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Myanmar: Myanmar: Peace Monitoring Dashboard: Aug 2014

2 September 2014 - 9:40am
Source: Myanmar Peace Monitor Country: Myanmar preview

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 27 August–2 September

2 September 2014 - 9:10am
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, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Namibia, 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

Syria: Syrian refugee numbers have grown by a million in a year, and now exceed three million, while the journey out of Syria is getting tougher. 42 children were reported killed by government strikes over 29-31 August, while in IS-held areas there are reports of routine executions and amputations.

Sierra Leone: One million people are in need of aid as a consequence of the Ebola outbreak; between 20 and 26 August, 116 new cases and 30 deaths were reported, bringing the total to 1,602 cases, including 422 deaths, since the outbreak began. Staff at a treatment centre have called a strike over pay and conditions, and the Health Minister has been replaced.

Ukraine: IDP figures have grown by more than 80,000 in two weeks, to reach 230,000. 3.9 million people live in areas directly affected by violence, but access to humanitarian aid is near-impossible in conflict areas. Older people are particularly vulnerable.

Updated: 02/09/2014. Next update: 09/09/2014

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

Thailand: Two Years with No Moon: Immigration Detention of Children in Thailand

1 September 2014 - 11:53pm
Source: Human Rights Watch Country: Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Thailand preview

Thailand: Migrant Children Locked Up

Thousands Held in Immigration Detention

(Bangkok, September 2, 2014) –Thailand holds thousands of migrant children in detention each year, causing them physical and emotional harm, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Child migrants and asylum seekers are unnecessarily held in squalid immigration facilities and police lock-ups due to their immigration status or that of their parents.

The 67-page report, “‘Two Years with No Moon’: Immigration Detention of Children in Thailand,” details how Thailand’s use of immigration detention violates children’s rights, risks their health and wellbeing, and imperils their development. The Thai government should stop detaining children on immigration grounds, Human Rights Watch said.

“Migrant children detained in Thailand are suffering needlessly in filthy, overcrowded cells without adequate nutrition, education, or exercise space,” said Alice Farmer, children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “Detention lockup is no place for migrant children.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed 41 migrant children and 64 adults who had been detained, arrested, or otherwise affected by interactions with police and immigration officials. In addition, Human Rights Watch interviewed representatives of international and nongovernmental organizations, migrant community leaders, and lawyers.

Immigration detention practices in Thailand violate the rights of both adults and children, Human Rights Watch said. Migrants are often detained indefinitely, and they lack reliable mechanisms to appeal their deprivation of liberty. Indefinite detention without recourse to judicial review amounts to arbitrary detention, which is prohibited under international law.

Prolonged detention deprives children of the capacity to grow and thrive mentally and physically. Yanaal L., a migrant detained with his family in Bangkok’s immigration detention center for six months, told Human Rights Watch: “My [five-year-old] nephew asked, ‘How long will I stay?’ He asked, ‘Will I live the rest of my life here?’ I didn’t know what to say.”

The International Organization for Migration reports that there are approximately 375,000 migrant children in Thailand, including children of migrant workers from neighboring countries, and children who are refugees and seeking asylum. The largest group of child refugees living in Thailand are from Burma, many of whom fled with their families from Burmese army attacks in ethnic minority areas, and from sectarian violence against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State. Other refugees are from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Syria and elsewhere.

Migrants from the neighboring countries of Burma, Cambodia, and Laos tend to spend a few days or weeks in detention after they are arrested and then are taken to the border to be formally deported or otherwise released. However, refugee families from non-contiguous countries face the choice of remaining locked up indefinitely with their children, waiting for months or years for the slim chance of resettlement in a third country, or paying for their return to their own country, where they fear persecution. They are left to languish indefinitely in what effectively amounts to debtors’ prison.

Immigration detention conditions in Thailand imperil children’s physical health, Human Rights Watch found. The children rarely get the nutrition or exercise they need. Parents described having to pay exorbitant prices for supplemental food smuggled from the outside to try to provide for their children’s nutritional needs. Immigration detention also harms children’s mental health by exacerbating previous traumas and contributing to lasting depression and anxiety. By failing to provide adequate nutrition and opportunities for exercise and play, Thai immigration authorities are violating fundamental rights enumerated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Thailand has ratified.

Children in immigration detention in Thailand are routinely held with unrelated adults in violation of international law. They are regularly exposed to violence, and can get caught up in fights between detainees, use of force by guards, and sometime get physically hurt.

Severe overcrowding is a chronic problem in many of Thailand’s immigration detention centers. Children are crammed into packed cells, with poor ventilation and limited or no access to space for recreation. Human Rights Watch interviewed several children who described being confined in cells so crowded they had to sleep sitting up. Even where children have room to lie down, they routinely reported sleeping on tile or wood floors, without mattresses or blankets, surrounded by strange adults.

“The worst part was that you were trapped and stuck,” said Cindy Y., a migrant child held from ages 9 to 12. “I would look outside and see people walking around the neighborhood, and I would hope that would be me.”

None of the children Human Rights Watch interviewed received formal education while in detention, even those held for many months. By denying migrant or asylum-seeking children adequate education, Thai immigration authorities are depriving children of social and intellectual development. The Convention on the Rights of the Child says that all children have the right to education without discrimination on the basis of nationality or migrant status.

Under Thai law, all migrants with irregular immigration status, even children, can be arrested and detained. In 2013, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the body of independent experts charged with interpreting the Convention on the Rights of the Child, has directed governments to “expeditiously and completely cease the detention of children on the basis of their immigration status,” asserting that such detention is never in the child’s best interest.

“Amid the current human rights crisis in Thailand, it is easy to ignore the plight of migrant children,” Farmer said. “But Thai authorities need to address this problem because it won’t just disappear on its own.”

Besides ending the detention of migrant children, Thailand should immediately adopt alternatives to detention that are being used effectively in other countries, such as open reception centers and conditional release programs. Such programs are cheaper than detention, respect children’s rights, and protect their future, Human Rights Watch said.

In an August 14, 2014 response to a letter from Human Rights Watch sending out findings and recommendations, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied that the detention of migrants was carried out in an arbitrary manner, and stated: “Detention of some small number of migrant children in Thailand is not a result of the Government’s policies but rather the preference of their migrant parents themselves (family unity) and the logistical difficulties.” The government’s seven-page response is included in the report’s annex.

Thailand faces numerous migration challenges posed by its location and relative prosperity, and is entitled to control its borders, Human Rights Watch said. But it should do so in a way that upholds basic human rights, including the right to freedom from arbitrary detention, the right to family unity, and international minimum standards for conditions of detention.

“Thailand’s immigration detention policies make a mockery of government claims to protect children precisely because they put children at unnecessary risk,” Farmer said. “The sad thing is it’s been known for years that these poor detention conditions fall far short of international standards but the Thai government has done little or nothing to address them.”

Myanmar: Flooding Damages Paddy Fields and Homes in Sagaing

1 September 2014 - 11:09pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By ZARNI MANN / THE IRRAWADDY

MANDALAY — Heavy rains over the past week in Sagaing Division have flooded more than 600 acres of paddy fields and some 1,500 homes, according to township administrators and residents.

The annual monsoon rains came late this year to this mountainous region of upper Burma, and for some months farmers have been longing for a change in the dry weather. But the unexpectedly heavy rains over the past week ruined their crops and left many people worried about the possibility of even greater storms on the horizon.

In Depaeyin Township, about 400 acres of paddy fields were flooded, as were 250 acres of paddy fields in Kantbalu Township. Hundreds of homes were inundated.

“If the rain continues for the next two days, our paddy fields will not recover and all the young plants will die,” said Thein Maung, a farmer from Zee Gone village in Kantbalu. Water flooded more than 150 homes in Zee Gone village alone.

“Before we were hoping for rain, but now we worry that rain will keep falling. The weather change has been getting worse in recent years and we are now afraid for our livelihoods,” he added.

In Shwebo Township, heavy rains damaged the Sin Kut reservoir, located near the town, and water overflowed into Sin Kut village, Min Kyaung village and the Shwebo University compound. Some bridges connecting the villages were also damaged.

“The water is receding today, but more than 300 homes were filled with mud and some belongings were destroyed,” said Ma Swe, a resident in Shwebo. “Authorities from the township administration office are repairing the bridges and cleaning the drains.”

The northern part of Sagaing Division was also affected by the rains, with landslides destroying a mountain road connecting Khandi and Lahae townships. Homes were also flooded in both townships.

“The road was newly repaired three months ago. But now, even a motorbike cannot go on it because of the landslide and heavy rain,” said Aung San Myint, who lives in Khandi. “There are no authorities yet to take care of that road so travelers are facing difficulties.”

Last month, flooding in Pegu Division had displaced more than 15,000 people from their homes as of Aug. 8, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Myanmar: Sustained EU engagement at UN critical to support human rights reforms

1 September 2014 - 4:44pm
Source: Amnesty, Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de I'Homme Country: Myanmar preview

In this open letter to the EU ahead of the COHOM meeting 1-2 September 2014, Amnesty International, FIDH and its member organization, the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma today call on the European Union and its member states to ensure continued international engagement on the human rights situation in Myanmar by again introducing a resolution on the country at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly in October 2014. A failure to retain a robust UNGA resolution on Myanmar would endanger progress on human rights, which has increasingly come under threat this year.

Thailand: Trapped Burmese migrant workers strike in Chiang Mai

1 September 2014 - 2:36am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Burmese migrant workers are on strike in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. They say they are being held in bonded labour, and that their employer is holding their passports, forcing them to work for as little as 270 Thai baht (US$8) per day. That is half of Thailand’s legal minimum wage.

The striking workers say they are often not paid for months on end, despite them being due their wage on a fortnightly basis.

Forty Burmese workers say they are trapped on the site. With no documents and no money, they have little other choice. They say twenty others did manage to reclaim their passports, and have since returned to Burma.

“I want to get my passport back,” says one infuriated worker. “The owner has been delaying our pay, telling us it will come today or tomorrow. We want to get paid regularly and we want to keep our passports.”

Women have it hardest, as the lowest-paid workers on the site. Their meager pay offers little else than run-down temporary houses in the centre of Thailand’s second largest city.

“Today, nobody goes to work because we were not paid,” says a striking female worker. “We, the women, get 170 baht. The owner has kept our passports for about three months. He said he would give them back, but he still hasn’t.”

Often it takes a local workers’ rights watchdog to pressure owners to pay migrant labourers.

Chiang Mai-based migrant rights activist Johny Adhikari said the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok should be capable of stamping out abuse such as this.

“There are officers in the [Burmese] embassy appointed by the government for assisting migrant workers,” he said.

“They should come and investigate, and they should help the workers to get their rights and salaries. The migrants should not be paid only 170- 200 baht when the Thai minimum wage for a worker is 300 baht.”

“I want the [Burmese] embassy to know what is happening here.”

The Thai economy hinges on some two million Burmese living and working in the country. However, after the Thai military took power in a bloodless coup in May, a crackdown on Burmese migrants in Chiang Mai saw many deported home. The junta has since pledged to care for Burmese migrant workers.

They have extended the time frame for unregistered migrant workers to obtain documents, and have set up offices to process claims in one step.

Myanmar: Next Rangoon Election to Bar 98.5% of Voters

1 September 2014 - 2:32am
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By KYAW HSU MON / THE IRRAWADDY

RANGOON — Only 1.5 percent of Rangoon’s voting-age population will be allowed to vote in the city’s next elections, according to new rules and regulations approved by the divisional parliament on Friday.

Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to approve the restrictions on voter participation in elections for the next deputy mayor and other senior officials in the municipal administration, the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC).

The election rules and regulations were drafted by the YCDC and have already been approved by the divisional government. They will go into effect at the end of October—90 days after they were first shown to the divisional parliament. Until then, they may be vetoed by the Union Parliament in Naypyidaw, if lawmakers at the national level oppose them.

Nyo Nyo Thin, a Rangoon divisional lawmaker representing a constituency in Bahan Township, was a lone voice speaking out against the new rules and regulations on Friday. She described them as overly restrictive and undemocratic.

“The government announced last year that the YCDC would need to hold elections,” she said. In the past, municipal officials were appointed by the former military regime.

“So the YCDC drew up a law, but in terms of the rules and regulations, not everyone above the age of 18 can vote. Only three out of 200 people will be allowed to vote, so the new committee will not represent the people,” she said. “They [YCDC] said that if they were to hold a [full] election, it would cost 1.5 billion kyats [US$1.5 million]. They want to cut costs by reducing the number of voters.”

Employees of government departments and members of the police force will also be ineligible to vote, as will former government employees who were dismissed and anyone with a criminal record or a background of corruption.

An election date has not been set, and the mayoral post will not be on the ballot. The mayor is appointed by the president.

An eight-member election commission will select which of the city’s 5 million or so voting-age people will head to the polls. Half the commission members will come from the YCDC, and half will come from township and district government offices.

“They will definitely choose people who already like them,” Nyo Nyo Thin said.

Her concerns were apparently not shared by others in the legislature, who overwhelmingly voted in favor of the new rules.

Before the vote, Zaw Aye Maung, the ethnic Arakanese affairs minister in Rangoon Division, told lawmakers that the divisional government decided to approve the rules because they were in accordance with old regulations of the 1990 municipal law, which established the YCDC. “There’s no need to cancel the new rules and regulations,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Myanmar: Delivering Prosperity in Myanmar's Dryzone: Lessons from Mandalay and Magwe on realizing the economic potential of small-scale farmers

1 September 2014 - 1:57am
Source: Oxfam Country: Myanmar preview

Myanmar is undergoing intense and rapid changes. Policies formulated today will determine the future path of political and economic development. Modernization of the country’s agricultural sector is, rightly, a priority. However, mechanization and large-scale agricultural investment is not the only option. Small farm development provides a commercially viable option with better outcomes in terms of poverty reduction and positive spillovers to other sectors. Small farms absorb labour, allow communities to build assets and help local markets flourish. It is crucial that Myanmar promotes the right type of agricultural investment – one which supports the country’s millions of small-scale farmers and farm labourers, as well as their families.

Myanmar: Myanmar releases population count from census

30 August 2014 - 2:12am
Source: UN Population Fund Country: Myanmar

YANGON — Myanmar has a population of 51.4 million people, according to provisional census data released today by the Minister of Immigration and Population.

The country conducted its first census in 30 years between 29 March and 10 April of this year. Preliminary results show there are 51,419,420 people in Myanmar, 26,598,244 females and 24,821,176 males, and a male/female sex ratio of 93.3 per cent. This includes 50,213,067 persons counted during the census and an estimated 1,206,353 persons who were not counted in three areas.

The provisional data include numbers of females and males in each state, division and township, and the average household size for each division and state.

The data released today have been collected and analysed according to international standards with technical support and guidance from foreign experts. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has given technical, logistical and financial support to the census since 2012, and a number of countries have provided funds.

Minister of Population U Khin Yi announced the preliminary census results at a meeting here today.

“The census is a valuable national resource,” said Janet Jackson, UNFPA Representative in Myanmar. “For the first time in decades, the country will have data it needs to put roads, schools, health facilities and other essential infrastructure where people need them most.”

“These preliminary data reveal that Myanmar’s cities are becoming denser. They are also expanding quickly, with many living along the edges of cities that have grown without any planning whatsoever,” she added.

At today’s launch the Government also gave initial estimates of the segments of the population that were not counted in parts of northern Rakhine, Kachin and Kayin States.

The estimate of 1.09 million uncounted people in northern Rakhine State is based on pre-census mapping of households by immigration officers. Most of those who wanted to self-identify their ethnicity as Rohingya were not enumerated.

In Kachin State, where census data collectors could not access 97 villages under control of the Kachin Independence Organization, estimates were based on the demographics of surrounding villages.

In Kayin State, the Karen National Union for one area under their control, only provided data on the number of women and men in households, which they collected themselves. This information was checked against neighbouring areas and found to be consistent.

The data released today are based on “enumeration area summary sheets”, which the 115,000 census data collectors filled out by hand in addition to their detailed household questionnaires. These summary sheets recorded the number of households in a given area and how many females and males lived in each. The country was divided into 81,700 enumeration areas, each with an average of 150 households that a single data collector covered in the 10-day data collection period.

The more detailed data to be released in May 2015 will be based on computer scanning and detailed analysis of the actual questionnaires. Experience from other countries suggests that the final results may vary marginally from the preliminary numbers.

To view and download a short video and sound clip from Ms. Janet Jackson, UNFPA Myanmar Representative during the launch, click here3.

For more information, contact:
in Yangon, Ben Manser, manser @ unfpa.org, mobile +95 9 211 70861
in Bangkok, William A. Ryan, ryanw @ unfpa.org, mobile +66 89 897 6984

Thailand: The Tide Is Turning for Burmese in Thailand, But Which Way?

29 August 2014 - 4:55pm
Source: Refugees International Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Thailand’s migration and refugee policies have shifted since the military’s coup d’état in May. The Thai junta has initiated a policy of labor reforms, including a crackdown on undocumented migrant workers to allegedly combat corruption and human trafficking.

Most of the 2.2 million registered migrant workers in Thailand are Burmese, but labor rights activists estimate there are an additional 3 million workers who are undocumented. The majority of these migrants work in the construction and fishing sectors and many, including those with legal rights to work, report exploitation by their employers. A recent report by the Guardian explained how Burmese workers were sold by traffickers and forced to work on fishing boats, without being allowed to return to the mainland for years. But there have also been stories of abuse and mistreatment of migrants by the police. It is no wonder that when rumors spread of the Thai junta’s crackdown, more than 200,000 Cambodians fled back home, fearful of violence towards them.

The junta’s policy shift may also be affecting Burmese refugees living along the border, who have received mixed signals regarding their repatriation. Since the beginning of June, movement restrictions have been more strictly enforced for the Burmese refugees living in camps. They are banned from leaving the camps, confined to their homes from 6pm to 6am, and threatened with deportation if they don’t comply.

In July, the Thai junta pledged to send back to Myanmar about 100,000 of the 130,000 refugees living in the border camps – some of whom have been there for more than two decades. From August 1 to August 3, Thai and Burmese authorities met in the Burmese town of Mergui to talk about these plans, and a Thai army source told the Irrawaddy newspaper that the junta aimed to “send back all of them [the refugees] and close down all nine camps to end chronic security problems posed by the refugees.” Despite these actions, Thai authorities have reportedly assured the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) that the return of the refugees will be voluntary, dignified, and safe, and that no time frame has been set.

Although the situation in Myanmar has improved over the last two and a half years, organizations such as the UNHCR state that the country is not ready for a sustainable, safe, and organized refugee return. Challenges include the absence of a permanent ceasefire in eastern Myanmar; the presence land mines and unmarked minefields; insufficient infrastructure and jobs for returnees; and a lack of safeguards on issues such as citizenship, land rights, security, identity documents, and healthcare.

According to the Bangkok Post, the Thai government has divided the refugees into those who want to return to Myanmar, those who wish to resettle in another country country, and those who were born and wish to remain in Thailand. There have been no decisions about what will happen to refugees who are unable or unwilling to repatriate or resettle in a third country, and there are no indications that local integration will be offered as a long-term solution. Meanwhile, Thai authorities have begun conducting a census of Burmese refugees at the country’s largest camp, which some refugees fear could lead to their immediate repatriation.

While we await further developments in Thailand, the world should remain vigilant. Though the Thai government has given assurances concerning the voluntary, safe, and dignified nature of any refugee returns to Myanmar, it will be important for the humanitarian community to monitor the situation closely and ensure that refugees are not pressured to return prematurely.
Leticia Isasi is an intern at Refugees International.

Myanmar: Rethinking Reintegration Support for Myanmar Trafficking Victims

29 August 2014 - 8:05am
Source: International Organization for Migration Country: Myanmar

Every year some 300 Myanmar victims of trafficking receive assistance to return home via government-to-government repatriation channels. When they return to Myanmar, many face huge challenges in reintegrating with their communities, often due to the experiences that they underwent while abroad.

This week, IOM’s Myanmar mission held a national workshop with civil society organizations to explore their role in offering social services to trafficked persons. Over 30 Myanmar NGOs, women’s networks and alliances, faith-based organizations and local foundations gathered at the two-day event in Yangon to discuss how to reach and assist trafficking survivors – both female and male.

Opening the workshop, IOM Myanmar Chief of Mission Kieran Gorman-Best said: “Myanmar has made considerable progress in expanding assistance to trafficked persons, notably with the opening of several dedicated shelters for returning victims. But there is scope for increasing the assistance to victims once they return home. Civil society, working in partnership with government services, has an important role to play in their recovery and rehabilitation.”

The workshop was organized by an anti-trafficking programme implemented by IOM Myanmar with support of the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration. The programme is cooperating closely with Myanmar’s Central Body for the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons to strengthen the protection framework for victims of trafficking.

For more information please contact Maciej Pieczkowski at IOM Myanmar, Email: mpieczkowski@iom.int.

Myanmar: Myanmar Development operational report - Mid-Year Report 1 (MAAMM002)

29 August 2014 - 4:43am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Myanmar preview

1. Executive Summary

Overall Project/Programme Status:

The first six months of 2014 began with the 72nd Central Council Meeting of Myanmar Red Cross Society ( MRCS) which was held at the MRCS headquarters on 23 and 24 January 2014. The two-day meeting was attended by the Union Minister and government officials from the Ministry of Health, Executive Committee members, Red Cross brigade members from state and region, and invited guests. At this meeting, MRCS presented the revised MRCS Strategy 2015 and the draft revised MRCS Act.

The situation in Rakhine continues. Access and acceptance of humanitarian organizations continue to be hampered by elements within the local community who see the aid effort as being biased and one-sided (pro-Muslim internally displaced persons - IDPs). Despite this security situation, MRCS continued its Rakhine Operation during the six months which was supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Qatar and Turkish Red Crescent Societies. Activities included monthly deployment of MRCS volunteers from other parts of the country on a revolving basis to support first-aid activities at IDP camps, mobile clinics and referral of cases to clinics and hospitals. Support activities were put on hold temporarily when demonstrations and attacks on the premises of humanitarian organizations such as the UN, ICRC and other international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), including MRCS, happened on 26 March. Humanitarian operations were interrupted after the attacks which led to relocation of staff and severe damage to more than a dozen humanitarian premises. ICRC and MRCS maintained its presence in Sittwe with a few members of staff on standby. Resumption of activities is gradually taking place since the attacks.

Despite the Rakhine situation, MRCS’ regular activities in disaster risk reduction (DRR), health and water and sanitation, with community safety and resilience as its overall goal, continued to be implemented in other vulnerable areas of the country.

Delivery of services as provided in the table below reflect a generally fair performance during the period, against targets set for each activity to reach the respective goals.

Myanmar: Filthy water plumbed into Rangoon homes

29 August 2014 - 2:15am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

Rangoon’s water supply stems from four reservoirs dotted around the city. A giant pipeline snakes through Kyauktada township in downtown Rangoon, plumbing water across 60 kilometres from the giant Gyohpyu reservoir in the city’s north.

The water from Gyohpyu sustains many of the six million people living in the former capital. Now, residents whose houses feed off of the pipeline say filthy water is being plumbed into their homes.

The yellowed water contains heavy sediment, which poses a clear health risk. The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC), who are responsible for connecting Rangoon’s water supply, say they are conducting tests.

Intermittent water closures have been felt in the city this week, as the council conducts much needed repair work. Nyo Htun, a Rangoon security guard, is in charge of monitoring his building’s plumbing. He says the water standard is unacceptable.

“Over the past three to four weeks there has been heavy sediment in the water coming up from the pipeline. You can see the scum on top if you leave it overnight,” he said. “It smells like garbage.”

The YCDC said it supplies around 200 million gallons of water per day to 60 percent of the city’s population. Those out of reach have to make do with private wells, public tanks, ponds and water collected from rooftops.

Local residents, accustomed to boiling water for drinking, say they now have to buy bottled water at an unsustainable cost. But as health problems loom, many have little choice.

“We don’t even know what is in the water,” said one resident of Rangoon’s Seikkantha Township.

“The council says it has sent samples to be tested. We don’t know how it could possibly smell so bad, it has a yellowish colour and it makes your hands sticky if you try to wash them in it.”

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), last year pledged 18 million dollars to the upgrade of Rangoon’s water supply. Joint projects between the YCDC and JICA include upgrades on pipelines and are due to be completed by 2015. But that may not come soon enough for people in central Rangoon, who are already reporting stomach and skin problems.

Myanmar: Tenasserim to allot land for refugees, officials say

28 August 2014 - 3:39pm
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Government officials of Tenasserim Division [Tanintharyi Region] claimed that refugees residing in a camp in Thailand would soon be able to return to Burma as they are scouting for land for their resettlement.

The camp in question is Tham Hin, located in Thailand’s Ratchaburi province bordering Burma, which houses about 6,000 refugees. Karen Ethnic Affairs Minister Saw Harry visited the camp and said that 75 percent of the refugees wish to return home, so the divisional government is now looking for plots of land in Tenasserim Division to accommodate them.

“We thought one plot near Maw Taung in Tanintharyi Township’s border gate and one to the east of Myittar in Tavoy would be good places,” Saw Harry said. “We are still searching for the exact places.”

He added that a resettlement committee will be there to assist the refugees.

“If they come back, we would ask for assistance from one of the NGOs and prepare rations,” Saw Harry said.

Regional government secretary Tin Thein claimed that land would be given to the refugees when they return, though there are no plans to build houses yet.

“When they come back to stay, we have plans to give them the land. Most of them may have families in their respective villages,” Tin Thein said. “When they get back to their villages, we will help them together with the NGOs.”

“We cannot build the houses without them coming back first,” he said.

Saw Ramond Htoo, Tham Hin refugee camp committee chairman, said that refugees have no immediate plan to return.

“We are not going back now,” Saw Ramond Htoo said, adding that refugees mistrust whether the government’s land offer is legitimate. “They came and took the land before and there was no land for us.”

Thailand currently hosts nine refugee camps where more than 130,000 refugees from Burma reside, having escaped armed and ethnic conflict from their home states.

While the Thai and Burmese governments have expressed the desire to repatriate refugees from Thailand’s nine refugee camps, aid agencies, including The Border Consortium, have said that the conditions are not right for refugees to return yet.

Regional officials emphasised that they are only in a scouting stage and no decision has been reached about where and when repatriation might be possible.

Myanmar: Boost for Burma with new UK funding

28 August 2014 - 1:19pm
Source: Department for International Development Country: Myanmar, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Desmond Swayne announces new funding for Burma while on a visit to the country

The UK remains committed to supporting Burma to reach its potential as a peaceful and prosperous country that respects the human rights of its entire people, International Development Minister Desmond Swayne said while announcing new funding at a reception to mark 10 years of DFID’s presence in Burma.

The funding, that will increase direct UK support to Burma from £64.7 million in 2014/15 to £82 million in 2015/16, was announced by Desmond Swayne during a three day visit to Burma, his first official overseas trip since taking on the role of International Development Minister in July.

This will enable DFID to bring forward several important new programmes, including:

  • a new £25 million Democratic Governance programme to help support next year’s crucial elections, including ensuring that women’s voices are heard both as voters and candidates; and

  • a further £16 million of new funding for the Livelihoods & Food Security Trust (LIFT) which helps small holders to upscale their operations and provides farm labourers with the skills and support to move beyond agriculture. LIFT has already helped 1 million people increase their food security and is on track to help 2.5 million people boost their income and production by 2018.

Desmond Swayne said:

Burma stands at a historic crossroads and the chance for it to become a peaceful and prosperous country is now closer than ever. However, in order to achieve this goal, next year’s elections must be credible, transparent and inclusive.

DFID is still working hard to help hundreds of thousands of people affected by conflict and inter-communal violence, but now, more than ever before, there is also huge potential for growth within Burma. One of our key aims is to help the Burmese people, and the government, to harness that potential and build a stronger society with more jobs and opportunities for everyone, as well as better healthcare and schooling.

When the devastating Cyclone Nargis hit Burma in 2008 the UK was among the first to respond and I hope this new funding shows that we remain committed to helping the Burmese people rebuild their lives and leave poverty behind.

While in Burma the Minister met with farmers, small entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, people displaced by conflict, government ministers and Aung San Suu Kyi. He talked about how the UK can continue to support Burma on its journey towards a more inclusive and democratic society whilst improving respect for human rights. In Yangon he also saw first-hand how the British people are helping some of the poorest men and women in the region to start small businesses and earn a living.

The new funding package builds on previous achievements made possible through DFID’s support, which include:

  • vaccinating 100,000 children against measles;
  • helping 170,000 children to complete primary school;
  • providing 135,000 women with micro loans;
  • ensuring over 100,000 women were visited by health workers during pregnancy;
  • providing skilled workers to attend 59,000 births;
  • increasing food security for 821,000 people;
  • treating 230,000 people for malaria; and supporting Burma’s candidacy for the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).

With Burma’s natural resources, location, its dramatic reform trajectory, and the youth, goodwill and commitment of its people, the possibility of graduating from international aid within a generation is within reach.

Notes to editors

1.- Desmond Swayne was in Burma for a three day visit from 25 August. During this time he visited Yangon, Kachin and Naypyitaw.

2.- DFID has had a presence in Burma since 2004.

3.- When Cyclone Nargis hit in 2008, DFID provided over £50m of assistance including direct relief to 82,000 households. Further support was provided after Cyclone GIRI in 2010.

4.- In 2012, reforms in Burma including the release of many political prisoners saw EU sanctions and restrictions on development assistance being lifted enabling DFID to publish a new vision: “A resource-rich Burma that is accountable to its people and open to responsible investment has great potential to reverse years of decline. Our aim is to help Burma to harness this potential – to help create a better governed, more peaceful and prosperous Burma that uses its increased wealth to reduce poverty.”

5.- The DFID Burma office in the British Embassy in Rangoon now comprises 19 Burmese and 10 international staff. DFID remains one of the major humanitarian donors in Burma.

6.- You can read more about DFID in Burma here https://www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/dfid-burma

Press office Email pressoffice@dfid.gov.uk Telephone 020 7023 0600 Follow the DFID Press office on Twitter - @DFID_Press

Myanmar: Farmers get cash assistance for flood-hit farmlands

28 August 2014 - 9:29am
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Nyaunglebin, 27 Aug — A ceremony to present cash assistance for flooded farmlands by Bago Region Government was held at Ye- byukan Village of Nyaun- glebin Township on Tues- day. The region government gave cash assistance K 96.138 million to 5,497 flood-hit farmlands from 27 villages of the township due to heavy rains as of 1 Au- gust. Members of township and village farmland man- agement committees and authorities presented cash assistance to the farmers within a day. Nay Lin (Nyaunglebin)

Myanmar: Union govt provides Bago region govt with over K1bn for flood victims

28 August 2014 - 9:16am
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Bago, 27 Aug — Union government of My- anmar has handed over over 1.047 billion kyat for flood-hit farmlands to Bago region government for the rehabilitation programmes of the victims at flood-hit areas in the region.

According to official figures, torrential rains and swollen river in Bago, located 50 miles (80 km) north-east of Y angon, for more than two weeks have caused inundation to nearly 150 thousand acres of monsoon paddy fields, affecting about 60 thousand acres and damaging 11 thousand acres up to 13 August.
As a total of 46 thou- sand acres have been flooded for 16 days, these cultivation plots are mostly likely to be ruined, amounting to nearly 60 thousand acres of damages.

Due to higher level of Bago river, 68 relief camps were set up at for the 25,809 flood victims from 5,390 families of the flood-hit towns of Bago, Thanatpin, Waw and Kawa towns from 6 to 14 August.

After the water levels declined, the rescue camps in Bago, Thanatpin and W aw were closed. How- ever, as many as 25 flood shelters are still opened at Kawa town affected by sea water.

The relief items for the flood victims are 100 units of anti-snake venom and 35 buckets of water treatment medicine from Minstry of Health; 500 dozens of copybooks from Miniistry of Education; rice, food and money worth 55 million from Ministry of Social Welfares, Relief and Resettlement; 3,215 rice bags, 40 salt bags and 433 gram bags from UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization; and 750 baskets of paddy seeds from Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation.

Myanmar: Landslide devastates Karenni refugee camp: 1 dead, 1 missing

28 August 2014 - 7:17am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

By NANG MYA NADI

A landslide induced by continuous heavy rains has killed at least one man at a Karenni refugee camp in Mae Hong Son Province, northern Thailand.

More than 100 refugee homes were damaged in the deluge, camp officials said.

“Heavy rain fell throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, destroying a clinic, a school and a women’s shelter, and damaging more than 100 houses in Zone B of the camp,” said vice-chairperson Naw Khu Paw.

“Twenty-five houses were destroyed, and 98 sustained substantial damage,” she said. “The school was flooded, and one house was completely carried away in the flood.”

The dead man was identified as Tay Reh, 40, while Toe Reh, 53, has been reported missing. Both were working in paddy files 20 km from the camp when a flash flood hit.

Though water levels had dropped by Thursday, debris has littered the camp, forcing more refugees to relocate to shelters or houses on higher land.

The value of the losses has not been calculated, the camp committee said.

There are about 3,000 refugees in Karenni refugee camp number 1.

Thai news agency Manager Online reported that military personnel and township volunteers had formed rescue teams to assist.

Sudan: September 2014 Special Update – Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

27 August 2014 - 2:21am
Source: Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict Country: Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, South Sudan preview

On 1 July 2014, the UN Secretary-General submitted his 13th annual report on children and armed conflict to the Security Council, pursuant to SCR 2068. The Council will discuss the report during a debate on children and armed conflict on 8 September 2014 hosted by the United States.

Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict urges the Security Council to commit to the following actions to strengthen implementation of the Children and Armed Conflict agenda:

1.Call on the Secretary-General to develop and implement a policy that prohibits government security forces listed in the annexes to the Secretary General’s annual report on children and armed conflict from contributing troops to UN-mandated missions, until the Secretary-General has certified the full implementation of their action plan with the UN to end and prevent violations against children;

2.Request the Secretary-General to include in the annexes to his reports on children and armed conflict those parties to armed conflict that engage in abductions of children; and expand the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism trigger violations to include abductions;

3.Urge Member States, UN entities, and other parties concerned to ensure that child protection provisions, including ending and preventing all six grave violations against children, are integrated into all peace negotiations and peace agreements;

4.Ensure an efficient and effective Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict by addressing the continuing problem of lengthy delays in the adoption of country-specific conclusions;

5.Call for all Member States to take concrete measures to deter the military use of schools, including by supporting and implementing the Lucens Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.

Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict is a network of local, national and international non-governmental organizations striving to end violations against children in armed conflicts and to guarantee their rights. This special update is based on the experience of Watchlist and its member organizations in over a decade of engagement with the Security Council’s children and armed conflict agenda.

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 20-26 August

26 August 2014 - 9:07am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen, South Sudan preview

Syria: Only 41% of Syria’s public hospitals are fully operational. The latest in a number of local truces around Damascus has been agreed between state forces and opposition in Qadam. 191,369 people were reported killed March 2011–April 2014, mainly in Rural Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Idleb, Dar’a and Hama, according to new UN figures.

Sudan: Conflict between Maaliya and Rizeigat has killed at least 300 people over five days in the Karinka locality of East Darfur. Police were deployed to stop the fighting. 256,000 people across 12 states are now affected by flooding, an increase of 80,000 in a week; 70,000 are affected in Blue Nile state alone.

DRC: An Ebola epidemic, unrelated to the outbreak in West Africa, has been declared in Equateur province, with 16 cases reported, including five deaths. 577 cases of febrile bloody diarrhoea have also been reported in Equateur. Clashes between FARDC and Raiya Mutomboki displaced 12,400 in South Kivu, while in Katanga violence between pygmies and Luba is worsening.

Iraq: Heavy fighting continues in the north. As more IDPs head south, there are concerns that central governorates are reaching saturation point. 20,000 Syrian refugees have returned to Syria.

Updated: 26/08/2014. Next update: 02/09/2014

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface