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Myanmar: UNHCR Bay Of Bengal Situation 2016 Funding Update as of 30 August 2016

21 September 2016 - 12:43am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand

4.2 M required for 2016

809,938 contributions received, representing 19% of requirements

3.4 M funding gap for the Bay Of Bengal Situation

All figures are displayed in USD

Bangladesh: ECHO Factsheet -– Bangladesh – September 2016

20 September 2016 - 2:51pm
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

Facts & Figures

  • One of the most natural disasterprone countries in the world

  • One of the highest population density in the world: 1 237.51 persons/km2

  • The country hosts a large number of Rohingya refugees* coming from Myanmar Total EU* humanitarian aid to Bangladesh since 2007: €146 million including €11 million for 2016, out of which €2.7 million are for Disaster Risk Reduction, Disaster Preparedness and Resilience

Key messages

  • Bangladesh is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, exposed to a variety of natural disasters including cyclones, floods, earthquakes and landslides. A very high population density exacerbates the impact of localized disasters. Responding to the emergency and early recovery needs of people affected by recurrent natural disasters is an EU priority.

  • Bangladesh is an EU Flagship Country for Resilience, with a joint approach between humanitarian and development actions. Particular emphasis is put on three locations: Chittagong Hill Tracts, Cox Bazar and Satkhira.

  • The Rohingya, an ethnic, religious and linguistic minority who are subjected to exclusion and discrimination in their home country of Myanmar, have sought refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh for over 30 years. EU funding provides basic life-saving support to over 45 000 unregistered Rohingya refugees living in the Kutupalong makeshift camp and Leda site. In addition, an estimated 200 000 refugees together with the local host communities also receive assistance from EU-funded projects.

  • An estimated 600 000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition in Bangladesh, according to UNICEF. Addressing severe acute malnutrition in all humanitarian interventions is therefore essential, while at the same time joining up with longer-term support from development partners.

  • Following Tropical Cyclone “Roanu”, which brought heavy floods and mudslides affecting over 1.3 million people in mid-May 2016, the European Commission provided emergency support of €2.7 million.

World: EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2015 – Country and Regional Issues

20 September 2016 - 1:57pm
Source: European Union Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Western Sahara, World, Yemen, Zimbabwe

I. Candidate countries and potential candidates

The values on which the EU is founded, as set out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, are reflected in the accession criteria. These essential conditions, which all candidate countries must satisfy to become a Member State, include the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, respect for the rule of law, human rights and the protection of minorities. The current enlargement agenda covers the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey. The progress towards meeting these criteria is covered in depth in the European Commission's 2015 Enlargement Package1 . This year the Commission introduced a strengthened approach to its assessments in the annual reports on enlargement countries, which not only covered progress but also reported on the state of play and the countries' level of preparedness to take on the obligations of membership. The reports also provide clearer guidance on what the countries are expected to do.

The EU's enlargement policy remains focused on the 'fundamentals first' principle. Reflecting the core EU values and policy priorities, the enlargement process continues to prioritise reforms in the areas of the rule of law, fundamental rights, the strengthening of democratic institutions, including public administration reform, and economic development and competitiveness.

The 2015 EU Enlargement Strategy highlights the main challenges for candidate countries and potential candidates. Regarding fundamental rights, in the Western Balkans and Turkey the Commission continues to underline that while these are often largely enshrined in law, further efforts are needed to ensure implementation in practice. Freedom of expression presents a particular challenge, with ongoing negative developments in a number of countries. The Commission continues to prioritise work on freedom of expression and the media in the EU accession process.
There continues to be a need to better protect minorities, in particular Roma, who continue to suffer from discrimination and difficult living conditions. Discrimination and hostility towards other vulnerable groups, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons, is a serious concern. Additional work is also required to promote equality between women and men, fight domestic violence, ensure respect for the rights of the child and support persons with disabilities.

The functioning of democratic institutions also requires attention. The role of national parliaments in the reform process to ensure democratic accountability still needs to be strengthened.
Enlargement countries need to ensure the effective functioning of the institutional framework for the protection of fundamental rights and a much more supportive and enabling environment to foster the development of civil society as it will contribute to enhancing political accountability and a better understanding of accession-related reforms. The Commission continues to promote and support candidate countries' participation, and that of countries with which a Stabilisation and Association Agreement has been concluded, as observers in the work of the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency. Positive developments were registered in 2015 regarding The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Serbia.

http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2015/20151110_strategy_paper_en.pdf

Myanmar: Why so few women in peace talks, demand Myanmar campaigners

20 September 2016 - 4:41am
Source: Guardian Country: Myanmar

By Fiona MacGregor in Yangon

Rights advocates in Myanmar are calling on Aung San Suu Kyi’s government to halt discrimination against women after its failure to include them in talks to end one of the world’s longest running civil wars.

Read the full article.

World: Moment of Decision: Seeking Durable Solutions in Southeast Asia - Report of Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

20 September 2016 - 12:22am
Source: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Country: Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, World

WASHINGTON—As the United Nations General Assembly holds its refugee summit in New York, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Migration & Refugee Services has released a report assessing the refugee crisis in Southeast Asia.

While the Syrian and Central American migration situations have recently been in the spotlight, Burma /Myanmar's decades-long refugee crisis prompted a trip to the region also including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia. The USCCB Migration & Refugee Services delegation met with unaccompanied children, refugees, victims of human trafficking, local governments, Catholic and faith-based non-governmental organizations, and community leaders to better understand the humanitarian crisis and what can be done.

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, who led the delegation said, "This trip was eye-opening for me. I join my brother bishops in the Burma region and elsewhere to pray for peace and continued reform and rebuilding in the country. I pray for continued protection, humanitarian assistance, and pursuit of durable solutions for all those who are displaced."

The report comes at an important time for Burma, after six decades of being ruled by a military regime. Burma now has a democratically elected government. Some of the findings throughout the region include:

  • A special focus is needed on the Rohingya refugees challenge. Most of them suffer the vulnerabilities of being forcibly displaced, being stateless and thus targets of human rights violations and discrimination, and being victims of human smuggling or trafficking. Yet their plight is not addressed by either the national election or by the ethnic negotiations with the government.

  • There is a disturbing pattern of human trafficking of refugees and migrant workers throughout the region. In the last three years, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 170,000 people –Bangladeshis and Rakhine State Muslims from Bangladesh and Myanmar– have resorted to dangerous sea journeys across the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea at the hands of human smugglers and traffickers.

  • Those seeking refuge in temporary shelters in Thailand continue to experience a reduction in humanitarian support, including reduced food rations. Urban refugees in Malaysia also have serious humanitarian and protection concerns.

  • Increased numbers of Pakistani Christians seeking refuge in Thailand and Malaysia, who now constitute some 40 percent of all UNHCR refugees in Bangkok, are also in dire need of protection and durable solutions, as are Montagnard Christians from Vietnam who have fled to Thailand. Syrians, Iraqis, and Iranians who have fled to Malaysia are additionally experiencing difficulty finding protection and building new lives. And Indonesia has become a collection area for refugees who were turned away from seeking refuge in Australia.

The U.N. General Assembly and the U.S. co-sponsored Leaders' Refugee Summit take place September 19-20. The report and the summits are focusing on the need for shared responsibility by the international community to address this unprecedented crisis and the hope for all refugees to someday return to their homelands.

World: The People Being Talked About at the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants

20 September 2016 - 12:06am
Source: Médecins Sans Frontières Country: Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chad, Croatia, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Mexico, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Serbia, Slovenia, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, World

On September 19, United Nations (UN) member states came together to formulate a more “coordinated and humane approach to address large movements of refugees and migrants," according to the New York Declaration that was ratified today at the UN's Global Summit on Refugees and Migrants.

Many of the right things were said before and during the summit, but it's the follow up, the actions taken, that will dictate how much those words mean for the more than 65 million people displaced globally—the most there have been since World War II. Many concerns have already been expressed. Based on what our teams are seeing while providing emergency medical care to displaced people the world over, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has its own as well. The declaration aims for “concrete results in 2018,” which may be too long for many to wait. And some of the same states that ratified the declaration have been implementing increasingly harsh, restrictive, and often inhumane policies around refugees and migrants. Will this change anything?

And at all times, we must remember who we are talking about: men, women, and children who've been forced from their homes by war, privation, persecution, or some other crisis. Listed below are just some of the contexts in which MSF works, where the struggle to survive goes far beyond even the best intentions.

SYRIAN REFUGEES IN THE BERM

On June 21, in the name of national security, Jordan closed its northern border with Syria after a car bombing targeted a Jordanian military base near an area referred to as "The Berm." This left 75,000 people—four out of five of whom are women and children—stranded in the desert without assistance, with insufficient access to water, and with almost no access to food [in early August, UN agencies, using a crane, conducted a drop-off of food supplies intended to last one month]. The Berm is not a refugee camp, but rather an ad hoc settlement of people fleeing war where no one would choose to reside. No humanitarian aid organizations are currently able to provide assistance, meaning inhabitants of The Berm lack basic humanitarian services.

From May 16 to June 21, MSF was able to access the population trapped at The Berm. MSF teams saw patients with chronic conditions and serious life threatening diseases—such as diabetes, heart conditions, cancer, and congenital abnormalities— all of which require medical care to keep the patients alive. Our teams conducted 3,501 consultations and treated more than 200 malnourished children [10 of whom were severely malnourished] and 450 pregnant women, some of whom were high risk pregnancies. One baby was delivered.

The population is stuck in an extremely harsh environment without access to vital humanitarian assistance and still vulnerable to violence from Syria. The protection and the humanitarian and legal needs of the refugees must be the sole consideration for solving their isolated and dangerous living situation. The provision of humanitarian aid to The Berm must be allowed to resume, although the resumption of emergency aid is not a long-term solution, and leaving people to suffer in the desert is unacceptable.

SOMALI REFUGEES IN DADAAB

The sprawling Dadaab camp in Kenya is home to some 350,000 Somali refugees, making it the largest refugee camp in the world. Originally planned more than 20 years ago as a temporary camp, it has only expanded and suffered from lack of funding. Insecurity and violence have plagued the camp inhabitants.

In November 2013, an agreement was signed by the governments of Kenya, Somalia, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to promote the voluntary repatriation of camp residents as security began to improve in Somalia. Few people chose to return to Somalia, however, because security remained shaky in many places and had actually deteriorated in others. Nonetheless, as the end of the three-year agreement approaches, the government of Kenya has communicated publicly that efforts will accelerate to return Dadaab residents to Somalia for “security, economic, and environmental reasons.”

Despite repeated reports that the camp residents lack sufficient water, food, and shelter, participants in focus group discussions and a household survey conducted by MSF in August 2016 strongly indicated that they would prefer to remain in Dadaab where they feel more secure and have access to basic health services and education. Even though they are unable to live or move freely within the confines of the camp, most said they found Dadaab preferable to the instability, insecurity, and lack of basic amenities in Somalia.

In the _New York Declaration_, governments declared that refugee camps must be an exception, rather than the rule, for managing refugee flows. While keeping hundreds of thousands of refugees in Dadaab is hardly a long-term solution, forcing them back to Somalia is inhumane and in violation of _non-refoulement_, a law that forbids refugees or asylum seekers from being forced to return to places where they are in danger.

While it is evident that refugee camps are not ideal for managing prolonged refugee situations, closing them should not place people at greater risk. MSF strongly opposes the Kenyan government’s intention to close Dadaab. Without other feasible solutions, the closure of the camp means that refugees will be forced to return to Somalia, which holds dramatic and life-threatening consequences.

REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS IN LIBYA

Since the launch of search and rescue operations last year in the central Mediterranean Sea, MSF teams have saved more than 34,000 people from drowning and many other life-threatening situations. Regardless of their country of origin or their reasons for transport to European shores, almost everyone rescued in the central Mediterranean passed through Libya.

And almost all of them reported witnessing or experiencing extreme violence against refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in Libya including beatings, whippings with hoses, sexual violence, and killings. MSF medical teams onboard three rescue vessels in the Mediterranean continue to treat and bear witness to the consequences of physical and psychological violence inflicted on men, women, and growing numbers of unaccompanied children, some as young as 10 years old.

Although it can be difficult to definitively identify mental trauma in the short period rescued people spend on MSF boats, MSF medics have seen countless examples of the abuse and brutality endured on the migratory route through Libya. They’ve seen, to cite a few examples, a man with a week-old infected machete wound on his forearm, a young woman with a perforated eardrum caused by repeated blows to the head, men with severe swelling from beatings to the groin, a man with a broken collarbone and extensive scarring on his back from lashings he received while in detention, and a man with shattered hand bones from being hit repeatedly with a Kalashnikov rifle. Women have reported being raped, forced into prostitution or kept in captivity as domestic servants. They’ve reported unwanted pregnancies, knocked out teeth, and hands burned in fires, among the many acts of abuse.

THE MEDITERRANEAN CROSSING

Already this year, 3,198 people have died attempting to reach Europe. The Central Mediterranean crossing, from Libya to Italy, is almost twice as deadly as it was last year. With seemingly no political will to provide safe and legal alternatives to the deadly sea crossing, the European Union and European government policies continue to eliminate the safest exit routes, leaving people no other choice but to resort to overcrowded boats headed for Europe by inexperienced guides.

While the New York Declaration promises to strengthen search and rescue mechanisms at sea and on land, establishing safe and legal routes is the only way to end deaths at sea. In the meantime, MSF has repeatedly called for a dedicated and proactive search and rescue mechanism to complement efforts put in place by the Italian government in the Central Mediterranean.

RECEPTION AND TRANSIT IN ITALY, GREECE AND THE BALKANS

Two years into the widely identified European Refugee crisis, the situation in many parts of Europe continues to be both chaotic and inhumane. In the six months since the EU-Turkey deal— signed by the 28 EU member states—came into effect, the right to seek asylum within the EU has become dangerously restricted, with thousands of people stuck at borders, denied protection, and living in dire conditions with little hope for the future. 

EU member states have approved an effort that violates the principle of _non-refoulement _by rejecting men, women and children_ _at borders in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary without assessment of their protection needs. These people are then pushed back to inefficient asylum systems in Turkey, Serbia or Greece and forced to live in unsafe conditions.

The progressive closure of the Balkan route through Macedonia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, and Hungary has left  smugglers as the only option for transit within Europe. The militarization of these countries’ borders has led to a staggering increase in violence. MSF data show that nearly one-in-three patients attending MSF clinics in the Balkans report abuse and violence; this includes women and children. The situation became so acute at the end of August that MSF teams in Serbia were forced to refer some patients to hospitals due to the severity of their wounds. While smugglers are responsible for much of this violence, patients report that at least half is perpetrated by state authorities.

Although the _New York Declaration_ promises to "ensure a people-centered, sensitive, humane, dignified, gender responsive and prompt reception for all persons arriving_,"_ the reality is that in all countries, the reception system is failing to adequately provide the necessary care and services for those who have fled their homes.

To wit: More than 13,000 people remain stuck on Greek islands, crammed into spaces meant to house 7,450. The areas lack basic services including health care and water, as well as information and avenues to due process, which is causing tensions to rise.

The mainland is not much better; the conditions in many of the camps are sub-standard and some were built with materials containing harmful substances like asbestos. Around one-quarter of MSF’s patients on mainland Greece exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety. In Italy, increasing numbers of people are excluded by the formal reception system and live in appalling conditions in squats and makeshift camps where there is also very little access to health care and other basic services.

The _New York Declaration_ promises that "the special needs of all people in vulnerable situations will be recognized." But both Greece and Italy are extremely unprepared to provide appropriate services to vulnerable groups. For example: more than 90 percent of the minors arriving in Italy are unaccompanied—some as young as 10 years old. Not only have these children experienced and witnessed horrific events on their journeys, but once they arrive in Italy, they are often detained or kept in closed reception centers instead of structures that cater to the specific needs of child trauma survivors. The situation is no better in Greece.

Mental health services are rarely provided in Italy and Greece, and both countries lack adapted services for victims of torture or appropriate screening practices to locate the vulnerable. The reception systems in Italy, Greece, and the Balkans also fail to properly provide for survivors of sexual violence and people with disabilities or severe medical conditions.

The MSF team in Serbia, for example, identified a young Afghan woman who had developed breast cancer. After a mastectomy in Greece she was unable to stay to complete her radiation and chemotherapy treatment; she later relapsed in Serbia, where she was living in squalid conditions without anything approaching sufficient medical care, waiting to cross the Hungarian border. Putting people with serious medical cases in this position infringes on their right to health care.

Despite the promises of the _New York Declaration_ and the millions of Euros invested by the EU, people arriving in the European countries where MSF works do not find refuge. They are instead forced to endure more hardship: detention, violence, squalid living conditions, and a lack of access to basic services. European countries are collectively failing those they have promised to protect.

FLEEING VIOLENCE IN THE LAKE CHAD REGION

Some 2.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes in northeast Nigeria due to violent attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram and the military forces combating them. Civilians pay the price of extreme violence and are left with little means to cope and little hope to rebuild their lives.

Some receive assistance in refugee camps while the majority live in precarious conditions in host communities where resources are already limited. Some have sought refuge or have been forcibly moved to locations where they are trapped and entirely reliant on outside assistance. High insecurity in these areas makes the provision of aid difficult, leaving people in dire conditions with unmet basic living and health care needs.

MSF assists the displaced in a number of locations throughout Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, where there is a worryingly high prevalence of epidemics and diseases related to poor living conditions, including waterborne illnesses and very high malnutrition rates.

Violence and displacement exacerbate an already dire situation in a region suffering from poverty, extreme vulnerability, food insecurity, recurring outbreaks and an almost non-existing health system. People affected by the ongoing crisis are in urgent need of food, drinking water, shelter, health care, protection and education.

Today, people are stranded with no certainty that they can go back to their homes or rebuild their lives in an environment where they can raise their children in safety.

VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE AND ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM CENTRAL AMERICA IN MEXICO AND THE U.S.

Every year, an estimated 300,000 people flee violence and poverty in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, and enter Mexico hoping to gain asylum in Mexico or transit onwards to the United States.

The violence many of these people have experienced and fled is not unlike that in war zones around the world. Murders, kidnappings, threats, recruitment by non-state armed actors, extortion and forced disappearance are the daily burden of thousands who live in areas controlled by gangs and criminal groups. Sixteen percent of the NTCA patients cared for by MSF teams in Mexico mention direct attacks as the main reason for fleeing their country, while as much as 41 percent decided to leave after receiving individual threats.

Populations from Central America entering illegally into Mexico are systematically exposed to further episodes of violence across the country. According to MSF data, 68 percent of the migrant population cared for by MSF teams reported being victims of violence during their transit toward the United States. One-third of the women had been sexually abused.

The consequences of violence on mental health and the ability to reach out for assistance are striking: 47 percent of the victims report being psychologically affected by the violence they were subjected to or witnessed. A large majority of the migrants [59 percent] affected by violence did not seek any assistance during the transit through Mexico despite self-identified needs, mainly because of fear for their security, retaliation or deportation. There is no doubt that Mexican laws affording the right to health care of every individual in its territory—independent of their administrative status—is not respected in practice.

Programa Frontera Sur [Mexico’s south border strategy], which was implemented in Mexico with the financial support of the United States, exposes victims of violence in Central America to additional dangers and systematically deprives this population of the asylum and protection mechanisms they need. Despite an already existing framework for refugee claims for victims of organized gangs, only 0.5 percent of people fleeing Honduras and El Salvador have been granted asylum status in Mexico. In 2015, the government of Mexico deported 150,000 people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, a 44 percent spike from the previous year.

The plight of those who reach the United States is equally worrying. Those caught by migration authorities who make an asylum claim are held in detention centers to await asylum hearings before a judge. Very few are granted passage.

Despite legitimate fear for their lives, people from Central America fleeing violence are systematically deported from Mexico and the U.S. to their country of origin in what constitutes a violation of the principle of non-refoulement. Lack of access to healthcare, protection, and humanitarian assistance for the population fleeing violence in Central America must be regarded as a collective failure of the states in the region.

ROHINGYA PEOPLE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

For years, Rohingya people in Myanmar have had no option but to use smugglers in order to flee persecution. As a stateless minority, there is no other way for them to leave the country, and although departures have fallen following a crackdown on smuggling networks, some continue to try.

In Rakhine state, Rohingya people are subjected to severe movement restrictions, both those living in displacement camps and those living in their own villages, that severely limit their ability to access health care. Outside of displacement camps, MSF is one of their only options to access basic health care.

Many Rohingya people have fled to Bangladesh, where up to half a million are currently living, but most do not have formal refugee status and instead exist in a kind of legal limbo. This makes it extremely difficult for them to access health facilities, support services or protection from exploitation.

In recent years, many Rohingya people have fled from Myanmar and Bangladesh to other countries, especially to Malaysia but also to Indonesia and Thailand. Many Bangladeshis have also followed this route, seeing smugglers’ boats as their only viable option to improve their situation.

When they make it to their desired destinations in the region, Rohingya asylum seekers face considerable difficulties. As these nations are not participants of the Refugee Convention, they have no way of gaining formal legal status as refugees, which in turn affects their ability to access health care and meet other needs, while exposing them to the risk of arrest and detention as well.

Myanmar: Situation of human rights in Myanmar - Report of the Secretary-General (A/71/308)

19 September 2016 - 11:09am
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Myanmar

Summary

The present report, submitted pursuant to paragraph 20 of General Assembly resolution 70/233 and covering the period from 8 August 2015 to 1 August 2016, examines the human rights situation in Myanmar in the context of the ongoing democratization process in the country and highlights the efforts of the United Nations in supporting the Government and people of Myanmar on their path towards reform, political inclusivity and development. The conduct of a nationwide election on 8 November 2015, with the peaceful, dignified and enthusiastic participation of the people, was a significant turning point in the history of Myanmar. The overwhelming victory by the longstanding opposition party, the National League for Democracy, and its accession to power, replacing a leadership composed mostly of former military officials, is an indication that the reform process is moving in the right direction. On 15 March 2016, the new Parliament elected Htin Kyaw as President, the first Head of State in Myanmar in more than 50 years with a non-military background. The leader of the ruling party, Aung San Suu Kyi, was appointed State Counsellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs. Notwithstanding the overall credibility of the election process, there was widespread concern, nationally and internationally, over the disenfranchisement of more than 1 million people comprising mainly the Muslim population in Rakhine and other minority ethnic groups.

The process of national reconciliation progressed with the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement by the eight ethnic armed groups on 15 October 2015, paving the way to an end to the ethnic conflict that has marked the country’s history since independence. Nevertheless, some dozen of those groups were not prepared to sign the ceasefire agreement because they were seeking greater inclusivity in the peace process. The Government has stepped up efforts to reach out to these non-signatory groups. The United Nations has remained closely engaged with the Government, the military, ethnic armed groups, religious leaders, civil society and other national and international stakeholders in fulfilling the General Assembly mandate.

Notwithstanding the positive developments in other areas, little progress was made in improving the desperate conditions faced by the Muslim population in Rakhine, including those who continued to identify themselves as Rohingya. Many of them continued to languish in camps for internally displaced persons and, along with those outside the camps, have borne the brunt of institutionalized discrimination from the majority community. Sporadic incidents of tension and hatred against minorities remain a cause of concern to the United Nations and the international community. While there are high expectations from the Government that it will take bold steps to create better conditions for all communities, including for the Muslim population in Rakhine, concrete results in this direction have yet to emerge. The United Nations funds and programmes and specialized agencies have continued to provide technical, financial and programmatic assistance to assist Myanmar in addressing important challenges in the political, development, humanitarian and human rights fields. Given the overall progress in democratization and the remarkable political and institutional changes undertaken over the past few years, it is my assessment that the country has met most of the benchmarks outlined in successive General Assembly resolutions, even though some major challenges remain. Member States may therefore wish to review the continuation of the good offices and the mandate of the Special Adviser.

I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 20 of General Assembly resolution 70/233, in which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to continue to provide his good offices and to pursue his discussions on human rights, democracy and reconciliation in Myanmar and to report to the Assembly at its seventy-first session on the progress made in the implementation of the resolution.

2. The present report covers the period from 8 August 2015 to 1 August 2016. In the exercise of the good offices support of the United Nations for the Government of Myanmar, my Special Adviser visited Myanmar on seven occasions, in addition to visiting other countries in the region, including China and Thailand. Information included in the report was gathered through his engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, both national and international, in Myanmar and by the United Nations country team. For her part, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar issued reports in October 2015 (A/70/412) and March 2016 (A/HRC/31/71).

3. My Special Adviser remained in touch with Member States and regional organizations to further constructive engagement by the international community in addressing the various challenges confronting Myanmar. In addition to bilateral and group-level consultations in New York and Myanmar with various Member States, he has kept in close and regular contact with the Special Envoy of the Government of China, Sun Guoxiang, the only other official observer to the peace process. My Special Adviser briefed the Security Council on the situation in Myanmar in November 2015 and in February 2016. I also convened two meetings of the Partnership Group on Myanmar, which were held on 29 September 2015 and 1 July 2016.

World: 2015-2016 El Niño - Food Security Impact (September 2016)

19 September 2016 - 10:58am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Angola, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Botswana, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Kenya, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam, World, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • While the 2015-2016 El Niño weather event is now over, humanitarian needs continue to grow, and are not expected to peak until early 2017 as food security continues to deteriorate in many regions. WFP, working closely with partners on the ground, is rapidly scaling up life-saving operations for communities reeling from the catastrophic effects of El Niño.

  • WFP is working to reach people with life-saving food and cash-based relief, while also emphasizing the reinforcement of national and local capacities and systems. Resilience building is key to curbing the long term impacts of El Niño, protecting hard-won development progress. El Niño - Food Security Impact September 2016 20.

Ethiopia

El Niño-related drought continues to affect Ethiopia, and food insecurity and malnutrition rates remain high with millions of people requiring humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian needs have tripled since early 2015 as severe drought has caused successive harvest failures. WFP is responding through a joint response with the Ethiopian Government targeting 7.1 million people.

Haiti

WFP launched an Emergency Operation in April to address the immediate food needs of drought-affected populations after an Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) in February 2016 revealed that 3.6 million people were food insecure, with 1.5 million severely food insecure. August marks the second phase of the operation, which plans to assist a total of 280,000 people with both cash transfers and cash for assets activities to build their resilience.

Southern Africa

The current El Niño-induced drought in Southern Africa is the worst in 35 years, following the failure of two consecutive rainy seasons. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) in July declared a Regional Disaster. WFP is rapidly scaling up life-saving operations for the most vulnerable communities in the worst-affected countries.

Papua New Guinea

In May, WFP launched an Emergency Operation in Papua New Guinea, initially targeting 180,000 people suffering from the impacts of El Niño-induced drought. Although the El Niño event has now officially ended, many Papua New Guineans continue to suffer from food insecurity as they wait for their harvests. WFP has conducted food distributions since early June this year, and plans to provide assistance to more than 200,000 people in five provinces by the end of October. WFP continues to deploy protection measures to ensure that its food assistance does not fuel social tensions or violence against people served.

Somalia: Reality Check: UN High-Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants

19 September 2016 - 5:10am
Source: Médecins Sans Frontières Country: Cameroon, Chad, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, World

On 19 September, leaders from all over the world will meet to adopt the New York Declaration, coming together to work on a more “coordinated and humane approach to address large movements of refugees and migrants”.

Ahead of the Summit, MSF has released a short report, titled Reality Check, on the current situation in nine pressing emergencies affecting refugees and migrants. The report is not designed to be an exhaustive look at displacement or migration but instead aims to show the reality as seen from MSF projects assisting some of the 65 million forcibly displaced and the 244 million migrants around the world.

As the leaders sit down to trumpet their pledges, 75,000 Syrian refugees are trapped on the Jordanian border with Syria just kilometers from a war zone, 350,000 Somali refugees are at risk of being sent back to a war zone from Dadaab (Kenya) and tens of thousands are enduring hell in Libya as they await their chance at the Mediterranean crossing that has killed 3200 men, women and children in this year alone. Elsewhere in the world, Central American asylum seekers in Mexico are treated appallingly under Programa Frontera Sur, funded by the United States, the Rohingya people are denied their rights and exploited across South East Asia and 2.6 million people have been forced from their homes by Boko Haram in Lake Chad.

MSF urges world leaders not to turn a blind eye on the suffering faced by millions of refugees and migrants around the globe.

On the eve of the New York meetings, a reality check is in order. Listed below are just some of the context where MSF is working with refugees and migrants and which feature today’s most dire contexts:

Reality Check: Syrian refugees in the Berm

On 21 June in the name of national security, Jordan closed its northern border with Syria after a car bombing targeted a Jordanian military base near an area referred to as ‘The Berm’. This left 75,000 people, four out of five of whom are women and children, stranded in the desert without assistance, with insufficient access to water and almost no access to food (in early August, UN agencies, using a crane, conducted a one off drop of food supplies intended to last for a month). The Berm is not a bona fide refugee camp but a settlement of people fleeing war. No humanitarian actors are currently able to provide assistance, meaning inhabitants lack basic humanitarian services. Read more

Reality Check: Somali refugees in Dadaab

The sprawling Dadaab camp in Kenya is home to some 350,000 Somali refugees, making it the largest refugee camp in the world. Originally planned more than 20 years ago as a temporary camp, it has only expanded and suffered from chronic underfunding. Insecurity and violence have also plagued the camp inhabitants.

In November 2013, a tripartite agreement was signed by the governments of Kenya and Somalia and UNHCR to promote the voluntary repatriation of camp residents as security began to improve in Somalia. Yet, as security ultimately deteriorated, few people have elected to return “home”. Nonetheless, as the end of the three-year agreement approaches, the Government of Kenya has communicated publicly that efforts will accelerate to return Dadaab residents to Somalia for “security, economic and environmental reasons.” Read more

Reality Check: Refugees and migrants in Libya

Since launching search and rescue operations last year in the central Mediterranean Sea, MSF teams have saved more than 34,000 people from drowning and have assisted many others. Regardless of their country of origin or their reasons for trying to reach European shores, almost everyone rescued from this stretch of water passed through Libya.

Many people report experiencing violence in Libya, while almost all rescued people report witnessing extreme violence against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, including beatings, whippings with hoses, sexual violence, and killings. MSF medical teams on board three rescue vessels in the Mediterranean continue to treat, and bear witness to, the consequences of physical and psychological violence inflicted on men, women and, increasingly, unaccompanied children (some as young as 10 years old). Although it can be difficult to definitively identify mental trauma in the short period they are present on MSF boats, the evidence of physical violence is unmistakable, linked to inhumane detention conditions, torture, and other ill-treatment, including sexual violence. Read more

Reality Check: The Mediterranean crossing

So far this year, 3,198 people have died attempting to reach Europe. The Central Mediterranean crossing, from Libya to Italy, is almost twice as deadly as it was last year. With seemingly no political will to provide safe and legal alternatives to the deadly sea crossing, the European Union and European government policies continue to cut the safest exit routes, leaving people no other choice but to resort to overcrowded boats headed for Europe. Read more

Reality Check: Reception and transit in Italy, Greece and the Balkans

Two years into the so-called European Refugee crisis, the situation in many parts of Europe continues to be both chaotic and inhumane. In the six months since the EU-Turkey deal, signed by the 28 EU Member States who will all be present in New York, came into effect—the right to seek asylum within the EU is now dangerously restricted, with thousands of people stuck at borders and denied protection, living in dire conditions and with little hope for the future.

With the approval of Member States, and in violation of the principle of non-refoulement men, women and children—including the most vulnerable— are pushed back and rejected at borders in Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary without assessment of their protection needs. These people are then pushed back to inefficient asylum systems in Turkey, Serbia or Greece and forced to live in inhumane conditions. Read more

Reality Check: Fleeing violence in Lake Chad

Some 2.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes in Northeast Nigeria due to violent attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents and the military forces combatting them. Civilians pay the price of extreme violence and are left with little means to cope and little hope to rebuild their lives. Some receive assistance in refugee camps while the majority lives in precarious conditions in host communities, where resources are already limited. Some have sought refuge, or have been forcibly moved to locations where they are trapped and entirely reliant on outside assistance.

High insecurity in these areas makes the provision of aid difficult, leaving people in dire condition and unmet basic living and health care needs. MSF assisting the displaced in a number of locations throughout Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, where there is a worryingly high prevalence of epidemics and diseases related to poor living conditions, including waterborne illnesses and very high malnutrition rates. Read more Reality Check: Victims of violence and asylum seekers from Central America in Mexico and the U.S

Every year, an estimated 300,000 people flee violence and poverty in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala (Northern Triangle of Central America or NTCA) and enter Mexico with the hope of reaching the United States. The violence people experience is not unlike that in war zones around the world. Murders, kidnappings, threats, recruitment by non-state armed actors, extortion and forced disappearance are the daily burden of thousands who live in areas de facto controlled by gangs and criminal groups. Sixteen percent of the NTCA patients cared for by MSF teams in Mexico mentioned direct attacks as the main reason for fleeing their country, while as much as 41 percent decided to leave after receiving individual threats. Read more

Reality Check: Rohingya people in South East Asia

For years Rohingya people in Myanmar have had no option but to use smugglers in order to flee persecution. As a stateless minority, there is no other way for them to leave the country and although departures have fallen following a crackdown on smuggling networks, some continue to try.

In Rakhine state, Rohingya people are subjected to severe movement restrictions – both those living in displacement camps and those living in their own villages– that have severely limited their access to healthcare for years and continues to do so. Outside of displacement camps, MSF is one of their only options to access basic healthcare. Read more

Myanmar: Deadly clashes in Myanmar threaten rebel peace bid

19 September 2016 - 4:57am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar | AFP | Monday 9/19/2016 - 08:52 GMT

by Hla-Hla HTAY

At least eight people have been killed and thousands displaced by clashes in southeast Myanmar, rebels and border forces said Monday, violence that threatens to undercut the new government's push for peace.

Fighting broke out this month between government troops and an ethnic rebel splinter group known as the DKBA in Karen state, near the border with Thailand.

More than 4,000 people have fled the violence so far.

Video footage sent to AFP showed dozens of women and children packed into a monastery, some handing out food packages from aid groups while others rifled through piles of donated clothing.

The clashes come just weeks after Aung San Suu Kyi's government held a landmark summit aimed at ending almost seven decades of ethnic insurgencies.

The Nobel laureate has made brokering peace with the patchwork of armed minorities fighting the state a priority.

But ongoing fighting in Kachin and Shan states overshadowed the talks and ending the complex, protracted conflicts is expected to take years.

The fresh fighting further south adds to the uncertainty.

An officer from the DKBA, who asked not to be named, told AFP that four of their soldiers had been killed and five wounded in recent days.

Meanwhile, Major Naing Maung Zaw from Myanmar's Border Guard Forces (BGF), said several of their troops had been hit by landmines planted by rebels.

"Four soldiers from the Myanmar Tatmadaw and our (border guard forces) were killed and some 40 injured by the fighting in the past few days," he told AFP.

"Many soldiers from our side were killed and injured in the beginning because we gave time for villagers to flee from the area before we started fighting back."

Distrust of the Tatmadaw, as the army is known, runs deep among ethnic groups after decades of oppression under the former military junta.

On Friday seven Myanmar soldiers were jailed for killing villagers in Shan State, a rare punishment for abuses by the army.

The DKBA are a small Buddhist group, estimated to number in the hundreds, who split from the mainly Christian Karen National Union in the early 1990s.

The much larger KNU, which has signed a ceasefire with the government, warned the fresh fighting threatened to derail fragile peace talks in the region.

"We protest military activities by the government Tatmadaw and BGF forces... and demand stopping of the ongoing conflict," the group said in statement in English.

hla/cah/apj/ceb

Myanmar: Myanmar: Bringing back hope with livelihood projects

19 September 2016 - 3:32am
Source: Solidarités International Country: Myanmar

In Myanmar, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is offering returnees and displaced persons new sustainable professional opportunities with cash distributions and loans. For people having fled their villages and lost everything, they testify of the importance of this support.

Allowing the revival of a village

Populations from Wa Wan in Kachin State had fled their village for years, and today some 80 households have returned. Before the conflict, villagers were growing vegetables, rice and breeding livestock. Today, migration to China is higher than before the conflict, and the village is in dire need of young men to work the land and rebuild. SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL selected 7 persons, members of a management committee and gave them 1.8 million Khyat (1,500$).

These 7 persons made loans to some villagers who bought seeds, fertilizers and paid sowing charges to labourers. “The deal is: you have to reimburse the loan in 6 months” explains one villager, member of the management committee. “We started the project in January 2016, with the original grant from SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL, and now we have more than 2.2 million Khyat”.

A chain of solidarity

“For the first round, we helped 17 beneficiaries, with 100,000 Khyat each (82$)” he adds, proudly. There is an interest rate, and if beneficiaries of the project do not reimburse every month, they get a penalty of 2,000 Khyat. The aim of this project is to empower the people and helping them out of a spiral of assistance. “For the second round that just started, we will have helped 30 people. Here in the village, we really appreciate this system because we are able to help other people.”

Giving opportunities to families in camps

Ma Hka Pri San lives in the Robert displacement camp and has received a loan. She had been trained to knitting in a former UNDP project but activities were stopped. When SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL gave her a grant, she used this cash to take knitting activities again. Ma Hka Pri San received 72,300 Khyat in October 2014 (60$) and she used it to buy textile for knitting and a small pig, to diversify her sources of income. “Today, benefits from my knitting activities are more than 400,000 Khyat (330$). This income covers school charges for my 3 children, and I can buy food and medicine for my child who has a lung problem”.

“I was trained in basic accountability and livestock breeding too. That’s why I bought a piglet. I finally sold it three times the price after growth, and I bought 2 new piglets. Today I always report all expenses and benefits I am doing in the cash book given by SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL, that’s how I manage my business” Ma Hka Pri San explains. In her household, only Ma Hka Pri San has received a cash grant.

Her husband is a carpenter, working outside the camp with irregular opportunities, and thanks to her profits she would like to open a grocery store in the camp for him “to have a regular income by taking care of the shop but above all to allow him work here, next to our family” she adds, with determination. These projects improve displaced people’s lives proposing them opportunities, goals and wishes giving them an almost “normal life”.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Hpapun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, March to May 2016

19 September 2016 - 1:21am
Source: Karen Human Rights Group Country: Myanmar

This Situation Update describes events occurring in Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District between March and May 2016, including taxation, forced recruitment, militarisation and healthcare.

  • In 2015 the Karen National Union (KNU) collected taxes from the Bu Tho Township villagers and the farmers were required to pay the taxes with money instead of with paddy rice.

  • Between 2014 and 2015 the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) decided to recruit five to six soldiers in each village tract without consulting the villagers. Many people from A--- village fled to Myaing Gyi Ngu Town because of this forced recruitment.

  • On April 21st 2016, Light Infantry Division (LID) #44 and Border Guard Force (BGF) Battalion #1014 gathered with 38 soldiers to maintain security at Htee La Beh Hta Bridge. They set up a checkpoint at the end of the bridge and checked all the passengers.

  • The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) and Back Pack Health Worker Team (BPHWT), under the supervision of the KNU, have built clinics and hospitals in Bu Tho Township which provide free healthcare and medicine to the villagers. The Burma/Myanmar government have also built some clinics but there is insufficient medicine or health workers, and villagers have to buy medicine themselves when they go to these clinics.

Myanmar: BFM delivers aid to internally displaced persons in Kayin State

19 September 2016 - 1:01am
Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Aid including warm clothes and dry rations donated by KBZ’s Brighter Future Myanmar Foundation has reached internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Myaing Gyi Ngu, Kayin State.

The philanthropic foundation went to IDP camps in Kayin State along with Chief Minister of Kayin State Daw Nan Khin Htwe Myint and presented 3,000 pieces of imported warm clothes and 10,080 packs of dried instant noodles.

Villagers from the conflict areas are being sheltered at the camps after they were forced to abandon their farms, cows and homes due to ethnic wars in their village, said Ko Kyaw Moe, a Karen ethnic man from the Htikanae Village in Hlinebwe Township.

As part of efforts to brace for La Nina in the upcoming winter, the BFM has imported 160,000 warm clothing worth more than US$2million and distributed them to people, including internally displaced persons who are expected to experience very cold weather this coming winter.

The foundation recently donated over 36,500 articles of warm clothing through Mandalay Region Government to the people in areas in Mandalay Region which are also expected to experience very cold weather.

Meanwhile, the BFM’s 3,500 pieces of warm clothing were given to the Naga ethnic people in Lahe, Naga Self-Administrative Zone in mid-August.

The foundation is planning to send warm clothing to the IDPs in Shan State and Kachin State and aged people in Sagaing Region soon. —Thura Lwin (Eco)

Myanmar: Q&A: Myanmar’s Peace Process, Suu Kyi Style

17 September 2016 - 6:55pm
Source: US Institute of Peace Country: Myanmar

On the Issues with Vanessa Johanson

September 15, 2016

By: USIP Staff

Four days of talks last week restarted Myanmar’s peace process almost a year after a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement was signed by some but not all of the country’s armed groups. The process, known as the 21st Century Panglong Conference, or Union Peace Conference, is intended to convene every six months and aims to end the decades-long conflicts between and among the Myanmar army and an array of rebel groups. Vanessa Johanson, the Myanmar country director for the U.S. Institute of Peace, examines the results.

Nobel Peace Laureate Daw Aung Sang Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) won control of parliament in November, has made the country’s peace process one of her top policy priorities. The general election was the first in Myanmar since almost 50 years of military rule ended in 2011. U.S. officials have said they’re particularly looking to see whether the peace process going forward will be inclusive of ethnic minorities and others.

Was the conference a success? In what ways did it further peace in Myanmar, and in what ways did it fall short?

Overall, the conference was positive. It puts Aung San Suu Kyi’s stamp on the peace process, and signals the NLD government’s commitment to pursuing ceasefire and political dialogue seriously, and in their own way. More armed groups participated than at any previous talks in the process.

In reality, however, the conference may not have advanced the major challenges—ongoing fighting in the northeast, and the fact that 13 armed groups have not yet signed onto the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, or NCA. Finding a solution acceptable to both the government and three groups—the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Arakan Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army—is a particular challenge going forward.

What surprises arose during the conference?

Of the eight speakers at the huge opening ceremony, two were from armed groups, including one that had signed the NCA and one that had not. Allowing non-signatories to speak signaled genuine efforts by the government towards greater inclusiveness. But Burma’s largest armed group, the United Wa State Army, walked out on the second day of the conference, citing unequal treatment by the organizers. Whether due to deliberate policies or logistical flaws in the conference organization, the walkout is another indicator that much work is still to be done.

How inclusive were these talks?

They were significantly more inclusive of armed groups and had buy-in from the army, the government, political parties and the international community. However, only 13 percent of participants were women, and the Alliance for Gender in the Peace Process reported that gender and women’s participation was mentioned in only about a third of speeches over the four-day conference. Much more will need to be done to include more women in future meetings and take into account gender considerations. Civil society organizations also had almost no voice in this meeting.

What is the significance of the conference for Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD-led government?

Burma’s complex peace process now firmly belongs to the NLD government, and this conference placed it in the historically weighty framework of the 1947 Panglong conference led by Suu Kyi’s father, General Aung San. That connection suggests a commitment to equal political and economic rights between the majority Bamar and minority ethnic groups. By ensuring greater inclusiveness and international involvement, the government likely hopes to earn greater trust with the armed groups. At the same time, the NLD government is careful to maintain the delicate power balance between the new civilian government and the still-powerful army.

What happens with groups that did not attend?

Three armed groups didn’t attend, and they are three of those that have been in recent conflict with the government. More stringent preconditions had been proposed for their participation. There will need to be ongoing negotiations with them and with the Wa for the process to make strides forward, and for a reduction in conflict in the northeast.

What are the next steps?

The Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, signed in October 2015, kicked off a national political dialogue intended to lead eventually toward constitutional reform and federalism. Another Union Peace Conference will be held in about six months. In the interim, a new Framework for Political Dialogue needs to be agreed, and it is expected that new joint dialogue committees will be developed and some progress made on key political and security discussions in those committees.

Meanwhile, only about a third of the armed groups, representing a quarter of all of their troop strength—have signed the nationwide agreement and can participate in political dialogue. Conflict continues, largely between the army and non-signatories, but also occasionally between the army (and its proxies) and signatories, and among the armed groups themselves.

Even in areas where groups have signed on, many elements of the 33-article agreement are yet to be implemented. The peace process will achieve its goals if it can bring about an effective, monitored ceasefire and an inclusive political dialogue that leads to long-term change.

What has been the international community’s role in these talks?

The international community has supported the peace process since it was conceived of by the previous quasi-civilian government in 2011, through funding, technical assistance and political support. However, Burma’s peace process is locally owned and led, and the international community has not, for example, played a mediating role or been asked to provide ceasefire-monitoring support. Diplomats have observed a number of talks, and several governments and multilateral bodies such as the European Union and the United Nations signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement as international witnesses.

Going forward, it is likely that international financial support will continue, particularly through a newly-established multi-donor trust fund, the Joint Peace Fund, and there will be ongoing political support. China, Burma’s largest neighbor and investor, has played a more constructive role in recent talks, and provides some funding to the peace process.

World: Safe and voluntary refugee repatriation: from principle to practice

17 September 2016 - 6:30pm
Source: Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, World, Yemen

Jeff Crisp, Katy Long

The article discusses the principles of voluntariness, safety, and dignity in the context of refugee repatriation. It begins by setting out the applicable legal framework, and discusses how that framework has been elaborated upon and refined since 1951. The article then discusses how the principles of voluntariness, safety, and dignity have, in practice, been applied (or, in a few unfortunate cases, ignored). After noting that we are now living in an era of protracted refugee emergencies, the article concludes with a number of recommendations regarding alternatives to repatriation and the conditions under which repatriation can take place without offense to the principles of voluntariness, safety, and dignity.

Bangladesh: The Rohingya crisis: a view from Bangladesh

16 September 2016 - 1:27pm
Source: Peace Direct Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

16 September 2016: Fazle Elahi and Insight on Conflict’s Bangladesh Local Peacebuilding Expert discuss the situation of the Rohingya in Bangladesh.**

Shangkhola, Shado, Pangla, Perlis, Pedang, Besab, Wang-kelian, Lankhao and Acheho – these words are becoming common knowledge. They are the names of islands where thousands of Bangladeshi and Rohingya people were stranded last year, victims of the South East Asian refugee crisis.

This crisis concerns the movement of the Rohingya people from Myanmar (also known as Burma) and Bangladesh to new countries. They are fleeing persecution and poverty, and their situation hit the headlines in 2015 when thousands were stranded in the Andaman Sea.

Several different groups had left for different Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Hundreds are believed to have died on a route which the UN estimates more than 25,000 people have taken, some using the services of human traffickers.

The Rohingya, a Muslim minority group in Myanmar, have “for decades… suffered legal and social discrimination” so bad that it forces them to leave.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, is a small country with a large population, struggling with unemployment and other issues. So many want to leave, to escape poverty and dire living conditions.

The poor and helpless from both societies have sometimes become the victims of human traffickers in their desire to leave.

In terms of the Rohingya, there are many from Myanmar living in Bangladesh, and some have built small houses. Many of them go to Malaysia through different sources. This can be seen as a positive for our country as they work hard and bring remittances to Bangladesh, benefiting the country as well as the banks. However, the social environment is being adversely affected. The Rohingya are a trapped people. They do not have enough food, shelter and clothing. They are also living a miserable life, and many have become involved in drug smuggling, robbery, and piracy.

This is a complex matter and also includes deforestation and clashes with the local communities. This exploitation in particular has been breeding mistrust in the relationship between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Some local people are helping Rohingya to obtain Bangladeshi voting ID and passports, and then to use these to get jobs in the Middle East and elsewhere.

So the relationship between Bangladeshis and the Rohingya has not always been good, although the Bangladeshis have now understood the situation of Rohingya. Interaction between the two communities is increasing in the form of marriage and religious ceremonies. But sometimes they are involved in violent conflict if local people come to evacuate land they are on.

Cycles of violence in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, and Malaysia have contributed to the expansion of this trade. And Bangladeshis have also become easy prey for the traffickers, who fall into the trap of agreeing to the proposals of middlemen who claim that they will provide them with jobs and money.

We think that international initiatives should be taken to support internal solutions to this problem. This needs to include mitigating problems including violence against the Rohingya by Myanmar state security forces and abuses by non-state actors such as the monkhood, and ensuring the basic needs of the Rohingya are met.

The UN Secretary General has said that the highest priority should be given to saving the lives of the floating migrants. He has appealed to the leaders of the countries involved to develop meaningful proposals to address the push and pull factors leading people to leave.

At the same time, legislation should be developed to prosecute those who take advantage of those whose desperation leads them to flee. Co-ordinated efforts should be taken to increase mass awareness by uniting both the government and the non-government institutions who work in the immigration sector. This should involve the police, the coast guard and civil society, working together to address the safety and security priorities of communities through dialogue.

Bangladesh and the law

According to stipulates Article 32 of Bangladesh Constitution ‘No person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty.” Article 31 further guarantees “protection of the law and to be treated in accordance with law” as “the inalienable right of every citizen … and of every other person for the time being within Bangladesh”.

Personal liberty constitutes the core of the corpus of international human rights law. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of all persons. Article 9 of the International Covenant of the Civil and Political Rights states that no one shall be deprived of his liberty except in accordance of law. Interpretation of Article 1(1) of the Convention against Torture reveals that pain and suffering arising from unlawful sanction (indefinite detention in this case) amounts to torture.

All these lead us to conclude that Bangladesh as a state party is obliged to honour the personal liberty of all individuals, citizens and aliens.

World: Internal Displacement Update, January - August 2016

16 September 2016 - 12:10pm
Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Myanmar, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Ukraine, World, Yemen

This update is based on internal displacement figures made available to IDMC across 16 countries from January-August 2016. These figures will be updated and expanded upon regularly and can be accessed via IDMC’s Global Internal Displacement Database (GIDD) which can be viewed at http://www.internal-displacement.org/database.

World: What’s Driving the Global Refugee Crisis?

16 September 2016 - 9:19am
Source: International Crisis Group Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World

A record 65 million people have been displaced from their homes, mostly by war. Half are children. Crisis Group looks at the UN’s list of the top ten countries driving the exodus to explain what’s happened.

When world leaders gather in New York on 19 September for summit meetings hosted by the UN and the U.S. to tackle the global refugee crisis, they must redouble their efforts to resolve those conflicts driving the global exodus and to prevent new conflicts before the emergency is compounded. Additionally, leaders should commit to resettle at least 10 per cent of the world’s refugees annually, share responsibilities more equitably, increase support for front-line states facing the greatest challenges, and respect fully the rights of refugees.

The number of refugees and internally displaced now stands at more than 65 million, the largest figure ever recorded. According to the UN Refugee Agency, more than half of the world’s refugees come from just three countries ravaged by conflict – Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia (these figures do not include the 5.2 million Palestinians registered by the UN Relief and Works Agency). For front-line states such as Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the pressures caused by massive influxes of people can be overwhelming. The cost to future generations is even more alarming: half of all refugees in 2015 were children.

The failure to respond to the refugee crisis risks further conflict, triggering further refugee flows.

Crisis Group presents below a summary of decades of research on conflict and political instability in the Top Ten Source Countries of Refugees, based on data compiled by the UN Refugee Agency. In each case we have summed up Crisis Group’s recommendations for action to resolve these crises and improve the lives of their victims.

World: Mapping of current Initiatives, interagency projects and key reports related to Accountability to Affected Populations - 2016

16 September 2016 - 7:34am
Source: Inter-Agency Standing Committee, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mali, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, World, Yemen, Zimbabwe

This mapping will be regularly updated :

Are you looking for :

  1. Accountability Working Groups at country or regional levels ?

2.Examples of inter-agency information and feedback mechanisms or call centers ?

3.Examples of inter-agency projects related to Accountability to Affected Populations ?

4.Examples of how accountability to affected population is integrated into Humanitarian Response Plans?

5.Examples of how accountability to affected population is integrated into key global reports ?

6.Key initiatives and standards related to Accountability to Affected Populations ?

7.Specific guidance on how to integrate Accountability to Affected Population in the Humanitarian Program Cycle?

8.E-learning, online videos and mobile applications on Accountability to affected population ?

9.Examples of donors commitments to support Accountability to Affected Populations ?

Myanmar: Myanmar: Tatmadaw proposes removal of landmines in Kayin State

16 September 2016 - 5:07am
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

REPRESENTATIVES of the Tatmadaw proposed to set Kayin State as a pilot area for removing landmines at the Union Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JMC-U) at the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre in Yangon yesterday.

Representatives of the ethnic armed organisations agreed to the proposal, offering to discuss it again at the eighth meeting which is slated to be held in November.

“After reaching an agreement over the proposal for the pilot demining area, the Tatmadaw and ethnic armed organisations agreed to work together toward their complete removal.” said Col Wunna Aung, Secretary of the JMC-U.

With technical assistance from abroad, the Tatmadaw and signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement will now carry out the removal of landmines together at a time when trust between the two sides has reached the highest point in almost six decades.

“We will give priority to areas where internationally displaced people will return. There will be no obstacles to removing the mines there.” said Saw Isaac Po of the KNU/KNLA.

AN agreement was reached to open up to six offices in ceasefire areas, according to the second-day session of the meeting on Wednesday.

Four region/state level joint ceasefire monitoring committees have been opened in Shan State, Taninthayi Region, Kayin State and Mon State, with plans to open two more in Bago Region and Chin State.

According to JMC-U’s Secretary-1 Dr Shwe Khar, offices will be opened in Taungoo of Bago Region in October and in Haka of Chin State in November.

The discussions included the meeting between the JMC-U and the United Nations and demarcation.

Ye Khaung Nyunt