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Bangladesh: Bay of Bengal and Andaman sea crisis IOM response - Situation Report, August 2016

14 September 2016 - 5:50am
Source: International Organization for Migration Country: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand

Highlights 1-31 August 2016

  • Bangladesh: During August, IOM provided return assistance, including food and onward transportation, to nine Bangladeshis, including one minor, returning from Indonesia and Malaysia. To date, IOM has provided return assistance to 2,688 Bangladeshis.

  • Indonesia: As of 31 August, there are a total of 259 migrants (256 Myanmar Muslims from Rakhine State and three Bangladeshis) throughout five shelters in Aceh and North Sumatra. In August, one Bangladeshi migrant returned under IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) programme. Under the pro-gramme, IOM has assisted 765 migrants with return to their home country.

  • Thailand: To date, 329 migrants (313 Myanmar Muslims from Rakhine State and 16 Bangladeshi migrants) remain in six Immigration Detention Centres, five Shelters for Children and Families, and five Welfare Protection Centres for Victims of Trafficking in Thailand. Of the 329 migrants, 68 are female adults, 117 are male adults, and 144 are children.

Situation Overview

At least 5,543 persons who departed from Myanmar and Bangladesh managed to disembark in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand, between 10 May and 30 July 2015. Embarkation recommenced on 20 September and at least 1,500 persons departed from Myanmar and Bangladesh from September to December 2015.

588 stranded Myanmar Muslims from Rakhine State and Bangladeshis remain in shelters and Immigration Detention Centres in Indonesia and Thailand. IOM continues to provide shelter support, non-food items, health screenings, WASH support, and psychosocial support.

2,688 Bangladeshis who disembarked after 10 May in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand returned to Bangladesh under IOM’s AVR Programme and Government agreements.

World: Fournir un véritable lieu de refuge aux déplacés du monde entier

14 September 2016 - 4:44am
Source: Human Rights Watch Country: Afghanistan, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Myanmar, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Turkey, United States of America, World, Yemen

Les pays participant aux deux sommets sur les réfugiés devraient s’engager à renforcer leurs offres de réinstallation et d’aide

(New York, le 13 septembre 2016) – La crise massive des réfugiés exige une réponse globale sans précédent, a déclaré aujourd’hui Human Rights Watch. Lors de deux sommets prévus les 19 et 20 septembre 2016, au siège des Nations Unies, les dirigeants du monde entier devraient prendre des mesures audacieuses pour se répartir la responsabilité d’accueillir les millions de personnes déplacées par la violence, la répression et la persécution.

Les chefs d’État et de gouvernement se réuniront à New York pour discuter des moyens de fournir un soutien accru aux pays où les réfugiés affluent dans un premier temps, dont la capacité d’accueil est proche du point de rupture dans de nombreux cas. Une menace grave pèse aujourd’hui sur le principe fondamental de protection des réfugiés, le non-refoulement, qui consiste à ne pas renvoyer sous la contrainte des réfugiés vers des pays où leurs vies seraient en danger, comme l’Afghanistan, la Birmanie, la République démocratique du Congo, l’Érythrée, le Honduras, l’Irak, la Somalie et la Syrie, entre autres.

« Des millions de vies sont en jeu», a prévenu Kenneth Roth, le directeur exécutif de Human Rights Watch._« Il ne s’agit plus simplement d’accroitre les financements ou le nombre de lieux de réinstallation, mais aussi de consolider les principes juridiques sous-tendant la protection des réfugiés, menacés comme jamais auparavant »_.

Cette année, Human Rights Watch a documenté plusieurs incidents au cours desquels des gardes-frontières turcs ont ouvert le feu ou exercé des violences contre des civils qui étaient manifestement des demandeurs d'asile, et la Jordanie a refusé l'entrée sur son territoire ou la fourniture d’une aide à des demandeurs d'asile syriens regroupés à la frontière. En outre, le Kenya a annoncé la fermeture en novembre 2016 du plus vaste camp de réfugiés du monde, qui se traduira par le retour forcé de centaines de milliers de Somaliens dans leur pays d’origine en dépit des dangers potentiels; tandis lePakistan et l'Iran harcèlent et mettent fin au statut de réfugiés afghans, les contraignant à rentrer dans un pays en conflit.

L'Assemblée générale de l'ONU accueillera le 19 septembre une réunion de haut niveau _« avec pour objectif de fédérer les pays autour d’une approche plus humaine et mieux coordonnée »_ du sort des réfugiés. Le projet de déclaration finale, déjà rédigé, représente toutefois une occasion manquée d'élargir la portée de la protection de ces populations et déçoit les attentes vis-à-vis d’engagements renouvelés et concrets. Toutefois, ce document consacre les droits des réfugiés et appelle à un partage plus équitable des responsabilités. Compte tenu de l'ampleur de la crise des réfugiés et des réactions populistes qu’elle suscite dans de nombreuses régions du monde, cette affirmation doit s’inscrire au fondement de l'action collective, selon Human Rights Watch.

Le 20 septembre, le président américain Barack Obama accueillera un « Sommet des dirigeants » visant à renforcer les engagements pris en matière d'aide, d’accueil des réfugiés, d’opportunités professionnelles et d’éducation en faveur des réfugiés. Les gouvernements devraient se mobiliser pour réaliser ces objectifs et doubler le nombre de réinstallations et autres formes d’accueil, augmenter leurs contributions financières de 30%, scolariser un million d'enfants réfugiés supplémentaires et reconnaître à un million d’adultes le droit de travailler. Bien que les participants n’aient pas encore été annoncés, entre 30 et 35 pays sont attendus lors de cet événement. Le Canada, l’Éthiopie, l'Allemagne, la Suède et la Jordanie se joindront aux États-Unis en tant que « cofacilitateurs » (« _co-facilitators_ ») de ce sommet.

Contribuer à la capacité des premiers pays d’accueil à fournir une aide humanitaire

La grande majorité des 21,3 millions de réfugiés que compte le monde se trouvent dans des pays du Sud, où ils sont souvent exposés à de nouveaux dangers, à des discriminations et à des négligences. Human Rights Watch a appelé des pays « de première arrivée » comme la Turquie, le Liban, la Jordanie, la Thaïlande, le Kenya, l'Iran et le Pakistan à faire des propositions pour élargir l’accès des réfugiés au marché du travail et à l'éducation.

Les nations les plus riches du monde ont largement échoué à aider les pays aux avants-postes de la crise des déplacements. Au 9 septembre dernier, les appels humanitaires lancés par les Nations Unies étaient sous-financés à hauteur de 39%. Certains des moins financés se trouvant en Afrique, l'appel en faveur des réfugiés du Soudan du Sud se situe à 19%. Quant aux plans régionaux d'intervention en faveur des réfugiés au Yémen et en Syrie, ils ne sont financés qu’à hauteur de 22% et 49%, respectivement.

Augmenter le nombre de réinstallations dans des pays tiers

Alors que la réinstallation dans des pays tiers est déterminante pour aider les réfugiés à refaire leurs vies et soulager les pays de « première arrivée », la solidarité internationale se fait douloureusement attendre. En 2015, le Haut-Commissariat des Nations Unies aux réfugiés (HCR) a facilité la réinstallation de 81 000 personnes éligibles, sur un total estimé à 960 000 dans le monde. L'agenceestime que plus de 1,1 million de réfugiés auraient besoin d’être réinstallés en 2016, pour 170 000 places offertes vraisemblablement. Lors d’une réunion de l'ONU en mars dernier, les représentants de 92 pays se sont tout juste engagés à augmenter légèrement le nombre de réinstallations de réfugiés syriens.

Dans l'Union européenne (UE), l'arrivée par voie maritime en 2015 de plus d’un million de demandeurs d'asile et de migrants – sans compter le décès de 3 700 d’entre eux au cours de la traversée – a mis en lumière l’urgente nécessité de voies légales sûres pour permettre aux réfugiés de se déplacer, notamment la réinstallation. Cependant, de nombreux pays de l'UE, dont l'Autriche, la Bulgarie et laHongrie, font principalement porter leurs efforts sur la prévention des arrivées spontanées, l'externalisation des responsabilités et la limitation des droits des réfugiés.

Adopté en juillet 2015, un plan européen prévoyant la réinstallation sur deux ans de 22 500 réfugiés en provenance d'autres régions n’a permis, un an plus tard, de réinstaller que 8 268 d’entre eux. La plupart des pays de l'Union n’ont pas rempli leurs engagements, dont 10 qui n’ont pas réinstallé un seul réfugié au titre de ce plan.

Mettre fin aux systèmes abusifs et aux accords inéquitables

En mars dernier, l'UE a conclu un accord avec la Turquie pour y faciliter le retour de presque tous les demandeurs d'asile au motif largement contestable que ce pays serait sûr pour eux : cet accord est aujourd’hui sur le point de s’effondrer. L’Australie transfère de force tous les demandeurs d'asile arrivant par voie maritime vers des centres d’enregistrement situés au large de ses côtes, où ils sont victimes d'abus, de traitements inhumains et de négligences.

L'UE et l'Australie devraient renoncer à ces politiques abusives. Les États membres de l'UE devraient très prochainement se doter d’un cadre commun permanent de réinstallation assorti d’objectifs plus ambitieux et d’un engagement clair à les réaliser, a noté Human Rights Watch. Ils devraient partager équitablement la responsabilité d’accueillir les demandeurs d'asile qui arrivent spontanément en Grèce et en Italie.

Les gouvernements remettent aussi en cause le droit d’asile avec la fermeture de camps comme auKenya et en Thaïlande, et la mise en détention de demandeurs d'asile en Australie, en Grèce, en Italie, au Mexique et aux États-Unis, entre autres.

Alors qu’à bien des égards, les États-Unis assurent un leadership en matière de réinstallation des réfugiés et de réponse aux appels humanitaires des Nations Unies, ce pays s’est montré particulièrement lent et réticent à accueillir des réfugiés syriens. Sans compter ses politiques de fermeture des frontières pour les enfants et autres individus en provenance d'Amérique centrale qui fuient la violence des gangs et l’utilisation que fait du Mexique Washington comme « tampon » pour empêcher ces populations d'atteindre la frontière américaine.

Si l'administration Obama a atteint, pour l’année budgétaire en cours, son objectif d’accueillir 10 000 réfugiés syriens en dépit de l’opposition de plus de la moitié des gouverneurs américains et d’un manque de fonds autorisés par le Congrès, les États-Unis ont la capacité de réinstaller un nombre bien supérieur de réfugiés. Elle devrait s’engager cette année à réaliser les objectifs fixés par le Sommet des dirigeants, c’est-à-dire doubler le chiffre de 85 000 réinstallations pour le porter à 170 000.

Plusieurs autres pays ont la capacité d’accueillir beaucoup plus de réfugiés qu’ils ne le font, comme leBrésil, le Japon et la Corée du Sud, qui sont en très en deçà des attentes placées en eux. Le Japon a accueilli 19 réfugiés en 2015, la Corée du Sud seulement 42 en dehors de ressortissants nord-coréens et le Brésil à peine 6.

La Russie ne réinstalle pas de réfugiés. Les États du Golfe ne répondent pas aux appels de réinstallation adressés par les Nations Unies, bien que l'Arabie saoudite affirme avoir suspendu les déportations de centaines de milliers de Syriens qui outrepassent la durée de séjour prévus par leurs visas. La plupart des États du Golfe, à l'exception du Koweït, ont également échoué à répondre aux appels humanitaires lancés par l’ONU en faveur des réfugiés syriens pour répondre aux besoins de ces populations, selon une analyse d’Oxfam.

« Chaque pays a la responsabilité morale de garantir les droits et la dignité des personnes contraintes de fuir leurs foyers », a affirmé Kenneth Roth. _« Lorsque plus de 20 millions de personnes comptent sur un véritable effort de la communauté internationale pour atténuer leurs souffrances, les belles paroles sont insuffisantes. »_

World: Lives on the Edge: Time to Align Medical Research and Development with People’s Health Needs

14 September 2016 - 4:10am
Source: Médecins Sans Frontières Country: Brazil, Guinea, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, World

Access Campaign: As UN General Assembly starts, MSF urges governments to set medical research policies that align with people’s health needs

New MSF report exposes pharma industry failings and highlights new ways of researching and developing medicines that address public health needs

Geneva – Governments must do more to promote the development of desperately needed new medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics at affordable prices, urges Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), in a new report. As the 193 Member States of the United Nations meet at the General Assembly in New York this week, countries must prioritize urgent action to address some of the failures of research and development (R&D) into essential new drugs – such as antibiotics – and their often sky-high prices.

MSF’s report, Lives on the Edge: Time to Align Medical Research and Development with People’s Health Needs, diagnoses the failure of the current R&D system, and outlines new ways of developing tools to better address the medical needs of people, at prices they can afford. Governments must seize the opportunity to take action now, particularly in light of a forthcoming report on these issues commissioned by the UN Secretary General, and as world leaders gather at a UN summit to agree to collective action to address the crisis of drug-resistant infections, or antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

“People in poor and wealthy countries alike are now finding that the medicines they need either don’t exist, or are priced so high they can’t afford them, and governments need to solve these problems,” said Katy Athersuch, Medical Access and Innovation Policy Advisor of MSF’s Access Campaign. “At this year’s UN General Assembly, governments must seize the opportunity to support measures that will ensure new, affordable medicines are developed to meet urgent health needs – they cannot afford to simply prescribe the same old failed policies.”

Pharmaceutical corporations woefully under-invest in research for diseases that aren’t lucrative, while governments have failed to ensure that taxpayer-funded research addresses priority health needs. A lack of diagnostic tools, vaccines and medicines for Ebola and drug-resistant infections, for example, illustrate that the industry’s focus is on how the financial bottom line looks for companies and their shareholders, rather than on meeting pressing medical needs. With new hepatitis C medicines priced at US$1,000 per pill in places, the exorbitant prices pharmaceutical corporations charge people for lifesaving medicines is under intense scrutiny across many of the 193 UN member countries.

“The needs of people in the poorest countries are going unnoticed by pharmaceutical corporations. In the last half century, we’ve had just two new drugs developed to treat tuberculosis (TB), the world’s top infectious disease killer responsible for 1.5 million deaths a year,” said Dr Jennifer Hughes, TB doctor for MSF South Africa. “The people who MSF treats for drug-resistant TB need treatments that don’t leave them deaf or suicidal, and that give them better odds of being cured than just one in two. But the current way new drugs get developed means that pharmaceutical corporations aren’t interested in delivering better treatments for TB – as there’s not enough profit in it for them.”

Governments must introduce new approaches to R&D for medical tools to better diagnose and treat the health needs of people in all countries – and at affordable prices. These approaches need to break the links that tie medical research to high prices through monopoly-based market protections. One example of this new approach to R&D is the 3P Project, an initiative between MSF and other organizations involved in TB that aims to conduct collaborative research to develop new treatment regimens for TB by sharing data and intellectual property, and by paying for research using a novel combination of grants and prizes.

“The old ways of conducting R&D for new medicines clearly no longer work – not for the poorest countries, and increasingly not for the wealthiest countries either,” said Ms Athersuch. “We need to completely re-write the rule-book for medical R&D: it is time to try something new. With the UN Secretary General spearheading an effort to improve innovation of, and access to, health technologies, and a high-level global summit taking place on the global crisis of drug-resistant infections, this year’s UN General Assembly offers critical opportunities for governments to chart a new course for medical R&D.”

Australia: Pathways to Protection: A human rights-based response to the flight of asylum seekers by sea

14 September 2016 - 1:03am
Source: Government of Australia Country: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Eritrea, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam

Executive summary

Background to the project The aim of this paper is to start a conversation about how we can answer the question: What is a rights-based alternative to the current model of third country processing in Nauru and Papua New Guinea?

The Commission has endeavoured to identify options for responding to flight by sea which are consistent with Australia’s international human rights obligations.

In publishing this paper, the Commission is seeking to make a positive contribution to this difficult policy area. We have sought to provide the framework for an alternative policy response, rather than an exhaustive overview of all relevant measures or a detailed plan for implementation. The policy options set out in this paper are offered so that they can be debated, refined and, if they are deemed fit for purpose, implemented.

The Commission also acknowledges that the options put forward in this report could benefit from further policy development and economic analysis prior to implementation. Careful analysis will need to be undertaken of the likely flow-on effects of expanding the opportunities for safe entry in Australia and altering some of the Government’s foreign policy strategies in the ways that are set out in this paper. Further research, consultation and planning would also be required to tailor these measures to conditions in different countries, and to the needs of particular groups.

This paper sets out some alternative policy approaches that aim to protect human rights while also achieving the overall policy objective of preventing dangerous journeys by sea. The Commission is confident that the options proposed in this paper are compliant with Australia’s international human rights law obligations.

This paper does not specifically address the human rights issues arising from other policy measures aimed at deterring flight by sea, such as boat turnbacks and Temporary Protection Visas. However, the Commission considers that the rights-based options proposed in this paper could also be considered as alternatives to these policies.

This paper also does not address the situation of the approximately 30,000 people seeking asylum who are currently in Australia awaiting processing of their claims. The human rights implications of policies affecting these asylum seekers have been considered in other Commission publications.4 Methodology In March 2016, the Commission conducted a series of consultations to discuss alternative policy responses to flight by sea.

Consultation participants were selected on the basis of their expertise in the areas of refugee policy, human rights, international law and protection issues in the Asia–Pacific region. The feedback gathered through the consultations was supplemented through desktop research undertaken between February and June 2016.

In conducting this research and analysis, the Commission adopted a human rights-based approach to policy development.

A human rights-based approach sees strengthening the enjoyment of human rights as both a means and an end. Policies and programs which are based on this approach should further the realisation of human rights, and their planning and implementation should be guided by international human rights standards.5 Summary of findings The key driver of flight by sea towards Australia is the lack of effective protection for refugees and people seeking asylum in the Asia–Pacific region. As such, improving access to effective protection represents the most effective and sustainable means of preventing flight by sea. This is something that can only be achieved through cooperation and partnership with our regional neighbours.

Two core principles emerged from the research and consultation process which have guided the Commission in identifying alternative options:

  • The top priority of an alternative response should be enhancing protection for people fleeing persecution, in accordance with our international human rights obligations.

  • The focus of Australia’s policy response should shift from deterrence to prevention. Rather than seeking simply to discourage asylum seekers from embarking on dangerous journeys, an alternative response should aim to address the human rights violations which compel people to undertake these journeys in the first place.

While Australia is well-placed to support efforts to improve access to protection, there are two key obstacles which currently hamper these efforts:

  • There are few effective mechanisms for cooperation on refugee protection issues amongst states in the Asia– Pacific region, which hampers the region’s capacity to respond effectively to the needs of forcibly displaced people (including by ensuring appropriate settlement options across the region)

  • There are limited opportunities for safe entry for people wishing to seek protection in Australia.
    Based on the information and evidence gathered through the research and consultation process, the Commission has identified two thematic areas (each encompassing a number of specific options) which are designed to overcome these obstacles and which together comprise an alternative, human rights-based policy response to flight by sea:

  • Expand opportunities for safe entry to Australia • Enhance foreign policy strategies on migration in the Asia–Pacific region.

The options put forward in this paper aim directly to address the key driver of flight by sea through creating and enhancing pathways to protection. They seek to achieve this by facilitating access to safe migration options, improving protection for refugees and people seeking asylum who are living in the region, and building towards more effective regional responses to refugee protection issues.
They respond to the human rights violations experienced by refugees and people seeking asylum during flight and in the context of displacement. They are also consistent with the Refugee Convention in that they avoid imposing penalties on the basis of a person’s mode of arrival or lack of documentation.

An overview of the various options identified by the Commission is contained in the table commencing on the next page.

Myanmar: Nationalists Clash with Locals, Reporters at Rally in Rangoon

13 September 2016 - 9:30pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By Moe Myint

RANGOON — A protest in Rangoon’s Bahan Township against the Arakan State Advisory Commission saw confrontations between firebrand nationalists and frustrated locals on Sunday. Two journalists covering the protests were also assaulted by nationalist protestors.

A few hundred nationalists assembled at the Bosein Mhan sports ground including leading monks from groups such as the Ma Ba Tha-affiliated Myanmar Nationalist Network. A Buddhist nationalist named Zaw Win applied for the peaceful assembly permit from local police, the head of Bahan Township police U Win Swe verified.

Speeches from a makeshift stage and banners denounced—in sometimes racist language—former UN-chief Kofi Annan, who is heading the commission, as well as Rangoon Division Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein and Mandalay Division Chief Minister U Zaw Myint Maung, who have publicly criticized Ma Ba Tha and the Buddhist nationalist movement in Burma.

People began heckling and cursing demonstrators after police refused locals access to play football. A quarrel broke out at the western corner of the park, away from the rally stage. Police struggled to mediate the situation and maintain peace.

As reporters and photographers approached to cover the aggression, seasoned photojournalist Ko Myat Thu Kyaw was accosted by three unidentified men. Irrawaddy reporter Ko Moe Myint, witnessed the men punch the photographer twice in the face.

“Many people punched my face. I don’t know who they are; I did not recognize them,” said Ko Myat Thu Kyaw. Ko Thura from media outlet Mizzima was among others attacked at different locations around the sports ground, according to reporters.

Nationalists are unhappy about the inclusion of foreigners on the commission, which was created at the behest of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Last week a proposal to debate the removal of international members of the commission was voted down in parliament.

Thu Nanda, a leading monk with the National Saving Youths Society, called Kofi Annan Ngafi Annan, “ngafi” being an insulting slang term in Burmese. He also used a racial slur, Ghana Kalar Mae—“Ghana” referring to Kofi Annan’s Ghanaian nationality, “kalar” being a derogatory word used for Muslims or those of Indian descent, and “mae” meaning black.

Hundreds of Arakanese migrant workers in garment factory participated in the rally. “We are dissatisfied with Kofi Annan’s inclusion. That’s why we are here today,” said one female worker, who declined to give her name, or that of their organizer.

This is not the first time journalists have been threatened and abused at nationalist rallies. At a demonstration against the death sentence handed to two Burmese migrant workers by a Thai judge in December 2015, Ma Ba Tha supporters encouraged attendees to “beat the reporters, skin those guys” when they began covering a quarrel at the rally.

Myanmar: More Than 3,000 Villagers Flee Escalating Conflict in Karen State

13 September 2016 - 9:27pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By Saw Yan Naing

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — More than 3,000 villagers in Karen State have fled escalating conflict between a splinter group of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and a joint force of the Burma Army and its allied Border Guard Force (BGF).

The residents of villages around the Mae Tha Waw and Myaing Gyi Ngu areas of Hlaingbwe Township fled after Burma Army and BGF reinforcements were sent to the conflict-torn Mae Tha Waw area, where the DKBA splinter group—named after its late commander Na Ma Kyar—keeps mobile bases.

An official at a liaison office of the Karen National Union (KNU)—the largest ethnic Karen armed organization—in the Thai-Burma border town of Myawaddy told The Irrawaddy that “four to five” trucks carrying Burma Army and BGF soldiers have been traveling to the area “everyday” since the beginning of the month, after the DKBA splinter group announced it would mount new offensives.

The KNU and DKBA both the signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the previous government last year, and have since had better relations with the Burma Army.

The liaison officer said the Burma Army and the BGF were “waiting for the Myaing Gyi Ngu Sayadaw to finish building a pagoda on the Mae Tha Waw road. After that, we expect more fighting.”

The Myaing Gyi Ngu Sayadaw is a Buddhist monk, known as U Thuzana, who helped found the DKBA in 1994 out of a Buddhist faction splitting from the Christian-dominated KNU. He still wields considerable influence in the DKBA, and in the BGF. He has inflamed religious tensions in Karen State this year by ordering his followers to build Buddhist pagodas in the compounds of Muslim and Christian places of worship.

Sources close to the KNU on the Thai-Burma border, who asked for anonymity, said that current Burma Army and BGF reinforcements are intended not only to hunt down Maj. Saw Saw Aung, a leader of the DKBA splinter faction who is on a Burma Army wanted list, but also to mount a more comprehensive operation against the splinter faction.

“They have already calculated the risks and the benefits of launching an offensive,” said the KNU official.

On Sunday, the Burma Army and the BGF reportedly shelled the vicinity of Waboe Taung, also known as Wa Klu Lu, a base belong to the DKBA splinter group. There are believed to have been casualties but no figures have been confirmed.

Sources close to the DKBA said that the Burma Army—with troops from Light Infantry divisions 22 and 44—and the BGF were spread across several frontlines, in the areas of Myaing Gyi Ngu, Yinbaing, Mae Seik, Wa Boe Taung and Mae Tha Waw in Hlaingbwe Township.

Maj. Saw San Aung told The Irrawaddy, “Light Infantry Division 44 and Artillery Battalion 207 from Kyaik Kaw joined them [the BGF]. Some are coming from Ka Ma Maung and Ohn Daung across the [KNU] Brigade 5 border.”

“They [the Burma Army and the BGF] have fired artillery almost everyday. Because we are outnumbered, we only respond at the right time and from the right position,” he added.

In a video that went viral on Facebook over the weekend, some 2,000 villagers—abandoning their homes out of fear of further fighting—are seen being carried away on trucks, with the aid of the monk U Thuzana, to be sheltered in Myaing Gyi Ngu village. Many of them were women and children and were unable to take sufficient food and belongings with them.

Fighting in the areas of Mae Tha Waw and Myaing Gyi Ngu was also reported by Thai news agencies and television broadcasters. Several dozen villagers living in the border village of Mae Tha Waw crossed the Moei River into Thailand’s Tha Song Yan District for sanctuary.

Witnesses told The Irrawaddy that well-armed BGF troops have been deployed over the weekend along the Asian Highway connecting the border town of Myawaddy with the Karen State capital of Hpa-an. The highway remains open.

Sources on the border have speculated that the Burma Army and the BGF are seeking to gain better control of the Mae Tha Waw area, which is close to the former KNU headquarters of Marnerplaw and still features KNU troops along the Moei River.

Sources have also claimed that the Burma Army and the BGF is aiming to secure the site of the stalled Hatgyi Dam project on the Salween River in Hlaingbwe Township, close to the border with Papun Township. KNU Brigade 5 has opposed the dam, and has troops based nearby in the area of Mae Tha Waw along the Moei and Salween rivers.

When asked, a high-ranking KNU military official said that KNU troops based along the border had not gotten involved in the fighting, with no instructions to do so coming from the leadership.

KNU leaders have also yet to take any initiative in seeking to resolve the current conflict involving the DKBA splinter faction in negotiation with the Burma Army.

Thailand: Resettlement of Myanmar Refugees from Temporary Shelters in Thailand, 31 August 2016

13 September 2016 - 8:51am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Thailand, United States of America

World: Provide Genuine Refuge to World’s Displaced

13 September 2016 - 5:20am
Source: Human Rights Watch Country: Afghanistan, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Myanmar, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Turkey, United States of America, World, Yemen

At Global Refugee Summits, Commit to Resettlement and Aid

(New York, September 13, 2016) – The massive refugee crisis demands an unprecedented global response, Human Rights Watch said today. At two summits on September 19 and 20, 2016, at the United Nations, world leaders should take bold steps to share responsibility for millions of people displaced by violence, repression, and persecution.

Leaders will gather in New York to discuss providing greater support to countries where refugees first land, just as many of those countries are at breaking point. There is a grave risk to the bedrock foundation of refugee protection, the principle of nonrefoulement – not forcibly returning refugees to places where they would face persecution and other serious threats. People are fleeing violence in Afghanistan, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Honduras, Iraq, Somalia, and Syria, among others.

“Millions of lives hang in the balance,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “This is not just about more money or greater resettlement numbers, but also about shoring up the legal principles for protecting refugees, which are under threat as never before.”

This year, Human Rights Watch has documented Turkish border guards shooting and pushing back civilians who appear to be seeking asylum; Jordan refusing entry or assistance to Syrian asylum seekersat its border; Kenya declaring that it will close the world’s largest refugee camp in November and pushing Somalis to return home despite potential danger; and Pakistan and Iran harassing and deregistering Afghan refugees and coercing them to return to a country in conflict.

The UN General Assembly has convened the September 19 summit “with the aim of bringing countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach” to refugees. The final statement, already drafted, is a missed opportunity to widen the scope of protection and limits expectations for concrete, new commitments. However, it affirms refugee rights and calls for more equitable responsibility sharing. Given the scale of the refugee crisis and populist backlash in many parts of the world, this affirmation should be the basis for collective action, Human Rights Watch said.

On September 20, US President Barack Obama will host a “Leader’s Summit” to increase commitments for aid, refugee admissions, and opportunities for work and education for refugees. Governments are expected to make concrete pledges toward goals of doubling the number of resettlement places and other admissions, increasing aid by 30 percent, getting 1 million more refugee children in school, and granting 1 million more adult refugees the right to work. Though the participants have not been announced, 30 to 35 countries are expected to attend. Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Sweden, and Jordan will join the United States as co-facilitators.

Boost Humanitarian Aid to Countries of First Arrival
The vast majority of the world’s 21.3 million refugees are in the global south, where they often face further harm, discrimination, and neglect. Human Rights Watch called on countries of first arrival likeTurkeyLebanonJordanThailandKenyaIran, and Pakistan, to commit to proposals to provide refugees with better access to work and education.

The world’s richest nations have largely failed to help countries on the front lines of the displacement crisis. As of September 9, UN aid appeals were 39 percent funded, with some of the worst-funded in Africa; the appeal for refugees from South Sudan stands at 19 percent. The regional refugee response plans for Yemen and Syria are funded at 22 and 49 percent.

Increase Numbers Resettled in Other Countries
Resettlement from countries of first arrival is a key way to help refugees rebuild their lives and to relieve host countries, but international solidarity is glaringly absent. In 2015, the UN refugee agency facilitated resettlement of 81,000 of a projected 960,000 refugees globally in need of resettlement. The agency estimated that over 1.1 million refugees would need resettlement in 2016, but projected that countries would only offer 170,000 places. Representatives of 92 countries pledged only a slight increase in resettlement places for Syrian refugees at a high-level UN meeting in March.

In the European Union, the arrival by boat in 2015 of more than 1 million asylum seekers and migrants – and more than 3,700 deaths at sea – laid bare the need for safe and legal channels for refugees to move, such as resettlement.  However, many EU countries, includingAustriaBulgaria, and Hungary, are focused primarily on preventing spontaneous arrivals, outsourcing responsibility, and rolling back refugee rights.

A July 2015 European plan to resettle 22,500 refugees from other regions over two years has resettled only 8,268 refugees, according to figures from July 2016. Most EU countries underperformed, and 10 failed to resettle a single person under the plan.

End Abusive Systems, Flawed Deals
The EU struck a deal with Turkey in March to allow the return to Turkey of almost all asylum seekers on the deeply flawed grounds that Turkey is a safe country for asylum; it is on the verge of falling apart. Australia forcibly transfers all asylum seekers who arrive by boat to offshore processing centers, where they face abuse, inhumane treatment, and neglect.

The EU and Australia should renounce these abusive policies. EU countries should swiftly adopt a proposed permanent resettlement framework with more ambitious goals and a clear commitment to meet them, Human Rights Watch said. They should share fairly the responsibility for asylum seekers arriving spontaneously, and help alleviate the pressure on Greece and Italy.

Governments also undermine asylum with closed camps, as in Kenyaand Thailand, and by detaining asylum seekers, as do Australia,GreeceItalyMexico, and the United States.

While by many measures the US leads in refugee resettlement and response to UN humanitarian aid appeals, it has been particularly slow and ungenerous in admitting Syrian refugees. And it has had notable blind spots, as with its border policies for Central American children and others fleeing gang violence and its use of Mexico as a buffer to keep them from reaching the US border.

The Obama Administration met its goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year in the face of opposition from more than half of US governors and a lack of resettlement funds from Congress, but the US has the capacity to resettle many times that number. It should commit to meeting the Leaders’ Summit goals, which would mean doubling this year’s 85,000 total refugee admissions to 170,000.

Several other countries with capacity to admit far more refugees, including Brazil, Japan, and South Korea, have fallen woefully short. Japan admitted 19 refugees in 2015, South Korea only 42 aside from North Koreans, and Brazil only 6.

Russia resettles no refugees. The Gulf States do not respond to UN resettlement appeals, though Saudi Arabia says it has suspended deportations of hundreds of thousands of Syrians who overstay visitor visas. Most Gulf states, except Kuwait, have also fallen short in their response to Syrian-refugee-related UN appeals to fund refugee needs, according to an Oxfam analysis.

“Every country has a moral responsibility to ensure the rights and dignity of people forced to flee their homes,” Roth said. “When more than 20 million people are counting on a real international effort to address their plight, lofty pronouncements are not enough.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on refugee rights, please visit:

https://www.hrw.org/topic/refugee-rights

India: Rohingyas feel safe in India, but uncertainty looms

13 September 2016 - 3:01am
Source: Deutsche Welle Country: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar

Author Cheena Kapoor, New Delhi

The Rohingya are often described as one of the most persecuted communities in the world. A significant number of them are also living in India as refugees and asylum seekers. Cheena Kapoor reports about their plight.

Most commuters who pass the Kalindi Kunj bridge in Delhi tend to generally notice only the metro construction. From a distance, the makeshift settlement near the construction area appears to be a normal sight in the city: tents built with recycled material found on the streets comprising of plastic, rubber, plywood, tires and old clothes.

A closer look, however, reveals the plight of the Rohingya community, a Muslim ethnic group from Myanmar, and their relentless struggle in search for a home where they will not be beaten, raped or killed.

In Kalindi Kunj, a total of 307 members of the Rohingya community live together. The Zakat Foundation, a US-based NGO, has made this possible by providing 11,000 square feet of land to pitch tents on. This arrangement, however, was only valid for a year and now the Rohingyas, after having overstayed, have been asked to move again ten days after Eid al-Adha, an Islamic holiday. This case of displacement is not the first one and yet another occasion for them to not know where to go next.

The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim community hailing from Myanmar's western Rakhine state. But the Myanmar government views the roughly one million-strong ethnic group as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. As a result, most of them are denied citizenship and outbreaks of sectarian violence have prompted many to flee.

Over several decades, the Rohingya have suffered a lack of self-identity, persecution and forced relocation within and outside the borders of Myanmar.

Many of them now live in miserable conditions in makeshift camps within and outside Myanmar and are exposed to the risks of exploitation, human trafficking, and rape.

Since 2012, over 100,000 Rohingya Muslims have embarked on boat journeys in search of better lives outside of the Southeast Asian nation, and they have taken refuge in countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand and India.

More welcoming?

India has so far been receptive to Rohingyas, and the South Asian country is generally considered to be a safe place for the refugees.

Mohammad Usman, a 33-year-old man from Myanmar, spent three days without food and water in the dark forest near the India-Bangladesh border before reaching Delhi. Almost three years after that fateful night, Usman recollects his experiences: "Back in Myanmar, officials would blindfold young men and women in the night and take them away. These people would never return."

India may not offer the Rohingya the same basic facilities it gives to Afghan or Iraqi refugees, but the country still does more than Myanmar ever did, says Usman.

The makeshift settlement near Kalindi Kunj Bridge is currently home to some 70 Rohingya families. And over 35,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers are estimated to reside across the country. Out of the 137 children in the Kalindi Kunj settlement, 60 are under the age of five and do not go to school, while only 47 children are offered education for which fees are paid by the Zakat Foundation.

Living in Delhi has made a significant difference to the lives of many of these Rohingya Muslims. Mohammad Ismail, 27, arrived in India almost two and a half years ago. His family of six members, two brothers, a sister-in-law and two sisters had to leave their parents behind in Myanmar. Now, Ismail has found a home in Delhi. He says, "At last we're accepted here. We can practice our religion without the fear of getting killed for it. India has accepted us. Despite the stench and filth, I feel safe living here and never want to return."

Facing eviction, again

But poor health conditions and the looming eviction notice might accelerate the possibility of displacement. With the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses Dengue and Chikungunya during the monsoon season, over 40 people at the camp in Kalindi Kunj have fallen sick and are unable to pay for their own medicines.

Due to a lack of access to healthcare facilities, the health conditions continue to worsen every day. Although the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has pledged support, there has been little improvement so far.

Furthermore, the employment situation for Rohingyas living in Delhi remains uncertain. Usman, for instance, works as a daily laborer and irregularly finds work for 10-15 days a month earning less than 300 rupees ($4.4, 4.0 euros) a day.

Abdul Wasim, another refugee, lives with his daughter and cannot work because of his poor health condition. He had to leave his wife and five children behind in Myanmar, and he has no hope of seeing them again in light of the border lockdown with Myanmar. Now, he and his daughter get by with the income earned by her as a domestic help in Kalindi Kunj residential areas.

A hopeless future?

The plight of the Rohingya has received a lot of media and public attention, but the question still lingers: where do they go from here? The Rohingya are still finding out how many they are in number, spread across borders in Asia.

With most of them being impoverished and lacking valid identity cards, it's common for Rohingya Muslims to live in small groups in makeshift camps. And within these small groups, they try to stick together but it's unclear for how long they can continue to survive amidst conditions of poverty, unemployment, lack of education and violence.

World: Education for refugees: Priority activities and requirements supporting enrolment and retention in 2016

9 September 2016 - 3:10pm
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iraq, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, World, Zambia

Introduction

Education is a basic human right, enshrined in both the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. And during times of displacement, education plays an additional, crucial role in fostering social cohesion, addressing psychosocial needs, and providing a safe and stable environment for those who need it most.

Yet globally it is estimated that only 50 per cent of refugee children of primary-school age are actually in school, a number that drops to 25 per cent for adolescent refugees in secondary school. Indeed, refugee children and adolescents are five times more likely to be out of school than their non-refugee peers. Continued, sustainable access to quality education thus remains a key concern for the roughly eight million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate who are under 18 years of age.

Compounding the challenge of addressing these vast needs are the diverse contexts in which they arise, from unfolding emergencies to protracted situations. Eighty-six per cent of all refugees are hosted in developing countries, some of which are confronting institutional challenges in their education systems and have limited capacity to support new populations. Behind global averages, there are significant differences among countries, but the fact remains: far too many refugees are excluded from an education, compromising the future of entire generations.

Through its global “2012 – 2016 Education Strategy” and country-level education strategies, UNHCR supports the provision of refugee education as a core element of its mandate to ensure protection and durable solutions for people of concern. Partnering with governments and international and national non-governmental organizations, UNHCR seeks to integrate refugee learners within national systems wherever possible and appropriate.

Focusing on 16 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East – which collectively host 2.1 million refugee children of school-age (5-17 years), an estimated 57 per cent of whom are out of school – this document highlights targeted activities and requirements that could enable tens of thousands of refugee children to enrol in school during the upcoming academic year. These activities also seek to support retention of currently enrolled students; redress classroom over-crowding and a lack of qualified teachers; provide critical learning materials; and generally contribute to a safe and protective learning environment for all students. In some instances, especially where refugees are living in host communities, these activities will enhance the learning experience of host community students as well.

This information is drawn from UNHCR’s 2016 budget, as presented in the 2016-2017 Global Appeal and subsequent supplemental appeals approved by the Executive Committee. The requirements outlined correspond to existing unfunded needs for activities which UNHCR could reasonably implement by the end of this year. Individual chapters provide an overview of the refugee and education context in each of the 16 countries, followed by a description of critical challenges and proposed activities. The table that follows specifies remaining funding requirements for planned activities, providing relevant performance indicators, comparably 2015 year-end results (where applicable), and output targets for the activities by year-end 2016. 10 August 2016

Myanmar: Lots of peace talk but little new hope for Myanmar displaced

9 September 2016 - 12:39pm
Source: IRIN Country: Myanmar

By Paul Vrieze
NAYPYITAW, 9 September 2016

In a sign of its commitment to ending the ethnic wars that have bedeviled Myanmar for six decades, the country’s first civilian-led government in half a century held a four-day peace conference last week, to much fanfare.

Read the full article on IRIN

Myanmar: ECHO Factsheet – Myanmar/Burma – September 2016

9 September 2016 - 10:46am
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office Country: Myanmar

Key messages

  • Myanmar/Burma has experienced internal conflicts for more than six decades, involving fighting between ethnic groups and the army in different locations throughout the country.

  • Inter-communal violence in Rakhine State has resulted in the displacement of over 140 000 people since 2012 and a de facto segregation between communities. Efforts to resettle displaced people are currently ongoing.

  • After the conflict in 2011 which left over 100 000 displaced in camps and with host families in Kachin and northern Shan States, renewed clashes in the area (including Kokang) caused further displacements in 2015. Humanitarian access in areas not controlled by the Government is often restricted.

  • Since 1994, the European Commission has provided over €133.2 million in relief assistance for victims of conflicts, communal violence and epidemics, and €81.2 million for victims of natural disasters.

  • Between 2010 and 2016, the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) also allocated €6.65 million to support community based disaster preparedness in coastal flood-prone areas and for urban earthquake risks.

  • Following the 2015 floods that affected 20 million people, the European Commission donated €6 million to assist the most vulnerable in Myanmar/Burma, particularly those in Rakhine State.

World: FPMA Bulletin #8, 9 September 2016

9 September 2016 - 9:01am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Country: Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam, World, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Key messages

↗ Ample supplies and improved production prospects kept cereal prices generally under downward pressure. Maize and rice quotations fell the most, while high quality wheat prices firmed on strong demand.

↗ In Africa, food prices in South Sudan declined in August although they remained high, while in Nigeria the weak currency continued to underpin prices. In Southern Africa, decreasing maize quotations in South Africa eased prices in importing countries.

↗ In Asia, domestic prices of rice weakened in the main exporting countries in August, particularly in Thailand, amid mostly favourable prospects for the 2016 paddy crops and overall sluggish export demand.

↗ In South America, domestic prices of yellow maize in Argentina fell significantly from their record highs as a result of ample supplies from the recently-completed 2016 harvest, while they generally increased elsewhere due to an anticipated decline in this year’s outputs.

Thailand: Thailand Border Operation: RTG/MOI-UNHCR Verified Refugee Population, 31 August 2016

9 September 2016 - 7:16am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Myanmar, Thailand

World: South-East Asia countries to set up fund for health emergencies preparedness

9 September 2016 - 6:37am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, World

Colombo, 9 September 2016 - In a critical step for emergency preparedness across the WHO South-East Asia Region, Member countries today agreed to establish a dedicated funding stream aimed at building preparedness for health emergencies in the Region, which is one of the most disaster-prone.

“To date, post-disaster funding through South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund has done an excellent job of helping countries respond to health emergencies once they’ve occurred, as we saw most recently in Nepal and Sri Lanka. The new funding stream will allow countries to invest in infrastructure and human resources that will enhance preparedness,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said.

In recent years earthquakes, cyclones and floods have caused health emergencies in the South-East Asia Region. The Region has also been threatened by a range of emerging diseases, including SARS, MERS CoV, pandemic influenza and Zika virus.

Establishing a joint funding stream under the South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund (SEARHEF) to help countries better prepare for such events was seen by Member countries as a key priority for the Regional health agenda. At present, SEARHEF funds are disbursed only once a disaster has occurred.

“Enhancing health security is a critical component of our public health mission, and a core part of WHO’s work in the South-East Asia Region. The new funding stream for emergency preparedness established by Member countries is an expression of the solidarity shared within the Region, as well as recognition that preparedness is less costly than response,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

Another resolution passed by the session called for promoting physical activity across the Region. Insufficient physical activity is a major contributor to rising rates of non-communicable diseases in the Region, with four-fifth of adolescents not getting enough of it.

“Effective promotion of physical activity needs commitment at the highest level, with leadership from the health sector absolutely crucial. In this Regional Committee Meeting, Health Ministers have led by example, being role models for physical activity by themselves,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

The session also passed a resolution on health workforce strengthening which is vital to achieving universal health coverage – a key part of the Sustainable Development Goal of leaving no one behind. At present, the density of health care providers in the Region is 12.5 per 10 000 population, which is less than the WHO recommended minimum of 44.5 per 10 000 population.

“Expanding health workforces across the Region is one part of what countries in the Region are trying to achieve, but we also need to increase staff retention, particularly in rural areas, as well as provide further training to health workers to enhance their skills,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

The Regional Committee meeting is WHO South-East Asia Region’s highest decision-making body, and includes health ministers and senior health ministry officials of the 11 Member countries of the Region – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Media Contacts Ms Shamila Sharma Communication Officer WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia E-mail: sharmasha@who.int Mobile: +91 98182 87256 Tel: +91 11 23370804, Extn: 26575

Ms Karen Reidy Communication Officer WHO Country Office for Sri Lanka Email: reidyk@who.int Mobile: +94 77 310 4513 Tel +94 11 2379191 Ext. 24664 Fax: +94 1125 02845

World: Crop Prospects and Food Situation No. 3, September 2016

9 September 2016 - 6:10am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Country: Afghanistan, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Timor-Leste, Uganda, World, Yemen, Zimbabwe

HIGHLIGHTS

Prospects for global cereal production in 2016 continued to improve in recent months with significant upward revisions for maize and wheat, reflecting particularly favourable weather conditions in some of the large producing countries.

COUNTRIES IN NEED OF EXTERNAL ASSISTANCE: FAO estimates that 36 countries, including 28 in Africa, are in need of external assistance for food. Persisting conflicts and drought induced production declines are the main causes that have stressed food security in 2016.

AFRICA: Despite expected cereal production increases in East and West Africa, drought-reduced harvests in North and Southern Africa are forecast to pull down the aggregate 2016 cereal output to a below-average level. The impact of the El Niño-induced drought resulted in a significant increase in food insecurity in Southern Africa. Persisting conflicts, notably in Nigeria and in South Sudan, continue to severely impair agricultural production and food security in affected countries.

ASIA: In the Far East, cereal production is forecast to rebound strongly in 2016, after a reduced output in 2015 due to dry weather. Similarly, the output of the Asian CIS subregion is anticipated to increase, benefitting from improved weather conditions, while 2016 production in the Near East is forecast to fall from the bumper level of 2015. Several countries in the Near East continue to be affected by the negative impact of conflicts on agricultural production, livelihoods and food security.

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: Despite a record maize crop forecast in Argentina in 2016, drought-reduced outputs in Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay have resulted in a large year-on-year decrease for the aggregate South American cereal output. Moderate production recoveries from last year’s drought reduced outputs are expected in most Central American countries, while Mexico is anticipated to harvest a bumper cereal crop in 2016.

Myanmar: Myanmar: 800 children and young people released since 2012

9 September 2016 - 12:19am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

Yangon, 9 September 2016 – The Tatmadaw today released 55 children and young people as a result of coordinated efforts with the United Nations to implement the 2012 Joint Action Plan to end and prevent the use and recruitment of children by the army.

This is the first discharge to take place since the new government took power in April 2016, and a week after the 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference, which is a strong signal on the importance of protecting children in the context of armed conflict and within the peace process.

Since the signature of the Joint Action Plan in 2012, 800 children and young people have been released by the army. In addition, a further 13 young people recruited as children but already adults by 2012, were also released today*.

The children and young people discharged will benefit from social-economic reintegration programmes to help them re-start their lives with their families, with an emphasis on access to education and vocational training, and income generating activities.

“We welcome this discharge and the continued commitment of the Myanmar Government to implementing the Joint Action Plan, while stressing the need for the Government to continue making every effort to end the recruitment and use of children in its armed forces”, said Renata Dessallien, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, and co-chair of the UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) on Grave Violations against Children.

Since the signature of the Joint Action Plan, important actions have been taken, namely the centralisation of the recruitment, and the signature one year ago of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which still needs to be ratified.

“We call on the Government to accelerate essential remaining steps, particularly by clearly banning use and recruitment of children in the soon to be adopted national Child Law, further reinforcing age assessment procedures within the military recruitment process, and including the prevention of violations against children in the military curriculum”, said Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar and co-chair of the CTFMR.

In addition to the Tatmadaw, seven non-state armed groups in Myanmar, are named on the UN Secretary-General’s list of parties to conflict who recruit and use children. The UN has started dialogue with several of these to discuss the possibility of signing action plans to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children under 18.

Whilst the peace process moves forward, commitment to stop recruitment and use of children should be immediate.

BACKGROUND

With the exception of these 13 young people, all young people released were children under 18 at the time of the signing of the Joint Action Plan in June 2012.

In addition to the Tatmadaw, there are seven non-state armed groups listed by the UN Secretary-General as being “persistent perpetrators” in the recruitment and use of children in Myanmar. They are the:

  • Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA)

  • Kachin Independence Army (KIA)

  • Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)

  • Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council

  • Karenni Army (KA)

  • Shan State Army South (SSA-S)

  • United Wa State Army (UWSA)

ABOUT THE UN COUNTRY TASKFORCE ON MONITORING AND REPORTING (CTFMR) ON GRAVE VIOLATIONS AGAINST CHILDREN

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1612 mandates the UN to establish UN-led CTFMRs in countries where there is verified evidence that Grave Violations against children are being committed by parties to a conflict, either by armed forces and/or by armed groups. The CTFMR is tasked with establishing a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) which documents, verifies and reports to the UNSC on Grave Violations against children. The six Grave Violations that are monitored and reported are:

-killing or maiming of children

  • recruitment and use of children in armed forces and armed groups

  • attacks against schools or hospitals

  • rape or other grave sexual violence

  • abduction of children

  • denial of humanitarian access for children

The CTFMR is also mandated to provide a coordinated response to such Grave Violations. The CTFMR was established in Myanmar in 2007 and is co-Chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator and the UNICEF Representative in Yangon. The CTFMR in Myanmar includes relevant UN agencies (ILO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UN OCHA, the UN RCO and WFP), Save the Children and World Vision.

HOTLINE

In November 2013, UNICEF supported the Myanmar Government to launch a nation-wide campaign to raise awareness on its population on its commitment to end use and recruitment of Children by Tatmadaw. As part of this campaign, and on behalf of CTFMR, UNICEF and World Vision are managing 2 hotlines (09-421166701 and 09-4211667020) where anyone can alert and report suspected cases of children being recruited or used by the Tatmadaw.

For more information please contact:

Mariana Palavra, Communication Specialist, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09795452618, mpalavra@unicef.org

Htet Htet Oo, Communication Officer, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09250075238, hoo@unicef.org

Myanmar: International Development Minister Rory Stewart concludes Asia visit to promote peace, security and prosperity in the region

8 September 2016 - 10:25am
Source: Department for International Development Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Rory Stewart visits Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan on first trip to the region since becoming International Development Minister.

Rory Stewart visited Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan on his first trip to the region since becoming International Development Minister to see how UK support is helping to build more peaceful, prosperous, safer and healthier countries, which is also in Britain’s interest.

Burma In Burma, the Minister met with Aung San Suu Kyi and a range of Burmese government ministers. He visited Yangon General Hospital which DFID has helped to rebuild, and announced that the UK is helping to cut malaria deaths by providing 450,000 testing kits, providing lifesaving treatment for 11,000 people suffering from malaria, and distributing 2 million mosquito nets.

The UK is also helping build Burma’s resilience and strengthen its capacity to respond to humanitarian disasters, so they can be less reliant on donors such as the UK. UK support for UNICEF is improving sanitation and the quality of water for 90,000 people across 150 villages in Rakhine State, Yangon, Bago and Ayeyarwady. DFID is also providing rainwater ponds in 80 villages and rainwater tanks for 8,000 households in those regions, as well as helping them prepare for natural disasters.

Britain remains a global and outward-looking nation and we will deepen our international partnerships to secure our place in the world by supporting economic prosperity, stability and security overseas.

UK International Development Minister Rory Stewart said:

I’m really proud to be able to announce that DFID will be providing additional support for malaria prevention as part of the UK’s global campaign to eliminate the disease. And in the wake of the Burmese earthquake I am delighted to announce further UK support to communities who suffer under the horrendous impact of floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Bangladesh

The Minister then travelled to Bangladesh to assess the progress made by UK aid in support of the Government of Bangladesh’s aim to achieve middle income status within the next decade. He visited UK-supported projects in Dhaka including a primary school and a garment factory to see first-hand how UK aid is making a difference to people’s lives; and also met with the Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina.

Nepal

In Nepal, the Minister saw the impact of last year’s earthquakes, assessed the progress made on reconstruction and reaffirmed the UK’s support for Nepal’s development. The Minister met with Honourable Prime Minister Dahal and other government ministers to discuss the next phase of UK support to Nepal. He also met with the CEO of the Nepal Reconstruction Authority and DFID programme partners to discuss how access to bank accounts could be increased to speed up the payment of housing grants to households affected by the earthquake.

Afghanistan

The Minister concluded his Asia visit in Afghanistan where he met with His Excellency President Ashraf Ghani, His Excellency CEO Abdullah Abdullah and His Excellency Minister of Finance Mr Eklil Ahmad Hakimi, and discussed preparations for the upcoming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan.

The Minister attended a girls’ education event and heard how UK support has helped the number of Afghan children attending primary school rise from 4.3 million in 2008 to more than 7.2 million by 2014. Of these, 39 per cent were girls, up from virtually none under the Taliban when girls were not allowed to go to school.

World: Focus on migrant health: WHO - WHO SEARO Press release 1637

8 September 2016 - 3:36am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Timor-Leste, World

Colombo, 8 September 2016 – One in seven people globally is a migrant, refugee or an internally displaced person. With countries across South-East Asia Region host to large migrant populations, WHO today called for focused attention to address their health needs.

“Disease is universal and transcends borders and nation states. As health leaders we must tackle the health problems that affect migrant populations. We need to construct better information systems to collect data on the health issues of migrants; institute policy and legal frameworks that facilitate greater health care access; and create inclusive health systems sensitive to the needs of migrants,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said here.

Health and migration are key concerns of Member countries across the Region, with Thailand, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia named among the top ten countries witnessing large movements of people in Asia. Migration poses greater risk and vulnerability to infectious diseases, mental health disorders, maternal and neonatal mortality, substance use, alcoholism, malnutrition, violence and noncommunicable diseases.

“As migration continues to accelerate at unprecedented levels, we are presented with an opportunity to come together as a Region to ensure that migrants are able to access adequate health coverage,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

Mobile populations pose additional challenges to countries often already struggling to cope with day-to-day demands on their health care systems. Migrants also encounter obstacles to accessing quality health care, as provision of health services is contingent on their legal and administrative status.

At the WHO Regional Committee meeting here, Member countries shared experiences in addressing this growing regional issue, including the potential of infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance spread. In response to the issue, for example, Thailand has formulated a ‘Healthy Borders’ approach in the Greater Mekong Subregion, a border area with Laos and Cambodia, which focuses on the prevention and control of tuberculosis, HIV, and other prevalent communicable diseases.

Additional concerns raised and discussed included the fact that mobile and migrant populations are uniquely vulnerable to contracting malaria. In February 2016, five South-East Region Member countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Nepal – came together to enhance cross-border collaboration on malaria elimination efforts.

The Regional Committee is WHO South-East Asia Region’s highest decision-making body, and includes health ministers and senior health ministry officials of the 11 member countries of the Region – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

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Media Contacts

Ms Shamila Sharma Communication Officer WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia E-mail: sharmasha@who.int Mobile: +91 98182 87256 Tel: +91 11 23370804, Extn: 26575

Ms Karen Reidy Communication Officer WHO Country Office for Sri Lanka Email: reidyk@who.int Mobile: +94 77 310 4513 Tel +94 11 2379191 Ext. 24664 Fax: +94 1125 02845

Myanmar: Immunization and Nutrition Activities in a remote village in Kayin State

8 September 2016 - 1:44am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

By Tin Aung, Health and Nutrition Specialist, Mawlamyine UNICEF Field Office

In August, I accompanied a midwife on her mission to an out-of-reach area, and observed the routine immunization, vitamin A supplementation and deworming activities as part of the National Nutrition Promotion Month. These activities took place in Mel Ta Le village in Kya Inn Seik Gyi Township, Kayin State. This village, which is 10 kilometre away from the nearest rural health sub-centre, can only be reachable during the rainy season by ““trolley jeep””, as it is known in Myanmar.

The midwife Naw Pwe Awng comes here every two month for routine immunization activities. In addition, in August, as it is the National Nutrition Promotion Month, the 40 year old woman visits the village not only for routine immunization but also for vitamin A supplementation and deworming activities.

Early in the morning, Naw Pwe Awng and a maternal and child health (MCH) worker, who was trained by the Swiss Development Committee (SDC) and the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW), took a “trolley jeep” from Kwe Khle rural heath sub centre to the village. The midwife carried her vaccine carrier and a registration book where children’s vaccinations are recorded.

She has been doing this for the last two years: every two months she travels to Mel Ta Le village by “trolley jeep” in the rainy season and by motorbike in the dry season. Her husband has been always her driver for both means of transportation. He smiles and confirms her words. The “road” to the village is very rough. First, we had to cross a one meter depth river. Then we crossed three creeks along the road. The travel lasted about 30 minutes.

Naw Pwe Awng mentioned she would only dress her midwife’s uniform after arriving in the village. On the way there, I understood the reason: for several times she had to help pushing the “trolley jeep” whenever it stuck in the mud.

As soon as Naw Pwe Awng arrived to the village, she informed the mothers she saw along the road to come to the village leader’s house for immunization. After changing her clothes, she started the work. Pregnant women and mothers with under five years old children gradually arrived.

The midwife vaccinated the children with the help of the MCH worker. Since the mothers were worried about the number of vaccination shots, the midwife gave advice on symptoms and treatment after immunisation. She also asked to be informed as soon as possible in case such situations occur.

The majority of the mothers speak local Karen language, also spoken by Naw Pwe Awng, who is from a Karen ethnic group. “Since I speak their language, we can communicate better, which is useful to build their trust and the relationship with the local authorities”, the midwife said. In fact, before she joined the government services, Naw Pwe Awng worked as a midwife for two years in the Karen National Union (KNU) area. I noticed that many children and mothers were quite familiar with Naw Pwe Awng.

After vaccinating every child, she recorded it in the chart and in the registration book. During that day, a total of 8 children came to the vaccinaton session. In adition, she also administered vitamin A supplementation to 20 children between 6 months and 5 years old. Plus, she administered deworming tablets to nearly 20 children between 2 to 5 years.

With the support of the MCH worker, this mission also included ante-natal care and tetanus vaccines for pregnant women. They examined six pregnant mothers and recorded the data in their MCH booklets.

“Every time the midwife arrives, we come here with our children”, said some of the mothers. “We don’t know exactly what vaccines are given and which diseases are prevented but we always come. We believe vaccination can prevent diseases and make our children healthier”.

Although it is notorious that community knowledge on immunization needs to be improved, the work performed by this midwife in a remote area is remarkable. She maintains the cold chain, uses the correct doses and mode of administration, as well as keeps all records up to date. UNICEF will continue to support the work of these health professionals, namely by reinforcing community education and awareness.