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Bangladesh: WFP Bangladesh Country Brief, March 2017

21 April 2017 - 6:17am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

Highlights

  • The WFP Bangladesh Country Strategic Plan for 2017 to 2020 was approved by the WFP Executive Board in February in its First Regular Session of 2017. It will replace the Country Programme and Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation starting on 01 April 2017.

  • School feeding assistance will be expanded to the learning centres established by UNICEF and IOM in the makeshift sites of Cox’s Bazar. Distribution of fortified biscuits is expected to start 09 April, initially targeting 1,843 children in 27 learning centres, and gradually increasing to 21,000 children as more learning centres are established in 2017.

Operational Updates

  • WFP Bangladesh’s Country Strategic Plan (CSP, 2017-2020) was approved by the WFP Executive Board in February in its First Regular Session of 2017. The CSP will be operational beginning 01 April 2017.

  • School feeding assistance will be expanded to the learning centres established by UNICEF and IOM in the makeshift sites of Cox’s Bazar. The School Feeding Unit, in partnership with UNICEF, has determined training of trainers for the Government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the Learning Centre Management Committees and school teachers on implementation strategies, and monitoring and reporting mechanisms. Distribution of fortified biscuits is expected to start on 09 April with an initial target of 1,843 children in 27 learning centres, gradually increasing to 21,000 children as more learning centres are established in 2017.

  • The National Plan of Action for Nutrition formulated by a Task Committee of which WFP has been part was approved. It is currently with the Prime Minister’s office for signature.

  • On 12-15 March, a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission visited Shyamnagar, Kaliganj, Koyra and Dacope sub-districts to observe a range of Nobo Jatra project activities.
    Nobo Jatra/New Beginning is a Food for Peace project of World Vision, WFP and Winrock International that aims to achieve improved gender, equitable food security, nutrition and resilience of vulnerable people within Khulna and Satkhira districts in Bangladesh.

  • On 12-16 March, the Country Office supported the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) regional nutrition expert on a field mission to Cox’s Bazar. The mission focused on the influx of new arrivals, with the primary objective of assessing their food and nutrition needs, current gaps in response and capacity in ongoing programmes to address increased needs.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Humanitarian Snapshot (20 April 2017)

21 April 2017 - 5:57am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

Over the past seven months Myanmar has experienced a surge in new displacement in four states, while humanitarian organizations simultaneously faced severe constraints on access. Border post attacks on 9 Oct 2016 and subsequent security operations triggered a new humanitarian crisis in northern Rakhine. Intensified conflict resulted in new displacement in Kachin and northern Shan. Thousands were also relocated in Kayin State due to fighting in Sep 2016.

Myanmar: Kachin, Myanmar: families displaced countless times

21 April 2017 - 5:24am
Source: Solidarités International Country: Myanmar

After a 17-year-long cease fire, fighting erupted again in Kachin State, northern Myanmar, since 2011. The resumption of hostilities provoked large population displacements, in both government-controlled areas (GCA) and non-government controlled areas (NGCA). In 2011 alone, more than 90,000 were displaced across 142 camps. Due to the intensification of violence since April 2016, 30,000 men, women and children have been newly displaced.

Through its Rapid Response Mechanism, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has been responding in emergency to the water, sanitation and shelter needs of the numerous displaced populations in Southern Kachin State. The newly displaced people since April 2016 add to the 87,000 individuals already settled in the 142 camps and host sites of the country.

Daw Ngwar Ma Lu – 78-years old Lisu woman from Pen Se village – lives in Sadung temporary camp with her grandson’s family. On 27th December 2016, the area surrounding her village was bombed. At first, she temporarily fled with her family to China. Soon after, they moved to Sadung camp, in the non-government controlled areas.“I heard very loud bombings and the ground started to shake. My grandson picked up some family items and we all fled the village by motorbike,”Daw Ngwar Ma Lu describes with a trembling voice. “I am old and suffer from severe pain in my whole body, especially my back. There has been so much fighting in Kachin, I have forgotten how many times I have had to flee from battle”.

Provide for people’s needs

Active in Kachin State since 2012, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL intervenes to respond to the needs of conflict-affected communities in Southern Kachin, by providing hygiene, shelter and NFI kits to displaced families. In Sadung temporary camp, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has also provided sanitation access and treatment for the water supply.

“I am very thankful to SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL for providing us with humanitarian aid. There used to be a lot of open defecation in the bush near Sadung temporary camp, because of the lack of latrines. Now we have latrines and also access to drinking water!” Daw Ngwar Ma Lu explains. “The items distributed (blanket, mat and cooking pot) are also very useful, as we could not bring our own when we fled”.

Myanmar: Nearly 170 Houses Relocated As Irrawaddy River Bank Erodes

21 April 2017 - 12:57am
Source: The Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By SALAI THANT ZIN 20 April 2017

ZALUN, Irrawaddy Division — Nearly 170 houses and a high school have been relocated in two villages in Zalun Township because of erosion to the banks of the Irrawaddy River.

A total of 126 houses and a high school in Gone Nyin Tan village and 43 houses in Atut village have been moved, said the township’s administrator, U Kyaw Naing Tun.

“The banks have been steadily eroded by the river since the last rainy season,” he told The Irrawaddy.

People who were forced out of their homes are staying at their relatives’ houses or at makeshift tents in paddy fields. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement stated it has provided cash and supplies for the victims.

U Kyaw Naing Tun said he had instructed authorities to find suitable land for the resettlement of victims, adding he would ask the divisional government for financial help.

Locals in several nearby villages have also reported bank erosion, caused by a change in the course of the Irrawaddy River.

“The erosion was slow before, but this week the bank eroded rapidly day and night,” said U Tin Aye, the administrator of Thadu Chaung village-tract. “Part of the bank about 700 feet long disappeared in Gone Nyin Tan.

“As it happened so fast, we had to remove and relocate the houses quickly. Almost half of the village is gone now.”

“We are building an embankment to prevent erosion,” said U Hla Moe, the director of the Irrawaddy Division Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems.

“We’ve presented our plans to the divisional government to prevent further erosion within the budget of this and the next fiscal year.”

Locals said, however, that building embankments would not stop the erosion and only diverting the course of the river would help solve it.

Myanmar: Myanmar Allows Regional-Level Political Talks to be Held in Volatile Shan State

21 April 2017 - 12:36am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

The Myanmar government will allow ethnic organizations in Shan state to hold regional-level political discussions on April 23-25 in the run-up to national-level talks, a military official said on Thursday.

But the government has decided not to permit preliminary talks among ethnic Shan groups in the volatile state where some local militias are engaged in hostilities with the national army, said Lieutenant Colonel Sai Nyin, spokesman of the RCSS.

The government military originally decided that the talks could be held in Mangpan, Monehtaw, and Nantpankhon townships, but the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), one of the dominant ethnic organizations in the region’s north, requested that they be held in the state capital Taunggyi because of difficulties in traveling to the others areas, he said.

“We requested that the government hold national-level political talks [for Shan State] in Taunggyi, but we haven’t received a response yet,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “But the government invited us for the regional level talks in Taunggyi.

“The RCSS’s Peace Working Committee will hold a meeting today, and we will decide on whether we will participate in these talks or not, and how many representatives we will send if we attend,” Sai Nyin said.

Sai Nyin insisted that national-level political talks among Shan ethnics must be held first before the regional talks can take place, he said.

He also said he believes it is the country’s powerful military rather than the civilian government of de facto national leader Aung San Suu Kyi that is not permitting Shan ethnic discussions, because it fears that the RCSS will dominate the talks.

The RSCC has been involved in recent clashes with the government military as well as hostilities with another ethnic militia—the Ta’ang National Liberation army (TNLA)—in northern Shan state.

“But the RCSS alone can’t lead the talks,” he said. “All Shan groups and organizations together will hold them,” he said.

“We are thinking that it could be difficult to participate in regional-level talks without holding ethnic-level talks [first],” Sai Nyin said.

Five topics—politics, the economy, security, social issues, and land and environmental issues—must be hammered out among the Shan people before starting regional discussions, he said.

“We will know what Shan people want on these topics only after we hold ethnic political talks,” he said.

“The government won’t allow Shan ethnic-level political talks, only regional-level ones,” he said. “It is not good for the Shan people.”

It will also be difficult for Shan representatives to attend the second round of the government’s nationwide peace talks known as the 21st-century Panglong Conference without holding ethnic-level political talks beforehand, he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been preparing for the second round of talks, which the government has postponed twice since February, in a bid to end decades of ethnic separatist civil wars that have plagued the country and prevented it from further political and economic development.

Eight armed ethnic groups, including the RCSS, signed a nationwide cease-fire agreement with the government in October 2015, but the RCSS has been accused of violating the pact’s terms.

Clashes in Shan state and neighboring Kachin state have resulted in an increase in the number of internal refugees and civilian deaths and have stymied Aung San Suu Kyi’s efforts to bring warring ethnic militias to the negotiating table.

Reported by Thiha Tun for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Khet Mar.

Myanmar: Ethnic Militias in Myanmar Form New Committee to Handle Talks With Government

21 April 2017 - 12:36am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Seven of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups formed a new committee on Wednesday to hold collective talks with the government in anticipation of the next round of nationwide peace negotiations.

Representatives from the Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA), Arakan Army (AA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), National Democratic Alliance Army- Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS), and United Wa State Army (UWSA) attended the meeting in Pangkham, the administrative capital of the UWSA-controlled territory in Myanmar.

The militias changed the name of the Political Dialogue Committee they had formed to hold talks with the government to the Union Political Negotiation Dialogue Committee, according to a statement issued by the groups after their five-day meeting.

The ethnic armed groups also agreed not to hold individual talks with the government, but rather to hold them through the new committee.

The statement also said that the militias had approved a general policy and position on peace negotiations during the meeting.

The UWSA—the largest nonstate army in Myanmar—submitted a report at the meeting on resolving difficulties in the peace process, the statement said.

The Union Political Negotiation Dialogue Committee will send the report, which all seven militias approved, to the central government, it said.

The government under de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi held the first round of nationwide peace talks, known as the 21st-century Panglong Conference, late last August in an effort to end decades of ethnic separatist civil wars.

But the government has twice postponed the second round of talks originally scheduled for February as fighting between ethnic militias and the national army continue in the northern and eastern parts of the country.

Eight other ethnic armed groups have already signed a nationwide cease-fire agreement with the government, which wants all ethnic militias to sign the pact in order to participate in political dialogue.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

World: The Column AHA Centre News Bulletin Volume 27, March 2017

20 April 2017 - 9:54am
Source: Association of Southeast Asian Nations Country: Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, World

Editors Note

Greetings fellow ASEANers!

This month’s edition of The Column covers a workshop that the AHA Centre conducted for the Familiarisation of DELSA Stockpile and THE ACT, where we provided training and simulation exercises at the WFP/UNHRD warehouse in Subang, Malaysia. It is the responsibility and function of the AHA Centre to continuously strengthen and deepen the ASEAN’s thinking of disaster management, to ensure that the region has a collective response to disasters.

Along with this concern, this issue will provide useful information towards the Impact of Disasters on Livelihoods. We also spoke with Ms. Grace Endina, DELSA Programme Assistant, for an edition of The Other Side as she shared her ambition in the disaster management field and her hopes towards the DELSA Programme.

Further on the 27th Edition of The Column, a series of meetings were conducted throughout the month. Relevant events include the 3rd PSC Meeting for the ICT System of the AHA Centre – Phase III, the 7th Meeting of the ACDM Working Group on Prevention and Mitigation, as well as the 12th Meeting of the ACDM Working Group on Preparedness and Response.

If you wish to share your suggestions, comments or anything, please do not hesitate to contact us at comm@ahacentre.org and we will do the rest.

Sincerely,

The Column Editor

Indonesia: The Column AHA Centre News Bulletin Volume 27, March 2017

20 April 2017 - 9:54am
Source: Association of Southeast Asian Nations Country: Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam

Editors Note

Greetings fellow ASEANers!

This month’s edition of The Column covers a workshop that the AHA Centre conducted for the Familiarisation of DELSA Stockpile and THE ACT, where we provided training and simulation exercises at the WFP/UNHRD warehouse in Subang, Malaysia. It is the responsibility and function of the AHA Centre to continuously strengthen and deepen the ASEAN’s thinking of disaster management, to ensure that the region has a collective response to disasters.

Along with this concern, this issue will provide useful information towards the Impact of Disasters on Livelihoods. We also spoke with Ms. Grace Endina, DELSA Programme Assistant, for an edition of The Other Side as she shared her ambition in the disaster management field and her hopes towards the DELSA Programme.

Further on the 27th Edition of The Column, a series of meetings were conducted throughout the month. Relevant events include the 3rd PSC Meeting for the ICT System of the AHA Centre – Phase III, the 7th Meeting of the ACDM Working Group on Prevention and Mitigation, as well as the 12th Meeting of the ACDM Working Group on Preparedness and Response.

If you wish to share your suggestions, comments or anything, please do not hesitate to contact us at comm@ahacentre.org and we will do the rest.

Sincerely,

The Column Editor

Myanmar: Cyclone Maarutha Track

20 April 2017 - 4:50am
Source: Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Ethnic Militias in Myanmar Form New Committee to Handle Talks With Government

20 April 2017 - 1:20am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Seven of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups formed a new committee on Wednesday to hold collective talks with the government in anticipation of the next round of nationwide peace negotiations.

Representatives from the Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA), Arakan Army (AA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), National Democratic Alliance Army- Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS), and United Wa State Army (UWSA) attended the meeting in Pangkham, the administrative capital of the UWSA-controlled territory in Myanmar.

The militias changed the name of the Political Dialogue Committee they had formed to hold talks with the government to the Union Political Negotiation Dialogue Committee, according to a statement issued by the groups after their five-day meeting.

The ethnic armed groups also agreed not to hold individual talks with the government, but rather to hold them through the new committee.

The statement also said that the militias had approved a general policy and position on peace negotiations during the meeting.

The UWSA—the largest nonstate army in Myanmar—submitted a report at the meeting on resolving difficulties in the peace process, the statement said.

The Union Political Negotiation Dialogue Committee will send the report, which all seven militias approved, to the central government, it said.

The government under de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi held the first round of nationwide peace talks, known as the 21st-century Panglong Conference, late last August in an effort to end decades of ethnic separatist civil wars.

But the government has twice postponed the second round of talks originally scheduled for February as fighting between ethnic militias and the national army continue in the northern and eastern parts of the country.

Eight other ethnic armed groups have already signed a nationwide cease-fire agreement with the government, which wants all ethnic militias to sign the pact in order to participate in political dialogue.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin

Myanmar: Myanmar: Establish an independent prisoner review mechanism to end politically motivated imprisonment

20 April 2017 - 12:52am
Source: Amnesty International, Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de I'Homme, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Fortify Rights Country: Myanmar

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PUBLIC STATEMENT

Index: ASA 16/6090/2017
20 April 2017

Joint statement by 22 national and international non-governmental organizations

On the occasion of the third anniversary of the death of U Win Tin, 22 organizations are calling for the immediate release of all individuals detained or imprisoned on fabricated, politically motivated charges, and for the establishment of an independent and effective prisoner review mechanism to bring about an end to arbitrary arrests and detentions in Myanmar.

U Win Tin, who served nearly 20 years in jail as a prisoner of conscience, famously pledged to wear a blue shirt, the same colour shirt he had to wear in prison, until all political prisoners in the country were released. On 21 April, people around the world will be wearing a blue shirt or blue clothing in solidarity with U Win Tin’s call, which is unfortunately still relevant today.

One year after the NLD-led government took power, and despite a series of prisoner releases, there are still scores of people behind bars as a result of politically motivated arrest and imprisonment.

Repressive laws which arbitrarily restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly remain in place, and authorities continue to use them to intimidate, arrest and jail human rights defenders, other peaceful activists, and members of ethnic minorities.

In addition, the civilian-led government has yet to take effective action to address the country’s long history of politically motivated arrest, detention and imprisonment.

We note that in her most recent report to the UN Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar has recommended that the government undertake by October 2017 “a comprehensive review of all cases, based on broad and public consultations with all relevant stakeholders in view of the discrepancies in the numbers of remaining political prisoners.”

Our organizations believe that the establishment of an independent, effective and properly resourced prisoner review mechanism with a clear mandate and procedures to address both short and long-term issues relating to spurious politically motivated prosecution would be an important step to address the decades-long problem of political imprisonment in Myanmar.

Such a review mechanism should:

  1. Review the cases of all those who may have been charged or deprived of their liberty simply for the peaceful exercise of their human rights or as a result of unfair, politically motivated trials. All those charged or detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights should be immediately and unconditionally released and all charges against them dropped. Other individuals detained on politically motivated charges should also be released, unless they are promptly charged with a recognisably criminal offence and remanded by an independent court, and those imprisoned after unfair trials should be retried in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness;

  2. Review all laws used to arrest, prosecute and punish political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and recommend to Parliament the repeal or amendment of all such laws to bring them into line with international human rights law and standards;

  3. Formulate and present recommendations to the relevant authorities aimed at ending the abuse of the criminal law to fabricate criminal charges against individuals for politically motivated reasons;

  4. Ensure that all conditions attached to the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are lifted;

  5. Provide support and assistance to former political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and their families by ensuring that they have effective access to restitution, compensation, assistance in gaining access to education and employment opportunities and other forms of reparation to enable them to resume a normal life;

  6. Share with the public its mandate, its terms of reference, and operational procedures, and publish regular activity reports;

  7. Be properly resourced, receive appropriate support and co-operation from government agencies, and be given access to all prisons and prisons’ records, as well as the authority to question relevant state officials;

  8. Be comprised of members who are selected according to objective and relevant criteria, including their independence and expertise in human rights, as well as have adequate gender and ethnic representation, expertise on gender issues and children’s rights. The Committee should be comprised of a wide range of stakeholders, including former political prisoners, prisoners of conscience and their representatives;

  9. Be provided with sufficient resources to ensure its functioning and human rights capacity and for it to be able to seek technical assistance and advice from external experts in this regard;

  10. Develop its programme of work in consultation with former political prisoners, their families and representatives, and takes into account the different experiences of women, men and children. The greatest tribute to the memory of U Win Tin would be to achieve his dream of the release of all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar. We believe that establishing such a review mechanism would be a positive step towards achieving that goal.

Background:

U Win Tin, a journalist and founding member of the National League for Democracy, was one of Myanmar’s longest serving political prisoners, describing his time in jail from 1989 until 2008 as “living in hell”.

On 7 February 2013, then President Thein Sein announced the establishment of the Committee for Scrutinizing the Remaining Prisoners of Conscience “to scrutinize the remaining political prisoners serving their terms in prisons throughout the country so as to grant them liberty”. However, it quickly became clear that the Scrutinizing Committee had serious shortcomings. By the end of 2014 it was unclear whether the Scrutinizing Committee was even operational, leading to increasing national and international criticism.

On 5 January 2015, then President Thein Sein announced the reconstitution of the Scrutinizing Committee into the Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee, which was to comprise 28 members and which would “promptly [carry] out prisoners of conscience affairs at the grassroots level.” However, it appears that the Committee never even met and no information has been made publicly available regarding its mandate, procedures or activities. The lack of information and action appears to justify concerns that the Committee had been reconstituted merely to deflect growing national and international criticism, rather than to resolve the issue of remaining political prisoners.

Signed by

Actions Birmanie (Belgium)
ALTSEAN-Burma
Amnesty International
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)
Association Suisse-Birmanie
Burma Campaign UK
Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
Burmese Muslim Association
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights
Fortify Rights
Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)
Free Burma Coalition-Philippines (FBC-P)
Info Birmanie (France)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
Korean House for International Solidarity
Odhikar (Bangladesh)
Progressive Voice
Swedish Burma Committee
US Campaign for Burma

Thailand: Thailand Border Operation: RTG/MOI-UNHCR Verified Refugee Population, 31 March 2017

20 April 2017 - 12:51am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Myanmar, Thailand

World: ACTED Newsletter, January - March 2017, N°94

19 April 2017 - 9:37am
Source: ACTED Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, World, Yemen

ACTED has been mobilised in the Sud and Grand’Anse departments since hurricane Matthew hit the region on 4 October 2016 to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to affected populations. In all sectors, needs reached high levels: Matthew caused terrible damages, casualties and losses, destroying houses, infrastructure and crops, and leaving 1.4 million Haitians in need of humanitarian assistance. In January 2017, after three months of unremitting emergency operations, ACTED teams launched the first recovery programmes: A review of six months of emergency operations and what comes next.

Improving access to water, hygiene and sanitation, and fighting cholera

Hurricane Matthew left some 750,000 people without access to safe water. ACTED teams rehabilitated water points and set up water treatment plants and chlorination points, especially beside rivers or stagnant waters, to prevent the consumption of water that may be contaminated and bring diseases like cholera. Also, with support from Veolia, the teams installed six Veolia water treatment units in the affected areas and trained populations on how to use them. The lack of access to safe water is one of the major causes of cholera and one of the top priorities for ACTED. Since October, the teams have been distributing over 520,000 Aquatabs for the disinfection of water as well as over 8,000 hygiene kits and some 10,000 soaps to tackle the sanitation crisis.

Heavy rains, floods and mudslides following hurricane Matthewled to new cholera outbreaks reaching alarming levels. Right after the hurricane in October, some 5,500 cholera cases were reported, up from only 2,377 in September, with half of the reported cases located in the Sud and Grand’Anse departments. ACTED cholera teams have been ramping up their activities to contain the epidemic and tackle its causes. This includes epidemiologic monitoring and investigation, rehabilitating health centres, identifying the areas of origin and vectors of cholera, improving access to safe water by testing and treating it, and raising awareness on the risks of cholera among populations to avoid the spread of the disease, changing mentalities, and ensuring best hygiene practices are established as a habit. Since October 2016, the teams rehabilitated four health centres and alerted over 60,000 people on the risks of cholera and how to avoid the disease

World: Asia Pacific Regional Reference Map: OCHA Regional Office for Asia-Pacific: Countries and Territories (As of 2017)

18 April 2017 - 8:00pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, China - Taiwan Province, Christmas Island (Australia), Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australia), Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Norfolk Island (Australia), Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam, World

Myanmar: Three Die in Cyclone Maarutha

18 April 2017 - 7:53pm
Source: The Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By San Yamin Aung

RANGOON — Three people were killed in Irrawaddy Division as Cyclone Maarutha made landfall on Arakan State’s coast and swept through southern coastal Burma on Sunday.

One person was killed in Hinthada Township—about whom no information has yet been released—and two women died in Labutta Township after being electrocuted by a live wire damaged in the storm, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.

The cyclone hit the seaside township of Thandwe in Arakan State, crossing Arakan and Shan states, and Magwe and Mandalay divisions on Sunday night, with 45 to 50 kilometers per hour (28 to 32 miles), said U Kyaw Moe Oo, deputy director general of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH).

The storm also brought strong winds and heavy rains to other divisions and states including Irrawaddy, Rangoon, Pegu and Mon. It weakened on Monday morning.

According to the ministry’s data, the cyclone blew out the roofs of 81 houses, and a school in Thandwe. In Munaung Township of the same state, about 17 houses, 11 schools and three monasteries suffered damage.

The winds also caused damage in Taungup, Kyaukphyu, Ramree, and Ngapali townships. In Irrawaddy Division, a house collapsed and the roofs of four other houses were blown out. A house also reportedly collapsed in Magwe.

Cyclone Maarutha has faded, said U Kyaw Moe Oo, though a potential storm forming in the Bay of Bengal needs to be watched until mid-May.

“There was not a high number of casualties as the cyclone’s wind speed was not strong enough and also awareness and experience of storms have increased,” he added.

“As there were quick updates from both state and private media, the news about the storms informed people well and could have helped reduce the damage.”

Myanmar: New cyclone shelters in Kayin State

18 April 2017 - 6:44pm
Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Posted by Global New Light of Myanmar Date: April 10, 2017

NEW cyclone shelters will be built in Hlaingbwe and Hpa-an townships in Kayin State, southern Myanmar, to provide protection to residents from natural disasters, according to Kayin State government.

People residing in Hlaingbwe Township and Hpa-an, the capital town of the state, are vulnerable to natural disasters, including cyclones.

The two towns yearly experience flooding in June, July and August due to heavy rain.

The new 60x60x28-feet cyclone facility in Hlaingbwe Township is designed to accommodate more than 400 people, while another shelter in Hpa-an Township can house approximately 400 people.

The National Natural Disaster Management Committee (NNDMC) allowed Ks118 million for the project to be implemented in Kamawkachu Village in Hlaingbwe Township and a further Ks116.8 million for another project on Kyain Ale Street in Ward-1 in Hpa-an Township.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the project in Hlaingbwe Township was recently held in the designated area. State authorities also inspected the project area in the town of Hpa-an to start construction.

Upon completion of the new schemes, emergency disaster management training and activities are planned for both cyclone facilities.

Nay Myo Lwin (IPRD)

Myanmar: Maarutha makes landfall, weakens

18 April 2017 - 1:17pm
Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Posted by Global New Light of Myanmar Date: April 18, 2017

Cyclone Maarutha weakened yesterday morning, but heavy isolated rainfall is expected over some regions and states today, according the Meteorology and Hydrology Department.

Rain or thundershowers will be fairly widespread in Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, Magway and Taninthayi regions, and Shan, Kayah, Kayin and Mon states. Rain will be scattered in Lower Sagaing and Yangon Regions, Chin and Rakhine States and isolated in the remaining regions and states with isolated heavy rainfall in Nay Pyi Taw, Taninthayi Region, Kayin and Mon states. The degree of certainty for the weather predictions is 80 per cent, according to the weather bureau.

Occasional squalls with rough seas will be experienced in the Ayeyawady Delta, the Gulf of Mottama and along the Mon-Taninthayi Coasts. Surface wind speed in squalls may reach 40 mph. Seas will be moderate elsewhere in Myanmar.

Cyclone Maarutha damages buildings in Kyaukpyu

Cyclone Maarutha’s winds caused damage in Kyaukpyu on Sunday, including one of the eight rooms in the internally displaced persons (IDP) building, causing a loss of Ks4.5 lakhs. The cyclone also caused damage in 70 households in eight villages, two medical facilities, two schools, one departmental building and two monasteries, resulting a total loss of Ks22,460,000 in Yanbye Township. In 18 villages in Manaung Township, damage occurred at six schools, two monasteries, the general hospital, seven households and other buildings, resulting in damages totalling Ks 4,864,000. Total losses in the district was Ks31,824,000. Police and firefighters continue to clear fallen trees. —GNLM

Myanmar: Myanmar: Media Monitoring Report - 20 March - 3 April 2017

18 April 2017 - 12:43pm
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Myanmar

PEACE AND RECONCILIATION

NCA signatories meet with DPN of UNFC in Chiang Mai

Eleven Myanmar, 20 March 2017

Leaders of eight Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signatories met representatives of the Delegation of Peace Negotiation (DPN) of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) in Chiang Mai on Sunday.

The UNFC was formed with ethnic armed groups that have not signed on to the NCA. The NCA has been signed by eight ethic armed groups so far.

“We are now updating the UNFC status,” said Phado Saw Kywe Htoo Win, the secretary-general of Karen National Union (KNU), which signed an NCA with the government. “We discussed the current situation of the UNFC. Information arising from meetings of the work committee of national-level political dialogue is being shared.

The representatives of DPN of the UNFC met with the government peace commission on March 3. The commission agreed in principle on a nine-point proposal submitted by the UNFC.

“All peace negotiators have the responsibility to create a safe and sound environment for the general public,” said the leader of the DPN Khu Oo Ral. “We need to be magnanimous and to be tolerant in seeking ways to ensure eternal peace. We need mutual trust.

“I hope we’ll achieve a good result in the near future if we discuss all matters in a transparent manner.” The proposal and general issues raised by the UNFC were discussed by the members of the Peace Commission and the DPN.

“We have discussed matters at least six times and I am pleased to see the observers from international organizations that monitored a press conference organized by the delegates from DPN yesterday,” said Dr Tin Myo Win, chairman of the peace commission.

Link: http://www.elevenmyanmar.com/politics/8390

Bangladesh: Rohingya Child Disappearances Spark Trafficking Fears

18 April 2017 - 4:39am
Source: Voice of America Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

KUTAPALONG CAMP, BANGLADESH — A spate of disappearances among the children of displaced Rohingya in Bangladesh is raising fears the children have been abducted into the region’s human trafficking networks.

In the past seven months, about 70,000 Rohingya have fled a military onslaught in their home country of Myanmar, and there are concerns the newly arrived status of the latest refugees makes them particularly vulnerable to abduction and exploitation.

Meanwhile the presence of unaccompanied minors, and the statelessness of the Rohingya refugees, could mean the problem is being significantly under-reported.

A talented child

When Rashida thinks of her 10-year-old son Muhammad, she thinks of his curiosity about the wider world.

“He used to read any kinds of paper, or paper cutting, he could get,” she says, eyes glistening. “He was a talented child, if a bit naughty.”

Rashida tells VOA that her husband was fatally shot during an offensive carried out by the Myanmar military during a lockdown of the country’s northern Rakhine state, home to the nation's Rohingya Muslim minority.

The lockdown followed an attack by Rohingya insurgents that killed nine policemen in October. Since then, there have been widespread accusations of mass rapes and murders as part of a broader campaign against Rohingya civilians — charges denied by the Myanmar government.

Like many others, Rashida fled and made her way to Kutapalong Camp, near the border with Myanmar in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district.

She sent her son off to study a nearby religious school while her 7-year-old daughter Hosneara remained with her in the camp.

A month ago, she got a call saying Muhammad had gone missing, having never returned to the school after a short trip to get food.

All efforts to find out what happened have so far failed. All Rashida has is a suitcase of his neatly folded clothes and a picture of him and his sister.

“My daughter is always crying, she says that she’ll never see her brother in the future,” Rashida tells VOA.

Speaking out

The disappearance of Mohammed is far from unique.

Attention is being called to the problem by Action Against Hunger, an NGO that has been helping Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar since well before the arrival of the latest refugees.

As many as 300,000 to 500,000 Rohingya are thought to now be living in Bangladesh. NGOs operating in the region and focused on Rohingya issues are often reticent to discuss their plight publicly because of political sensitivities. However, the child disappearances have prompted country director Nipin Gangadharan to speak out.

Gangadharan, whose NGO has created a series of "safe spaces" for youngsters, says his group has recorded the disappearance of 16 children since January.

He said most of those children came with the newly arrived Rohingya families, who face a “new context” and are cut loose from the community structures they had established in Myanmar.

”They don’t have any support … so they have some kind of set-up where they're leaving the children assuming it's safe and they're going to try to earn some living," he says. "Those kind of separations heighten the risk."

One humanitarian worker who did not want to be identified told VOA that that aid groups are aware of roughly 150 Rohingya children who had made the crossing into Bangladesh unaccompanied.

Trafficking fears

Little is known beyond the fact of the disappearances themselves — which have taken place both inside and outside the camps.

However, Gangadharan said human traffickers are known to have a strong network across the Cox’s Bazar region and to target both Bangladeshis and Rohingyas.

A report in 2014 on child abductions in Bangladesh revealed that of 49 children who had been recovered, the highest number — 15 — came from Cox’s Bazar. Last year, local media reported that trafficking syndicates in Cox’s Bazar involved around 2,000 people.

The traffickers are known to force children to work, beg or smuggle drugs, and have even harvested their organs. Gangadharan said the recently disappeared children "could be used as part of this network.”

A U.S. State Department report on trafficking released last year noted the vulnerability of the Rohingya in particular, and added that while the Bangladesh government does “not yet fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” it is “making significant efforts to do so.”

Questioned on human trafficking, Abuzar al-Jahid, captain of a Bangladeshi government-backed border guard team operating around the Myanmar border, said his team “would not allow those kind of activities,” adding it took a “zero tolerance approach.”

Gangadharan agreed that Bangladeshi authorities have been “positive and understanding” in response to the disappearances.

However, he emphasized that because of their lack of citizenship or relationship with the Bangladesh state, there is a chance such disappearances are going under-reported.

Word spreads

Word of the disappearances has spread.

Mohammed Idris — a teacher at a recently built religious school within Kutapalong who is also a father of seven — is fearful and has heard rumors of ransom demands.

“We’re very sad about losing these children,” he says.“We’re even hearing that they are taking the kidneys from some of the children.”

For Rashida, these fears have already been realized.

Now, all she can do is try to protect her daughter, continue to search, and look to her faith for consolation.

“I expect that I'll get him back if Allah wishes,” she says.

Myanmar: Responders at the ready as Cyclone Maarutha hits Burma

18 April 2017 - 3:08am
Source: Mizzima News Country: Myanmar

Regional authorities in Arakan State and Magwe Division say they have been busy laying preparations for any damage and destruction as a tropical storm crossed Burma’s western coastline last night.

With wind speeds of between 50 and 60mph, Cyclone Maarutha was reported on Sunday night to have edged inland from the Bay of Bengal and was on course to pass between Sittwe and Thandwe [Sandoway].

This morning at 6:30, Burma’s meteorology department announced that the storm had weakened as it crossed littoral and inland areas. No casualties have been reported.

Tin Maung Swe, the secretary of the Arakan State government, said regional authorities had been preparing for the past three to four days for the storm.

“Over the past three to four days, we have taken all the necessary measures and relocated those in danger,” he said. “We have also sent in first aid materials, medicines and boats. Ministers have spread out to all areas in the cyclone’s path to respond quickly.”

The National Disaster Preparedness Central Committee said that it has sent in emergency materials for up to 2,000 families.

In Magwe, the regional government has asked religious visitors and shopkeepers at the Shwe Sattaw pagoda to evacuate as the site is unsafe.

Magwe Social Minister Dr. Khin Maung Aye said, “We are requesting pilgrims to leave and asking shopkeepers to close down.”

On Saturday, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement issued a warning to tourists to exercise care if heading to beach resorts on the western coast. “There may be high waves in Rakhine [Arakan] and the [Irrawaddy] delta; therefore visitors to beaches should be careful,” said the announcement. “There is a possibility of flash floods. Those living or visiting towns along the routes of streams and rivers should pay particular attention.”

The beach resort of Ngapali, near Sittwe, is especially popular during the New Year festivities and is renowned as a Mecca for foreign tourists and expats in Burma during holiday seasons and long weekends.

Meanwhile, the US-based website weather.com has warned of landslides and mudslides in Burma in the days ahead. It predicted five inches (13cm) of rainfall between Sunday and Tuesday in affected areas.