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Myanmar: Strategic Research into National and Local Capacity Building for DRM - Myanmar Fieldwork Report

2 April 2015 - 6:27pm
Source: Oxford Policy Management Country: Myanmar

1.1 Introduction to the research

In September 2013, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) contracted Oxford Policy Management and the University of East Anglia to conduct Strategic Research into National and Local Capacity Building for Disaster Risk Management. To date there has been little formal, empirical research that has been conducted on capacity building for disaster risk management (DRM), and as a result international actors lack robust, evidence-based guidance on how capacity for DRM can be effectively generated at national and local levels. The research project has been designed as an initial step towards filling that knowledge and evidence gap.

Our central aim in the research is therefore to draw lessons and guidance on ‘how to’ build DRM capacity in a range of contexts. We will do this by analysing the characteristics, effectiveness and relative importance of a range of capacity building for DRM interventions across a variety of country contexts.

Our objectives are to research the following overarching issues of concern:

  1. How is capacity for DRM generated most effectively at both national and local levels?
  2. What factors enable or constrain the building of national and local capacity for DRM?
  3. How and why does this vary across different environments?
  4. How is the international community currently approaching the task of building national and local capacities for DRM?
  5. How can we identify and measure improving capacity for DRM?

The core research is based on a country case study approach. A pilot study was conducted in March / April 2014 in Ethiopia. The second case study was conducted in Pakistan in June 2014 using the refined standardised methodological framework for data collection and analysis. The third case study was conducted in Myanmar in November 2014. This report sets out the approach taken and the findings of the case study. Three further case studies will take place which will enable comparative analysis across countries and interventions. In each case study we look in-depth at 1- 3 programmes that involve capacity building for disaster risk management.

The Research Team is led by Dr. Roger Few, Senior Research Fellow at the School of International Development (DEV) in the University of East Anglia. The Project Manager is Zoë Scott who is a full-time staff member at Oxford Policy Management. The Fieldwork Leader is Kelly Wooster and the Research Assistant is Mireille Flores Avila, who both were assisted in Myanmar by national consultants Kyaw Myo Min and Kye Soe.

World: CrisisWatch N°140, 1 April 2015

1 April 2015 - 6:39pm
Source: International Crisis Group Country: Burundi, Colombia, Guinea-Bissau, Myanmar, Nigeria, South Sudan, World, Yemen

March saw significant improvements in resolving longstanding conflicts, particularly in Myanmar and Colombia. However, Yemen’s political crisis tipped into all-out war, and fighting increased again in South Sudan following suspension of the peace talks. In Africa, election-related tensions worsened ahead of Burundi’s June presidential elections, while renewed international support to Guinea-Bissau gave a lift to political stability and reform. In a significant development for West Africa and beyond, Nigeria witnessed, for the first time in its history, the ousting of a ruling party through national elections, with Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the 28 March presidential elections.

Yemen is at war. On 26 March, Saudi Arabia and ten other (mostly Arab) states launched an air campaign against the Huthis and allied military units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, with the aim of restoring President Hadi’s government. Since his escape from house arrest in February, Hadi had been cobbling together an anti-Huthi alliance in the southern city of Aden. Clashes are fragmenting the country and could spread, while the regional military intervention is augmenting sectarian divides and diminishing the possibility of a negotiated political solution. In our latest report, we call for a UN Security Council brokered and monitored ceasefire, followed by UN-led peace talks with backing from Western and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies. In South Sudan, the conflict also worsened. Fighting increased following the early March suspension of peace talks between the warring parties. On 24 March, the UN Security Council threatened sanctions against “senior individuals” responsible for violence.

On a positive note, Myanmar’s government and ethnic armed group negotiators agreed on the text of an historic Nationwide Ceasefire Accord on 31 March, a significant step in bringing an end to six decades of armed conflict. The text now has to be ratified by the armed group leaders. Several contentious political and military issues have been left for a subsequent political dialogue process, including the shape of future armed forces; there is little time to address these issues before elections scheduled for later this year. The agreement followed a hiatus of almost six months in the talks, and comes despite ongoing serious clashes in the Kokang region between the military and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army. In Colombia, the 33rd round of peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) ended on 7 March with an unprecedented agreement on a joint humanitarian demining effort. On 10 March, President Santos temporarily suspended bombardments on guerrilla camps in a bold move that reinforces the message of conflict de-escalation and helps stabilise FARC’s three-month-old ceasefire.

Elsewhere in Africa, political tensions over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s potential third term and social discontent rose in Burundi ahead of June presidential elections. Ruling CNDD-FDD party hardliners announced they would use “any means” to secure Nkurunziza’s candidacy, and reportedly launched a terror campaign against those who oppose it. Intimidation and repression of the opposition continued: on 15 March, the wife of opposition leader Agathon Rwasa survived an assassination attempt. In a significant step forward, Nigeria’s 28 March presidential elections resulted in a peaceful transfer of power. Opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Muhammadu Buhari defeated incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, in a historic victory that saw the first ousting of a ruling party in a national election in Nigeria’s history. Electoral violence rose as the polls drew closer, but pressure from the international community and President Jonathan’s early acceptance of defeat significantly reduced post-election tensions. The international community together with national leaders will now need to keep stressing that any incitement to post-election violence will not be tolerated.

In Guinea-Bissau the highly-anticipated 25 March donor conference yielded positive results, as international partners pledged some €1.15 billion in aid over ten years. This influx of financial support prompted renewed optimism regarding the country’s long-needed wide-ranging reforms and economic development (see our new report on security sector reform in Guinea-Bissau).

Myanmar: President U Thein Sein witnesses signing of draft nationwide ceasefire agreement in Yangon

1 April 2015 - 6:29pm
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw,31 March

President U Thein Sein witnessed the signing of a draft nationwide ceasefire agreement between the Union Peace-making Working Committee and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team at the Myanmar Peace Centre in Yangon on Tuesday, according to officials.

Before the signing ceremony, the president cordially greeted members of both sides, calling them the builders of peace as desired by the people.

The draft agreement came after several rounds of talks, which the president described as a significant step towards the signing of the nationwide ceasefire agreement.

The signing will pave the way for political dialogue, he said, adding that potential obstacles can be overcome through negotiations between the two sides.

The move was seen as the “Second Panglong Victory”, which is historic and significant for national consolidation, he noted.

The draft nationwide ceasefire agreement was signed by the UPWC and NCCT. Signatories of the UPWC were U Aung Min, U Thein Zaw, Lt-Gen Myint Soe, Union Minister Lt-Gen Thet Naing Win and Member of Parliament U Khet Htein Nan. Signa tories on the NCCT side were U Naing Han Tha, Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win, Maj-Gen Guan Maw, Dr Salai Lianmong Sakhoung and Col Khun Okkar.

President U Thein Sein enjoyed a luncheon with members of UPWC and NCCT and left for Nay Pyi Taw in the afternoon.

Myanmar: Myanmar peace agreement – UNICEF Statement

1 April 2015 - 4:11am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

NEW YORK, 31 March 2015 – “The successful conclusion of a National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) between the Government of Myanmar and representatives of 16 ethnic armed groups is welcome news for children in Myanmar, who have suffered from some of the longest-running civil conflicts in the world.

“The lives of millions of children in Myanmar have been affected by these conflicts, which have disrupted the delivery of basic services such as immunization and education, undermined children’s physical and emotional wellbeing, and increased the risk of trafficking as well as the recruitment and use of children by armed forces.

“The National Ceasefire Agreement could be the dawn of a new time of progress for the most disadvantaged children in Myanmar. For example, Myanmar’s children can experience quality education in their own ethnic languages, and be spared the damage to their childhoods caused by recruitment and use of children in armed forces.

“UNICEF will work with all parties to build on this opportunity for every child in Myanmar.”

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information contact:

Christopher de Bono, UNICEF Bangkok, cdebono@unicef.org +66 84 427 743 or +66 86 371-7012
Melanie Sharpe, UNICEF New York, msharpe@unicef.org +1 917-251-7670
Mariana Palavra, UNICEF Myanmar, mpalavra@unicef.org +95 979 545 2818

Myanmar: Statement by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Ms. Renata Dessallien on the Signing of Draft Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement [EN/BU]

31 March 2015 - 11:29pm
Source: UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar Country: Myanmar

At this historic juncture in Myanmar’s history, on behalf of the United Nations Country Team in Myanmar, I wish to join Mr. Vijay Nambiar, the Special Advisor to the Secretary General to offer our heartfelt congratulations to all parties on reaching the agreement on the text of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). This achievement is an occasion for celebration for all people in Myanmar.

We take the opportunity to express our admiration to individual members of the Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC) and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) and their respective technical advisors and supporters throughout the many long months of determined negotiations to set the ground for lasting peace in Myanmar. Following more than 60 years of armed conflict, this agreement between the Government of Myanmar and Ethnic Armed Organizations represents the triumph of perseverance, good will, and commitment over the obstacles and differences of the past. Furthermore, as a nationally owned process, the agreement is a testament to the ability of all parties to build a basis of trust that will serve as the foundation for durable peace. While we fully acknowledge that the hard work done by all parties does not end here, the United Nations System in Myanmar is committed to continuing our support to Myanmar and its people to build a bright and prosperous future.

United Nations Information Centre, Yangon
No.6, Natmauk Road, Tamwe P.O., Yangon, Myanmar
Tel: (00-95-1) 546 933, 546 934
Website: http://yangon.sites.unicnetwork.org/
Facebook:http://on.fb.me/18ttKbL
Twitter: @UNICYangon

Myanmar: Myanmar collects temporary ID cards from Rohingya: state official

31 March 2015 - 8:00pm
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar | | Wednesday 4/1/2015

Myanmar authorities have begun collecting temporary identification cards from displaced Rohingya Muslims in unrest-torn Rakhine state, an official said Wednesday, a move that the UN has warned could strip them of all documentation. 

Officials, backed by security forces, visited almost a dozen camps for people displaced by violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state.

They asked people there to hand back the so-called "white cards", following a shock presidential declaration in February that they would expire on March 31.  

"Immigration officers said yesterday that the situation was OK. They collected (the cards) from 11 camps, with security personnel," Rakhine government communications officer Hla Thein told AFP, adding that he did not know how many cards had been collected.

Hundreds of thousands of people, mainly from the Rohingya minority, are thought to hold white cards -- ostensibly as part of a process of applying for citizenship.

The issue became a flashpoint in February when President Thein Sein announced that the cards would become invalid.

He was responding to a row over a parliamentary bill that would have allowed holders of temporary identification papers to vote in a referendum on constitutional amendments. The idea sparked protests from Buddhist nationalists. 

The Rohingya, who are considered by the United Nations to be one of the world's most persecuted minorities, are referred to by the government as "Bengali" and are largely seen as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

It was not immediately clear whether those whose cards were taken were able to begin a citizenship application process.

"People are worried about the white cards being taken back. They don't have other identification," said Abu Tahay, leader of the National Democratic Party for Development which campaigns for Rohingya rights.

But he said there "won't be conflict because of this" in Rakhine, where communal violence in 2012 left around 140,000 people -- mainly Muslims -- trapped in makeshift displacement camps.

Many of Myanmar's roughly 1.3 million Rohingya are stateless and subject to a tangle of restrictions. 

Rights groups say that many lost crucial documents in the wave of arson attacks that swept Rakhine three years ago.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, raised concerns about the white card expiry in a recent report on the former junta-run nation, saying the move would "deny persons belonging to the Rohingya minority any form of identification and the right to vote".

Rakhine's unrest sparked outbreaks of religious violence across the Buddhist-majority country, overshadowing its democratic transition and coinciding with the rising prominence of nationalist monks.

nan/klm/sm

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 25–31 March 2015

31 March 2015 - 9:36am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Vanuatu, World, Yemen

Snapshot 25–31 March 2015

Ukraine: Fears are growing of a new offensive in Mariupol, as non-government troops appear to be gathering nearby. A recent assessment has found that more than 1.6 million people need humanitarian assistance, nearly 1.1 million of whom are in non-government-controlled areas. 20–30% of IDPs are at risk of losing their status and benefits, due to a new mechanism to verify the addresses of IDPs.

Nigeria: Opposition candidate Buharu has been declared winner of the presidential election, but irregularities have been alleged, and there have already been protests in Rivers state. Boko Haram is suspected of attacks in Gombe state, including on polling stations, which killed seven, and there have been attacks on polling stations in Bauchi.

Yemen: Saudi-led aerial bombing has reportedly disabled the Houthis’ air force. It has also displaced some 4,500 people to refugee camps in Hajjah. Airstrikes killed 45 people in Mazraq refugee camp, and 25 in Sanaa. The Houthis advance south continued; they and their allies have taken Lahj governorate and Aden airport

Updated: 31/03/2015. Next update: 08/04/2015

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

Myanmar: Myanmar: Peace Monitoring Dashboard: March 2015

31 March 2015 - 6:15am
Source: Myanmar Peace Monitor Country: Japan, Myanmar

Myanmar: Statement on behalf of Special Adviser Vijay Nambiar

31 March 2015 - 4:30am
Source: UN Information Centres Country: Myanmar

Today, on the 31st of March 2015, after more than a year of negotiations, the Union Peace Working Committee (UPWC) and Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) have agreed on the text of a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) for Myanmar. For the government of Myanmar and 16 Ethnic Armed Groups to reach a ceasefire agreement after more than sixty years of conflict is a historic and significant achievement. The United Nations welcomes this milestone in Myanmar’s history, and congratulates President U Thein Sein and his negotiators as well as leaders of the Ethnic Armed Organizations and the NCCT.

As Observers to the process alongside China, the United Nations, through the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, have followed the proceedings closely and through difficult as well as lighter moments. Throughout, we have been deeply impressed by the hard work, true determination, genuine commitment and goodwill shown by the UPWC and NCCT. We are deeply honored and humbled to have been invited to observe the parties through their historic deliberations.

The signing of an NCA is a first step towards a larger dialogue for settling the political and military issues that will pave the way for an inclusive and harmonious future for Myanmar. However it is a crucial first stage that must be crossed before embarking on the next chapter.

Myanmar is still in a nascent stage of its transition. Today’s agreement is a signal that new levels of trust, confidence and cooperation are possible between former enemies and that the seeds of change in Myanmar are beginning to sprout.

Today’s achievement is also remarkable and unusual as a process completely initiated and executed by national stakeholders. While many concerns and difficulties will remain on the ground in Myanmar, this is a day to celebrate as a great achievement and as one that provides a solid basis from which to continue the hard work that will be necessary to achieve a genuine and lasting peace in the country. The United Nations will continue to support and work with the peoples of Myanmar.

Ends

Myanmar: Water wells dry up in Myanaung

31 March 2015 - 2:35am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

By KO KO KYI

A number of residents in the Irrawaddy Division town of Myanaung are suffering from a shortage of fresh water as local wells dry up in the heat of dry season.

“We have to buy fresh water and sometimes have to hike up to the creek to bathe,” said a local man in Myanaung ward 4.

A woman from the ward 6 neighbourhood added: “I am so frustrated that I want to move away, but I cannot afford to.”

Local fire department staff and sympathisers have begun distributing water in the ward 4 and 6 neighbourhoods. However, said fireman Aung Moe, an official effort must be led by the government to deal with the issue in the long term.

“In cooperation with local residents, the municipal government should plan to dig tube wells,” he said. “Otherwise the problem will persist in coming back every year.”

Ward 4 resident Kyi Than called on local authorities to install a water supply system.

“If the municipality can build us a water pipeline and pay for it with our taxes, then that would be very convenient,” he said.

Myanaung is located on the banks of the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River, some 275 north of Rangoon.

Myanmar: Increasing health care for poor and vulnerable communities in Myanmar

30 March 2015 - 10:16pm
Source: UN Office for Project Services Country: Myanmar

YANGON, 26 March 2015 – Grete Faremo, UN Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNOPS, urged Myanmar to continue extending essential healthcare to poor and vulnerable communities, and pledged support to the country’s health systems.

Ms. Faremo made her comments during a visit to Pakokku Township, Magway Region, where she saw auxiliary midwives being trained under a programme funded by the Three Millennium Development Goal Fund (3MDG).

The 3MDG Fund is a US$335 million fund established in 2012 to support the Ministry of Health's plans to strengthen health systems and accelerate service delivery, particularly to the poorest and most vulnerable communities in Myanmar. is the Fund is supported by Australia, Denmark, the European Union, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, and managed by UNOPS.

The training was attended by some 25 women who enrolled in the nation-wide programme in response to the Ministry of Health's plan to deploy at least one trained health care provider to every village. The 3MDG Fund will support the Ministry of Health in training more than 5,500 new auxiliary midwives by August 2015, out of a national target of 10,000, further increasing access to essential community health services.

Ms Faremo said: "Despite good progress, access to health services remains a challenge in Myanmar for the poor and disadvantaged groups, in particular minority groups and people living in conflict-affected and hard-to-reach areas.

"By working with the Government of Myanmar and the 3MDG Fund, UNOPS is delighted to support the training of auxiliary midwives who effectively link the community and the health system, and help adolescents, women and children live healthy lives."

The trainee auxiliary midwives will acquire essential knowledge and skills. This will enable them to complement and assist midwives in delivering primary healthcare services. In absence of a midwife, an auxiliary midwife can provide preventive care before and after pregnancy, as well as delivery care and care for the newborn. She also gathers information about births, deaths and contraceptive use so that the system can better support the community.

This national training programme is part of the 3MDG Fund's strategic support to the Ministry of Health's plan to increase the responsiveness of health systems. This will help to better meet the health needs of Myanmar's population, and attain the priorities needed for Universal Health Coverage.

Thailand: Bon Luk Medical Update March 2015

30 March 2015 - 10:10pm
Source: Jungle Aid Country: Myanmar, Thailand

This month we had a large group of volunteers visiting Bon Luk. We took two 4×4 trucks, kindly donated by Dave, and drove to Bon Luk. We had two doctors, one nurse and one physiotherapist in the team. Our medical teams of Dr Laura and Dr Tass saw 46 patients with Bebee helping with translation and Chloe and Charlotte recording patient data.

Meanwhile, our assessment team, including Joanne and Delphine, were talking to villagers. Garry and Ae documented the day with wonderful photos. We gathered more details on students needing assistance with attending secondary school in the next school year. At Jungle Aid we aim to support and encourage children to attend school until 16 years of age. We walked around the village and were pleased to see that the village has been maintaining overall cleanliness and trash baskets are being used.

Healthy and natural rice crackers generously donated by Laiki rice crackers were distributed among children and children kept on coming back for more. We also helped the village orphanage, taking care of 16 children, by providing bags of rice.

After a successful clinic and assessment, besides our usual distribution of clothes and shoes etc, we also distributed personal hygiene items like combs, soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste to children as well as grown-ups. We also distributed slippers to young children aged 1 – 10 years of age. These were kindly donated by the Chiva Som team of volunteers.

We left two boxes of handmade notebooks, made from recycled paper, for children at school. All volunteers were loaded back in to the truck for the dusty journey home. After an amazing day with incredible volunteers and incredible people we headed back home.

Myanmar: Supporting financial services for the rural poor in Myanmar

30 March 2015 - 10:06pm
Source: UN Office for Project Services Country: Myanmar

YANGON, 27 March 2015–UN Under Secretary-General and UNOPS Executive Director, Grete Faremo, visited a rural microfinance project in Pakokku, operated by Pact Global Microfinance (PGMF).

The Pakokku branch is part of a larger project that was set up with funding from the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT), managed by UNOPS. The project provides poor and vulnerable households in the country with access to financial services. After only three years, the project is now fully self–financing, allowing the Fund to end its financial contribution.

"This demonstrates lasting change for the better," said Ms. Faremo. "Access to financial services is crucial to allow rural families to increase and diversify their incomes. LIFT itself was set up to help Myanmar towards achieving Millennium Development Goal 1 – to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – and this is an excellent sign that things are on track."

Since 2012, the project has disbursed $21 million to more than 37,000 clients in the country; 57 percent of these loans are for agriculture, while the rest are for small businesses in villages across the Dry Zone and Shan State. The project also provides non-formal business training to all microfinance clients, of which 98.5 per cent of these are women.

"LIFT has just closed the call for proposals for the next stage of its Financial Inclusion Programme, worth USD 40 million," said Ms Faremo. "In line with government policy, this shows LIFT's commitment to extend access to financial services to the country's most vulnerable people."

Thailand: Thailand detains 76 migrants found on train, including Rohingya

30 March 2015 - 9:54pm
Source: Reuters - AlertNet Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Source: Reuters - Mon, 30 Mar 2015 10:37 GMT

BANGKOK, March 30 (Reuters) - Thai authorities said on Monday they had found a group of 76 migrants from neighbouring Myanmar, including six suspected Rohingya, in a sign that one of Asia's busiest smuggling routes is still thriving despite Bangkok's vow to stamp out trafficking.

Read the full article here

Myanmar: Ongoing USG Humanitarian Assistance to Burma (as of 30 March 2015)

30 March 2015 - 6:45pm
Source: US Agency for International Development Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Burma – Complex Emergency Fact Sheet #2 (FY) 2015

30 March 2015 - 6:43pm
Source: US Agency for International Development Country: China, Myanmar, United States of America

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Protracted conflict between Government of Burma (GoB) forces and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) continue to cause widespread displacement and insecurity in Kokang self-administered zone

  • The GoB declares a 90-day state of emergency and imposes martial law in Kokang

  • UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) Renata Dessallien condemned attack on Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) convoy

Myanmar: Statement by the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Ms. Renata Dessallien

30 March 2015 - 12:41pm
Source: UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar Country: Myanmar

(Yangon, 30 March 2015): “I am very saddened by the death of Moe Kyaw Than, a volunteer for the Myanmar Red Cross Society who last Friday lost his battle for life after sustaining gunshot wounds in the line of duty in Kokang, Myanmar. On behalf of the United Nations, my sincere condolences go out to his family and to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for their loss. This tragedy serves as a sober reminder of the dangers faced by humanitarian workers and of the bravery of national staff in particular. I take this opportunity to again call on all parties to the conflict to ensure the safety and security of all civilians and humanitarian staff. People simply should not have to risk their lives to help others.”

Myanmar: Myanmar, rebels agree landmark draft peace deal

30 March 2015 - 10:11am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar | | Monday 3/30/2015 - 14:11 GMT

by Nan Tin HTWE

Myanmar peace negotiators agreed the draft text of a historic nationwide ceasefire agreement on Monday, as the country edges closer to ending decades of conflict between ethnic minority groups and the government.

The tentative deal, which comes as heavy fighting between the military and rebel groups continues to ravage a northern border area, sets out the framework for a countrywide ceasefire -- a key target of the government as the nation heads towards crucial elections later this year.

But the draft, which was negotiated by representatives of the government and the 16 ethnic armed groups involved in the talks, will only officially be signed after a conference of the rebel groups.

"This is the first step to signing a nationwide ceasefire agreement and to move to political dialogue," said Naing Han Tha, who led the ethnic group negotiators.

No date has so far been given for the rebel conference.

But negotiators said they had managed to find mutually acceptable ground on most points, adding that some more difficult sections were excised from the agreement.

"Now we have an understanding," said Hla Maung Swe, one of the senior government negotiators, at a press conference.

"There is nothing left to discuss. From our side, we are ready to sign," he added.

Myanmar has been racked by unrest since independence from Britain in 1948 as insurgencies flared among minority groups demanding greater autonomy. Conflicts were fuelled in part by tussles over the country's rich resources.

  • Political reforms -

The quasi-civilian government, which took power after decades of army rule in 2011, has made a peace agreement with an array of rebel groups a cornerstone of its political reforms.

Observers say the looming election, expected in November, has added urgency to these efforts, with fears that local political jockeying could override wider moves to achieve peace.

Lengthy negotiations have stumbled on a range of thorny issues, including the concept of a federal military, while continued fighting in northern Kachin and Shan states has overshadowed the talks.

Unrest in the Kokang region of Shan state began last month and shook relations with China as tens of thousands fled heavy fighting on the border. The clashes have heightened fears over the peace process.

Myanmar has reached individual ceasefires with 14 of the 16 major armed ethnic groups, but deals have so far proved elusive with the Ta'ang National Liberation Army in Shan state, which is fighting alongside the Kokang rebels, as well as the Kachin Independence Army.

The Kokang rebels, who spilled back into Myanmar in February after being driven out by the army in 2009, are not directly involved in the peace talks, but the ethnic armed group negotiators are pushing for the fighting to be part of future dialogue.

"We didn't discuss Kokang, but we have to discuss it and we will discuss it," said Naing Han Tha.

Myanmar's army has enjoyed a rare public relations boost over the fighting in Kokang, tapping into local unease about the power of the country's giant neighbour as well as accusations that the rebels are linked to narcotics smuggling.

nan/klm/pj/psr

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: WFP Myanmar | Brief Reporting period: 01 October – 31 December 2014

30 March 2015 - 9:32am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Myanmar

COUNTRY STRATEGY

Under the three-year protracted relief and recovery operation (PRRO) and aligned with national priorities, WFP supports transition in Myanmar by providing assistance to reduce food insecurity and undernutrition among the most vulnerable populations in Chin, Kachin, Kayin, Magway, Mandalay, Rakhine, Shan, Wa and Yangon. The bulk of WFP assistance is carried out through five major operational activities: relief, nutrition, support to people living with HIV and tuberculosis (TB), school feeding, and assets creation. WFP actively engages with the government to enhance national capacity in the areas of food security, emergency preparedness and response, social protection, health and education. WFP maintains a country office and 10 sub-offices and has been present in Myanmar since 1994

Bangladesh: WFP Bangladesh | Brief Reporting period: 01 October – 31 December 2014

30 March 2015 - 9:21am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

COUNTRY STRATEGY

WFP aims to achieve significant gains in reducing hunger and undernutrition in the coming years by implementing and developing—through effective partnerships—innovative nutrition and hunger solutions and responding to emergencies.

To underpin the ambitious development agenda of the Government of Bangladesh, WFP focuses on enhancing the Government’s safety net programmes and on mainstreaming nutrition. WFP’s interventions are geographically directed to areas of greatest food insecurity and vulnerability, increasingly to urban slum areas.

WFP has been present in Bangladesh since 1974.