, police and local Buddhist groups, who accompanied the forces during the raids, of abuses, including rapes, killings and arson.

Up to 100,000 Rohingya, as estimated by the community's leaders, crossed into Bangladesh.

Earlier this month, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said the action of the security forces in northern Rakhine very likely constituted "crimes against humanity."

A week later, two senior U.N. officials working among the Rohingya refugees said more than 1,000 Rohingya might have been killed during the four-month security operation in northern Rakhine.

However, quoting a military report, Myanmar presidential spokesman Zaw Htay said last week that fewer than 100 people had been killed during the operation. The Myanmar government has also consistently denied allegations of widespread abuses against the Rohingya people during the military operation.

A question of status

A controversial 1982 law renders the members of the Rohingya community ineligible for citizenship. The community was excluded from the 2014 census because the government refused to identify them as "Rohingya" and they refused to be enlisted as "Bengalis."

In recent weeks, the authorities have resumed the process of issuing National Verification Cards (NVCs) to Rohingya community members in Rakhine. Those who are holding the NVCs are identified as residents of Myanmar whose status of citizenship is under scrutiny.

Rakhine-based Rohingya rights activist Aung Aung said Rohingya were being coerced by authorities to accept NVCs and those who refused to accept them had been arrested, in some cases recently.

"For a Rohingya, holding an NVC virtually means he is not a citizen of Myanmar but a declared Bengali immigrant," Aung told VOA. "So most Rohingyas are not willing to accept NVCs. In recent weeks, in many villages, the security forces are not allowing the Rohingyas to move out of their villages if they cannot produce their NVCs. With this new restriction on movement, the Rohingyas are unable to perform many livelihood-related activities in Rakhine, which has brought new miseries to them.

"In such a situation, we fear we will see the exodus of more Rohingyas from Arakan in the coming days. It's easy to understand why no Rohingya refugee from Bangladesh will be keen to return home, despite [the fact that] the military brought a halt to the security operation some weeks ago."

Myanmar: Humanitarian Aid From Malaysia Arrives in Myanmar’s Troubled Rakhine State

23 February 2017 - 1:36am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar

Humanitarian aid sent by Malaysia for refugees in Myanmar’s beleaguered Rakhine state arrived in the state capital on Tuesday and will be distributed to both ethnic Rakhine people and Rohingya Muslims in three townships.

Malaysia has delivered hundreds of tons of food and other necessities, including rice, instant noodles, clothing, shoes, and hygiene kits, via the ship Nautical Aliya which arrived in Thilawa Port in Yangon region last week.

The items were loaded onto military ships that delivered them to Sittwe, capital of western Myanmar’s Rakhine state. From there they will be given to people in Sittwe as well as in Pauktaw and Myebon townships, Myanmar officials said.

The boat also offloaded food, medicine and other supplies at the port of Chittagong in neighboring Bangladesh for Rohingya refugees now living in camps scattered across Cox’s Bazar after they fled a violent crackdown in the northern part of Rakhine state.

Myanmar army soldiers and police locked down the area after a deadly attack on three border guard posts on Oct. 9, which authorities blamed on Rohingya militants.

The United Nations estimates that more than 1,000 people died and about 73,000 Rohingya fled to safety in Bangladesh during a security sweep of northern Rakhine. The U.N.’s human rights office has said that killings, arbitrary arrests, and rapes carried out by security forces in the region indicated “the very likely commission of crimes against humanity.”

The Myanmar government initially tried to block the ship from entering the country’s waters, saying that the Muslim organization behind the effort had not obtained official permission to land in Myanmar.

The government later declined Malaysia’s application to deliver aid to Sittwe and surrounding areas where many Rohingya have settled and instead issued clearance only for the port in Yangon.

The government also required that the supplies be delivered to both ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya living in the region.

Amnesty issues annual report

In a related development, London-based Amnesty International said in its latest annual report issued Wednesday that the state of human rights in Myanmar has seen no improvements despite a new civilian-led government coming to power at the end of March 2016.

The report noted that this is especially the case in Rakhine state where the situation of the stateless minority Rohingya group deteriorated significantly during the security operation after the border guard post attacks.

“The response collectively punished the entire Rohingya community in northern Rakhine state, and the conduct of the security forces may have amounted to crimes against humanity,” the report said.

“The government issued blanket denials that security forces had carried out human rights violations,” it said. “An investigation commission established by the government in December lacked credibility as it was headed by a former army general and its members included the chief of police.”

The government led by Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has denied nearly all the abuse allegations.

A national-level commission investigating reports of abuse of the Rohingya detailed in the U.N.’s Feb. 3 report has said that its findings differ from those of the U.N., and that people interviewed could not corroborate accounts of violence.

Meanwhile, Myanmar’s security forces are probing the deaths of eight Rohingya in custody who were among the nearly 600 arrested during the crackdown, Agence France-Presse reported.

Buddhists call the Rohingya “Bengalis” because they consider them illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh. The Myanmar government has denied them citizenship, though many have lived in Myanmar for generations.

Tens of thousands of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya have lived in internally displaced persons camps since being displaced by communal violence with majority Buddhists in 2012. The Rohingya are denied basic rights, freedom of movement, and access to social services and education.

Bangladesh meanwhile has refused to grant the Rohingya who live there in camps refugee status because it considers them citizens of Myanmar.

Reported by Min Thein Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Myanmar: UNHCR Bay Of Bengal Situation 2017 Funding Update as of 21 February 2017

22 February 2017 - 11:52pm
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand

6.8 M required for 2017

0 contributions received

6.8 M funding gap for the Bay Of Bengal Situation

All figures are displayed in USD

Bangladesh: Bangladesh – Health issues (DG ECHO, IOM) (ECHO Daily Flash of 22 February 2017)

22 February 2017 - 7:23am
Source: European Commission's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar
  • Acute Watery Diarrohea (AWD) is reportedly increasing in Kutupalong camp and Balaukhati settlement in Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh, where there has been a recent influx of Rohyngya refugees from Myanmar. An increasing number of cases were reported by humanitarian partners, raising concerns about a potential outbreak of cholera.

  • In order to contain the situation, a number of mitigation contingency measures were taken, including the setting up of Diarrheal Treatment Centres (DTC), disinfection of water points, construction of latrines, distribution of hygiene kits and reinforcement of hygiene messages. Agencies are also reviewing their contingency measures in case the situation deteriorates.

  • At the same time, partners have observed a measles outbreak among children in Cox’s Bazar. In order to address the situation, agencies are carrying out the Supplementary Immunization Activity (ISA), meant to contain the situation. In recent weeks, around 5 000 children have benefited from this treatment. Vaccination campaigns take place in refugee camps and surrounding villages.

World: Mixed Migration Routes: Southeast Asia (15 Feb 2017)

22 February 2017 - 4:38am
Source: International Organization for Migration Country: Bangladesh, Christmas Island (Australia), Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australia), Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, World

Missing Migrants Project tracks fatalities of migrants, including refugees, traveling along mixed migration routes around the world.

This map shows the different transit routes in Southeast Asia. #MissingMigrants.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Hpa-an Interview: Saw A--- and Saw B---, October 2016

22 February 2017 - 12:59am
Source: Karen Human Rights Group Country: Myanmar

This Interview with Saw A--- and Saw B--- describes events occurring in Hlaingbwe Township, Hpa-an District before September 2016, including forced labour, forced porters, arbitrary demands and fighting between armed groups.

  • Between 2014 and 2016, the villagers who live in E--- and F--- villages, Meh Proo village tract, were forced to do forced labour for the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) led by Commander-in-Chief, Kyaw Thet, and Second Commander-in-Chief, Bo Bee.

  • Before fighting broke out in September 2016 between the Border Guard Force, assisted by the Tatmadaw, and the DKBA, villagers from E--- and F--- villages were forced to porter rations and woven baskets containing landmines by the DKBA.

  • The DKBA arbitrarily demanded 100 baskets of husked rice from E--- and G--- villages to store and use during the fighting.

  • Between 400 and 500 villagers in Meh Proo village tract fled to D--- village because of the fighting between the BGF, aided by the Tatmadaw, and the DKBA, in September 2016.

Interview | Saw A--- and Saw B---, (males, 41, 34), E----, F--- village, Hlaingbwe Township, Hpa-an District (October 2016)

The following Interview was conducted by a community member trained by KHRG to monitor local human rights conditions. It was conducted in Hpa-an District on October 7th 2016 and is presented below translated exactly as it was received, save for minor edits for clarity and security.[1] This interview was received along with other information from Hpa-an District, including two other interviews, and 34 photographs.[2]

Ethnicity: Karen

Religion: Buddhist

Marital Status: Married

Occupation: Farmer

Position: Village heads

What is your name?

My name is Saw A---.

Where do you live?

I live in E--- village.

How old are you?

I am 34 years old.

What is your religion?

Buddhism.

Are you married?

Yes.

How many children do you have?

I have three children.

Do you have any responsibility in your village?

No.

Are you village head?

No I am not the village head, but after I came to live here the people elected me as temporary village head. I am the temporary village secretary and my other friend is also the village head. I do not know the village tract, township or district. You must ask the other village head.

May I know your name please?

My name is B---.

How old are you?

I am 34 years old.

Do you have a family?

Yes.

How many children do you have?

Four children.

Do you know what village tract, township and district you live in?

Saw B---: Meh Proo village tract.

What about Township?

I do not know.

What about District?

Hpa-an District.

When did you begin to flee?

We started fleeing on the 25th and arrived [in D--- village] on the 26th [of September 2016].

Where did you live?

I lived in F--- village.

How long have you been living here?

I do not know, I left my village on September 25th 2016 and reached D--- village on September 26th 2016.

How many people are there since the IDPs [Internally Displaced People] came to stay here?

I do not know, you should ask the other [D---] village heads who have taken note.

Can you guess how many people there are?

I guess there are around 400 to 500 people.

How many households are there in D---- [IDP] village?

The village head told us that there are around [censored for security] households.

Do you have enough food or necessities to live here?

Yes, we received many things that we need but we are not sure whether it will be enough for us to use or not, because ‘enough’ can be understood in many different ways.

Are there many groups that come to provide support?

Yes, many groups come to support us and they come almost every day.

How many organisations come to support you?

We do not know, but the D--- village head knows about it because he records everything.

How many villages fled here?

H---, I---, J---, E---, F--- and K--- villages. In total there are six villages.

Why did they flee?

They fled because of fear.

What do you mean by fear?

I mean we were afraid of the fighting; therefore, we fled to escape from the fighting. As you know, if two buffalos fight against each other the grass is trampled.

The fighting broke out between which groups?

The fighting broke out between the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA)[3] and the Border Guard Force (BGF)[4], with assistance from the Tatmadaw.

When did the fighting break out?

I do not remember.

Were there any villagers left behind in your village?

Saw B---: No one was left in my village, but some people from other villages were left behind.

Are they confident enough [about their security] to live in the villages?

Even though they are not confident enough to live, they have to do so because they do not think they have a future to live for.

You mean that the elderly people, who were around 60 and 70 years old, did not flee?

Saw A---: Yes.

How many of them did not flee?

Saw A---: There are two elderly people in E---village.

How many days did it take you to flee from your village to D--- village?

It took me one day to come here, but it was very hard for us to travel with children in the rainy season. We did not bring any rain clothes with us. My kids were crying when we were fleeing.

Did you flee in the night time?

Yes, we fled in the night time.

Did you flee there by yourself?

Yes, we fled here by ourselves.

Had there been any shelling in your village?

No, we just heard gun fire around our village.

Can you tell me how the incident happened, step-by-step?

Saw B---: We faced many difficulties even before we fled. Since we have been facing many things before the fighting took place, we felt more unsafe and it made us full of worry. If we say it in another way, when we put many kilos of pork on the weighing scale there will be too much weight for the weighing scale to weigh. When the fighting occurred we did not feel safe and we were thoughtful about the incident. We did not dare to face the BGF and the DKBA. As we were villagers this incident became one of difficulty for us. They did not respect us because they poured all our rice on the ground.

Who poured your rice on the ground?

The DKBA poured out our rice because they have no common sense.

Where did you store your rice? Did you keep it in your village or outside of your village?

We kept our rice in our houses and when they wanted to have the rice they [DKBA] just took it to cook with it.

Did they come to your house and take the rice?

Yes.

How did they use the rice?

They took the rice and poured it out on the ground.

Did they also take it to cook?

Yes, they took some of the rice to cook. They have eaten a lot of our rice. When we were in our village they told us that they would buy the rice from us, but we have not received any payment.

Did they promise to pay you for the rice before they took the rice?

Yes, but they did not pay us.

Do you know the names of the DKBA who poured out your rice?

Saya Myit and Thay K’Htee.

Which DKBA are they from? Do you know their company and battalion numbers?

They are from the DKBA whose base is in Hpa-an District.

Do you know their commander?

Yes, Bo[5] Bee is their commander. Saya Myit Aung is the column commander.

Why did they pour your rice [on the floor]?

I think because we fled and we did not live in our village during the fighting.

They just destroyed your rice?

Yes, they poured out our rice for the chickens and the pigs.

Did they take your rice after you fled from your village?

Yes, they took it.

When did they take your rice?

We do not know because they took it when we were not in our houses.

So it just happened recently, after the fighting?

Yes, but when we lived there they took the rice and did not pay us any money.

Which month did they take your rice without paying?

They demanded 100 baskets[6] of rice from each village on September 18th 2016. After everything we are not happy with this situation anymore.

How many villages did they demand rice from?

They demanded the rice from I--- and E--- villages.

Did they demand rice from only those two villages?

Yes.

Did you have to give 100 big tins[7]** of rice or 100 baskets of husked rice?**

We had to pay 100 baskets of husked rice.

Who led the group that demanded the rice?

I think Yaw Ku.

Is he a DKBA officer?

Yes, he is the DKBA battalion deputy commander.

Do you know the name of their battalion, for example Kloh Htoo Baw[8]** or Kloh Htoo Lah**[9]?

The DKBA who operate in here is Kloh Htoo Lah, it is called Bo Bee’s group.

What did they use 100 baskets of husk rice for?

I think as the fighting took place they might have used it during the fighting, but we had to transport all of the rice for them.

Did you carry [the rice] for them to their army bases?

We had to carry it for them wherever we were asked to transport it.

Did they force you to transport [the rice]?

I do not know whether they forced us or not, when they asked us we had to do what they asked. They did not transport the rice by themselves.

Did they threaten you?

Yes, they did.

What did they say?

They said that “_if you do not transport the rice, you will see my guns_”. It was a threat to us.

Is there any livestock left in your village?

Saw A--- and Saw B---: Yes, the goats, chickens, and buffalo were left behind in the village.

So all of your belongings were left in your village?

Yes, some of them stepped on the landmines.

Do you mean your livestock stepped on the landmines?

Yes, our buffalo and other livestock stepped on the landmines before we fled.

Who planted the landmines?

The DKBA.

Do you know when they planted the landmines?

I do not know.

Where did they plant [the landmines]?

They planted them where the buffalos’ path is.

Why did they plant the landmines?

Saw B---: I think they planted them to protect themselves from their enemies.

As the landmines were planted, were you confident to go to your workplace [farm]?

When we lived there we did not allow them to plant the landmines at the workplace [farm].

Did they pay attention to you?

Yes, when we were in our village they paid attention to us and they did not plant landmines in the areas where we would not allow them to plant them.

Did they notify you where they planted the landmines?

They did not notify us, but if we went with them to where they planted [the landmines] we knew the places where the landmines were planted.

Did they force the villagers to porter for them by carrying the landmines?

Yes, we carried the woven baskets with the landmines in. They [DKBA] did not carry it by themselves. We only knew the places where we went with them, but we did not even know every single landmine that they planted. They did not notify us where they planted the landmines. When we reached the place where they wanted to plant the landmines, they left us and went to other areas to plant the landmines. We did not go with them. They planted them by themselves and we also did not dare to get very close to them when they were planting the landmines.

Do you know the date when they asked you to carry the woven baskets, which [contained] the landmines?

I do not know because I did not carry it [the baskets], but the other villagers did carry it for them. Usually when they asked us to carry the woven baskets with the landmines in I never stayed in the village, as I went to do some other work outside of the village.

How many villagers had to serve as porters?

Many people had to serve as porters because we helped each other to transport it [the landmines’ baskets]. For example, when the basket reached my village, it would have been carried by villagers from another village.

Would they have done anything if the villagers did not [porter] for them?

Saw A---: If we did not carry for them they would act aggressively to us and they might have done some bad things to us.

Why are you afraid of them?

We are scared that they will kill us. There is no other reason to be afraid of them. If we say we will not do [something] for you they can open the guns and shoot us to kill us.

What did you do during the fighting?

Saw B---: Before the fighting had taken place we worked on our own work [farming], but after a long-time fighting they forced us to do more work for them. We were not able to do our own work anymore because this situation made us into displaced people. We were not able to work. We often had to work for them; therefore we could not earn a proper living to raise ourselves. They even took rice from us, so how do you think about the way they acted? As we are ordinary villagers we worked on the hill farms to earn enough for ourselves, not for them.

Only the DKBA forced you to work?

Yes, at the present time only the DKBA, because no other armed groups operate there [the area called Mae Th’Waw].

Were there many villagers who became displaced people?

Yes, I think the villagers who live around here all fled. All villagers who live in this village tract fled from their villages.

How many villages are in this village tract?

I think there are around 10 to 20 villages in this village tract. The villagers who live in L---, M---- and N--- villages also fled.

Do you think the fighting is still ongoing at the present time?

We do not see it with our eyes but we have heard that the fighting is still ongoing.

How many places do they flee to, to take shelter?

I think to many places.

Do you know the name of the places?

The villagers who lived beside main road fled to Myaing Gyi Ngu [Town], and other villagers fled to C--- and D--- villages.[10]

Which main road are you talking about?

O--- main road. They fled to many different areas.

Were there any children separated from their parents because of the fighting?

Yes. Some children were separated from their parents, as their parents stayed behind in the villages and their children fled to other places.

Were there any children who fled to D--- who were separated from their parents?

Yes, there are many of them in here. During the fighting it was not easy to find each other.

Have they reunited with their parents?

Yes, some of them already reunited with their parents and some have still not been reunited with their parents.

Do you know how old they are?

Saw A---: Yesterday, Naw N---’s aunt came looking for Naw N--- and her other sibling. She is 11 years old and her other sibling is ten years old. Her parents stayed behind in her village.

Where does she live?

She lives in E--- village.

Are the parents of them now living in their village?

Yes. They are my sibling’s children.

Are they confident [about their security] to live there?

Saw B---: I do not know, I think they have no other way to run and they do not know any other place to flee. One of the other villager’s wife fled to Myaing Gyi Ngu [Town] and he went back to live in his village.

How did he go back?

He went back by himself and currently we do not see him around in the village.

Did he disappear?

We do not know whether he has disappeared or not

Do you think something went wrong with him?

He has heart disease.

Do you think he is still alive?

I think he might still be alive but I am not sure as I have not seen him with my eyes.

**Why did he go back after he arrived in D--- village? **

He did not like living here and [he also] was not confident to stay. He was worried that people would come and launch guns here because many people stay in the same place.

How many villagers went back to their villages?

Only him.

Do you get enough household items from the organisations?

Yes, we received basic necessities.

**What did they distribute? **

They distributed rice, hoes, tarpaulin [tarp], black plastic buckets, plates, pots, spoons, cooking oil, noddle mama, mats, longyi [sarong], stoves, machetes, medicines, clothes and dry fish.

What do you do when the support is not enough for you?

If there is not enough for us to use we talk to the village heads.

What do community members here think about the IDPs?

The community members here welcome us, as they know that we do not dare to live in our village.

What do you think about IDPs?

We have been fleeing [displaced] because of fighting since our great grandparents’ generation; therefore, we want to get independence. We built nice houses and raised many livestock, but we had to leave them in the villages when we escaped from the fighting. We have to leave our hill farms and plain farms. It is a poor situation that we are facing.

Did you face any challenges during the fighting?

We were mainly afraid of the DKBA, and as of now we stay a bit far from them and we feel safer.

Which groups did they oppose?

I do not know. I think the Tatmadaw, the BGF, and the DKBA fought each other but I do not know who primarily opened fire.

Do you know any of the battalion commanders’ names?

You mean commanders from the BGF?

Yes, commanders from the BGF.

I do not know any of the commanders’ names.

What about commanders from the DKBA?

I know their commanders are Bo Bee and Bo Kyaw Thet.

Which armed groups operate in this area?

Bo Bee’s group controls this area.

Who maintains the security of the villagers who fled to stay in D--- village?

Bo Q--- maintains the security of the villagers here.

Do you know his rank?

We do not know as we never asked him. I think he is from headquarters.

Is he from the Burma/Myanmar government or the KNU?

He is from the KNU headquarters.

What is their purpose of fighting?

I think they are not happy with each other and that led them to fight. They want to control this area and they might think that if they control this area they might get some benefit.

Who was not happy?

The BGF and the DKBA were not happy with each other, because they disagreed and misunderstood each other.

Have any landmines been planted around your village?

I do not know as we currently do not live in our village. Before we fled many landmines were planted around our villages.

What kind of problems did you face when you used to live under the control of the DKBA?

We had to serve as porters [in the past]. If they did not have enough soldiers we had to serve as soldiers to increase their numbers. One household had to give one or two family members as porters.

Why did you have to serve, was it to increase the numbers of the DKBA soldiers?

It was not really like increasing the numbers of soldiers [when we were serving]. We had to serve as cooks and collect water for them.

Did you have to serve every day?

Yes, we had to serve every day but we rotated with other villagers.

How many people had to serve per day?

It depends on how big your family was. If you have more family members, then two people would have to serve and if you have small family then one person would have to serve.

When did they begin forcing villagers?

They began it [forcing the villagers] when they entered the area [Mae Th’Waw area] to operate.

How many years did they operate?

They operated for around three years, since they entered the area.

Do you still have to serve as porters in the present day?

Yes [no], we had to serve [in the past]. We served as cooks and collected water for them, but they still complained at us and acted aggressively. We faced many kinds of difficulties as villagers. They also told us that we were lazy. They were very mean to us.

Have they ever threatened the villagers?

Yes, but not all the time. They used to tell me that,_ “I would kill you and give 500,000 kyat [$370.17]_[11]_ to your wife [as compensation]”._

Where did you have to serve them?

In their army bases.

Do you know the place name of the army base?

Yes. We call the place Yaw K’Noh place.

Did every villager have to go to serve as a porter in Yaw K’Noh place?

Yes. We had to cook and collect water in Yaw K’Noh, as well as sleep there and serve food to them.

So, since they have entered the area, did you have to serve every single day until the fighting happened?

Yes, we served every single day without end.

What did the villagers do when they stay in their camp?

Before the fighting took place we had to cook, such as collect water and vegetables for them.

What kind of things did they force you to do during the fighting?

During the fighting they asked us to serve as porters.

Did they force you to serve?

No, they did not force us but we could not escape from them. We had to transport rice for them, over ten big baskets of rice. Therefore, we had to gather many villagers to transport the rice they required.

Where did you transport [the rice] for them?

Where we had to transport it depended on where the places that they asked us to go to were. Sometime we had to go to the jungle to transport it.

Where did they get the rice?

They got it from the villagers.

Where did they store the rice?

After they forced us to do many things for them and transport a lot of rice, we just fled to escape from them, as we did not want to serve as porters any longer. When we first transported the rice for them we took some rice to Yaw K’Noh Camp, and other army camps. Some rice still remained in the villages. They also asked R--- villagers to transport the rice.

What do they use the rice for?

They used it for themselves. If they were not able to go back to their main base during the fighting, they could use the rice anywhere they stayed.

Have they ever informed villagers before they entered the villages?

No, they never informed us in advance, but if the highest leaders, like Bo Bee, [came to the village] they informed us in advance. The soldiers never notified us in advance.

Have you faced any problems regarding health, education, and livelihood after you moved into the IDP [camp]?

Regarding health and education, we discussed with the village heads and everything is going well. In terms of healthcare, one of the children had to go to hospital in Mae Tauk village because of diarrhoea.

Are the displaced children able to study?

Yes, they are able to study here.

Have the BGF and the DKBA ever forcibly recruited soldiers?

We do not know about the BGF, but the DKBA asked some villagers to serve as home guards.

When did they [forcibly] begin it [the recruitment]?

They started it around two years ago.

How many people in a household had to serve?

It depended on the numbers in the family. If you had a big family then they asked two people to serve and if [you had a] small family then one person had to serve as a home guard.

How many years did they [villagers] have to serve?

They did not limit the years, but after we were recruited as a home guard they never dismissed us.

How many villagers in your village had to serve as a home guard?

Two villagers in my village had to serve.

Did they force them or did the villagers want to serve?

They forced them to serve in my village.

What are the names of the villagers who were forced to serve?

Saw S--- and Saw T--- were forced to serve.

Did they ask them to help in the recent fighting?

Yes, they were asked to help but they escaped before the fighting happened.

Where did they go?

They escaped together with us [villagers] to here. They were not interested in fighting; therefore, they ran with us.

Is there anything more that you need regarding support?

We need thermoses, and also thatched shingles because tarpaulin [tarp] is very hot for the children. If the weather gets too hot the children cry, so we need Ta La Aw thatched shingles.

Are any villagers forced to return?

No.

What do you think about the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA)[12]?

We are very excited to hear about the NCA, as we want the leaders to play peaceful politics, using pens instead of using guns. When guns are used in politics it causes the villagers to worry.

What do you need for your future?

We need full democracy and civilians’ rights.

Who built the shelter for you here?

We cut down the bamboos and built the shelters by ourselves.

When did you build the shelters?

We built them on September 28th 2016.

Do you want to return to your own village?

Yes, we really want to return because we have our plantations and other livestock.

Thank you very much for the information you shared.

Yes, thank you.

Myanmar: Myanmar: President and First Lady visit erosion-damaged areas in Haka

21 February 2017 - 11:57pm
Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

President U Htin Kyaw and officials observed the regional development tasks in Haka and Htantalan and warmly conversed with local residents.

The President and First Lady Daw Su Su Lwin together with Union Ministers and Chin State Chief Minister also went to observe the Yone Mountain that collapsed from erosion from heavy rain during the rainy season of July and August in 2015.

Officials presented explanations on the completion of rebuilding local dwellings and the Tawlanyay Lake destroyed by the collapse, preventive measures from natural disasters installed, and long-term security in case of a natural disaster to prevent as much damage as possible.

In line with the presentation, the President stressed the necessity of utilising the allotted national budget to effectively address the requirements of local residents and regional development and planting of appropriate plants to combat soil erosion.

Later on, a visit was made to the Zaytawun monastic school in Haka, the President and his wife reverently observed young monks in the care of Chin monastic Sayadaw Dr. Ashin Tejosara. Donations of charitable gifts were made.

Afterwards the President travelled to Haka’s Christian Church and was welcomed by Reverend Dr. Steven Lian Hom Lain. Reverend Paul Thom Kye’O then conferred blessings and wishes on the President and entourage and the President gave gifts to Haka’s various Christian sect’s 10 reverends. Afterwards they visited the general hospital in Haka and consoled the patients and gave cash donations, and observed the construction of new hospital wards.

Next, the President met with local residents in Botaikchun Hall and urged them to transparently report their necessities.

In the meeting, U Shan Man reported on upgrading the Haka-Tupi-Palatwa road to a cement road, upgrading streets and roads in Haka to asphalt roads, constructing a sawmill and timber sales office, constructing a hydroelectric power station in Haka, opening a technological university in Haka, and upgrading the general hospital in Haka to a 500-bed hospital. Also Chin Regional Government Secretary U Pyone Cho reported on developmental concerns in Tonzan, Tiddim, Falam, Haka, Tantalan, Mindat, Matupi, Kanpatlat, Palatwa townships, and in Rikawda, Lainlinwe, Rayzwa and Sa-me. Union Ministers U Win Khaing, Dr. Myint Htwe, Dr. Aung Thu, Lieutenant-General Ye Aung, Dr. Myo Thein Gyi, Deputy Minister U Kyaw Myo, Permanent Secretary U Soe Aung explained plans to handle the aforementioned issues. The President then observed the completed construction of buildings in Haka College.

Bangladesh: The ICRC in Bangladesh, facts and figures 2016

21 February 2017 - 11:54pm
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

In 2016, the ICRC continued to respond to the most urgent needs of the vulnerable households and communities affected by incidents of violence or other situations in Bangladesh, working together with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS).

Notably, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the ICRC supported vulnerable households among all ethnic communities with livelihood and water-related interventions, while in Cox's Bazar it ensured improved health care to the refugees from Myanmar and vulnerable residents. Elsewhere, the response included ad-hoc assistance to communities affected by incidents of inter-communal or other violence, support to emergency preparedness and response, assistance to migrants and detainees in restoring contact with their families, and help to people with physical disabilities to receive rehabilitation services from the ICRC-supported centers.

Read: the full facts and figures on ICRC's work in Bangladesh in 2016

Myanmar: Myanmar commission prepares to submit report on Rakhine

21 February 2017 - 11:33pm
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

A national-level commission investigating alleged atrocities against Rohingya Muslim villagers during a crackdown in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state is preparing to issue a report on its findings to President Htin Kyaw.

Vice president Myint Swe, who chairs the commission, said in a statement on Tuesday that the commission had completed probes of violence against the stateless minority group that had reportedly occurred in 21 villages mentioned in a United Nations report on the crisis.

A report issued on Feb. 3 by the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) concluded that abuses, including murder, torture, and rape, committed by soldiers and police indicated “the very likely commission of crimes against humanity.”

The OHCHR based its findings on interviews with more than 200 Rohingya who fled from villages in northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh during a crackdown after deadly attacks on border guard posts in October 2016 that officials have blamed on Rohingya militants.

Zaw Mying Pe, the commission’s secretary, said the group found a situation that was different from what was described in the U.N.’s report.

“The OHCHR’s report is far from the situation on the ground,” he said. “The U.N. commissioner didn’t review and check the information from people who were interviewed. It was as though they [U.N. rights investigators] recorded their answers and drew conclusions from them” without verifying them.

The commission said that it will submit a report to President Htin Kyaw with the facts they found.

The announcement also said the commission had asked the defense and home affairs ministries to help form groups to investigate the situation in Maungdaw township where most of the violence reportedly occurred.

The Myanmar military ended the four-month security lockdown in troubled northern Rakhine state last week and is conducting its own inquiry into the crisis, as is the Myanmar police force.

‘Not independent or credible’

Also on Tuesday, London-based Amnesty International blasted Myanmar’s efforts to investigate the violence in Rakhine and possible crimes against humanity as “not independent or credible” and “unlikely to deliver justice, truth, and reparations for victims and their families.”

The human rights group called for a U.N.-mandated independent international organizations into the human rights violations committed in Rakhine since Oct. 9.

“Investigators should be tasked with establishing the facts concerning alleged human rights violations, determining whether they constitute crimes against humanity, identifying the causes and alleged perpetrators, and making recommendations on the next steps needed to prevent impunity and ensure justice for victims,” the statement said.

“Failure to adequately investigate credible reports of grave human rights violations would send a message that security forces can commit crimes with impunity, contribute to further deterioration of the human rights situation in Rakhine state, and undermine efforts to tackle the root causes of violence and instability in the region,” it said.

The national-level investigation commission issued an interim report in January, saying it had found no cases of genocide or religious persecution of Rohingya living in the region in the wake of deadly border guard attacks last October and a subsequent security lockdown.

It also said its interviews of local residents about rape allegations had yielded insufficient evidence to take legal action, and that its investigations into accusations of arson, torture, and illegal arrests were ongoing.

Bangladesh weighs in

The U.N. has estimated that more than 1,000 died and about 73,000 Rohingya fled during the crackdown, most of whom are living in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh.

The influx of refugees prompted Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A. H. Mahmood Ali called on Monday to call on the international community to address Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya, Reuters reported.

He also said the influx across the river border between Rakhine and Bangladesh is detrimentally affecting the local population and undermining security

He made the comments during a meeting with Yanghee Lee, the U.N. human rights envoy to Buddhist-majority Myanmar, who is in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on a three-day visit to discuss the crisis with government officials and visit Rohingya refugee camps.

Lee will submit a report with her findings from a January visit to Myanmar, including violence-ridden areas of northern Rakhine, to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March.

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