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Myanmar: WFP Myanmar Country Brief, September 2016

21 October 2016 - 5:57am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Myanmar


  • WFP stands ready to provide cash and livelihood support to the Myanmar refugees to be voluntarily repatriated from the border camps in Thailand to eight regions/states of Myanmar in mid-October.

  • WFP assisted 342,168 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kachin, northern Shan and Rakhine States in September 2016.

  • By end-September, WFP has provided life-saving food and cash assistance to 187,000 people affected by the June-August floods in the country’s worst-hit areas.

WFP Assistance

In 2015, WFP extended its Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO), which was launched in January 2013, until the end of 2017 to harmonise it with the work of the United Nations Country Team. The current PRRO contributes to more equitable development and supports national reconciliation by reducing poverty, food insecurity and undernutrition, responding to disasters and increasing resilience among the most vulnerable. Aligned with Sustainable Development Goals and the Zero Hunger Challenge, the specific objectives of the PRRO are to 1) prepare for and respond to natural disasters and other shocks in support of the Government; 2) assist postdisaster recovery by rehabilitating productive assets to improve household food security and create socioeconomic opportunities for the most vulnerable; 3) address undernutrition among children and pregnant women and nursing mothers, and support at-risk groups such as people living with HIV (PLHIV) and tuberculosis (TB) clients; 4) improve access, enrolment and attendance to primary schools; and 5) improve the sustainability of responses to food insecurity and undernutrition through knowledge-sharing and capacity development.
WFP aims to reach its objectives through five major activities:

Relief – WFP has been providing life-saving food assistance to 280,000 people displaced and/or affected by conflicts, violence and natural disasters. Both in 2015 and 2016, WFP assisted people affected by floods. As of September 2016, WFP has reached 179,520 flood victims with food and cash assistance in Ayeyarwaddy, Bago, Magway and Mandalay Regions and in Rakhine State.
WFP and FAO co-lead the Food Security Sector (FSS) since 2014, which has been responding to food and/or cash needs of people affected by ethnic conflicts and natural disasters.

Nutrition – Linking with the national health system and in line with the national protection scheme, WFP provides nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive support for 140,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers and malnourished young children.

HIV/TB programme – As balanced nutrition is pivotal for both PLHIV and TB clients to keep the immune system strong in order to fight the diseases, WFP provides foodby-prescription to 23,000 PLHIV and TB clients aiming to enhance adherence and treatement success.
Community Asset Creation – WFP strengthens community resilience by creating community infrastructures and providing cash or food for 200,000 people in exchange for participation in asset creation activities.

School Feeding - In support of the country’s National Social Protection Strategic Plan and the 2016-2021 National Educational Strategic Plan, WFP and the Ministry of Education have started working towards nationalisation of the school feeding programme from the 2015/16 academic year onwards. WFP aims to feed half a million school children in the 2016/17 academic year.
Furthermore, WFP, in collaboration with the Ministry of Livestock, Fishery and Rural Development, has completed Food Security and Poverty Estimation surveys in 2015 and is developing the country’s first-ever Food Security Atlas, contributing to the advancement of national food security and poverty reduction policies and strategies.

WFP has also supported the Government in establishing nine resource centres across the country, enhancing national capacity of sustainable food security monitoring.

Myanmar: Ongoing militarisation in southeast Myanmar

21 October 2016 - 2:32am
Source: Karen Human Rights Group Country: Myanmar

This detailed commentary examines ongoing militarisation in southeast Myanmar from 2014 to 2016. It includes villager's perspectives on military presence in and near villages; ongoing rotation of troops, re-supply of rations, weapons and ammunition and the strengthening of existing bases; military trainings, unexploded ordance and remnants of war; landmines; ongoing skirmishes between armed actors and impact on villagers; extrajudicial killings, human rights abuses and threats by armed actors; land confiscations by armed actors; ongoing displacement and livelihood issues of communities as a result of militarisation and land confiscations. This commentary includes recommendations based on villager's voices.

The full militarisation commentary is available in Burmese and English language and can be downloaded as a PDF in the left-hand column. KHRG's accompanying 20-minute documentary on militarisation in southeast Myanmar will be available on YouTube shortly.


Since 1949 different Karen ethnic armed groups have been fighting against the Myanmar government’s army (Tatmadaw). Arguably it is the world’s longest-running civil war. In 2011, former President Thein Sein opened the door for ethnic groups to negotiate peace with the government. Then, in January 2012, the Myanmar government, led by Railway minister U Aung Min, and the Karen National Union (KNU) met for the first time to have peace talks in Hpa-an. As a result, the KNU signed a preliminary ceasefire agreement with the Myanmar government on January 12th 2012. Further talks between the government and the KNU were held and finally on October 15th 2015, a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was signed between the government and eight of the fifteen ethnic armed groups originally invited to the negotiation table, including the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA), KNU/KNLA-Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC), and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA Benevolent). While embraced by the United Nations (UN), the decision to sign the NCA was criticised by some members of the Karen armed resistance and Karen civil society groups in southeast Myanmar who felt that the NCA was a superficial agreement that risked undermining a genuine peace process. The current situation is that of a ceasefire; a long lasting peace is yet to be achieved, so the world’s longest running civil war cannot be said to have ended yet.

We have all witnessed, in November 2015, a landslide victory of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which further heightened expectations for enduring peace and stability. It must be noted however that the military-drafted Constitution still appoints 25% of the Hluttaw (Parliament) seats to the military and the key security ministries of defense, home affairs, and border affairs are military-controlled. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who now holds the offices of Myanmar State Counsellor, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the President's Office, met with the NCA Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) for the first time on April 27th 2016.

More recently, on August 31st 2016, the 21st Century Panglong conference began. The new peace conference strived to include groups that have not yet signed the NCA, but only partially succeeded as the Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), also known as the Kokang Army, and the Ta'ang National Liberation Army were barred from participation even though they expressed willingness. A non-signatory group that did participate initially, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) reportedly withdrew from the conference because they were only given ‘observer’ status and not an equal status as the other participants. Another major concern on the 21st Century Panglong conference was the lack of women’s participation, a trend which Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) also pointed out in its recently published report ‘Hidden Strengths, Hidden Struggles’.

Locally defined Karen State, which covers most of southeast Myanmar, has felt the continued presence of military actors despite these recent changes in the national framework. KHRG has documented militarisation and its impacts on local communities in Karen areas since 1992. Now, just after the NCA’s first anniversary (October 15th 2016), in this detailed militarisation commentary, KHRG will highlight how the path towards a long lasting peace in Myanmar continues to be threatened by ongoing militarisation and clashes in southeast Myanmar. This commentary is based on reports and information gathered in Karen areas in southeast Myanmar since January 2012 up and until October 2016. The focus of the commentary is on the more recent reports, especially since 2014 and special attention is paid to the incidents which have occurred after the signing of the NCA in October 2015.

‘Militarisation’ in the context of this commentary is taken to mean any activity that villagers perceive as intended for military purposes. This category includes the building of new bases, including land confiscation, by armed groups, the strengthening of existing bases and military training exercises, as well as the ongoing rotation of troops, re-supply of rations, weapons and ammunition, ongoing landmine contamination, unexploded ordnance and remnants of war, and recurring skirmishes between armed actors. The ongoing displacement of communities and the effect militarisation has on their livelihoods is also described.

Myanmar: Myanmar Authorities Move Displaced Maungdaw Residents to Soccer Field in Sittwe

21 October 2016 - 12:36am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Myanmar authorities in the Rakhine state capital Sittwe on Thursday relocated about 1,000 people displaced by violence in Maungdaw township to the municipality’s main soccer field, while 100 others returned to their homes in three villages.

About 3,000 people fled mayhem in the area following deadly raids on three border guard posts in Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships on Oct. 9 and subsequent clashes between armed men and Myanmar soldiers and police. One-third of the displaced people have sought refuge in monasteries and schools in Sittwe, while the rest have gone to other parts of Maungdaw or to neighboring Buthidaung township.

“The state government has relocated the Maungdaw IDPs [internally displaced persons] from monasteries to tents on the Danyawaddy soccer field,” Min Aung, Rakhine’s city development minister, said. “The state government will arrange and provide for whatever they need so they can return home when their areas are safe.”

More than 100 displaced people from Mawyawaddy, Kainggyi and U Daung villages who fled their homes but remained in Maungdaw township returned to their houses on Thursday, authorities said.

Nyi Pu, Rakhine state’s chief minister, met with displaced people who fled to Buthidaung and told them that they could return to their homes in Maungdaw, but most refused to do so, fearing for their safety.

The northern part of Rakhine state where Maungdaw is located has been under military control since the attacks and ensuing hostilities that authorities have blamed on insurgents linked to Aqa Mul Mujahidin, an Islamic organization active in Rohingya Muslim-majority Maungdaw.

Security forces, who have so far killed about 30 alleged insurgents and captured 29 others, have locked down the area to hunt for roughly 400 others involved in the attacks, whom they believe to be local Muslims who have received funding and training from Islamists abroad.

The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) has suspended food aid deliveries to more than 80,000 people in the affected area because the military has prevented supplies from getting through, Agence France-Presse reported Wednesday.

“There is military everywhere and a curfew in place, and so it’s impossible to access any of the areas affected,” said Arsen Sahakyan, WFP’s partnership officer in Myanmar, was quoted as saying. “The areas affected are also the areas where we normally operate.”

Ethnic tensions

The violence is not the first time that the restive state has experienced hostilities caused by ethnic tensions.

In 2012, communal violence between majority Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims left more than 200 people dead and displaced 140,000 Rohingya who were forced into IDP camps where about 120,000 remain today.

Many in Myanmar view the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and have persecuted them by denying them citizenship, restricting their movement, and preventing them from having access to education and health care.

Several international aid agencies either left or were expelled from Rakhine state in March 2014 after ethnic Rakhine Buddhists accused them of favoring the Rohingya and ransacked their offices in Sittwe.

The agencies were later required to receive approval for their activities from a newly created body composed of state and central government officials as well as U.N. representatives, and from the local ethnic Rakhine community,

The WFP recently restarted delivering food to about 6,000 displaced people in Rakhine, fearing the violence would spread to other parts of Rakhine state, the AFP report said.

Local civil society agencies have also experienced problems with food deliveries, though a couple have managed to get bags of rice to villagers via the military because they could not deliver them directly.

In the meantime, Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de factor leader whose civilian government came to power in April, told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday that Myanmar is still struggling to establish democracy.

“We as a nation are struggling to make the democratic culture take root,” she said after a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on an official visit to New Delhi.

“We, too, have many challenges to face, but we are confident that these challenges can be overcome because our people are determined to overcome them,” she said.

Aung San Suu Kyi has pledged to handle the turbulent situation in Rakhine state fairly and in accordance with the rule of law once those who planned and carried out the attacks have been caught.

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

Myanmar: Burma: Aid blocked to Rakhine State

20 October 2016 - 10:48pm
Source: Human Rights Watch Country: Myanmar

Burma: Aid Blocked to Rakhine State

Humanitarian Groups, Journalists, and Rights Monitors Need Access

(Rangoon, October 21, 2016) – The Burmese government and army should urgently ensure humanitarian aid can reach ethnic Rohingya and other vulnerable populations in northern Rakhine State, Human Rights Watch said today. Government security operations have cut off assistance to tens of thousands of people and forced many to flee their homes.

The United Nations and donor governments should publicly call on the Burmese government to ensure aid organizations can reach those in need.

“Recent violence in northern Rakhine State has led the army to deny access to aid agencies that provide essential health care and food to people at grave risk,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Rohingya and others have been especially vulnerable since the ethnic cleansing campaign in 2012, and many rely on humanitarian aid to survive.”

On October 9, 2016, armed men attacked three police outposts in Maungdaw township near the border with Bangladesh, killing nine police officers and seizing weapons. The President’s Office blamed a previously unknown Rohingya group called Aqa Mul Mujahidin for the attacks, though other officials have said it is unclear who was responsible.

Government security forces declared the area an “operation zone” and began sweeps to find the attackers. According to senior members of the government, security forces have killed 30 people, while five members of the security forces have also been killed. However, reporting is heavily reliant on government sources as journalists have been denied access.

Rohingya activists have alleged that government forces have committed serious abuses during the current operations, including summary executions and the burning of villages.

Since October 9, authorities have blocked all aid deliveries to Maungdaw township and aid agencies have not been able to conduct a needs assessment. “We have asked [for access] from township level to Union level,” a World Food Programme (WFP) partnerships officer said. “The official explanation [for being denied access] is that security operations are ongoing.”

Under international law, authorities may restrict freedom of movement for specific security reasons for a limited period of time, but broad and open-ended restrictions are not permissible. Under the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, all authorities “shall grant and facilitate the free passage of humanitarian assistance and grant persons engaged in the provision of such assistance rapid and unimpeded access to the internally displaced.”

A number of UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations have long operated in northern Rakhine State, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), WFP, Medecins Sans Frontieres, and Action Contre la Faim, providing food aid and mobile health clinics, among other services. WFP alone assists 152,000 vulnerable people with various services, including nutrition support for pregnant women, nursing mothers, children under 5, and people living with HIV and tuberculosis.

WFP told Human Rights Watch that while the government has recently permitted the resumption of food assistance to 37,000 people in Buthiduang township, 50,000 people remain without food aid in Maungdaw.

The blocking of aid will also severely impact nutritional programs and mobile health clinics that serviced the area, aid workers said. With freedom of movement restricted, ill or wounded people cannot access the main hospital in Maungdaw.

Humanitarian organizations said the violence has displaced some 3,000 ethnic Rakhine people and as many as 15,000 Rohingya, but the lack of access prevents an accurate count.

Rohingya constitute approximately a third of Rakhine State’s population of over three million people. The Muslim minority has long suffered from discrimination and a host of serious human rights violations, including restrictions on the rights to freedom of movement, access to health care, and education. Successive Burmese governments have effectively denied Rohingya citizenship under Burma’s discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law.

The fighting has also increased tension in the camps for the nearly 120,000 displaced Rohingya near the town of Sittwe in Rakhine State. These people fled their homes after communal violence in 2012, which left large numbers of people dead and entire villages destroyed.

“The Burmese government has a responsibility to search for and arrest those who attacked the border posts,” Adams said. “But it is required to do so in a manner that respects human rights, ensures that the area’s people get the aid they need, and allows journalists and rights monitors into the area.”

Myanmar: Burma Army Blocks Food Supplies to Kachin IDPs

20 October 2016 - 10:22pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By NAN LWIN HNIN PWINT 20 October 2016

The Burma Army has stopped a local environmentalist group from sending food relief to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township on suspicion that the supplies were intended for the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

Fifteen members of Green Land, an environmentalist civil society group based in jade-rich Hpakant, were in the process of transporting 130 bags of rice, 40 jerry cans of oil and six bags of salt to IDPs in Jahtu Zup village on Tuesday afternoon, when they were stopped outside of Hpakant town by soldiers at the Lawa security gate in the area of Kar Mai, Green Land director U Naung Latt told The Irrawaddy.

“A captain called Aung Thu Hein stopped us and said we had to seek approval from higher authorities. So, we phoned the brigade commander, and he said we would have to ask for permission from Northern Command [based in the state capital Myitkyina]. Next, we called the Kachin State chief minister and he told us to ask permission from the security and border affairs minister [for Kachin State],” said U Naung Latt.

Army officers justified the blocking of the food relief by stating that some organizations have been sending food supplies to the KIA, according to U Naung Latt.

Since mid September, the Burma Army has stepped up offensives against the KIA, using air strikes and artillery bombardment.

Soldiers at the Lawa security gate have since taken charge of the food supplies. Four senior members of Green Land, leaving behind 11 members to remain near the supplies, traveled to Myitkyina to meet with the Kachin State security and border affairs minister—a serving military officer—but failed to obtain permission.

“He said he would report [the matter] to Northern Command and asked us to continue waiting. What else can we do?” said U Naung Latt.

The food relief was intended for more than 200 IDPs taking shelter at a monastery, two churches and a primary school, said U Naung Latt, and permission had successfully being sought from the Hpakant Township administrator, in line with apparent procedure.

“[The soldiers] implicitly accused us of sending food supplies to the KIA, and so did the security and border affairs minister. If so, then is the World Food Programme, which is helping war victims, violating Article 17(1) [of the Unlawful Associations Act]?” he said, referring to a colonial-era law used to criminalize contact with Burma’s ethnic armed groups.

“We are providing food supplies on humanitarian grounds. This is no political trick. It is just because they [IDPs] are extremely short on food,” he added.

U Naung Latt said he would wait at the Lawa security gate until permission is obtained.

The Irrawaddy contacted an officer at the police station in Kar Mai, where the security gate is located, but he said he was not authorized to comment on matters related to the military.

However, he said that the Burma Army had tightened security on roads since clashes in August, when their soldiers fell prey to KIA landmines.

The Irrawaddy also phoned the Kachin State chief minister and the security and border affairs minister but was unable to obtain comment.

Htwel Awng, a pastor with the Kachin Baptist Convention in Jahtu Zup village, where the IDPs are sheltering, told The Irrawaddy, “Yes, it is true that those food supplies are for us. And we heard that the military has taken hold of them. But, we don’t know the latest developments.”

In Jahtu Zup village, the World Food Programme provides 14,000 kyats (US$10.85) per month for each IDP, which is simply not enough, he said.

Some 214 IDPs have been sheltering at four locations in the area since July 31, after fleeing clashes between the KIA and the Burma Army, prompted by alleged Burma Army encroachment on KIA outposts while attempting to seize control of illegal gold mines in Tanai Township, north of Hpakant.

Since the breakdown of a 17-year ceasefire between the Burma Army and the KIA in 2011, more than 100,000 civilians have been displaced. Most still remain in camps or temporary shelters, in both government and KIA-controlled areas.

The World Food Programme, in cooperation with local civil society organizations, has been providing food to IDPs since 2011, but rations were cut by more than 50 percent at the end of 2015. IDPs have since faced shortages.

The Kachin State government issued a notice in September, requiring groups to seek its permission before supplying food to IDPs.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

Myanmar: Myanmar: Lift restrictions immediately on humanitarian aid

20 October 2016 - 2:13pm
Source: Amnesty International Country: Myanmar

The Myanmar government must urgently lift restrictions that are preventing access to humanitarian aid in Rakhine and Kachin states, Amnesty International said today.

The intensification of the conflict in Kachin State, and the eruption of violence in northern Rakhine State, where a major security operation has led members of the Rohingya and Rakhine communities to flee their homes, has aggravated what was already a serious humanitarian situation in the country.

“The Myanmar authorities must immediately lift restrictions that are preventing the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies from reaching people in need,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

“Both Rakhine and Kachin States already had tens of thousands of people been displaced by violence in recent years. The events of the past few weeks have aggravated that situation, and put more lives at risk.”

Kachin State

Fighting in Kachin state earlier this month led to the death of a child and two others being injured. In recent weeks, hostilities have seen the Myanmar military resorting to airstrikes and shelling.

Amnesty International has learned from credible sources that the authorities have not allowed UN and humanitarian agencies to deliver aid to people displaced in non-governmental controlled area since April 2016.

The organization is concerned by reports that the authorities may instead require people displaced to cross conflict lines in order to receive aid.

“All parties to the armed conflict have an obligation to allow and facilitate delivery of impartial humanitarian assistance for civilians in need. Blocking such aid is a violation of international humanitarian law. Civilians cannot be put in a position where they have no other option but to put their lives in harm’s way to access much needed aid. The authorities must ensure free and unimpeded access for humanitarian organizations delivering aid and emergency assistance to all civilians who need it”, said Rafendi Djamin.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) there are currently approximately 87,000 displaced people in Kachin State, many of them in areas beyond government control.

Fighting resumed there in June 2011 after a 17-year ceasefire between the Myanmar army and the Kachin Independence Army broke down.

Rakhine State

An attack on three police outposts on 9 October triggered fresh concerns about violence and displacement in Rakhine State. Authorities responded by launching a major security operation to capture the perpetrators, tightening the already severe restrictions on movement that existed in the area.

According to local sources, members of both the Rohingya and Rakhine communities have fled their homes in fear. However, the severe isolation of norther Rakhine State and restrictions on independent journalists and monitors makes it extremely difficult to assess the scale of the displacement, or verify reports coming out of the region.

Amnesty International is deeply concerned that UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations have not been given authorization to access the affected populations to assess their needs and provide assistance.

“Local sources are telling us that Rohingya villagers are unable to access medical care. The Myanmar authorities must ensure that the human rights of these communities are respected, including ensuring that they have effective access to health care and other services,” said Rafendi Djamin.

World: Action Against Hunger 2015 Annual Report

20 October 2016 - 1:39pm
Source: Action Against Hunger Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen, Zimbabwe



Myanmar: NGOs face difficulties getting aid to Maungdaw residents in Myanmar’s Rakhine state

20 October 2016 - 3:09am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

The heavy security situation in Myanmar’s Maungdaw township is preventing nongovernmental organizations from delivering aid to residents more than a week after deadly attacks on border guard posts and ensuing violence that authorities have blamed on insurgents backed by a militant Islamic group.

In the Oct. 9 attack, assailants raided three border guard posts in Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state, also known as Arakan state, killing nine officers and stealing dozens of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

The raids triggered further clashes as soldiers and police carried out searches of Muslim neighborhoods in Maungdaw where they were confronted by groups of men with guns, swords, and knives. So far, Security forces have killed 30 suspected militants and captured 29 others in the clashes. Five soldiers also have died.

NGOs are trying to reach the more than 2,000 people from 52 villages in Maungdaw township who remained in their villages during the border guard post attacks and subsequent clashes, and are running out of food because they cannot leave the heavily guarded area to buy supplies.

The NGOs Wanlark Rural Development Foundation and Wai Lu Kyaw Foundation have donated bags of rice for the villagers via the military because they cannot deliver them directly.

“We haven’t learned how many people have been living in these 52 villages because most villages are in a valley,” said Aung Kyaw Win, a member of Wanlark Rural Development Foundation. “There are no telephone connections and no roads for cars. But there could be between 2,000 and 3,000 people in these villages.”

Because of the lockdown, United Nations agencies have not been able to reach the area, and movement restrictions are preventing access to health clinics, Reuters reported, citing Pierre Peron, spokesman for the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Mya Aung, a Maungdaw resident and former Rakhine state chief minister, stressed that even though the government is providing security personnel to protect the villagers, they still need help to ensure their survival.

Thousands of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists are thought to have fled their homes in Maungdaw and gone to the edge of the township, neighboring Buthidaung and Rakhine’s capital Sittwe, fearing further fighting between security forces and Muslim insurgents. They have taken shelter in monasteries and schools.

Civil society organizations in Myanmar have urged authorities in Rakhine state to set up safe housing for the Rakhine residents displaced by the hostilities.

Security buildup

Soldiers and police inundated the northern part of the state last week to track down hundreds of people involved in planning and carrying out the attacks, and believed to be Muslim Rohingya who received financial support and training from Islamists abroad.

The government and the country’s majority Buddhist population refers to the stateless Rohingya as “Bengalis” and claims they are illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

The Rohingya have been denied Myanmar citizenship and voting rights, have no access to health care or education, and have restricted freedom of movement.

Communal violence with Rakhine Buddhists four years ago left 200 people dead—mostly Rohingya—and displaced about 140,000 Muslims who were forced to live in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. About 120,000 Rohingya remain in the camps today.

Interrogations of captured attackers indicated that last week’s raids were carried out by Aqa Mul Mujahidin, an Islamic organization active in Muslim-majority Maungdaw that has links to Islamic extremists in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Aqa Mul Mujahidin has links to the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), a small militant group active in the 1980s and the 1990s until the Myanmar government launched a counteroffensive to expel its insurgents from the border area with Bangladesh. The RSO was believed to be defunct.

Britain, the country’s former colonial power, had built more than 60 villages in Maungdaw, 40 of which the Aqa Mul Mujahidin Muslims set fire to during the recent hostilities, said Rakhine historian Ba Thein.

“People who fled from the fires can’t go back to their villages because they’re afraid of returning to their homes [where the Aqa Mul Mujahidin Muslims mostly lived],” he said. “Some of them are still living in Maungdaw.”

“If the IDPs [internally displaced persons] can’t go back to their villages, there will be fewer and fewer Rakhine people in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships.”

ALP to meet with government reps

Meanwhile, representatives from the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), a Rakhine state political party, will meet with state government officials on Wednesday to discuss security in the region in the aftermath of the violence.

The ALP’s armed wing, the Arakan Liberation Army, is one of the country’s several armed ethnic groups that signed a nationwide cease-fire a year ago with the previous government.

“We are going to meet to discuss our country’s security because we want our country to be safe,” said Mya Raza Lin, a member of the ALP’s central executive committee. “We have plans to help our country. We will know how to help it only after we meet with the [Rakhine state] government.”

As a result of the violence in northern Rakhine, the Myanmar government on Thursday fired Police Brigadier General Maung Khin, the border chief in Maungdaw township, and appointed a replacement for him, Reuters reported.

Reported by Kyaw Thu, Waiyan Moe Myint and Min Thein for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Myanmar: Rakhine advisory commission discusses Maungdaw violence with Myanmar government

20 October 2016 - 3:00am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Members of Myanmar’s Rakhine advisory commission met with national government ministers on Wednesday in Naypyidaw to discuss the security situation in Maungdaw township, where recent violence has forced thousands to flee their homes.

The northern part of Rakhine state where Maungdaw is located has been placed under military control following a deadly Oct. 9 attack on three border guard posts and ensuing hostilities that authorities have blamed on insurgents linked to Aqa Mul Mujahidin, an Islamic organization active in Muslim-majority Maungdaw.

Security forces have locked down the area while they hunt for roughly 400 people involved in the attacks, whom they believe to be local Rohingya Muslims who received funding and training from Islamists abroad.

The Myanmar government formed the Rakhine advisory commission in late August to examine conflict resolution, humanitarian assistance, and development issues in the impoverished and restive western state.

Though officials from the ministries of defense and home affairs participated in Wednesday’s meeting, former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, who leads the nine-member commission, did not attend.

“The commission members met with us to study the problems and situation in Rakhine state,” said Information Minister Pe Myint. “The Maungdaw attack is new, and they want to know about it as well.”

Rakhine is home to more than 1.1 million stateless Rohingya Muslims whom many Burmese call “Bengalis” because they consider them illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. The Buddhist majority has long subjected the Rohingya to persecution and attacks and denied them basic rights, including citizenship.

The minority group which bore the brunt of anti-Muslim communal violence in 2012 that left more than 200 dead and displaced tens of thousands were later forced to live in camps, where they remain today.

Food for IDPs

Meanwhile, the mayhem in Maungdaw has now driven 3,000 displaced people to nearby towns, according to Rakhine state officials.

More than 1,000 of them have sought refuge in the state capital Sittwe, while others have made their way to other parts of Maungdaw and neighboring Buthidaung township.

Though officials have closed hundreds of state-run schools in Maungdaw as a result of the conflict, they will now arrange for children who have been displaced by the violence to attend classes, said Min Aung, the state’s city development minister.

He also said the state government is supplying food to those who have been displaced.

“The Rakhine state government has provided whatever the IDPs [internally displaced persons] need, such as rice, cooking oil, and dried fish,” he said. “Civil society organizations from Rakhine and other states have been helping them as well.”

Local NGOs must rely on the army to deliver rice to other Maungdaw residents who have remained in their villages and are now running out of food supplies.

Aqa Mul Mujahidin, the group that officials say has ties to insurgents who carried out the border post attacks, has links to the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), a small militant group active in the 1980s and the 1990s, but until recently believed to be defunct.

But at a press conference on Monday, Deputy Home Affairs Minister Maj. Gen. Aung Soe said information indicating that the attacks were carried out by the Islamist group with links to Pakistan may be flawed, according to a report by Democratic Voice of Burma.

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

Myanmar: Myanmar: Hpa-an Field Report: Continued difficulties under ceasefire, January to December 2015

20 October 2016 - 2:48am
Source: Karen Human Rights Group Country: Myanmar

This Field Report includes information submitted by KHRG researchers describing events occurring in Hpa-an District between January and December 2015. It describes different human rights violations and other issues which are important to the local community, including education, healthcare, land confiscation, killing, development projects, fighting, and drug issues. In particular, land confiscation and drug-related problems are highlighted as major ongoing concerns in Paingkyon and Hlaingbwe townships.

  • Villagers’ land that has been confiscated by armed actors has not been returned even though villagers have submitted official complaints to local and national authorities. Despite villagers from Hlaingbwe Township having previously submitted a complaint letter related to land confiscation, in 2014 the Township general administrator and land administrator declared that the land that had been previously confiscated by the Tatmadaw will not be returned to the villagers.

  • Increased trade and use of drugs, primarily methamphetamine, amongst local villagers have caused serious social and medical problems. Villagers from Hlaingbwe Township have therefore submitted a letter to the Burma/Myanmar Parliament regarding the issues related to the increased trade and use of drugs in Hlaingbwe Township.

  • Religious leaders have faced serious violence from armed actors when they have tried to object to illegal logging in their communities. On October 9th 2014, a senior monk from L--- village was arrested and killed by soldiers from the Karen Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC), including the Company Commander Ta Wah, after the monk had attempted to prevent the soldiers from logging in his monastery’s compound.

  • Civilian villagers have been injured in the midst of fighting between different armed actors. On 6th July 2015, two young villagers, a 17 year old and a 21 year old, were shot and killed by Tatmadaw soldiers during a clash with Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) soldiers in Hlaingbwe Township, Hpa-an District, which forced local villagers to flee for their safety.

  • The Karen residents continue to experience difficulties with being able to learn their own Karen-script in schools as the Burma/Myanmar government has continued to send Bamar teachers to teach in a dual system with Karen teachers in rural areas in Nabu Township.

Myanmar: Myanmar: 90 refugees set to return to Karen State next week

20 October 2016 - 2:28am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar, Thailand


Ninety residents of the **Nu Po** refugee camp in Thailand’s Tak Province are set to return to Burma next week in the first round of official repatriations for refugees since a peace deal was struck late last year.

Saw Keh Waw, the chairman of the Nu Po refugee camp committee, said **90 refugees who previously signed up for repatriation** will be transported by the Thai authorities to the border town of Mae Sot on 25 October.

From there, he said, they will cross the border to Myawaddy in Karen State, where Burmese officials have arranged accommodation for them.

“The Burmese and Thai governments coordinated the repatriation. Burmese government officials in September came to interview would-be returnees in the camp for the programme and issued them travel documents. Thailand authorities pledged to provide them transportation to Mae Sot,” said Saw Keh Waw.

Upon arriving in Karen State, the returnees will be provided temporary accommodation in **Myawaddy**before being resettled in new locations, he added.

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic people in eastern Burma have been forced to flee their homes over the past three decades amid armed conflict between the Burmese army and various ethnic rebel groups. Many subsequently left for third countries under resettlement programmes.

This is the first time that the Thai and Burmese governments have been directly involved in the repatriation of refugees. Earlier this year, however, hundreds of families were resettled in a model village set up by the Karen National Union (**KNU**), one of the signatories of last year’s **Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement**.

Construction of** Lay Kay Kaw**, located about 15 km south of Myawaddy, began in February 2015. As of May, it had 200 low-cost houses, with an additional 200 expected to be completed before the end of the year.

Most of the current inhabitants are family members of KNU personnel or internally displaced persons.

Currently, there are over 100,000 people remaining in nine refugee camps in western Thailand’s Tak, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi and Mae Hong Song provinces along the Burmese border.

Myanmar: Strength in Diversity: Towards Universal Education in Myanmar’s Ethnic Areas

19 October 2016 - 8:07am
Source: The Asia Foundation Country: Myanmar

By Kim Jolliffe and Emily Speers Mears

Preface With many of the decades-long conflicts affecting areas of Myanmar still ongoing, parallel governance systems have been developed by ethnic armed groups and their affiliated organizations to provide vital services to impacted communities. The delivery of basic education by ethnic groups is one such critical social service reaching an underserved and vulnerable population of children and youths.
While still small compared to other countries in the region, government spending on education has significantly risen in recent years and with new ceasefires in place, the Ministry of Education has been able to expand its provisions to previously inaccessible areas. However, the growth and expansion of government services into the conflict-affected areas also generates political and administrative concerns from ethnic groups. The reality is that parallel systems will remain for the foreseeable future, and there is a need to recognize the diversity in the delivery of education and complementarity with the parallel systems of government and ethnic groups. This paper is a part of the research project “Social Services in Contested Areas” which undertakes the study of governance structures of non-state disputed territories and its interaction with parallel state structures and services.

The Asia Foundation is pleased to present this research on basic education in eastern Myanmar. This study details the role and operations of non-state education providers in ethnic areas, specifically Mon,
Shan and Karen States, and the interface with state education. This paper terms education providers connected to ethnic armed groups, and other community-based providers, as ethnic basic education providers (EBEPs), which have been providing vital pre-tertiary education services to conflict-affected communities. Given the political grievances arising out of the Burmanization of government education in the past, as well as the inaccessibility of state services in some of these areas, EBEPs have filled a significant gap and have been educating youths that live daily with conflicts and are at risk of hindered educational development. Valuing a diverse education sector and recognizing existing providers as important partners, will not only contribute to universal education goals and ensure access for all, but is a durable component of a successful peace process. We hope that this report will contribute to ongoing discussions of critical governance and reform issues that are cornerstone to Myanmar’s transition and peace process.

This research paper is authored by independent researchers, Mr. Kim Jolliffe and Ms. Emily Speers Mears. Kim Jolliffe specializes in areas of security, ethnic conflict and aid policy, while Emily Speers Mears works in conflict and education. The report was generously funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The opinions expressed in this report are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of DFID, DFAT or The Asia Foundation.

Dr. Kim N.B. Ninh
Country Representative The Asia Foundation Myanmar

Myanmar: Myanmar’s Peace Process: Getting to a Political Dialogue - Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°149

19 October 2016 - 5:42am
Source: International Crisis Group Country: Myanmar


The current government term may be the best chance for a negotiated political settlement to almost 70 years of armed conflict that has devastated the lives of minority communities and held back Myanmar as a whole. Aung San Suu Kyi and her administration have made the peace process a top priority. While the previous government did the same, she has a number of advantages, such as her domestic political stature, huge election mandate and strong international backing, including qualified support on the issue from China. These contributed to participation by nearly all armed groups – something the former government had been unable to achieve – in the Panglong-21 peace conference that commenced on 31 August. But if real progress is to be made, both the government and armed groups need to adjust their approach so they can start a substantive political dialogue as soon as possible.

Pangalong-21 was important for its broad inclusion of armed groups, not for its content, and the challenges going forward should not be underestimated. Many groups attended not out of support for the process, but because they considered they had no alternative. Many felt that they were treated poorly and the conference was badly organised. The largest opposition armed group, the United Wa State Party (UWSP), sent only a junior delegation that walked out on the second day. An escalation of fighting in recent months, including use of air power and long-range artillery by the Myanmar military, has further eroded trust.

Such issues are not unexpected; what matters is the resilience of the process to deal with them. The announced scheduling of further Panglong-21 conferences every six months (the next for February 2017) imposes an artificially rigid timeframe that limits the flexibility required to overcome obstacles. Weak capacity in the government’s peace secretariat, the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre (NRPC), is another challenge. It will take difficult negotiations to convince most groups to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), a sine qua non for participation in the upcoming political dialogue process – future Panglong-21 conferences and the discussions feeding into them – that has been clearly articulated by both the government and military. This will be even harder if the military continues its forceful posture on the ground.

Eight groups signed the NCA in October 2015, but at least ten other armed groups have reservations. Some, like the UWSP, have better de facto self-governance arrangements already and worry their status would be undermined by signing. Others are concerned that the new government has a more unilateral approach to the peace process and that if they sign, political solutions are more likely to be imposed than negotiated. Three groups without bilateral ceasefires are resisting government demands to issue statements renouncing armed struggle in principle.

The government should consider adopting a more flexible timeframe for the peace conferences and reassure armed groups by demonstrating a less unilateral approach to the process in general. It needs to ensure that civil society, women and youth have a stronger voice in the process. It should also take steps to ensure that it has the necessary support capacity in place at the NRPC.

Armed groups need to recognise that though they have legitimate concerns about the process, they are unlikely to get a better chance to achieve a negotiated political settlement. Aung San Suu Kyi has expressed firm support for a federal, democratic solution and has unparalleled political authority to deliver it, particularly with the Burman majority. Now is the time to start discussing the contours of that deal, rather than continuing to focus on preliminaries.

The alternative is not attractive. Time is not on the side of the armed groups. Unless both sides grasp the current opportunity, the prospect of a negotiated solution will recede, likely to be replaced by a messy, drawn-out endgame that fails to address the underlying grievances of the minority communities, including their demands for a federal system and greater equality. This would be to the detriment of peace and stability in the borderlands and to Myanmar’s future as a prosperous, tolerant and democratic country.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Protect Civilians in Rakhine State, Investigate Fatal Shootings

18 October 2016 - 9:06pm
Source: Fortify Rights Country: Myanmar

Extrajudicial Killings and Abuses Undercut Security in Rakhine State

(Yangon, October 12, 2016)—The government of Myanmar should protect civilians and respect human rights in responding to recent deadly attacks against police by unknown assailants near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, Fortify Rights said today. According to eyewitnesses, Myanmar Army soldiers allegedly killed several unarmed ethnic-Rohingya men on October 10, a day after deadly attacks on three police stations in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township.

Fears of a military offensive and potential unlawful killings and other abuses, particularly targeting the Rohingya Muslim population, are mounting in Rakhine State.

“The army has a responsibility to protect civilians regardless of religion or ethnicity,” said Matthew Smith, Chief Executive Officer at Fortify Rights. “The authorities can diffuse this situation by upholding law and order while also protecting the rights of Rohingya.”

According to Myanmar authorities, a group of Rohingya men attacked three police posts on October 9, killing nine policemen and wounding five before fleeing with police weapons and ammunition.

Fortify Rights obtained two amateur videos—one minute and 21 seconds in length and another lasting two minutes and 51 seconds—showing a group of men armed with military-grade assault rifles and handguns, speaking the Rohingya language and calling for volunteers to engage in armed conflict in Rakhine State. “The fighting can start now, today,” a Rohingya speaker, flanked by young armed men, says into the camera in one of the films. “The Myanmar Army tried to search for us by helicopter yesterday. They searched for us by helicopters in every part of Rakhine. We do not care about helicopters.”

The reference to helicopters suggests the film was created on or around October 9, when, according to state media, the Myanmar Army used helicopters to move troops into the area where the attacks on the police occurred. On the same day, the authorities also banned gatherings of five or more people and imposed a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. in Maungdaw Township.

Fortify Rights has received reports of possible extrajudicial killings of Rohingya men in Maungdaw Township by Myanmar Army soldiers following the attacks on the police and called on the government, state security forces, and all parties in Rakhine State to respect human rights and uphold the responsibility to protect civilians.

According to information received by Fortify Rights, scores of Myanmar Army soldiers arrived in Myothugyi village, Maungdaw Township at approximately 6:30 a.m. on October 10.

“Ishmael M.,” 23, told Fortify Rights that he witnessed a Myanmar Army soldier fatally shoot an unarmed local Rohingya man named Nagu, believed to be around 50 years old, in Myothugyi village at approximately 8 a.m. on October 10. Ishmael looked on from a nearby home as four Myanmar Army soldiers apprehended Nagu, who was reportedly unarmed.

“I was watching from the window,” Ishmael told Fortify Rights. “The military man was talking on the phone. After that, he shot him. I saw them shoot him in the bottom of the face and head.”

Following the fatal shooting, Myanmar Army soldiers left the body behind.

Fortify Rights received photographs and a short video of the victim’s body, showing what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head, matching descriptions received from two eyewitnesses. At time of writing, the victim’s body has not been buried and is located in a local home.

Ishmael also told Fortify Rights that another man, Noor Allam—believed to be approximately 55 years old—was also fatally shot at approximately 10 a.m., nearby Ishmael’s location. “We could hear some noises, bullets, and when the army left, we saw the body, and I helped bring the body inside the home,” Ishmael told Fortify Rights. “There was blood on his chest. I took a photo of the body myself.”

Ishmael said he carried the body of Noor Allam to a nearby home.

Fortify Rights received information of at least three killings of Rohingya men in Myothugyi village on October 10—the third was a 25-year-old Rohingya man named Noor Bashar.

“They took three men...and killed them,” another Rohingya man in Myothugyi said. “They did not arrest the people, they just killed them.”

The New York Times and Reuters reported allegations of seven deaths in Myothugyi village on October 10. Both outlets reported witnesses alleging that army soldiers shot at Rohingya as they ran away. The New York Times quoted a local journalist traveling with security forces in Myothugyi at the time, who claimed, “Three suspects were killed as they ran away when the security forces entered the village.” On Facebook, the journalist who spoke to the New York Times later denied the quote, saying he was “in trouble” as a result of the article and now alleges that the victims attacked the soldiers “and soldiers shot them back.”

The Government of Myanmar should conduct a thorough, independent investigation into the killings of police officers on October 9 and into the fatal shootings of Rohingya on October 10, Fortify Rights said.

The use of lethal force by state security forces against a civilian is only lawful when necessary to prevent loss of life and serious injury and when proportionate to the threat at hand. The U.N. Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials stipulates that the “intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.” The U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials requires officials to “use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.”

In all situations, under international humanitarian and human rights law, the authorities have a responsibility to protect civilians.

There are more than one million Rohingya in northern Rakhine State, nearly all of whom are denied citizenship and are stateless. For decades, the Government of Myanmar has strictly restricted Rohingya freedom of movement, preventing movement between villages, village tracts, and beyond.

In June, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights reported to the Human Rights Council that there was a “pattern of gross human rights violations” against Rohingya in Rakhine State that “would suggest a widespread or systematic attack against the Rohingya, in turn suggesting the possible commission of crimes against humanity.”

In February 2014, Fortify Rights published a 79-page report,Policies of Persecution, documenting widespread and systematic human rights violations against Rohingya in northern Rakhine State, including the rights to nondiscrimination, freedom of movement, marriage, family, health, and privacy. In October 2015, the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School found “strong evidence” to establish the elements of the crime of genocide against Rohingya in Rakhine State.

“The people of Rakhine State deserve protection and justice,” said Matthew Smith. “The army should work with local communities to instill calm.”

For more information, please contact:

Amy Smith, Executive Director, +66(0)87.795.5454; Twitter: @AmyAlexSmith, @fortifyrights

Matthew Smith, Chief Executive Officer,+66 (0) 85.028.0044,; Twitter: @matthewfsmith, @fortifyrights

This version was corrected to remove an inapplicable reference to the Third Geneva Convention.


Fortify Rights works to prevent and remedy human rights violations. We investigate and document abuses, provide customized technical support to human rights defenders, and press for solutions. We are an independent, non-profit, nongovernmental organization based in Southeast Asia and registered in Switzerland and the United States.

Myanmar: Villagers Flee Maungdaw Security Operations

18 October 2016 - 2:12pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By MOE MYINT 17 October 2016

The Arakan State Chief Minister conducted a meeting with civil society organizations on Monday morning on how to shelter hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in state capital Sittwe, according to city resident U Thar Pwint, who attended the meeting.

U Thar Pwint said that as of Monday morning about 800 IDPs who have fled homes in Maungdaw Township in northern Arakan State are depending on several Buddhist monasteries in Sittwe for support.

After alleged militants attacked border police checkpoints on Oct. 9, killing nine police officers and looting firearms and ammunitions, military security operations have resulted in several dozen deaths among the army, the police and alleged Islamic militants in Maungdaw Township and have caused villagers to flee.

Arakan State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu agreed to open a temporary camp at Danyawaddy sports grounds in Sittwe where IDPs—mainly women, children, and the elderly—are provided with food, clothes, and mosquito nets.

The Irrawaddy contacted Arakan State spokesperson U Min Aung to learn more about the relocation plan but he was unavailable for comment.

Social activist and Sittwe resident Ko Wai Hun Aung was surprised to hear the number of IDPs in Sittwe had risen to 800 from merely 200 a few days ago.

The number of IDPs is also climbing in Maungdaw where Buddhist Arakanese residents—who are estimated to make up less than 10 percent of Maungdaw and neighboring Buthidaung townships—continue fleeing from countryside villages to Maungdaw town.

Ko Wai Hun Aung was distributing food to IDPs in Maungdaw and said that about 1,500 people are relying on aid in Buthidaung and 450 in Maungdaw downtown monasteries.

“Most of the displaced persons are now in Buthidaung town because they believe the security force is better than in downtown Maungdaw,” he said.

Ko Wai Hun Aung said that although they have not been attacked, IDPs are concerned about safety in Maungdaw Township’s rural areas because the small Buddhist Arakanese villages are surrounded by Muslim villages.

Buddhist and Muslim communities in Arakan State, also known as Rakhine State, remain largely segregated since anti-Muslim violence in 2012 and 2013, which displaced around 140,000 people, the majority of them self-identifying Muslim Rohingya. The government does not recognize the Rohingya among Burma’s official ethnic groups, and instead labels them as “Bengali.”

Irrawaddy reporters on the ground have reported during the recent skirmishes in northern Arakan State, many Rohingya have also fled their villages. The Burma Army has been blocking media access to rural areas of Maungdaw Township where security operations are taking place, on the grounds that it is unsafe, and many local Rohingya have been fearful of talking to media.

Some Maungdaw Township villagers have remained in rural areas to watch over property and land. When speaking to The Irrawaddy they said that everything was calm.

On Monday afternoon, Union ministers who visited Arakan State last week held a press conference in Naypyidaw. According to the government press release, five soldiers have been killed since operations begun. A total of 29 suspected militants have been killed and another 29 suspects are currently detained for interrogation.

According to local sources, the bodies of three Arakanese villagers who had been missing since Oct. 10 were reportedly found near the Pyint Phyu village on Monday afternoon. It was unclear how or when they died and calls to Maungdaw police officials went unanswered.

Myanmar: NGOs concerned by aid restrictions in Kachin State

18 October 2016 - 1:50pm
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

By SEAMUS MARTOV 17 October 2016

A coalition of nine local humanitarian organisations active in Kachin State released a statement on Friday voicing their concern over restrictions imposed by the Burmese government and military on humanitarian aid access to camps housing villagers displaced by the ongoing Kachin conflict.

“Humanitarian access is unfortunately politicised consistently by the Myanmar [Burmese] government,” said the Joint Strategy Team for Humanitarian Response (JST) in its statement. “The Myanmar Tatmadaw [armed forces] consistently hinders food transportation to the most needed area in Kachin State. This is an outright violation against the right of the IDPs [internally displaced persons] and breaching of the IHL [International Humanitarian Law].

“After five years of displacement, ensuring human dignity for IDPs and meeting their basic needs, like food and shelter, is a constant struggle; protection of the most vulnerable groups remains a great challenge,” the statement noted.

Fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) has displaced more than 120,000 people in Kachin and neighboring Shan State since a 17-year-old ceasefire ended in June 2011. Access to IDPs has been difficult for aid groups trying to assist those who have sheltered in areas controlled by the KIO.

The JST statement also indicated that the aid groups were particularly concerned by a series of incidents last month which saw soldiers from the army enter refugee camps in Kachin and Shan states in order to ostensibly carry out registration checks of those living in the camps, something that involved photos of camp residents. The statement alleged that the army’s actions violated the rights of the refugees who were left “extremely anxious and terrified with these intrusions.”

The statement from the groups called on Burma’s government and the army “to take full responsibility and accountability for its own people,” and take steps to ensure “unlimited humanitarian access.” The statement also called on all parties to immediately halt all hostilities.

Clashes between the Burmese army and the KIO have intensified significantly since August. The KIO in a statement issued earlier this month blamed government forces for carrying out aggressive actions against KIO-held positions, and undermining the peace process.

“While the current government is trying to initiate a dialogue process by political means, the Tatmadaw is taking advantage of the situation by launching heavy military attacks on the KIO’s strategic military posts with the intention of seizing them. These kinds of military actions are undermining and interrupting the genuine peace, which is just emerging”, said the KIO in a statement released 8 October.

The JST is comprised of the following groups: Bridging Rural Integrated Development and Grassroots Empowerment (BRIDGE); Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC); Kachin Relief and Development Committee (KRDC); Kachin Women’s Association (KWA); Kachin Development Group (KDG); Karuna Mission Social Solidarity (KMSS); Metta Development Foundation (Metta); Nyein (Shalom) Foundation; and Wunpawng Ninghtoi (WPN).

Myanmar: Myanmar – Food insecurity among IDPs in northern Shan (ECHO, partners) (ECHO Daily Flash of 18 October 2016)

18 October 2016 - 7:58am
Source: European Commission's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Country: Myanmar
  • Further to an intensification of fighting in northern Shan and the sharp reduction in humanitarian access to areas not controlled by the government, several IDP camps in northern Shan are facing food shortages.
  • Continuous fighting, use of airstrikes and heavy artillery have increased civilian casualties and intensified the fear and anxiety among IDPs.
  • More than 100 000 have been displaced, some repeatedly, since 2011, when a ceasefire between ethnic groups and governmental forces was broken. The recent decision by the Kachin State Government to oblige IDPs in areas not controlled by the government to cross into controlled areas causes concern.

Myanmar: Myanmar – Violence in Northern Rakhine State (ECHO, partners) (ECHO Daily Flash of 18 October 2016)

18 October 2016 - 7:57am
Source: European Commission's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Country: Myanmar
  • Further to the 9 October attacks against border guards and police by unidentified attackers in Maungdaw township, northern Rakhine State, tensions have increased. New attacks seem to have taken place, causing more casualties, and security forces are searching villages through house to house visits. There are reports of burned down villages.
  • The humanitarian impact of this unfolding violence is expected to be significant in a region where global and severe acute malnutrition are already above emergency thresholds: shops and markets are closed, the population is confined and the price of food is quickly increasing.
  • Ethnic Rakhine civil servants are being evacuated by boats or helicopters, leaving schools and health centres closed.
  • In Sittwe camps, food could rapidly become an issue: trade between the camps and the Rakhine community is being blocked by hardliners. The lack of access to health care and referral is likely to cause preventable deaths. On Monday, a new born baby with breathing difficulties passed away due to the impossibility to be referred to the Sittwe general hospital.