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Myanmar: Possible Cyclone Brews in Bay of Bengal

19 May 2016 - 10:29pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka

Jaiden Coonan

Myanmar’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH) has issued a ‘yellow’ warning for a depression developing over the Bay of Bengal. Hla Tun, Deputy Director of Meterology at the DMH said at 3pm yesterday that the depression could have formed into a cyclone over the past 24 hours.

He also said that based upon initial projections, if the cyclone develops, it may make landfall over Northern Rahkine State and Chittagong Division, in South-East Bangladesh. Though other predictions expect Bangladesh to receive the brunt of the storm. “[It could] develop into a cyclone over the next 24 hours as it moves in a north-eastern direction,” he told The Global New Light of Myanmar.

The color ‘yellow’ is given to a cyclone that is not set to make landfall, but is to affect a country.
As of 3pm yesterday the DMH warned of possible landslides in Chin State, as rains intensify over Rahkine and Chin States over the past 24 hours, flash flood warnings have also been issued for the states.

Hla Tun told The Global New Light of Myanmar that localised heavy falls will begin to effect the states as of today. If the depression turns into a cyclonic storm widespread devastation is to be expected.
The potential cyclone will affect vulnerable communities still recovering from Cyclone Komen that ravaged Myanmar in July 2015.

Cyclone Komen, even though not making landfall in Myanmar, caused disastrous flooding and landslides, affecting western parts of the country.

Previous Myanmar President U Thein Sein declared Rahkine and Chin States, as well as Magway and Sagaing Regions as natural disaster zones on 31 July 2015. Rahkine State suffered the most from flooding.

Massive public, private and governmental support came in the wake of the aftermath. People on the streets of Yangon could be seen walking through traffic collecting donations.

A massive support base grew online as Myanmar citizens abroad through their weight behind the relief efforts. 125 people were killed with 1.7 million people displaced from last years’ disaster.

1.1 million acres of farmland was inundated by floodwater, with 872,000 acres destroyed.

Myanmar will wave off its unrelenting heat wave, as isolated heavy falls descend upon Yangon,
Ayeyawady, Magway, Bago and Tanintharyi Regions as of today. “The depression will also bring unseasonably strong monsoonal winds,” Hla Tun said.

70 to 80 km per hour winds (45-50 miles) are expected with heavy squalls and rough seas for Myanmar’s coastal areas.

The same depression has caused widespread flooding and landslides in Sri Lanka with 200 families missing, according to the Sri Lankan Red Cross.

On Tuesday sixteen bodies were discovered and 180 people were rescued, in an area affected by landslides in the storm rattled country.

Heavy falls are expected in India’s southeastern states of Tamil Nadu and Andrha-Pradesh where falls of up to 300mm is expected.

Myanmar: Myanmar Police Force supplies water to communities facing water crises

19 May 2016 - 10:24pm
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

The Myanmar Police are helping to provide clean water to communities facing water shortages due to the recent high temperatures brought on by El Niño.

Police members of the Special Intelligence Department (Special Branch) under the Myanmar Police Force distributed 1000 gallons of clean water and 750 gallons of drinking water to the communities of Khayan Township, Yangon Region, which are currently suffering a water scarcity crisis. The delivery was made on 15 May.

Similarly, police members from Taungzun Police Outpost donated 1250 gallons of water for drinking and bathing to residents who are facing water shortages in Bilin township, Mon State on Monday. Myanmar Police Force

World: FAO ready to help major fishing countries in Asia-Pacific implement binding agreement to combat illegal fishing

19 May 2016 - 12:28pm
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Australia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Palau, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, Vanuatu, World

19/05/2016 Bangkok, Thailand

The Asia-Pacific regional office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has offered to assist countries in the region as they implement a new international agreement to address illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU).

IUU fishing is about to become much more difficult once the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), a ground-breaking international accord championed by FAO, enters into force early next month.

Earlier this week FAO announced that 29 member countries and the European Union had formally deposited their instruments of adherence, and the count down to the entry into force of the PSMA was underway. On 5 June 2016 it will become the world's first legally binding international accord specifically targeting IUU fishing.

Countries from the Asia-Pacific region accounted for nearly one-third of those acceding to the agreement, including major seafood producing countries such as Thailand.

Collectively, the 29 countries and the European Union, which signed as a single party, have formally committed themselves through their instruments of adhesion account for more than 62 percent of worldwide fish imports and 49 percent of fish exports, which were $133 billion and $139 billion respectively, in 2013.

IUU fishing is responsible for annual catches of up to 26 million tonnes, with a value of up to $23 billion. It also undermines efforts to ensure sustainable fisheries and responsible fish stock management around the world.

"We are very encouraged that so many countries in the Asia-Pacific region have signed up to this agreement, particularly some of the major exporters like Thailand," said FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative, Kundhavi Kadiresan. “As this is a legally binding agreement, it is one that countries will need to take seriously and therefore the level of commitment needed to ensure implementation will need to be significant. At FAO, we stand ready to help guide our member countries in this region to meet those commitments.”

Parties to the agreement from the Asia-Pacific region include Australia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Palau, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Port State Measures – actions taken to detect IUU fishing when ships come to port.

The new treaty requires that parties designate specific ports for use by foreign vessels, making control easier. Those ships must request permission to enter ports ahead of time, and provide local authorities with information, including on the fish they have on board, and allowing inspection of their log book, licences, fishing gear and actual cargo, among other things.

Importantly, the agreement calls on countries to deny entry or inspect vessels that have been involved in IUU fishing, and to take necessary action. To support this, the agreement also includes the obligation for parties to share information regionally and globally, regarding any vessels discovered to be involved in IUU fishing.

Preventing unscrupulous fishers from landing their ill-gotten hauls makes it much harder for such catches to enter national and international markets. Compared to most monitoring, control and surveillance schemes, port state measures act as highly effective deterrents to IUU fishing activities.

Sri Lanka: Cyclone that caused Sri Lanka landslide could dump 20 inches of rain on parts of India

19 May 2016 - 12:03pm
Source: The Washington Post Country: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka

By Angela Fritz May 18 at 12:31 PM

Two landslides in central Sri Lanka on May 17 followed three days of heavy rain and floods. More than 150 people are feared dead as rescuers continue to try to save stranded victims. (Reuters) A storm that has been festering for days in the Bay of Bengal caused torrential rain, flooding and a deadly landslide in Sri Lanka on Wednesday. It could hammer parts of eastern India with over 20 inches of rain through the weekend as it tracks up the coast.

The storm developed into a fully-fledged tropical cyclone on Wednesday, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, which estimates the intensity to be the equivalent of a weak tropical storm on the Saffir Simpson scale.

Read the story on the Washington Post

India: AHA Centre Flash Update: Tropical Cyclone ONE, 19 May 2016

19 May 2016 - 6:19am
Source: Association of Southeast Asian Nations Country: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar

Tropical Cyclone 'One'

Tropical Cyclone (TC) ‘One’ is developing in the Bay of Bengal and moving northeast, traversing the eastern part of India (coastal area) and Bangladesh. Based on the AHA Centre’s Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS), TC One’s wind speed may reach up to 110 kph and will gradually weaken as it approaches Bangladesh. TC One is estimated to dissipate by 23 May 2016.

TC One might bring high intensity rainfalls in areas along its path which can trigger flooding and landslides. With its current strength, TC One may potentially influence the rainfall in Myanmar in the next 72 hours.

AHA Centre will continue its monitoring. An update will be issued based on the development of the situation.

Bangladesh: AHA Centre Flash Update: Tropical Cyclone ONE, 19 May 2016

19 May 2016 - 6:19am
Source: Association of Southeast Asian Nations Country: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar

Tropical Cyclone 'One'

Tropical Cyclone (TC) ‘One’ is developing in the Bay of Bengal and moving northeast, traversing the eastern part of India (coastal area) and Bangladesh. Based on the AHA Centre’s Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS), TC One’s wind speed may reach up to 110 kph and will gradually weaken as it approaches Bangladesh. TC One is estimated to dissipate by 23 May 2016.

TC One might bring high intensity rainfalls in areas along its path which can trigger flooding and landslides. With its current strength, TC One may potentially influence the rainfall in Myanmar in the next 72 hours.

AHA Centre will continue its monitoring. An update will be issued based on the development of the situation.

World: WHO South-East Asia Region eliminates Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus

19 May 2016 - 5:00am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, World

New Delhi, 19 May 2016 – In a major public health feat, WHO South-East Asia Region has eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus with all districts across the 11 countries having reduced the cases to less one than per 1 000 live births.

Maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination (MNTE) for the Region became official after a team of experts today successfully validated the remaining four provinces of Indonesia, the last pocket in the Region to achieve the target; after India reached the MNTE goal last year.

“The achievement demonstrates the commitment of countries in the Region to improve maternal and child health, especially neonatal health. Persistent efforts and innovative approaches to enhance tetanus vaccination coverage of pregnant women and children, increase skilled birth attendance and promote clean cord practices made MNTE a reality.” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said.

“Tireless efforts of millions of health workers, who overcame huge challenges reaching out to vulnerable communities, and the support of the communities themselves, are invaluable contributions to achieving this goal”, she said.

Partner organizations such as UNICEF, UNFPA, community-based organizations and other stakeholders played a critical role in the success, the Regional Director highlighted.

Home to nearly one-fourth of the global population, the South-East Asia Region is the second among six WHO Regions to achieve MNTE, after the European Region.

“Maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination must be seen as an enduring pursuit to maternal and newborn health. Further strengthening immunization and enhancing access to antenatal care services and skilled birth attendance, especially in the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations is critical to sustaining this hard earned success”, Dr Khetrapal Singh reiterated.

Prior to India and Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Timor-Leste reached the elimination goal and were validated in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012, respectively. Based on their longstanding quality performance of routine immunization and surveillance systems, it was assumed that Bhutan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand had already achieved MNTE before 2000.

Efforts do not end here. Unlike smallpox and polio, tetanus cannot be eradicated as tetanus spores remain stubbornly present in the environment worldwide. As the risk of tetanus persists, maintaining and enhancing high population immunity with tetanus vaccination during infancy, for women of childbearing age and during adolescence through school immunization programmes, achieving high coverage of skilled birth attendance and promotion of appropriate cord care after birth is needed to maintain MNTE.

While celebrating the achievement, the Region has lessons to learn from MNTE to reach the most vulnerable and hard to reach populations, especially women, with other lifesaving and critical health services.

WHO’s South-East Asia Region comprises the following 11 Member States: 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

Myanmar: My dream is changing: I just want to go home

19 May 2016 - 2:37am
Source: UN Population Fund Country: Myanmar
Khin Me Me Htun was 22 years old when a wave of inter-communal violence swept across the Myanmar state of Rakhine in 2012. She had just completed her BA in English at Sittwe University, and was due to go to Yangon to pursue her dream of post-graduate studies in diplomacy.


Then the unthinkable happened. Khin Me, her family and her entire community were driven out from their homes and away from Sittwe in sectarian riots. Almost four years later, in 2016, she is among 120,000 people who remain displaced by the conflict. Most struggle to survive in unforgiving conditions in camps located only a few kilometres from their hometown. So near, and yet so far. Confined to restricted zones, they cannot go back to their homes. They remain shut off from employment, from healthcare, from education, from life as they knew it, from the world.

Khin Me is one of about 1 million people in Myanmar who wish to self-identify as Rohingya, a Muslim minority in the country. Their plight came into international focus in 2015 when an estimated 25,000 people fled across Southeast Asian waters, many of them trapped floating at sea in rickety boats without food and water when refused refuge on land. Khin Me is haunted by memories from that night in Sittwe in 2012 when inter-communal fighting erupted and people were beaten with steel sticks, tied up, and some knifed to death. Her father was seriously injured.

“I saw my father’s brain”, she says. “I saw my friend die from a knife wound. There was blood everywhere. That was the last time I saw my neighbourhood.

The greatest fears is having to go to the latrines in the evening

Today she lives in a village adjoining a camp for displaced people. Villages and camps in Rakhine are guarded by authorities, and are both under the same movement restrictions. Nobody enters or leaves without permission unless escaping passed checkpoints.

Khin Me is a city girl at heart and adapting to village life has not been easy. On her phone, she keeps photos from her life in Sittwe. They show a young woman going to cafes with friends, dressed up for a cinema evening, graduating from university, sharing a coconut on the beach with a cousin. The jeans-clad and playful Khin Me in the photos looks very different from the serious and dignified Khin Me of 2016. Petite of frame, she looks fragile, and her large eyes deepen when she speaks about her life before the catastrophe. In town, her family ran a pharmacy and a popular tea shop. Their house had tap water, 24-hour electricity, and a toilet. In the village, she collects water from a shared pump, there is electricity only 4 hours a day, and the latrine is outside the house.

“First it was strange. I cannot wear trousers. Women don’t go to the tea stall. There is nowhere to borrow or buy books.”

But Khin Me knows how lucky she is that, thanks to family friends, she now lives in a village. The hopelessness of confinement is the same across villages and camps in the restricted zones. But in the windswept desert-like camps, life is grimmer and more dangerous. Especially for women and girls. One of the greatest fears is having to go to the latrines after seven in the evening. Walking in the dark to reach latrines, women and girls are fearful of sexual assault and rape.

But women and girls are under threat even if they stay inside after dark. The shelters have no locks on the doors to keep intruders out. And inside these small and stiflingly hot makeshift huts, families live day after day, year in and year out without privacy or respite, in conditions that breed despair and frustration, and that contribute to domestic violence.

Women and Girls Centres provide a safe space

To help women and girls cope with life in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), UNFPA has established Women and Girls Centres in partnership with the International Rescue Committee. In the centres, women who have been subjected to gender-based violence receive medical referrals and transport to hospital. Emergency treatment is particularly important in rape cases, where post-exposure prophylaxis medicines can help prevent HIV only if they are taken within 72 hours of exposure. Women and girls are also offered individual counselling and group-based psychosocial support. Last but not least, the women-only centres function as safe spaces where women and girls can get a reprieve from the harrowing conditions of camp life. In the calm and supportive atmosphere, they are free to talk openly without fear of judgment and shame. They can access information and learn skills. Or they can simply allow themselves to rest for a moment.

UNFPA supports 15 Women and Girls Centres in Myanmar. In 2015, some 5,000 women and girls accessed the seven centres in Rakhine, and over 11,000 women and girls accessed the eight centres in Kachin.

All the staff in the Women and Girls Centres are themselves displaced. Supporting IDPs to help other IDPs is an important peer-to-peer mechanism for empowering women living in protracted displacement. Their entitlements bring financial security, and they are able to shape the response to gender-based violence in the camps.

Khin Me is a response manager. Her work at the Women and Girls Centres gives her a sense of purpose. It allows her to help women and girls in her community in a very real way, sharing her knowledge, her strength, and the hope she still carries inside her. Talking and laughing with her colleagues and the women who visit the centre, she visibly relaxes. Suddenly she looks more like the young woman in the photos, hanging out with friends, sharing tea and a joke.

“I like to work here. I feel that my work really matters. Many of the women who come here have little or no education, but we teach them not only about gender-based violence, but also about health and sanitation.”

A balance between hope and hopelessness

Khin Me has used her money contributions from the Women and Girls Centre to help her parents buy a small family home in the village. It is nothing like the house they had in town, but it has given the family some security while they wait for a change, nurturing a hope to move back to Sittwe. But in the centre of town, there is a vacant lot where the house and tea shop once stood. There has been no progress towards a reconciliation which would allow Khin Me and other displaced people to move back to Sittwe. Their lives are a balance between hope and hopelessness.

Four years ago Khin Me dreamed of going to diplomacy school at Yangon University. What does she dream of today?

“My dream is changing. I don’t want to go to Yangon anymore, or to America, or anywhere else in the world. I just want to go home.”

Myanmar: Myanmar’s efforts to tackle land grabbing crisis must address the role of the military in perpetuating theft and violence

18 May 2016 - 11:46pm
Source: Global Witness Country: Myanmar

A decision by Myanmar’s new government to ramp up efforts to tackle land grabbing is a positive step, but must address the role of the military in perpetuating the country’s land crisis, which is at the heart of one of the longest ongoing civil wars in modern history.

Shortly after Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide election victory in late 2015, the government announced that it would prioritise bringing an end to the prolific and violent spate of land seizures that blighted rural life in Myanmar during decades of military rule.

The NLD now appears to be putting this pledge into action. It has announced the formation of a new committee to investigate conflicts between communities and companies, and oversee the return of land to its rightful owners. The government is also suggesting a freeze on the sale of new land until disputes are settled – a move which will be welcomed by rural communities across the country. But while the role of government ministries, state-owned and private companies was mentioned, reference to the military was worryingly absent.

“For more than five decades Myanmar’s military junta has seized land and sold it to investors at a huge personal profit, leaving rural communities landless and often destitute,” said Ali Hines of Global Witness. “This is not simply a legacy issue – the military still wields considerable power on the ground and continues to grab yet more land from ethnic minority communities. The new government has set the right tone by encouraging a freeze on further land investments, but must ban all further land acquisitions – including by the military – if it is serious about preventing further conflict.”

By 2013, 5.3 million acres of land - 35 times the size of Myanmar’s capital Yangon - had been leased for agriculture, mostly to local crony companies with close connections to government and military officials. These land grabs have devastated livelihoods and fuelled further conflict in a country in the throes of one of the longest ongoing civil wars in living memory.

“Without land, and with little or no compensation for it, communities have struggled to make a living and feed their families. The threat of military force has meant that many have been scared to speak out, and many of those who do have met with attacks, incarceration or at worst, execution,” said Hines. “Access to land is at the heart of Myanmar’s civil conflict and must be addressed locally as well as nationally if we are to see peace and stability in the country anytime soon.”

Global Witness is calling on the government and the new Central Review Committee on Confiscated Farmlands to:

  • Establish and enforce a ban on further land investments, including by the military, until sufficient environmental and social safeguards are in place

  • Ensure that the new Central Review Committee investigates military land disputes as part of its mandate

  • Provides the Committee with the necessary financial and administrative resources to sufficiently investigate land disputes, including decision-making powers

  • Ensure that land dispute investigations are carried out transparently, with opportunities for civil society oversight, in order to reduce the risk of it being undermined by corruption

  • Protect and collaborate closely with communities affected by land disputes, many of whom have suffered threats and harassment by the military for speaking out against land seizures.

For briefings or additional information please contact:

Ali Hines, Land Campaigner; ahines@globalwitness.org; + 44 (0)7738 712955

Alice Harrison, Communications Adviser; aharrison@globalwitness.org; +44(0)7841 338792

/ ENDS

World: Providing Hope, Investing in the Future: Education in Emergencies & Protracted Crises

18 May 2016 - 2:43pm
Source: Jesuit Refugee Service Country: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malawi, Myanmar, Nepal, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Uganda, World, Zimbabwe

Executive Summary

Today, 75 million children and adolescents aged 3-18 have had their education directly affected by emergencies and protracted crises.[1] Of those identified as refugees or internally displaced persons by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only 50 percent are enrolled in primary school, 25 percent in lower secondary school, and very few have access to pre-primary or tertiary education.[2] The severity of this education gap has garnered a new groundswell of support for investing in education in conflict and crisis settings. The magnitude of the need also calls for an opportunity to re-think the way that educational programs are developed and funded.

Given that the average length of displacement for a refugee is 17 years,[3] it is impractical to consider emergency assistance and long-term development as separate endeavors. Rather, the longevity of these problems require us to creatively approach new partnerships and new models of funding. Likewise, protracted conflicts are changing the long-term options for those who are displaced. They must be given the opportunity to forge a future for themselves and their families.

This paper details the work of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), a Catholic, nongovernmental organization working with refugees and other forcibly displaced persons in over 40 countries. In the past 35 years, JRS has placed an emphasis on ensuring that the most vulnerable have access to an education, regardless of their circumstances. Working both in newer emergencies, like Syria, and in protracted displacement settings including Chad, Ethiopia and Kenya, JRS is poised to offer substantive, thoughtful insight on providing effective, quality education programs for the forcibly displaced.

JRS aims to employ the following critical strategies to increase access to a quality education for the forcibly displaced:

•Parental Involvement to Ensure Access and Retention

•A Holistic Approach that Meets All Student Needs

•Complementary Programs for Parents and Families

•Investment in Teacher Training and Tertiary Education

•Emphasis on Language Skills and Remedial Education

•Youth Programming Focused on Life Skills & Leadership Training

Access to schools and quality education is an urgent priority for all refugee children and youth. It is a basic human right and is fundamental to a better future for their communities. For these reasons, JRS advocates for the basic right to emergency and long-term educational opportunities and urges better access to formal, informal and skill-building and vocational training programs for refugee children, youth and adults. To improve the quality of, and access to, education in emergencies and protracted crises, JRS recommends the following:

•Prioritization of access to education in all stages of humanitarian response and through development initiatives.

•Adequate and sustainable funding for the education of all refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, both in emergency and protracted crisis settings.

•Better coordination of education programs between host countries and humanitarian agencies and alignment of programs with country plans and systems.

•Effective transition from humanitarian response programming to long-term education development, through coordinated planning between humanitarian and development actors.

•Improved quality of education for the displaced, with a focus on special needs and equal access across genders and the prioritization of language training, long-term livelihoods development, and the use of technology.

•Integration of refugees into host communities, as appropriate, including integration of children into local school systems, access to employment opportunities and equitable compensation for the displaced.

•Assurance that schools remain safe and secure places free from armed groups, forcible military conscription, sexual violence, and discrimination.

•Academic instituitions accept international certificates, diplomas and degrees and explore the possibility of mainstreaming the accreditation process across countries and school systems.

•A diverse group of partners mobilize support for education in emergencies and protracted crises and support new efforts – including Education Cannot Wait: A Fund for Education in Emergencies – to address this critical issue.

Past investments in educational progress are in jeopardy as we face a record number of long-standing conflicts and resulting global displacement.

Donors, governments and the humanitarian and development communities must take action and seize an historic opportunity to grow, and leverage, the political will to address the lack of access to education for the forcibly displaced.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Refugee and IDP Camp Populations: April 2016

18 May 2016 - 9:30am
Source: The Border Consortium Country: Myanmar, Thailand

World: Snapshot: Focus on gender and diversity in disaster risk reduction

18 May 2016 - 9:19am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, World

The Asia Pacific is the most disaster-prone region in the world. Each year, the region experiences a full range of disasters, from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to extreme weather events such as typhoons, floods and drought. Central to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent’s (IFRC) humanitarian mandate, and in line with the Red Cross Red Crescent’s Fundamental Principles, the IFRC is committed to ensure that all women, men, girls and boys, irrespective of age, disability, health status, social, religious, migrant or ethnic group are protected before, during and after disasters.

Through the implementation of these frameworks, our member National Societies strive to ensure that disaster risk reduction and humanitarian programmes and services are conducted in a non-discriminatory way.

Together with the support of partners such as the Canadian Red Cross and the Government of Canada, our focus is to reach those made most vulnerable, and disproportionately affected by disasters in a way that promotes gender equality, protection, inclusion, and respect for diversity. Through the Resolution on prevention of sexual and gender based violence in disasters and crisis, the IFRC and its members commit, together with States, to mitigate sexual and gender based violence in times of disaster as a priority. We achieve this through operational research, application of minimum standards and working in partnerships to determine root causes of sexual and gender based violence in disasters in each context.

World: Focus on gender and diversity in disaster risk reduction Snapshot

18 May 2016 - 9:19am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, World

The Asia Pacific is the most disaster-prone region in the world. Each year, the region experiences a full range of disasters, from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to extreme weather events such as typhoons, floods and drought. Central to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent’s (IFRC) humanitarian mandate, and in line with the Red Cross Red Crescent’s Fundamental Principles, the IFRC is committed to ensure that all women, men, girls and boys, irrespective of age, disability, health status, social, religious, migrant or ethnic group are protected before, during and after disasters.

Through the implementation of these frameworks, our member National Societies strive to ensure that disaster risk reduction and humanitarian programmes and services are conducted in a non-discriminatory way.

Together with the support of partners such as the Canadian Red Cross and the Government of Canada, our focus is to reach those made most vulnerable, and disproportionately affected by disasters in a way that promotes gender equality, protection, inclusion, and respect for diversity. Through the Resolution on prevention of sexual and gender based violence in disasters and crisis, the IFRC and its member’s commit, together with States, to mitigate sexual and gender based violence in times of disaster as a priority. We achieve this through operational research, application of minimum standards and working in partnerships to determine root causes of sexual and gender based violence in disasters in each context.

Myanmar: Drought-hit areas urged to contact KBZ for water relief

18 May 2016 - 6:41am
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

As part of its efforts in combating water scarcity problems currently affecting areas across the country, KBZ’s Brighter Future Myanmar Foundation has offered communities currently facing drought and/or a scarcity of fresh water to contact the foundation and arrange for fresh potable water to be delivered. The foundation’s fleet of 3000-gallon water bowsers supplied drinking water to the communities of several villages in Nyaungshwe Township last weekend and in Kalaw Township on Monday.

Meanwhile, staff of the KBZ bank office in Sagaing and local volunteers are supplying fresh drinking water to monasteries and villages in Sagaing Township routinely by use of 4000-gallon water bowsers. KBZ’s Brighter Future Myanmar Foundation has drilled more than 100 tube wells in arid areas nationwide as well as building and maintaining water supply facilities, it has been learned.

World: Shelter Design Catalogue

18 May 2016 - 2:31am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Shelter Cluster Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Iraq, Jordan, Mali, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sudan, World
INTRODUCTION

UNHCR, the United Nations refugee organization, is mandated by the United Nations to lead and coordinate international action for the world-wide protection of refugees and the resolution of refugee problems.

UNHCR operates in an increasingly complex and challenging environment. Conflict, violence and persecution continue to cause large-scale displacement in many parts of the world. Providing international protection includes a range of concrete activities such as providing adequate shelter and settlement with the goal of increasing respect for, and ensuring the rights of UNHCR’s persons of concern.

Providing shelter is one of UNHCR’s institutional priorities. It is a fundamental human right recognized under Article 11 of the Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.

The right to shelter was further acknowledged in 1981 when UNHCR’s Executive Committee produced a set of internationally recognized basic standards of treatment applicable in refugee emergencies. Amongst many other standards, it clearly states that “refugees and asylum seekers should receive all necessary assistance and be provided with the basic necessities of life including food, shelter and basic sanitary and health facilities.” Shelter is a critical factor affecting survival in the initial stages of a disaster. Beyond survival, shelter is necessary to provide security, personal safety and protection from the climate and to promote resistance to ill health and disease. It is also important for human dignity, to sustain family and community life and to enable affected populations to recover from the impact of disaster.

A shelter is defined as a habitable covered living space providing a secure and healthy living environment with privacy and dignity. Refugees and others of concern to UNHCR have the right to adequate shelter in order to benefit from protection from the elements, space to live and store belongings as well as privacy, comfort and emotional support.

Shelter should be adapted according to the geographical context, the climate, the cultural practice and habits, the local availability of skills as well as accessibility to adequate construction materials in any given country.

PURPOSE

The purpose of this catalogue is to present applied examples of shelter designs in a harmonised way to allow quick reference, comparative analysis and contextual assessment. By recording and presenting a diverse range of shelter design and development practice in a single document, shelter practitioners and other stakeholders may more easily access information on shelter types to inform their work.

The shelter examples presented are by no means exhaustive with respect to the range of shelter activities and practices in the field. Future revision will allow for the further inclusion of new designs and this catalogue should be considered as a ‘live’ resource.

The structure of the catalogue is built up of the following four sections:

  • Global Shelter Designs
  • Emergency Shelter Designs
  • Transitional Shelter Designs
  • Durable Shelter Designs
WHO THIS CATALOGUE IS FOR

This shelter designs document is designed for use by all UNHCR staff and partners working in the shelter sector. The information may be particularly relevant to practitioners who are supporting the development of shelter assistance programmes with consideration to shelter type and operational context.

Myanmar: Press release from the Second Consultation Meeting of Border-Based Civil Society Organizations regarding their role and work in Burma during the transition [EN/MY]

18 May 2016 - 2:02am
Source: Kachin Women's Association Thailand Country: Myanmar

By the Organizing Committee of the Second Consultation Meeting of Border-Based Civil Society Organizations

11 May, 2016

From 7-9 May, 2016, 56 representatives from 20 border-based democracy activist and ethnic civil society organizations held a second consultation meeting to discuss their role and the prospects for cooperation and collaboration in Burma’s transition.

In the course of three days, participants discussed issues such as the prospects for the future political situation since the inauguration of the NLD-led Government, the situation in ethnic areas, the current political situation, and the peace process.

The participants identified eight areas where they can participate and cooperate in the process of implementing democracy and a federal system during the transition; human rights, women’s participation in politics, natural resources and environmental protection, transitional justice, federal affairs, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), the future of ethnic media, and migrant workers’ issues, including their education. They also discussed and identified challenges, opportunities and prospects for these issues and agreed to submit recommendations to the NLD-led Government and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs).

Julia Marip, the General Secretary of Women’s League of Burma (WLB) and a member of the organizing committee for this second consultation said, “We believe that the new government and the leaders of EAOs will warmly welcome our recommendations and include them in the transition process.”

For more information, please contact:
• Julia Marip, Women’s League of Burma, +66 (0) 93 228 4730
• Saw Gipsy, Students and Youth Congress of Burma, +66 (0) 81 042 8398
• Khin Ohmar, Burma Partnership, +66 (0) 81 884 0772

World: As Permanent Forum continues, speakers highlight need for indigenous peoples to be fully involved in resolving conflicts over land, natural resources

17 May 2016 - 11:42pm
Source: UN Economic and Social Council Country: Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Colombia, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, Philippines, Russian Federation, World

HR/5304

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Fifteenth Session, 12th & 13th Meetings* (AM)
Economic and Social Council
Meetings Coverage

Conflicts over land and natural resources — many of which turned bloody — continued to plague indigenous communities across the globe, stressed speakers today as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held two panel discussions focused on peace, conflict and resolution.

Participants provided examples of indigenous communities at odds with Governments or transnational companies, in particular those active in the mining, logging or oil and gas industries. Many also described the repercussions of such conflicts, which ranged from forced displacement to the assassination of indigenous leaders who protested the violation of their rights.

Yohanis Anari, Organisasi Pribumi Papua Barat (West Papua), said most States in conflict with indigenous people were so because they had resources the State wanted. For 54 years, West Papua had been a victim of deception, including within the United Nations, he said, noting that the region had been placed under the administration of Indonesia. “The people of West Papua are no less deserving of protection” than others around the world.

A representative of the International Indian Treaty Council described increasing reports of intimidation, repression and assassinations related to legitimate attempts of indigenous peoples to defend their rights. Human rights defenders were often labelled terrorists or common criminals, she said, expressing outrage over recent assassinations of human rights defenders. She called for the Forum to convene an expert group meeting on the situation of indigenous human rights defenders before the start of its next session.

Aisa Mukabenova, Forum member from the Russian Federation, agreed that many of the conflicts facing indigenous peoples today were linked to industrialization and economic development. The projects of transnational corporations often negatively impacted the lives of indigenous peoples, she said, reiterating the need to include the topic of relations with such companies on the Forum’s agenda.

Dalee Sambo Dorough, Forum member from the United States, declared: “We sit here very comfortably in New York, while at the same time blood is being shed.” It was ironic that indigenous representatives were sitting in a civil manner to discuss the death and destruction that plagued their communities. She recalled that, for those reasons, there had been real concern over the selection of the present theme for the Forum’s session.

Speakers also underscored the need for indigenous peoples to be meaningfully involved in resolving both inter- and intra-State conflicts.

In that regard, Juvenal Arrieta, Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia, said the decades long armed conflict in his country had led to the recruitment of indigenous people as well as assassinations and rape. While the peace process between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Government had eased those impacts, there was an urgent need to involve indigenous groups in the drafting of the overall peace agreement. That document must address the autonomy of their culture and territories, programmes for social inclusion and respect for human rights and the planet.

Alexey Tsykarev, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, expressed concern over the lack of participation of indigenous peoples in peace agreements. Stressing the need for free, prior and informed consent, he said the demarcation and protection of indigenous lands should be given priority in the context of conflict resolution. Without the participation of indigenous peoples, violence and encroachment on indigenous territories could increase.

The afternoon panel focused on indigenous women in peace and conflict. Speaking during that session, Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez, National Association of Guatemalan Widows — CONAVIGUA, said that as Guatemala commemorated the twentieth anniversary of peace, Mayan widows had demanded truth, justice and compensation so that “never again will the horrors of war occur”. Mayan women had brought a suit over the genocide, rape and abuse suffered at the hands of the military, and had achieved condemnation of a former military chief and other senior officials, she said.

The Permanent Forum will reconvene on Wednesday, 18 May, at 3 p.m. to consider its future work.

Panel Discussion

This morning, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held a panel discussion on its annual theme, namely, “Indigenous Peoples: conflict, peace and resolution”. It featured: Akli Sheika Bessadah, Imouhagh International Youth (Tuareg); Juvenal Arrieta, Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia; Niengulo Krome, Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (India); and Yohanis Anari, Organisasi Pribumi Papua Barat (West Papua). It was co-moderated by Raja Devasish Roy, Forum member from Bangladesh, and Phillip Taula (New Zealand).

Mr. BESSADAH said the Tuareg people were a nomadic group that had been persecuted for thousands of years. Over the centuries, their homeland had been parcelled out to become various countries, and the Tuareg had been left with no place to call their cultural home. More recently, in Libya, hundreds of Tuareg had been tortured and killed following the fall of Moammar Qadhafi, and some 23,000 Tuareg had been denied the right to nationality. Governments were also not meeting the genuine needs of the Tuareg people in Niger, Mali and other neighbouring States, he said, adding that hundreds of Tuareg were dying in the region due to the activities of French nuclear companies. The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights had work to do in advancing the rights of the Tuareg. For its part, the Permanent Forum must compel Governments to respect indigenous rights, and the United Nations must put pressure on Member States in the Saharan region to end discrimination against them. Stressing that the right to nationality must be respected in Libya without delay, he noted that the indigenous peoples of the region could play an important role in bringing about peace if only Governments would comply with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Mr. ARRIETA said Colombia was a country of contradictions, as it was one of the most stable democracies of the region but was also working to end a more than 50-year-old armed conflict. There were a number of ways that the conflict had affected indigenous peoples in the country, including recruitment, anti-personnel mines, assassination of indigenous leaders and rape. The peace process between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Government — which he described as a “spark of light in the tunnel of despair and war” — had eased the negative effects of the conflict. Moreover, the Havana Agreement had focused, among other things, on land and the growing of illegal drugs; as those issues directly affected the lives of indigenous peoples, their free, prior and informed consent was required. The newly established Ethnic Peace Commission, an Afro-indigenous organization, was working to set up a technical team to ensure that indigenous peoples were consulted about issues that affected them. However, he expected that the overall peace agreement to be reached between the FARC and the Government would also involve indigenous peoples, and that it would address the autonomy of their culture and territories, programmes for social inclusion and respect for human rights and the planet. In addition, once the agreement was signed, the Government should establish an ethnic commission and a verification monitoring mission to ensure that its provisions were implemented. Stigmatization and the imprisonment of indigenous peoples must end.

Mr. KROME described the history of the Nagas in north-east India, whose land was invaded in 1832. The political conflict among indigenous Nagas was among Asia’s longest-running conflicts. Attempts to resolve it only created more conflict. In 2015, a framework agreement was signed and the Prime Minister of India had announced a final settlement was at hand. That had not yet happened. More broadly, India was infested with social and political violence where indigenous peoples lived, and every peoples movement in the country was watching how the Naga issue was resolved. If it was done so in an honourable way, other movements might come forward for peaceful resolution. If not, the situation would likely deteriorate. The rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination must be respected, as must that against forced military activities in indigenous territories. International borders had divided indigenous peoples, denying them their right to maintain their political, cultural, economic and social purposes. He urged States to implement that right.

Mr. ANARI said most States in conflict with an indigenous people were so because they had resources the State wanted. West Papua had minerals. For 54 years, West Papua had been a victim of deception, including within the United Nations. The Economic and Social Council could end that practice by placing the issue of West Papua on the agenda of the Trusteeship Council. “The people of West Papua are no less deserving of protection” than others around the world. In 1950, General Assembly resolution 448 referenced an obligation to respect West Papua’s economic and other rights. Yet, West Papua was placed under the administration of Indonesia, which in 1961 invaded the area, prompting the United States to ask the Netherlands to sign the Trusteeship agreement. In 1962, the new Secretary-General made a public endorsement, citing the benefits of an agreement between the Netherlands and Indonesia. However, a draft Assembly resolution presented a day earlier had requested the United Nations to administrate West Papua. Benin had tried to explain that the people of West Papua had not been consulted, while Togo had deplored the lack of time given to consider the issue. Article 103 of the United Nations Charter did not permit any Charter obligation to be mitigated, he recalled, urging that resolution 1752 (XVII) be placed on the agenda of the Trusteeship Council.

As the floor was opened for an interactive dialogue, representatives of both States and indigenous organizations described common causes of conflict, including disputes over land and natural resources.

Several Government representatives, including the delegate from Brazil, described national approaches to preventing and resolving conflicts. In that regard, he said, Brazil’s National Indian Foundation had conducted a successful operation alongside indigenous peoples to combat illegal gold mining.

The representative of the Russian Federation, sharing his country’s experiences in preventing territorial disputes, said the relationship between indigenous peoples and private entities such as oil and gas companies was governed by laws requiring free, prior and informed consent as well as compensation for natural resource use. Mechanisms for resolving economic disputes had also been developed.

The representative of Colombia said the ongoing peace process in her country provided a historic opportunity to ensure the participation of indigenous peoples, as well as the protection and promotion of their human rights. In April, some 200 indigenous groups had taken part in the Havana talks through established mechanisms. She underscored the need for the peace agreement to utilize a “differentiated approach” taking into account the cultural diversity of the country’s indigenous peoples.

Many indigenous representatives cited examples of discrimination, stigmatization and cultural destruction as well as assassinations and extrajudicial killings, noting that the latter were often closely related to disputes with Governments or multinational corporations.

A representative of the International Indian Treaty Council described increasing reports of intimidation, repression and assassinations related to attempts of indigenous peoples to defend their rights. Human rights defenders were often labelled terrorists or common criminals. She commented that it appeared that the Declaration’s framework for just, transparent and rights-based processes for conflict resolution and redress had not yet been widely implemented. Expressing outrage over attacks on human rights defenders, including the death of Berta Cáceres in Honduras, she recommended that the Forum convene an expert group meeting on the situation before the start of its sixteenth session.

A representative of the Sami Council declared: “It is time to correct the colonial past”. In Sweden, she said, the Sami Parliament had demanded the establishment of an independent truth commission to look into gross violations of human rights and other past injustices against the Sami people, including forced sterilizations. In Finland, there had been a steep rise in instances of hate speech against the Sami while in Norway there was an urgent need to openly discuss the country’s history of residential schools.

Several United Nations experts and members of the Permanent Forum responded to those comments.

AISA MUKABENOVA, Forum member from the Russian Federation, said many of the conflicts described today were linked to industrialization and economic development. The projects of transnational corporations often negatively impacted the lives of indigenous peoples, she said, reiterating the need to include the topic of relations with such companies on the Forum’s agenda. She called for the body to also focus on the militarization of indigenous lands, as it led to forced displacement.

JOAN CARLING, Forum member from the Philippines, reminded participants that indigenous institutions had their own means of maintaining peace and security and resolving conflicts in their territories. The intervention of outside forces was therefore a violation of their rights. In fact, the conflicts described by some delegates were related to the lack of respect for the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and resources. Any resolution of those conflicts must be anchored in what is just and equitable, not just what was considered legal.

ALEXEY TSYKAREV, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, expressed concern over the lack of participation of indigenous peoples in peace agreements. Stressing the need for free, prior and informed consent, he said the demarcation and protection of indigenous lands should be given priority in conflict resolution processes. Without the participation of indigenous peoples, violence and encroachment on indigenous territories could increase.

MEGAN DAVIS, Forum member from Australia, said indigenous peoples in her country did not view the reconciliation process as a true reconciliation process. Australia had failed to “close the gap” with regard to indigenous peoples due to its inability to understand that key point. While the Government’s apology was significant, there was a kind of “cherry picking” on its part with regard to the right to reparation and compensation. Australian indigenous peoples did not want recognition — they wanted rights, she said.

DALEE SAMBO DOROUGH, Forum member from the United States, recalled that there had been concern over the selection of the present theme for the Forum’s session. It was ironic that indigenous representatives were sitting in a civil manner to discuss the death and destruction that plagued their communities, she said, stressing the need for Member States to take that into account. “We sit here very comfortably in New York, while at the same time blood is being shed,” she stressed.

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said that, in many cases, indigenous peoples had not been part of peace negotiation processes. That had been the case in the Philippines and in Colombia. She proposed that the Forum issue recommendations to ensure the involvement of indigenous peoples in conflict resolution as well as in post-conflict development.

Mr. ROY said development aid was not valuable if it did not address the issues raised by indigenous peoples themselves. The review of the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was an opportunity to include some kind of mediation.

Also speaking were the representatives of South Africa, Australia, Guatemala, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Centre for Research and Advocacy.

Taking part were representatives of indigenous organizations from Guatemala, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bangladesh, Viet Nam and the Russian Federation.

Panel II

In the afternoon, the Forum held a panel discussion on “Indigenous Peoples: conflict, peace and resolution”, moderated by María Choque Quispe, Forum member from Bolivia. It featured presentations by Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez, National Association of Guatemalan Widows – CONAVIGUA; Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada; and Anita Isaacs, Haverford College.

Ms. QUISPE explained that the panel would have a particular focus on indigenous women in peace and conflict.

Ms. TUYUC VELÁSQUEZ sought the energy from the more 200,000 victims of the armed conflict in Guatemala, noting that, as the country commemorated the twentieth anniversary of peace, “we cannot be entirely satisfied because there has not been full compliance”. At the same time, the progress made had been borne from social pressure and the use of rights bestowed by national and international law. Mayan widows had demanded truth, justice and compensation so that, “through our voices, may it be that, never again, will the horrors of war occur”. Widows in Guatemala were not only the face of inequality and genocide. They were also the protagonists of peace, having fought against militarization and demanded just reparation that honoured the dignity of the dead. Mayan women had brought a suit over the genocide, rape and abuse suffered at the hands of the military, and had achieved condemnation of a former military chief and other senior officials. While that sentence was later annulled, “this sentence for us means just trial”, she said, noting that in 2015, women from the Sepur Zarco community, seeking justice for sexual slavery suffered at the hands of military, had also achieved legal condemnation. Mayan women continued to look for compensation, demilitarization and achieving a life of dignity.

Ms. LAVELL-HARVARD said the birth of a child in each of the indigenous communities was a revolutionary act against those who would rather that their lives were extinguished. She welcomed that Canada had unconditionally adopted the Declaration, which would impact indigenous women’s ability to exercise their basic rights. “It is our basic human right to lead and participate in decisions that affect our lives,” she said. What mattered most was health of their families and restoration of their roles in governance structures and as leaders of their peoples. “We have a lot to reclaim,” she said: the traditional gender balance in families and governance structures, as well as their roles as knowledge keepers, and in some cases, human beings. The Indian Act sought to destroy those roles. Forced assimilation was a deeply gendered project, with patriarchal systems silencing indigenous women around the world. It was not enough to say that those women had the same opportunities for space as men. They must have their own spaces for voice and leadership. Gender equity in communities must be restored.

Ms. ISAACS said she spoke as an outsider, neither indigenous nor a genocide survivor. Rather, she was someone who had observed indigenous women’s efforts to pursue justice and reparations over the past two decades. There were differences between reconciliation in post-genocidal societies and in post-authoritarian or dictatorial societies. The scale of repression inflicted on the perceived enemies of the State was different when State adversaries were identified in ethnic rather than ideological terms. The term conciliation was a more appropriate statement of objectives. “Genocide is not a singular event,” she said, as its perpetration was embedded in a colonial history of racism that had economic, psychological and social causes and effects. Conciliation underscored the need for wholesale transformation. There was not a simple mending of a torn social and political fabric, but rather, the stitching of a new social fabric that aimed to be tear-resistant. A core objective was to prevent a future need for reconciliation. Those were context-specific processes, which might require waging an internal conciliatory battle to accept women as social activists. Conciliation asked non-indigenous civil society to change its mentality, attitudes and behaviour. Privileged elites often spoke of reconciliation as forgiving and forgetting. Conciliation could never be about forgetting, and forgiving was a matter of choice, rather than pledges to reform. Conciliation meant harnessing political memory in the service of a painful process of imagining a new egalitarian and durable nation.

Ms. VALJI, Deputy Chief of the Peace and Security Section of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), discussed the global study on the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), noting that sexual violence was now on the Security Council’s agenda. There also was evidence that women’s participation in peace processes was critical to their success. As the United Nations took stock of progress over 15 years, one thing was clear: Too little attention had been paid to women’s multiple identities, missing the way that conflict had impacted the perspectives they brought to conflict resolution. Indigenous women’s experiences of multiple discriminations had shown they had been disproportionately affected by conflict, and therefore brought fresh perspectives to conflict resolution, often viewing discrimination as a root cause of conflict.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers made emotional calls for indigenous women to participate in decisions affecting their lives, emphasizing that they had been excluded from efforts to resolve conflicts, branded “secessionists” and “terrorists”, and in some cases, killed for advocating their basic rights.

The representative of Manipur Women's Survivors Network said the indigenous north-east of India was home to 272 communities and 17 peace talks. Of those, not a single one involved women. “We talk about indigenous peoples’ rights but indigenous women have been excluded from all peace talks and decision-making,” she said, urging India to stop dehumanizing them. “I have been threatened by the State. I have been threatened by the non-State,” she said, urging demilitarization of indigenous lands and the removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

The representative of the World Amazigh Congress said everything her people did was repressed. In the Mozabite region, conflict raged between Arab and Amazir communities, with Algerian police supporting the Arab community. People fighting for self-determination in Kabylia were assaulted daily, including herself, with the police sealing off her home. “We are leading an unequal battle against the State,” she said, stressing that even at the United Nations, “we are not heard”.

The representative of Maasai Women for Education and Economic Development said when clans in the Maasai community fought over resources, they buried a stone to symbolize burial of the difference. It was important for the United Nations to revive such practices. “The truth is our national reconciliation mechanisms are not working for indigenous peoples,” she said, urging support for the exchange of best practices and changing the perception of women in conflict settings from victims to peacebuilders, decision-makers and change agents.

A representative of the Sami Parliament of Norway called for a reconciliation process in order to achieve mutual understanding on addressing the legacy of forced assimilation. He urged States to establish truth and reconciliation processes.

A representative of the Grupo Plural por la Igualdad de Género en Guerrero said it was important to look at who started conflicts, profited from them and continued to promote them.

A representative from Chinland said only 8 of 21 armed indigenous groups had signed the ceasefire with the Myanmar Government, leaving hundreds of thousands of indigenous people internally displaced and in need of aid. Space for civil society to participate in the peace talks was limited. Only 1.5 per cent of indigenous women had participated in different levels of the peace process. She called on the military to end its assaults in indigenous areas and to invite the remaining ethnic armed groups to engage in the peace process. It should also remove article 445 from the 2008 Constitution.

Several Government representatives took issue with some of the depictions of situations on their territories, and instead discussed national measures to safeguard indigenous rights.

The representative of Indonesia said West Papua enjoyed greater autonomy than other provinces. Papuans had cast votes to choose their governors, mayors and most of the House of Representatives. Some misleading statements had been made concerning Papua and West Papua. Integration into Indonesia through the 1969 act had been legal. Some groups had used the Forum to advance extraneous agendas.

The representative of Viet Nam objected to the participation of a certain group in the Forum, as it had carried out politically motivated acts to separate the country’s territory. He rejected all its claims.

The representative of Algeria said the concept of indigenous peoples recalled an era when colonial powers had created two categories of people: colonialists who had put their hands on national resources, and Algerian people, who had been deprived of their rights and riches. He called on the people of Mali to address the drugs and terrorism problems, noting in a second intervention that “We export stability.”

Providing an Organization perspective, a representative of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) discussed a mechanism to enhance indigenous peoples’ participation in conflict resolution. The programme focused on training in conflict analysis, negotiation and transformation. It reviewed rights-based and problem-solving processes. Women had constituted 40 per cent of the participants. A total of 483 indigenous representatives had deepened their skills in the programme.

Several Forum experts offered context for regional situations.

KARA-KYS ARAKCHAA, Forum member from the Russian Federation, said participants had cited the violation of indigenous peoples land rights as a cause for conflict. Positive examples of interaction among indigenous peoples, Governments and businesses also had been described.

JOSEPH GOKO MUTANGAH, Forum member from Kenya, said inter- and intra-tribal conflicts, in most cases, were due to resources, religion and ethnic background. What was important was that conflicts could lead to inter-tribal war, as had been seen in Kenya. Often, causes stemmed from misunderstanding and overexploitation of resources.

MARIAM WALLET ABOUBAKRINE, Forum member from Mali, questioned whether to welcome the agreement between her country and the rebels. It was important not to forget that Algeria had participated in three other agreements that had failed. She asked whether the current accord would be another.

Also speaking in the debate were representatives of Denmark, South Africa and Guatemala.

Representatives of the following organizations also spoke: National Assembly for Autonomy in Mexico, Comisionada Indígena de Colombia, Inuit Circumpolar Council, National Forum of Indigenous Women of Nepal, Hawaii Institute for Human Rights and the Asociación de Pueblos Indígenas de Venezuela.

  • The 11th Meeting was closed.

United States of America: Serving the Rohingya Community at Home and Abroad

17 May 2016 - 11:29pm
Source: InterAction Country: Myanmar, United States of America
Submitted by Zakat Communications

Omar has spent almost 29 years of his life in search of a real home that he could call his own. As a Rohingya Muslim from western Myanmar, he had to leave his home country, where he was neither recognized as a citizen nor given basic civil rights. After three difficult, precarious decades in several countries he arrived in Chicago, where he was finally able to settle down in safety. Here, he joins the steadily growing number of fellow Rohingya refugees and hopes to enjoy, at last, the comforts of a safe and welcoming community.

Omar’s story is one example of the trials faced by the Rohingya Muslims. Since the formation of the modern nation of Myanmar out of the great wave of decolonization following the Second World War, the situation of the Rohingya has been precarious. For a half-century, Myanmar was torn by civil war and internal unrest, fueled by ethnic and religious tensions within the population. Having always been a vulnerable minority group during this period, the Rohingya were stripped of their rights of citizenship in the early 1980s, and, ever since, they have been without a home to call their own. Persecuted, stateless, and deprived of basic human rights, even forming something as harmless as a community center is very difficult, if not impossible, for the Rohingya people in Myanmar.   

The Rohingya are now considered by the United Nations and several human rights organizations to be the most persecuted refugee group in the world. Since 2012, around 300 Rohingya refugee families have made their way to Chicago, where they hope to create better lives for themselves and their children. 

This is why the establishment of the Rohingya Culture Center (RCC) in Chicago is a historic event. For the first time, the Rohingya have a place to call their own that can serve as the heart of their community. At the RCC, Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) is utilizing a grassroots model where Rohingya refugees are empowered to lead the culture center by providing culturally sensitive, linguistically appropriate services to the broader Rohingya community, including but not limited to: training in English as a second language (ESL), employment and career workshops, after-school tutoring for refugee students, and programming for cultural, physical, and mental health needs. This unique partnership presents an opportunity for one of Chicago’s growing refugee groups to participate in community-building projects as they begin to establish their lives and become part of the American fabric. 

Such an opportunity is not being taken lightly. Another member of the Chicago Rohingya community, who is 53 years old, recently told ZF staff that he had spent nearly 40 years in search of a stable, permanent home before arriving in the U.S. with his family. The Community Center will be a symbol of hope for all people who are deprived of citizenship and forced to flee from oppression. 

However, ZF does not forget about those beyond the borders of the U.S. ZF continues to serve Rohingya communities abroad, whether in Myanmar or other countries where the minority group has sought refuge. Earlier this year in Hyderabad, India, for example, ZF distributed rickshaws to the refugees, providing an essential source of income and allowing them to become economically independent. In recent years, ZF has also distributed emergency food aid and seasonal gifts during Ramadan and Udhiya (Qurbani) to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. In refugee communities such as these, social services are basically non-existent, leaving the people vulnerable and impoverished. ZF ensures that they are not forgotten during their time of need and during the most blessed times of the year. 

In keeping with its mission to serve those who have been forgotten, oppressed, or ignored, ZF will not cease to honor and uplift the Rohingya community through its programs, whether inside the U.S. or abroad. 

World: A new deal for every forcibly displaced child

17 May 2016 - 5:29pm
Source: Save the Children Country: Chad, Myanmar, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World

Introduction Nearly 250 million children live in regions affected by conflict. In all parts of the world the number of refugees, internally displaced people and asylum seekers are on the rise as a result of violence and persecution,2 and the total number is now higher than at any time since the end of the Second World War. More than half of the world’s 60 million displaced people are under the age of 18.3 Once they have been displaced for six months, a refugee is likely to remain displaced for at least three years, with the average length of displacement now estimated at 17 years – almost an entire childhood.4 Far too many displaced children face formidable barriers to accessing even the most basic services, including education, protection and healthcare, and in meeting their day-to-day food or shelter needs. Inequalities based on gender, sexual orientation, disability and ethnicity further exacerbate these barriers. Education is critical for all children, but it is especially urgent for the millions of girls and boys forced to flee their homes in humanitarian crises. For the majority of displaced children, their right to education is a largely unfulfilled promise.

In addition, a third of the 10 million stateless people worldwide are children who are unable to claim rights, protection, education, social protection and healthcare.5 Displacement thus not only creates immediate threats to children’s protection and wellbeing, but also often does irreparable damage to their future life chances. The immediate and long-term consequences for these children – and for their communities – can be devastating.

Addressing forced displacement will be a central theme at the World Humanitarian Summit taking place in Istanbul in May 2016 and in subsequent high-level events throughout the year.6 As the prospectus paper for the World Humanitarian Summit makes clear, “forced displacement is neither a short-term challenge nor primarily a humanitarian one: it is a persistent and complex political and development challenge”.7 It is also a largely resolvable challenge, and its persistence represents a huge systemic failure. Unless we tackle the issues that forcibly displaced children face in countries of origin, transit and destination, we will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs8 ), much less stay true to the global pledge to “leave no one behind” set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda). 9 The World Humanitarian Summit must be the moment when the world sets out a concrete plan to end this failure so as to realise the rights of every child who has been forced from his or her home.

The challenge The challenge of displacement is larger and more visible than at any time in most of our lives, but it is not new. While the refugee crisis in Europe is grabbing headlines and a place on the agendas of many world leaders, the stories of most of the world’s displaced children, such as those in Myanmar, Nigeria, South Sudan, Chad and Yemen, remain untold. Many countries have hosted large populations for years, long before the borders of Europe and North America were significantly impacted by large flows of refugees. Over half of the world’s displacement originates in just five countries.10 Just four countries host more than half the world’s internally displaced people (IDPs)11 and seven countries host the majority of the world’s refugees.12 Fulfilling the moral and legal obligation of hosting displaced populations is thus very unevenly spread and most of the world’s states are doing far too little to share the responsibility for protecting these people. The system as it stands is not responding to these needs either in scale or quality of response. Displacement cuts across all of the humanitarian issues that will be discussed at the World Humanitarian Summit; the Summit, therefore, presents a significant opportunity to address this systemic failure.

Displacement takes many forms. It can be driven by conflict, persecution, disaster, environmental degradation or poverty, or, indeed a combination of these. In this briefing we focus on measures that can be taken on behalf of those children who have been forcibly displaced by conflict, but this is by no means the only reason why children are uprooted. It is also increasingly an urban and dispersed phenomenon, with camps – the traditional site of humanitarian interventions – becoming the exception, rather than the rule.13 This complicates the challenge of meeting the needs and fulfilling the rights of displaced children, but it also creates opportunities for more innovative approaches than the camp setting as there will be more opportunities for displaced people to contribute and play an active role in the broader community.

Displacement significantly disrupts social and household protection mechanisms and gender norms. This can be a significant risk factor for displaced populations; it can also provide an opportunity to address inequalities in accessing services and rights. Efforts to address gender and other forms of inequality in a holistic way, tackling the root causes, continue to be poorly understood and resourced. Furthermore, affected populations tend to be disempowered and excluded from addressing inequality issues. Without concerted effort to translate policy and political commitments into practice, those most vulnerable will continue to face significant protection concerns and rights violations. Girls are most often the losers, facing double discrimination on the basis of sex and age.

Support for displaced people is overwhelmingly stuck in the ‘humanitarian’ box, meaning that fulfilling the rights of refugees and other displaced populations such as IDPs are only rarely integrated into national development plans. The inappropriateness of relying on short-term humanitarian financing to support populations in protracted crises has been well documented; reliance on short-term humanitarian aid for these populations undermines their resilience, denies them long-term development opportunities and ultimately increases the likelihood of long-term dependence on humanitarian aid.
Commitments in Istanbul should build on those made at the Supporting Syria and the Region conference held in London in February 2016, making global the commitments that were made in support of Syrian refugees so that all forcibly displaced children, not just those closest to Europe, can be protected, have their wellbeing looked after, and hold hope for their futures.

In this briefing we present four areas of commitment for forcibly displaced children which Save the Children is calling for at the World Humanitarian Summit and beyond:

  • Guarantee an education for every displaced child

  • Ensure protection for all displaced children

  • Offer long-term solutions to protracted displacement

  • Uphold existing rules and standards Throughout this briefing we indicate how the recommendations in these four areas link with the proposed Core Commitments laid out by the World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat for the High Level Leaders’ Roundtable named Leaving No One Behind: A Commitment to Address Forced Displacement (hereinafter “Core Commitments”).14 Save the Children will outline its own institutional commitments in a separate document and through the highest level of representation at the Summit.

Business as usual is clearly failing most of the world’s displaced children. The World Humanitarian Summit represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to inspire bold and firm commitments that will offer a vision for a future in which the rights and needs of all humanity, including children who have been forced from their homes, are respected and protected. The recommendations laid out in this briefing for a new deal for every forcibly displaced child are aligned with the principles under Core Commitment 1 which call for a new approach to address forced displacement that not only meets immediate humanitarian needs but also reduces vulnerability and improves the resilience and selfreliance of refugees and IDPs. As further referenced in this Core Commitment, this must be done through political, policy, legal and financial steps. The recommendations in this briefing refer to these necessary steps.

World: Five countries where child soldiers are still recruited

17 May 2016 - 11:32am
Source: IRIN Country: Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, South Sudan, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, World, Yemen

By Jared Ferrie

Colombia’s largest guerrilla group has agreed to release all of its soldiers under age 15. It is a move welcomed by child rights groups but it also highlights the continued use of child soldiers in conflicts around the world.

Read the full article on IRIN