Myanmar - ReliefWeb News

Syndicate content
ReliefWeb - Updates
Updated: 4 min 35 sec ago

Myanmar: Chin law to address women’s issues

9 October 2014 - 11:11pm
Source: Mizzima News Country: Myanmar

Written by Nang Lwin Hnin Pwint

Chin national organizations have agreed to amend some sections of the out-dated Chin Special Division Act at a meeting held at the National Brotherhood Federation Office in Yangon’s Lanmadaw Township October 8.

Some Chin national legal experts, political representatives and women’s groups representatives claimed certain provisions in the act, adopted in 1948, are out of tune with the present day and oppress Chin women.

According to the act, Chin national women are unable to receive the property of their parents or the house of their husband when they die. Moreover, Chin women are still legally entitled to only four kyat as a bride price in their tradition, said Chin national lawyer Salai Thang Cung.

Salai Naw Saw, a Chin historian, said, “Each Chin woman suffers much loss but can also enjoy privileges in her life.”

The law states Chin women have the opportunity to pick and choose their husband, as well as divorce him.

The meeting agreed to amend some provisions concerning women that are inappropriate today, amend the title “Chin Special Division” to “Chin State,” and recognised that sections on tackling illegal drugs overlapped federal law.

More meetings will be held to review the different traditions and customs of the many ethnic groups under the Chin nationality.

Myanmar: Silent Offensive: How Burma Army strategies are fueling the Kachin drug crisis

9 October 2014 - 10:28pm
Source: Kachin Women's Association Thailand Country: Myanmar preview

A new report exposes how anti-insurgency strategies of the Burma Army are fuelling the drug crisis in Kachin areas, particularly since the renewal of conflict against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in 2011.

“Silent Offensive” by the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) reveals how the Burma Army is allowing its local militia to grow opium and produce heroin and other drugs in exchange for fighting against the KIA. As Burmese troops and their allies have progressively seized control of KIA areas, drug production has been increasing.

The main opium growing areas in Kachin State are now in Chipwi and Waingmaw townships, under the control of the Burma Army and its local Border Guard Forces led by Zakhung Ting Ying, a National Assembly MP. In northern Shan State, opium is booming in areas under the Burma Army and thirteen government militia forces, four of whose leaders are MPs in the Shan State Assembly.

Opium, heroin and methamphetamines are flooding from these government-controlled areas into Kachin communities, worsening existing problems of drug abuse, particularly among youth. It is estimated that about one third of students in Myitkyina and Bhamo universities are injecting drug users.

The report details the harrowing impacts of the drug crisis on women, who struggle to support their families while husbands and sons sell off household property and steal to feed their addiction. Frustrated with the authorities’ lack of political will to deal with the drug problem, women are taking a lead among local communities in setting up their own programs to combat drugs.

KWAT critiques UNODC and other international donors for not focusing on the role of the war, and particularly the anti-insurgency policies of the government, in fuelling the drug problem in Burma. KWAT urges all stakeholders to focus on finding a just political settlement to the conflict as an urgent priority in tackling the drug crisis.

“The future of the Kachin people is at stake. We need urgent action to tackle the drug problem before it’s too late,” said Shirley Seng of KWAT.

Press Release Download here: English / Burmese

Full Report Download Here.

Contact persons;
Shirley Seng + 66 (0) 86 923 8854 (Thailand)
Moon Nay Li + 1 929 261 2647 (United States of America)
Email: kwat.secretariat@gmail.com
Website: www.kachinwomen.com

Lao People's Democratic Republic (the): Laos: ASEAN discusses strategies to strengthen assistance for victims of unexploded ordnance

9 October 2014 - 8:46am
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross Country: Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Viet Nam

Luang Prabang (ICRC) – Twenty-four experts from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam gathered in Luang Prabang today to discuss national policies and best practices that could benefit people injured in accidents involving unexploded ordnance and improve their lives, as well as prevent new victims in the future. The one-day workshop was organized by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"As our leaders adopted the ASEAN Declaration on Strengthening Social Protection at the 23rd ASEAN Summit last year, we are reminded that social protection is the right of everybody, including victims of unexploded ordnance, whose livelihood may be compromised owing to disabilities or other impediments," said Chomyaeng Phengthongsawat, deputy director-general of the Planning and Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. "Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam remain committed to provide social assistance to the victims through various ongoing programmes and strategies. Facing similar challenges, we could learn from each other and collaborate closely in responding to the needs of victims of unexploded ordnance in our respective countries."

Participants met to share experiences in delivering assistance to victims, such as by helping them obtain access to special schools and the job market, or by providing vocational training, rehabilitation, mine-clearance activities and community awareness programmes. They also identified the challenges involved in providing comprehensive assistance for victims, especially those living in remote areas. The workshop was a regional activity planned under the ASEAN Strategic Framework for Social Welfare and Development 2011-2015.

Laos alone is estimated to have had over 50,000 landmine and explosive remnant of war casualties up to the end of 2012, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, the vast majority of victims being civilians. Unexploded ordnance also poses a serious threat to future generations. "Unexploded ordnance has a devastating effect on societies, continuing to maim and kill civilians long after armed conflicts have ended," said Beat Schweizer, head of the ICRC’s regional delegation in Bangkok. "The long-term implications can deprive people of economic activities, health care and education."

The ICRC has been working since 1960 in South-East Asia, where it supports physical rehabilitation programmes for victims of unexploded ordnance and other remnants of war in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam. In June, it provided trauma-care and first-aid training for health-care personnel working with ordnance disposal units in Laos.

For further information, please contact:
Jean-Pascal Moret, ICRC Bangkok, tel: +66 (0) 950 12 70

World: Food Outlook - Biannual Report on Global Food Markets, October 2014

9 October 2014 - 4:39am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, World preview

Biannual FAO Food Outlook report and new Food Price Index released

9 October 2014, Rome - Food markets are more stable and prices for most agricultural commodities are sharply lower than they have been in recent years, according to the latest edition of FAO's biannual Food Outlook report and a new update to the Organization's monthly Food Price Index, both out today.

Bumper harvests and abundant stockpiles are key factors helping drive down international cereal prices, according to the report.

World wheat production in 2014 is forecast to reach a new record, it says.

For coarse grains, prospects for near-record production levels, combined with already-high inventories point to a very comfortable world supply and demand balance in 2014/15, especially for maize.

While rice outputs could decline slightly this year, stockpiles remain "huge" and are sufficient to cover over one-third of projected consumption during the 2015-16 period.

All told, world cereal production in 2014 is anticipated to reach 2 523 million tonnes (2.5 billion tonnes) — an upward revision of 65 million tonnes from FAO's initial forecast in May. World cereal stocks should hit their highest level in 15 years by the end of the cropping season in 2015.

Global output of oilseeds is also forecast to exceed last season's record due to further expansion of soybean production.

Meanwhile, world production of cassava looks to be on track to achieving another record high, driven by sustained growth in Africa, where the tuber is a strategic crop for food security and poverty alleviation.

Today's Food Outlook anticipates that world sugar production will increase in 2015-16, as well.

Meat production is set to grow moderately in 2014, but not enough to ease prices from their current high levels, while milk production continues to grow steadily in many countries.

Production of fish is also on the rise, driven largely by aquaculture and less-than-expected El Niño impacts.

Price drops across the board - almost

The FAO Food Price Index (FPI), also released today, has registered its sixth consecutive monthly drop — the longest period of continuous decline in the value of the index since the late 1990s — averaging 191.5 points in September 2014.

Among the FPI sub-indices, sugar and dairy fell most sharply, followed by cereals and oils, while meat remained firm (more).

Although meat prices remain high they could be stabilizing: the September Meat Price index remains 22 points up versus the same time last year, a historic high, but registered only a slight increase over August (0.3 of a point) after months of steady hikes.

High meat prices and large trade volumes for products in the animal protein category, including meat, dairy and fish, mean that the global food import bill — that is, the aggregate amount that all countries spend on imported foodstuffs — will surpass $1 trillion again this year, for the fifth year in a row.

The FAO FPI is a trade-weighted index that measures prices of five major food commodities on international markets.

While price trends for these commodities at the macro level are a useful indicator of global trends and can signal when consumer food prices might be at risk, they are not always directly mirrored in national, regional and local markets.

Regional differences highlighted in second report

To help spot food price spikes affecting consumers in the developing world, particularly in low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs), FAO recently launched a new website that reports abnormally high prices of staple foods in markets in 85 different countries.

Additionally, the Organization produces a quarterly report, Crop Prospects and Food Situation, that focuses on developments affecting food security in developing countries and LIFDCs.

The latest edition, published today alongside Food Outlook and the October FPI, highlights a number of hot-spots of particular concern.

The Ebola virus disease outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has disrupted markets, farming activities and livelihoods, seriously affecting the food security of large numbers of people, it says. And irregular rains in several areas of the Sahelian belt will result in mixed production prospects.

Food crop production in the Central African Republic is up from 2013's sharply reduced output, but still remains well below average due to the impact of widespread civil insecurity, the report adds.

In Eastern Africa, the overall food security situation is improving as harvesting has started in several countries. But while food prices in the region are generally stable or declining, they are at record high levels in Somalia and the Sudan.

Meanwhile, drought conditions in Central America have significantly reduced the 2014 main first season harvest in key producing countries.

Drought conditions have also been a problem in the Near East, leading to a below-average cereal harvest for the region, while the conflicts in Syria and Iraq continue to significantly degrade food security.

Myanmar: Myanmar’s embattled Palaung minority call for aid partners

8 October 2014 - 8:26pm
Source: IRIN Country: Myanmar

NAMKHAM TOWNSHIP, 8 October 2014 (IRIN) -

Protracted fighting in northern Myanmar is displacing entire villages, including those of ethnic Palaung, who say they need more help to build up local civil society groups to allow aid to flow more effectively to their people.

No Palaung NGOs are currently working with international aid groups.

“Our funding is very limited so it’s very difficult [to help internally displaced persons - IDPs],” Aye Nang, co-founder of the Palaung Women’s Organization (PWO), told IRIN. “[But] in terms of institutions, we are able to receive funding and give that support to the IDPs. What [NGOs] need is a humanitarian agency that would provide them support.”

The Palaung (also known as Ta’ang) are a Buddhist minority of around half a million living in the rugged hills of northern Shan State and the southern part of Kachin State, along the Myanmar-China border where violence re-ignited in 2011 after the collapse of a 17-year ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar government.

In 2011, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), a rebel force of an estimated 800 fighters, allied itself with the KIA, which has some 5,000. The two groups are the only armed rebels not to have struck bilateral ceasefireswith the government.

Like other ethnic minorities in Myanmar, the Palaung feel oppressed by the Burman-dominated government and seek greater autonomy for their region, which suffers from poverty, isolation and rampant drug use and cultivation.

Fighting between the TNLA and government troops intensified in the northern part of Shan State in 2013 and 2014: There were more than 100 clashes from January to June this year, leaving nearly 200 dead.

As a result of fighting, Palaung IDP numbers have been on the rise. A PWO report said the number of IDPs grew from 3,000 to 4,294 in 2013 after government troops in Palaung areas swelled from 16 to 30 battalions that year.

Ei Ko, a 50-year-old widow and one of the roughly 370 Palaung residents in Nay Win Nee IDP camp near Namkham town who fled southern Kachin State in late 2012, said: “There is still fighting in our village… Now the area is more dangerous than before.”

Limited international support

International aid organizations have been providing food, water, shelter and sanitation assistance to IDP camps in government-controlled areas of northern Shan State where around 10,000 Kachin, Palaung and Shan civilians live, according to Pierre Péron, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Myanmar.

Following clashes in June 2014 which displaced 800 Palaung for about a month, the World Food Programme (WFP) and Save the Children also joined the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), a large Christian organization, in distributing food and non-food items to the group who fled to Namkham town.

However, Palaung NGO leaders argue that their increased involvement in aid operations could bolster both their organizational capacity and access to people in need inside the war zone.

“The Palaung NGOs are still more like CBOs [community-based organizations]. They’re very small; we don’t have big groups to help our people,” said PWO’s general secretary De De Poe Jaing.

“The Kachin have institutions to channel international aid through. With the Palaung we don’t have that,” added Aye Nang.

The Kachin, a predominantly Christian minority of around 1.2 million people, are supported by many local NGOs - most prominently the KBC, which is 100 years old - that provide aid to tens of thousands of Kachin civilians in both rebel- and government-controlled areas, often in partnership with international organizations.

By comparison, the Palaung have only a few small civil society groups. The two most prominent organizations, PWO and the Ta’ang Students and Youth Organization, were both founded in a refugee camp in Mae Sot, Thailand, and have only been able to work openly in Shan State since 2012.

A 2014 report by The Asia Foundation argued that more international aid should go to supporting social services by specific ethnic organizations in Myanmar as they are often more effective than the government or international aid agencies in providing relief and social services, particularly in conflict areas.

“There are practical reasons, ethnic organizations have advantages based on their local knowledge of needs and understanding of the situation and language, and there are political reasons because they are better trusted by the local population,” the report’s author, Kim Jolliffe, told IRIN, adding that NGOs and social service organizations affiliated with ethnic armed forces have long played a vital role in providing relief, health care and local-language education for communities and IDP camps in conflict areas.

“The most important issue that local NGOs are needed for is supporting communities in hard-to-reach areas, especially for emergency care, government services are very poor at providing this,” he said.

Improved access, increased capacity

De De Poe Jaing said Palaung NGOs collect private donations and are able to offer support such as setting up camp committees in Palaung IDP camps, and providing emergency relief for people who temporarily flee ongoing violence in their home villages.

“There is daily fighting in northern Shan State. There are many villagers who have to leave their villages for three, four days and hide in the forest, and when they come back their homes are broken and looted,” she said, explaining that PWO provided support for such communities to return after fighting quietened down, for example by donating wood to repair damaged houses.

She said PWO would like to work with UN agencies to provide emergency aid to conflict-affected communities in these remote, dangerous areas - some of which are categorized as “black zones” by the Myanmar army, where access for foreign aid groups is restricted.

De De Poe Jaing said whole Palaung villages, home to hundreds of residents, are being temporarily displaced by ongoing conflict in northern Shan State at any given time.

“International groups cannot reach there because there is still fighting going on, but we can reach those unofficial camps,” she said. “We know the areas people go to hide and can go there to help them. We can take WFP emergency aid to them.”

She said international support would also serve to build up her organization’s capacity to provide much-needed services as fighting and displacement continue: “We still want and need more capacity-building to become more effective.”

pv/kk/cb

Cambodia: ASEAN to strengthen assistance for victims of unexploded ordnance

8 October 2014 - 8:00pm
Source: Association of Southeast Asian Nations Country: Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Viet Nam

LUANG PRABANG, 9 October 2014 - The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Lao PDR, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the ASEAN Secretariat, organised a workshop on children and families who are affected by unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination.

Twenty-four officials from the line agencies in charge of social affairs, assistance to victims and de-mining of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam participated in the workshop. They exchanged and discussed national policies and best practices that will ultimately benefit victims of UXOs and improve their lives, as well as prevent new victims in the future.

"As our Leaders adopted the ASEAN Declaration on Strengthening Social Protection at the 23rd ASEAN Summit last year, we are reminded that social protection is the right of everybody, including victims of unexploded ordnance, whose livelihood may be compromised owing to disabilities or other impediments," said Chomyaeng Phengthongsawat, Deputy Director-General of the Planning and Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. "Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam remain committed to provide social assistance to the victims through various ongoing programmes and strategies. Facing similar challenges, we could learn from each other and collaborate closely in responding to the needs of victims of unexploded ordnance in our respective countries."

Participants shared experiences in delivering assistance to victims including on access to special schools, access to the job market, vocational training, rehabilitation, de-mining, and community awareness programmes. They also identified the gaps and challenges in providing comprehensive assistance to the victims especially those who are living in remote areas.

Among countries affected world-wide, Lao PDR alone is estimated to have had 50,525 mines and explosive remnants of war casualties up to the end of 2012, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, the vast majority of victims being civilians. Unexploded ordnance also poses a serious threat to future generations. “Unexploded ordnance has a devastating effect on societies, continuing to maim and kill civilians long after armed conflicts have ended. The long-term implications can deprive populations of economic activities, healthcare and education,” said Mr. Beat Schweizer, head of the ICRC’s regional delegation in Bangkok.

The workshop is a regional activity planned under the ASEAN Strategic Framework for Social Welfare and Development 2011-2015.

Myanmar: International disaster response law makes headway in Myanmar

8 October 2014 - 4:39pm
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Myanmar

By Lucia Cipullo and Kevin Wirasamban

A severe cyclone hits the lower regions of Myanmar, affecting over 2 million people across highly populated areas, including the Yangon and lower Rakhine regions. Despite early warning actions, the impact and needs are immense.

Myanmar is in the throes of an emergency and the government requests international assistance. But how quickly can international assistance be mobilized? What barriers might prevent the swift delivery of aid?

These issues were played out during the last week of September, where over 50 representatives from the government and humanitarian sector gathered together against the idyllic backdrop of Inle Lake, in order to test systems for disaster preparedness and response in Myanmar.

Replicating a disaster

Like many of the simulation exercises that have taken place across the region, this initiative sought to clarify roles and responsibilities of all key actors involved, and addresses how the international humanitarian community is integrated into national disaster response. It also included a strong focus on international disaster response law (IDRL) issues.

In July 2013, a new law on disaster management was adopted in Myanmar, followed by the ongoing development of a set of implementing disaster management rules. Legal issues in international disaster response are being given increasing visibility in Myanmar, largely due to the advocacy work of the Myanmar Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In May 2014 for example, the Red Cross hosted a high-level advocacy workshop on international disaster law in Nay Pyi Daw.

The recent disaster preparedness and response exercise at Inle Lake provided participants with a critical opportunity to test the new law. IFRC Regional Disaster Law Delegate, Lucia Cipullo, delivered insight on the legal issues that can arise in international disaster response operations and IDRL. She outlined how key legal barriers can arise with the facilitation and regulation of international assistance – issues which were tested throughout the exercise.

“Participants were furiously looking through copies of the new DM law in order to identify the relevant procedures for expedited visa processes, customs clearance, and provisions on how to recognize foreign medical qualifications,” Cipullo said.

Right aid at the right time

Hosted by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, the simulation was run in collaboration with the ASEAN Centre for Humanitarian Assistance, Myanmar Red Cross, and various UN agencies including OCHA, WFP and UNDP. It has not only helped reinforce the valuable role of the Myanmar Red Cross during disasters, but it also emphasized the importance of international disaster response law with government, regional and humanitarian actors.

The region has seen great changes in disaster management, especially in countries like Myanmar. With the adoption of the new disaster management law, and the inclusion of a chapter on international assistance in the draft disaster management rules (based on the IDRL Guidelines), Myanmar is well on its way to being legally prepared to respond swiftly and effectively to large-scale disasters, and ensuring that vulnerable communities receive the right aid, at the right time.

Myanmar: Myanmar Prisoner release ‘empty gesture’ as repression continues

7 October 2014 - 11:50am
Source: Amnesty Country: Myanmar

An amnesty of thousands of prisoners in Myanmar is essentially an empty political gesture as scores of peaceful activists are believed to remain behind bars, Amnesty International said.

The Myanmar authorities today announced that some 3,000 prisoners would be released in an amnesty, but none of the country’s prisoners of conscience – activists detained solely for peacefully expressing their views – will be included in the release.

“This is nothing but an empty gesture on the authorities’ part. The timing, so close to the ASEAN summit in Myanmar in early November, smacks of political opportunism,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

“If the Myanmar authorities were genuine about improving respect for human rights, they would follow through on the long-standing promise to clear the country’s jails of the dozens of peaceful activists still behind bars.”

“Myanmar’s authorities continue to rely on repressive laws to silence dissent and to target those who peacefully oppose the government. We are still receiving reports of human rights defenders, land rights activists, journalists, political activists and others being imprisoned for nothing more than expressing their opinions. As long as these detentions continue, amnesties like the one today do nothing to improve Myanmar’s human rights situation.”

Background

On 15 July 2013 President Thein Sein, speaking at the independent policy institute Chatham House in London, publically pledged that there would be no more prisoners of conscience in Myanmar by the end of the year. However, despite a series of presidential amnesties and pardons, prisoners of conscience remained behind bars at the end of 2013; while in 2014, new prisoners of conscience – many of them human rights defenders, journalists and land rights and environmental activists – continue to be jailed.

Among the new prisoners of conscience in Myanmar in 2014 is Ko Htin Kyaw, the leader of community-based organization Movement for Democracy Current Force (MDCF) who is currently serving 11 years and four months in prison for taking part in a series of peaceful protests and for making speeches and distributing leaflets critical of the government. Community leader U Sein Than has also been imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression. He is currently serving two years in prison for peacefully protesting against an alleged land confiscation.

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 01–07 October

7 October 2014 - 8:50am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen, South Sudan preview

Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone: At 1 October, the total cumulative number of reported Ebola cases across the three countries had reached 7,470, including 3,431 deaths. However, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that only 40% of cases are being reported in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Social tensions and insecurity are growing. Many of the 3,700 children who have lost parents to Ebola are being rejected out of fear of infection.

Nigeria: The national emergency agency estimates 1.5 million people are displaced in the northeast, almost triple the 647,000 estimated in a May assessment. IDPs are in urgent need of assistance. More than 150,000 have fled to neighbouring countries, with 27,000 people crossing into Niger over August and September alone.

Afghanistan: 200,000 people have crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan since June. September saw more refugees arriving at remote locations, where communities are stretched beyond capacity. Food, health, WASH, and shelter are all urgently needed. In addition, the number of IDPs is rising: 702,000 people are estimated displaced across Afghanistan.

Updated: 07/10/2014. Next update: 14/10/2014

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

Myanmar: Myanmar frees 3,000 prisoners, including ex-military intelligence figures

7 October 2014 - 7:11am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

10/07/2014 10:47 GMT

YANGON, October 7, 2014 (AFP) - Myanmar began releasing hundreds of prisoners -- including a political detainee and former military intelligence figures -- on "humanitarian" grounds, officials said Tuesday, in the latest large-scale amnesty in the once pariah nation.

The reformist regime, which is in the process of preparing to host a landmark November meeting of international and regional leaders, has granted a series of amnesties as part of dramatic reforms since the end of outright military rule in 2011.

President Thein Sein pardoned some 3,073 people, including 58 foreign nationals, citing "stability of the state, the rule of law" and "humanitarian" grounds, according to a Facebook post Tuesday by Information Minister Ye Htut.

One prisoner held on political grounds was among those freed, according to Ye Aung, a representative of the Former Political Prisoners Support Group, which is working closely with the government on negotiating the release of remaining dissidents.

"We only can confirm the release of one political prisoner from Myitkyina prison. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment under the Explosives Act in 2013," said Ye Aung, estimating that some 75 political prisoners remain behind bars.

"Releasing the prisoners is good. We welcome it. But we want the government to release more. Politically, it is meaningless without the release of many political prisoners."

Before Myanmar's reforms, rights groups accused the country of wrongfully imprisoning about 2,000 political detainees.

Most have since been pardoned in sweeping amnesties that campaigners have said were often linked to high profile visits by international figures.

  • 'Having a top day' -

In December the country declared that there were no more political prisoners after freeing inmates arrested under a host of draconian junta-era laws restricting dissent.

But campaigners say dozens of people have been arrested under more recent legislation, mainly for protesting without permission, while several journalists have been jailed this year in trials that have drawn international concern.

Many former political prisoners have also suffered repeated arrest for continuing their activities.

Ye Aung said eight former military intelligence figures were among those freed Tuesday.

Arrested in a 2004 purge on the department as part of the overthrow of former spy chief-turned-prime minister Khin Nyunt in a junta power struggle, the former officials were thought to be serving sentences of up to 100 years.

Among those freed was Brigadier General Thein Swe. His son, well known media businessman Sonny Swe, announced the release on social media, saying "Having a top day with great news. I'm heading to Myingyan to pick up my dad".

Dozens of former military intelligence staff, who are not generally considered to be political detainees, are thought still to be behind bars.

Khin Nyunt himself was released from house arrest in 2012 and has since opened an art gallery in Yangon.

Arbitrary imprisonment was a hallmark of nearly half a century under a junta that denied the existence of political prisoners, even as it imposed harsh punishments on rights activists, journalists, lawyers and performers.

Some activists have expressed caution at the government's high profile amnesties, particularly large-scale releases of ordinary detainees.

"The release of many criminals could harm stability. We have to question the government on what they are thinking with the release," former political prisoner Toe Kyaw Hlaing told AFP.

klm/hla/apj/jta

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Tensions in Myanmar’s Kachin State Forces Thousands to Flee

7 October 2014 - 6:35am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

More than 5,000 people in a township in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state have fled their homes amid concerns over possible renewed fighting between local armed rebels and government forces following a key rebel group’s controversial recruitment drive, sources said Monday.

They fled after unconfirmed reports said that government troops would launch an offensive against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) after accusing the rebel group of forcing locals to join its ranks under the pretext of drug-control efforts.

Many who fled Tanaing township in Kachin’s capital Myitkyina were mine workers.

Tensions between the KIA and government forces in Tanaing had risen after government forces sent a warning letter to the rebels to stop arresting locals on drug charges and to release by Oct. 3 those already in their custody, a local source said.

“KIA ‘arrested’ people who used drugs but the government army saw it as recruitment,” a local source told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

“We heard that the government army has sent a letter to KIA warning that it would clear all KIA troops [from the area] if KIA didn’t release [those held in their custody] in three days.”

Administrative control

The KIO, the military wing of the Kachin Indpendence Organization (KIO), still has administrative control over several key areas in Kachin State and is among only a few main rebel groups that has not entered into a cease-fire agreement with the government.

Lamai Gum Ja, a leader of the Myitkyina-based Kachin Peace Creation Group, which acts as a go-between for the KIA and the Kachin state government, told RFA that his group had received an unsigned warning letter dated Oct. 3 linked to the tensions.

Both the military and the rebels had denied they were behind the letter.

Clashes between the KIA and government army have flared on and off since the termination of a 17-year cease-fire in June 2011.

Since then, fighting in Kachin state has forced thousands of civilians to flee their homes.

In late August, the KIA and army troops clashed in a five-hour fight in Mayan, a railway station village between Myitkyina and Namti in Kachin state, according to a report by Kachin News Group.

Houses in a military base were partially damaged and a woman suffered a leg injury after being hit by gunfire, it said.

Skirmishes

The tensions in Tanaing followed a number of recent skirmishes between armed ethnic rebels and government troops in Shan state in eastern Myanmar and Kayin and Mon states in the southeastern part of the country, amid negotiations to a nationwide ceasefire agreement.

In Shan state, five government soldiers and two Shan ethnic rebels had died, rebel groups said Friday.

About 50 government troops and three Shan insurgents were also wounded during the clashes in Kyethi township since Thursday in central Shan state, they said.

In Mon state near the border with Thailand, five ethnic Karen armed rebels were killed in fighting last week with government troops, raising tensions that have forced civilians to flee villages and schools to close, police said.

Talks last month between the government’s Union Peacemaking Work Committee and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team, representing more than a dozen armed ethnic rebel groups, were stymied by disagreements over military and other issues.

The two sides, however, agreed to a fourth draft of a nationwide cease-fire agreement, whose points would require internal discussion before they meet again this month.

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

Myanmar: No Rush to Return for Kayin's Displaced

7 October 2014 - 12:35am
Source: Refugees International Country: Myanmar, Thailand

By Jeff Crisp

"Thailand’s pledge to repatriate 100,000 Burmese refugees sparks concern.” “Refugees fear forced return to Myanmar.” “Thai and Burmese armies to discuss refugee repatriation in August.” According to these recent news reports, the 140,000 refugees from Myanmar who are currently exiled in neighboring Thailand are about to go home, whether they like it or not.

Refugees International traveled to Myanmar’s Kayin State to test the validity of such assertions, and found the reality of the situation to be quite different.

Located in southeastern Myanmar, Kayin State has an estimated population of around 1.7 million people. Due to a long armed conflict between the country’s central government and an ever-changing assortment of local rebel groups, more than 50,000 Kayin residents fled to Thailand – the largest number of refugees from any state in Myanmar. In addition, Kayin State has a population of around 90,000 internally displaced people(IDPs).

The displacement crisis in Kayin State began in the early 1980s and continued until 2012, by which time most of the region’s rebel groups had negotiated tentative ceasefire agreements with Myanmar’s central government. So why does the return and reintegration of Kayin State’s refugee and IDP populations seem unlikely in the immediate future?

To answer that question three issues have to be taken into account.

First, Thailand’s recently installed military government would certainly like to see the end of the Myanmar refugee situation on its western frontier. But it is aware that forced repatriation would bring renewed instability to the border region, and that violating the principle of voluntary returns for refugees would incur the disapproval of the international community.

Second, the vast majority of Myanmar refugees in Thailand have little intention of returning to their country of origin in the immediate future. Many have been scarred by the violent events that forced them into exile. They are not convinced that Myanmar’s ceasefires and the country’s current process of political reform are sustainable. They have been living in camps for many years and have become accustomed to that way of life. And their community leaders have an interest in maintaining a status quo which allows them to act as the representatives of the refugee population.

There is growing evidence to suggest that Kayin State’s refugees and IDPs are visiting to their places of origin for days or weeks to assess whether the time is right for permanent return. But very few have made that decision.

Third, while the processes of political and economic reform in Myanmar are proceeding quite rapidly in places like Yangon, their impact in conflict and displacement-affected states such as Kayin are far more difficult to discern. According to an analysis prepared by the local office of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there continue to be numerous obstacles to the early return and long-term reintegration of Kayin State’s refugees and IDPs.

The state’s administration continues to be fragmented, with the central government and its rebel opponents controlling different and shifting areas of territory. While Kayin State has considerable economic potential, its development is being distorted by land grabs, as well as exploitative and illicit forms of economic activity, including illegal logging and drug trafficking.

To make things worse, land mines continue to litter Kayin State’s landscape. Public services such as health and education are woefully inadequate for the existing population, let alone a sudden influx of returnees. And the state’s infrastructure is extremely weak. The main road into Thailand, for example, is so narrow that the direction of traffic has to be alternated from one day to the next.

Confronted with these many challenges, UNHCR has taken the unusual step of initiating a very early-stage planning process for a voluntary repatriation and reintegration program – one that might take several years to materialize. Led by Vicky Tennant, a veteran of humanitarian operations in countries such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Somaliland, the UNHCR team is confronted with a wide range of difficult questions.

When exactly and on what scale will the refugees and IDPs return to Kayin State? Will they return in an organized and collective manner, or go home in a more spontaneous and individual way? Will they go back to their villages of origin, or will they prefer to take up residence in urban areas? To what extent will they retain linkages with Thailand once they have repatriated?

What forms of assistance should be provided to them and the communities in which they settle? And how will humanitarian organizations such as UNHCR be able to work in together with the Myanmar authorities, which for many years have been ostracized by the international community as a result of their very poor human rights record?

Myanmar: Shan groups pledge common vision at Bangkok meeting

6 October 2014 - 9:53pm
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

By SHWE AUNG

Three Shan armed groups and two major Shan political parties—the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD)—wrapped up a meeting in Bangkok on Friday that was designed to craft a common vision to the peace process and Burma’s 2015 elections.

The event, entitled “Towards a Common Understanding – Shan Leaders Consultation”, was held on 2- 4 October. In addition to the two political parties the following Shan ethnic armed groups attended the conference: Shan State Army-South (SSA-S), Shan State Army-North (SSA-N), and a lesser-known Shan militia group allied with the government which is based in the northern Shan state town of Hsipaw.

The meeting was also attended by Aung Min, who has been leading peace negotiations with armed ethnic groups on behalf of the Union government as deputy head of the Union Peace-making Work Committee (UPWC).

Sai Lek, secretary of the SNLD, said the groups discussed the delays which have bogged down negotiations on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). The Shan groups also agreed that armed conflict can only be resolved through political dialogue, and that certain guarantees should be granted by the government prior to singing a ceasefire.

Sai Lek said one of the main causes of delays in the peace process has been a lack of trust between Burmese government forces and armed ethnic groups.

“One of the main reasons for delays in the peace process has been a breakdown of trust. The government—especially the Burmese army—doesn’t have much confidence in the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team [the delegates negotiating the NCA on behalf of armed ethnic groups]. At the same time, armed ethnic groups have started to seriously doubt the sincerity of the government because its position has become more intransigent ever since Burmese army officersjoined the talks,” said the SNLD secretary.

Sai Lek also expressed doubts regarding the claim that continued fighting between the Burmese army and armed groups in Shan state was due to the absence of a code of conduct regulating the opposing armed forces, and he speculated that the government forces might be taking advantage of the peace process by deliberately launching attacks on armed groups.

“Some people cited the lack of an agreed-upon code of conduct as the reason for the continuation of clashes, but if that is the case then these clashes should only be sporadic. However, from what we are seeing they look more like a planned offensive, intentionally carried out by the Tatmadaw [Burmese army],” he said. “But it may or may not be true.”

On the second day of the meeting, the groups released an open letter to President Thein Sein denouncing an offensive last week in which over 1,000 troops Burmese troops attacked SSA-N positions in Ta Pha Saung Village in Shan state’s Kehsi Mansam Township as a violation of previously-signed tentative ceasefire agreements; and they called on the government to solve political problems via political means.

At the end of the meeting, the Shan groups released a joint statement containing the following a three-point agreement pledging: to join hands in negotiating with the government on matters relating to the future of the Union and Shan State; to cooperate for the purposes of enhancing peace-building efforts in Shan State and across the Union of Burma; and to continue negotiating and using political means to resolve political issues.

Myanmar: Karen delegates hold closed-door talks with government

6 October 2014 - 9:48pm
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

Representatives from the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Karen Unity and Peace Committee (KUPC)—an assorted group of Karen MPs, civil society members and Karen armed groups—held a closed-door meeting with Burmese government officials on Saturday in Taungoo to discuss ways of bringing about unity and peace for the Karen people.

The meeting was attended by: members of the KNU central committee including Mahn Nyein Maung; Karen ethnic affairs ministers from various administrative regions in Burma; members of the Karen People’s Party, including the party’s deputy chairman; and Karen ethnic MPs.

KNU central committee member Saw Hla Tun said that the parties had reached an agreement on several issues by the end of the meeting, including a call by the Karen representatives for greater cooperation in bringing about unity and peace for the Karen people. The Karen attendees also reportedly agreed with the government on the need to end armed conflict and practice patience. Finally, Karen MPs agreed to make endeavours to ensure that basic human rights of Karen people are protected and Karen youths enjoy a bright future.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army’s (DKBA) 5th Battalion—the only DKBA unit that refused to be absorbed into the government’s Border Guard Force, and which subsequently re-branded itself as the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (also known as DKBA)—is expected to meet with government counterparts on Monday to negotiate the return of firearms the group seized from Burmese troops during a series of skirmishes last week.

Maj. San Aung from the breakaway Karen faction said last week’s gunfire “did not a signal a breakdown of the peace process; rather, it was designed to let the country and the world know about the oppression taking place at ground level in Karen State.”

Myanmar: UEC to discuss eligible voter lists for 2015 general elections

6 October 2014 - 9:42pm
Source: Mizzima News Country: Myanmar

Written by Hein Ko Soe

The Union Election Commission (UEC) will begin discussions with officials of Region and State election commissions about compiling lists of eligible voters in constituencies for the planned 2015 general elections, the UEC’s spokesman U Thaung Hlaing told Mizzima October 3.

The preliminary lists of eligible voters for Ahlone Township (Yangon Region), Myitkyina (Kachin State) and Tedim Township (Chin State) compiled in May are said to be incorrect, hence the need for UEC officials to plan how to re-compile the lists.

“The Commission [UEC] will begin discussions with the chairmen of the Region election committees on re-making the lists. We will begin the process [of compiling the lists] only after the discussions. We have yet to compile the lists,” said U Thaung Hlaing, who is also the director of the Electoral Department of the UEC.

Some civil organizations involved in compiling the preliminary lists of eligible voters said that the names of dead people and the names of many people who don’t have national ID cards are in the preliminary lists.

“Among the 49,000 eligible voters [in the preliminary list] in Tedim, about 12,000 people don’t have national ID cards. How can they vote? So we made suggestions and told the Commission to make changes,” said U Thant Zin Aung, the coordinator of New Myanmar Foundation that was involved in compiling the preliminary lists of eligible voters.

Yangon Region Election Commission chairman U Ko Ko said that the discussion on the process of compiling the lists of all eligible voters would begin in the second week of October.

Myanmar: World Bank Group Systematic Country Diagnostic and Country Partnership Framework for Myanmar

5 October 2014 - 8:14pm
Source: Human Rights Watch Country: Myanmar preview

World Bank Group: Tackle Burma Rights Concerns

Ongoing Abuses Against Minorities, Land Grabs, Corruption

(Washington, DC, October 6, 2014) – The World Bank Group should act to overcome Burma’s major human rights problems in its new strategy for the country, Human Rights Watch said in a submission to the bank released today. Key issues include rights violations against ethnic minorities, widespread land grabs, and systematic corruption.

Despite significant human rights improvements in Burma, the reform process remains tenuous, and serious problems remain, particularly as the 2015 elections approach. The World Bank Group cautiously re-engaged with the Burmese government in 2012 and is developing a more comprehensive partnership framework for the next five years. The World Bank Group consists of four organizations tasked with reducing global poverty and achieving sustainable development, and an arbitration body.

“The World Bank should be taking stock of the human rights situation in Burma as the 2015 elections approach,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The elections could be a milestone in Burma’s reform efforts or a major setback, and the bank will need to set the best path for engagement.”

World Bank Group President Jim Kim should highlight ongoing problems of discrimination and abuses against ethnic minorities, land and labor rights, access to justice, and corruption when he meets with Burmese finance officials during the World Bank/International Monetary Fund annual meetings in Washington, DC, on October 10-12, 2014.

Before it re-engaged with Burma in 2012, the World Bank had not provided financial aid to the country since 1987, when it was ruled by an abusive military junta. While there has been an increase in development aid in the past two years, Burma remains one of the poorest countries in the region.

The World Bank Group is piloting a new process for country engagement in Burma, first identifying major challenges to sustainable, inclusive development. The next step is to work with the government on a strategy to address the challenges. For this new process to be meaningful, the bank should not ignore controversial issues such as human rights, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch urged the World Bank to fully analyze Burma’s positive developments and the myriad issues that remain, and work with the government to address these issues, in close consultation with independent groups.

The decades-long government repression of the Rohingya Muslim minority continues on a massive scale. Since sectarian violence flared in June 2012, an estimated 140,000 mostly Rohingya displaced people have been relocated into camps around Burma’s western Arakan State.

Burma’s 1982 Citizenship Law effectively prevents Rohingya, many of whom have lived in the country for generations, from obtaining citizenship. This has left Rohingya stateless, facilitating human rights abuses against them and posing serious obstacles to ending the sectarian violence in Arakan State. The citizenship issue has also played a role in pushing Rohingya into increased poverty and is a barrier to realizing their social and economic rights. A draft of the long-awaited Rakhine (Arakan) Action Plan obtained by Human Rights Watch outlines plans to resettle over 130,000 displaced Rohingya into long-term settlements and stage a nationality verification process. A subsequent citizenship process will be inherently discriminatory because it is based on the 1982 law.

In its 2012 Burma strategy, the World Bank dismissed this entrenched discrimination as “localized instances of communal violence … that indicate the need to address continuing societal fault lines.” The attacks on the Rohingya, which amounted to crimes against humanity in a campaign of ethnic cleansing, and the impact on their social and economic rights have heightened since then, but the bank has remained silent.

Since 2012 there has also been a serious rise in anti-Muslim violence and incitement throughout Burma. Attacks took place in a number of towns in central Burma in 2013 and in Mandalay in June 2014.

“World Bank Group President Jim Kim has highlighted the cost of discrimination not only on society, but on the economy,” Evans said. “Kim should emphasize these costs with Burma’s government and urge them to dismantle entrenched discrimination and take the necessary measures to end the violence against the Rohingya and other Muslim communities.”

The World Bank Group should also do more to ensure that local communities can participate in identifying and shaping development priorities, Human Rights Watch said. The bank should publish country documents and project documents in relevant ethnic languages in addition to Burmese and English; consult with local people who will be directly affected by proposed projects; and ensure that all consultations are accessible for all marginalized groups. It should also address ongoing governmental restrictions on independent groups and the media, both in its diagnostic effort and its high-level dialogue with the government, emphasizing the importance of participation and social accountability for development.

The World Bank Group should assess and address the possible adverse impacts on human rights in all of its projects in Burma, particularly discrimination against minorities, land rights violations, and labor rights violations. In light of the high-risk environment, the International Finance Corporation, the bank’s private-sector lending arm, should require businesses to undertake human rights due diligence. This would involve taking the necessary measures to identify potential human rights problems, mitigate them, and provide an appropriate remedy for any abuses that occur despite the preventive steps taken.

All institutions of the World Bank Group should examine the rights records of government and private sector partners to ensure that they are not implicated in rights abuses or corruption, Human Rights Watch said. And all should rigorously monitor and supervise implementation of projects they fund to ensure that human rights are respected throughout.

“The World Bank has an important role to play in advancing access to education, health, and electricity in Burma,” Evans said. “But for it to really advance development, it needs to have its eyes wide open to Burma’s ongoing rights problems and actively work to address them.”

Myanmar: Finding a just and equitable solution to Rakhine’s citizenship crisis essential for long-term peace and prosperity in Myanmar

3 October 2014 - 11:17pm
Source: UN Development Programme Country: Myanmar

New York City, USA, 3 October 2014 - Senior United Nations Humanitarian and Development officials said today they had seen appalling human suffering but also signs of hope during a recent visit to Rakhine State in Myanmar, where more than 1 million people have been rendered effectively stateless.

UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Development Programme Regional Director for Asia Haoliang Xu and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Director of Operations John Ging met displaced people and government officials during their visit.

United Nations Webcast: webtv.ur.org

Violent clashes in Rakhine in 2012 led to the displacement of 140,000 people into 68 camps and settlements for internally displaced people. More than 1 million people face discrimination and severe restrictions on their freedom of movement, seriously compromising their basic rights to food, health, education and livelihoods, while reinforcing their reliance on international humanitarian assistance.

“We need to scale up poverty eradication across Rakhine, with a particular focus on development solutions which promote peaceful co-existence,” said Mr. Xu. “Stability and peace can be achieved only when the needs of all communities are met.”

“Underdevelopment is a cause of the conflict, but it is clear that development alone is not enough,” said Mr. Ging. “Without a just and equitable solution to the citizenship crisis in Rakhine there will never be lasting peace and prosperity in Myanmar. This is a humanitarian crisis which has the potential to be resolved in a way which will stand as an international success story. We need to engage to ensure that this crucial opportunity is not missed.”

Mr. Xu and Mr. Ging said they had engaged with government officials at the national and local levels who expressed commitment to finding a solution to the crisis. They called on all United Nations agencies to engage in and support this process to help ensure that the outcome was just, equitable and promoted human rights for all.

Contact Information

Stanislav Saling
Media Relations & Public Relations
Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific
UNDP New York
Tel: +1 212 906 6575
Mobile: +1 917 346 1955
@StanislavSaling

Myanmar: Burma – Complex Emergency Fact Sheet #4 (FY) 2014

3 October 2014 - 7:25pm
Source: US Agency for International Development Country: Myanmar, United States of America preview

HIGHLIGHTS

· Heavy rainfall and localized floods are affecting populations throughout Burma.

· An estimated 236,000 people remain displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance in Kachin, Rakhine, and Shan states.

· The U.S. Government (USG) provided more than $45 million to address humanitarian needs in FY 2014.

Myanmar: Finding a just and equitable solution to Rakhine’s citizenship crisis essential for long-term peace and prosperity in Myanmar

3 October 2014 - 2:29pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Myanmar preview

(New York, 3 October 2014): Senior United Nations Humanitarian and Development officials said today they had seen appalling human suffering but also signs of hope during a recent visit to Rakhine State in Myanmar, where more than 1 million people have been rendered effectively stateless.

UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Development Programme Regional Director for Asia Haoliang Xu and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Director of Operations John Ging met displaced people and government officials during their visit.

Violent clashes in Rakhine in 2012 led to the displacement of 140,000 people into 68 camps and settlements for internally displaced people. More than 1 million people face discrimination and severe restrictions on their freedom of movement, seriously compromising their basic rights to food, health, education and livelihoods, while reinforcing their reliance on international humanitarian assistance.

“We need to scale up poverty eradication across Rakhine, with a particular focus on development solutions which promote peaceful co-existence,” said Mr. Xu. “Stability and peace can be achieved only when the needs of all communities are met.”

“Underdevelopment is a cause of the conflict, but it is clear that development alone is not enough,” said Mr. Ging. “Without a just and equitable solution to the citizenship crisis in Rakhine there will never be lasting peace and prosperity in Myanmar. This is a humanitarian crisis which has the potential to be resolved in a way which will stand as an international success story. We need to engage to ensure that this crucial opportunity is not missed.”

Mr. Xu and Mr. Ging said they had engaged with government officials at the national and local levels who expressed commitment to finding a solution to the crisis. They called on all United Nations agencies to engage in and support this process to help ensure that the outcome was just, equitable and promoted human rights for all.

Mr. Ging also briefed on his recent visit to DPRK. “This is a context in which real humanitarian need exists and where excellent work is being done by UN and NGO partners to assist the most vulnerable,” said Mr Ging. “It is therefore lamentable that international funding levels continue to decline, with just $26.6 million out of the $116 million needed being received.”

For further information, please call

Clare Doyle, OCHA New York, doylecm@un.org, Tel. +1 212 963 5099 Cell +1 646 288 6331
Jens Laerke, OCHA Geneva, laerke@un.org, Tel. +41 22 917 11 42 Cell +41 (0)79 472 9750

The mission of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is to mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors