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Myanmar: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (10 - 16 May 2016)

16 May 2016 - 5:39am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Palau, Philippines

MONGOLIA

The Government of Mongolia has officially declared the winter dzud over; however rains and unseasonal snow continue to impact vulnerable herders by putting stress on their livelihoods due to additional livestock deaths. Since January, some 1.1 million animals (up to 5.8 per cent) of the national livestock total have perished. Cash grants and cash-for-work interventions have begun as part of early recovery efforts. In March, CERF allocated $2.4 million to jumpstart health and nutrition, agriculture, protection and early recovery activities.

1.1 million animals perished

PHILIPPINES

According to the national weather bureau, large-scale drought will peak in May. The Government estimates most crop and livestock losses between February and April total US$239 million and have affected more than 260,000 farmers particularly in Mindanao and Western Visayas region.

260,000 farmers affected

MYANMAR

On 10 May, an estimated 1,600 people fled their villages in Kyaukme and Hsipaw townships in Shan State following heightened tensions between various armed groups.
In Kyaukme at least 800 people still remain displaced, while in Hsipaw some 600 people are still sheltering in two monasteries. Immediate needs are being met by authorities and local partners.

1,600 people displaced

INDONESIA

Between 10 to 13 May, floods and flash floods occurred in the provinces of South, West and Central Kalimantan, Bengkulu and Gorontalo. The incidents flooded 3,550 houses for several days. In Kotabaru District (South Kalimantan), flash floods killed three people with one still missing.
The monsoon season in Indonesia typically runs from November to March – the amount of rainfall and intensity during the past week is unusual at this time of year.

3,550 houses flooded

On 10 May, cold lava flow from Mount Sinabung, an active volanoe, in Kuta Mbaru Village (Karo District, North Sumatra), caused two deaths, four injuries and damaged three houses. The National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) reported an estimated 50 million cubic meters of cold lava remains on the mountain which continues to pose a high risk to communities in the area.

PALAU

Substantial rainfall over the past week has allowed Palau's Public Utilities Corporation to resume 24-hour water services to the states of Koror and Airai after two months of water restrictions due to El Niño-induced drought. The critical Ngerimel Dam is back on line and flow from the Ngerikiil River has also increased. Water levels will continue to be closely monitored and the public is still being advised to conserve water.

Australia: Australia's Response to a World in Crisis: Community views on planning for the 2016-17 Refugee and Humanitarian Program

16 May 2016 - 3:19am
Source: Refugee Council of Australia Country: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nauru, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea

Executive Summary

The year 2015 was a dramatic and traumatic period for refugees, in Australia and internationally. The number of people forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations is now at the highest level since World War II.1 The enormous challenges of global displacement have come to be symbolised by dramatic images of Syrian children washing up dead on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, Germans lining up to help refugees at train stations and Hungary’s barbed wire fence along its border.

In Australia, those images were mixed with alarming stories of the harm suffered by the people detained in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Less visibly, the year 2015 was marked by the implementation of dramatic changes in Australia’s asylum policy, affecting over 30,000 people in the Australian community. These included significant changes to the determination of refugee status, the introduction of Temporary Protection Visas and the removal of government-funded legal assistance.

New issues emerged, including protracted delays in the granting of citizenship and the denial of access to further or higher education for those on Temporary Protection Visas. Most of the old problems remained, including the vanishing prospects for many refugees of being reunited with their loved ones, access to education and employment, and the absence of suitable housing options.

This submission to the Australian Government on options for the 2016-17 Refugee and Humanitarian Program and for broader refugee policy reflects the voices and views, and the ideas and expertise, of individuals and organisations from across Australia: people from refugee backgrounds, people seeking asylum and the many brave and committed communities and organisations supporting them. It is the result of the largest consultation process ever conducted by RCOA in 30 years of preparing annual submissions, based on 50 face-to-face consultations in 17 cities and towns in eight states and territories, as well as additional meetings and teleconferences and a call for submissions. The submission also brings international perspectives, through gathered by RCOA from international networks, participation in global meetings and from refugee communities in Australia. While outlining current and future challenges for Australian refugee policy, our goal has been to draw together a constructive agenda of new ideas as well as incremental improvements to existing programs.

International Refugee Needs

The number of people forcibly displaced is now higher than at any point in the past seven decades. Almost 60 million people were displaced as at 31 December 2014, a number that has increased significantly in 2015. Unprecedented shortfalls in funding mean that humanitarian agencies “are no longer able to meet even the absolute minimum requirements of core protection and lifesaving assistance to preserve the human dignity of the people [they] care for.”

For the first time, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has projected that, for the first time, more than 1 million people will need resettlement, less than 1% of refugees are resettled. Given the remote chances of resettlement, people are increasingly forced to take dangerous journeys due to deteriorating conditions and the failure of states to protect.

While much international attention in 2015 focused on the tragic consequences of Syria’s civil war and its impacts across the Middle East and Europe, displacement in Africa continued to grow at an alarming rate. People continued to flee conflicts in Burundi, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Nigeria, while the conflict in Yemen displaced people into the Horn of Africa as well as Saudi Arabia and Oman.

This escalation of global displacement has been met with a mixed response. Countries like Turkey have kept their borders open despite already hosting over 2.7 million registered refugees. Many ordinary people have responded in a spirit of Willkommenskultur, such as those fishing people out of the sea in Greece and Indonesia, the Germans lining up to help at train stations, and those in Jordan inviting refugees into their homes. Additional pledges to resettle Syrians increased significantly, including through the pressure of public sentiment in Australia.

On the other hand, many governments are increasingly adopting punitive deterrent measures and seeking to shift responsibility for refugee protection to other countries, both fuelling and fuelled by rising xenophobic sentiment. Examples abound: Hungary’s construction of a barbed wire fence along its border with Serbia; the abandonment of Rohingya persons at sea; and the reaction of some American politicians to the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

In our consultations, we heard a wide range of concerns about situations of persecution and conditions in countries hosting refugees. Participants also identified particular countries, regions, ethnicities and religions as possible priorities for Australia’s resettlement program.

Since 2011, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has advocated a set of principles to be used in planning the Refugee and Humanitarian Program. These principles include: making resettlement widely available as a durable solution; focusing on resettling vulnerable people; emphasising family unity; using resettlement strategically to promote broader refugee protection while balancing resettlement needs in different regions; and including an additional response for large-scale emergency situations such as the situation in Syria. Our calls for a larger resettlement program and an emergency component have been broadly supported in our consultations and by the generous public response of offers of help for Syrian refugees in 2015.

Most importantly, the last principle we have suggested is the need for a coherent overarching government strategy for refugee protection, extending beyond refugee resettlement to aid and development, involvement in multilateral forums and diplomatic action. These and other strategies (such as exploring alternative paths to admission) were discussed at an international level during the 2015 UN High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges, which focused on the need to address the root causes of displacement and to move from crisis management to crisis resolution and prevention.

Some possible strategies would be to: invest in prevention and early intervention; use Australia’s aid and development program to support host states with large displaced communities, fund peacebuilding and rehabilitation programs and increase humanitarian aid for displaced communities; and use our diplomatic relations to increase pressure to improve refugee protection.

Thailand: NTS Bulletin May 2016: Labour Exploitation in the Fishing Industry

16 May 2016 - 2:02am
Source: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies Country: Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand

By Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS)
Singapore

Fish and seafood are an important source of protein and micronutrients vital for good health. In 2011, fish consumption per capita was estimated to be at 18.9kg globally, estimated to account for 16.7% of total animal protein consumption. As a source for cheap and abundant seafood, the ASEAN regions plays a key role in global fish production – Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia are amongst the top 18 major fish exporters of the world. Rising global demand for fish from Southeast Asia has resulted in an increase in fish production. While profitable, the labour intensive work is unappealing and the industry suffers from labour shortage. As such, some in the industry has turned to human trafficking to fill the labour gap. Central to the controversy is the multi-billion dollar Thaifishing industry, where a 2015 exposé by the Associate Press uncovered workers who are trafficked or coerced into service and work under the conditions of modern slavery.

Scope of the problem

There are 57,141 registered fishing boats in Thailand. However, as monitoring and control regulations are lax, the actual number may be more. CNN reports that 80% of the 145,000 fishery workers in Thailand are migrant workers. There are an estimated additional 200,000 unregistered workers on fishing vessels. Much of the forced labour in the Thai fishing industry is comprised of illegal migrants from Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Interviews with those who managed to escaped revealed that some are drugged and kidnapped, while many are tricked by traffickers into slavery – signing up for jobs such as construction work or legitimate fishingjobs but ending up performing forced labour on fishing vessels. The US Department of State 2014 Trafficking in Persons report indicated that amongst the trafficked are also Rohingya Muslims refugees from Myanmar.

These fishermen work long hours – as much as 20 hours a day for 7 days a week. They remain isolated at sea for years, receiving little payment and minimal sustenance. Identity cards of workers (if any) are held by employers to prevent escapes. Workers are subjected to threats and beatings. Eyewitness accounts have revealed murders and bodies thrown overboard. Interviewees have also reported the use of drugs to keep them compliant. This vulnerable population are also subject to health risks. Studies have shown a high prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis C infections amongst Southeast Asian fishermen. This presents huge human security implications for the ASEAN region.

Regulation efforts

Due to the efforts of NGOs and journalists, the issue of labour exploitation in Thailand’s fishing industry have recently received more attention by the international community. The European Union had launched an investigation into the Thai seafood industry in 2015 and is still in the process of deciding whether or not to impose a ban on Thai seafood imports. However, regulating illegal fishing remains difficult. Thai authorities have produced detailed plans to increase regulation of their fishingindustry, but EU delegates have found them wanting in addressing illegal labour practices. While Thailand has laws against human trafficking, there is lack of transparency and clarity in the enforcement of those laws. Moreover, the transnational nature of illegal fishing makes it difficult for any one country to regulate.

Moving forward to an integrated ASEAN approach

For this issue to be successfully addressed, more collaborative effort is required from ASEAN states to police the region’s waters and enforce anti-trafficking laws. In 2015, ASEAN member states have signed the Convention against Trafficking in Persons, ratifying their commitment to secure justice and for trafficking victims. Better coordination and cooperation amongst government agencies within the ASEAN region would allow more comprehensive policing of waters, along with more focus on labour exploitation and slavery.

Syrian Arab Republic: R2P monitor - 15 May 2016 issue 27

15 May 2016 - 7:24pm
Source: Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect Country: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen

R2P Monitor:

» Provides background on populations at risk of mass atrocity crimes, with particular emphasis on key events and actors and their connection to the threat, or commission, of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

» Offers analysis of the country’s past history in relation to mass atrocity crimes; the factors that have enabled their possible commission, or that prevent their resolution; and the receptivity of the situation to positive influences that would assist in preventing further crimes.

» Tracks the international response to the situation with a particular emphasis upon the actions of the United Nations (UN), key regional actors and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

» Suggests necessary action to prevent or halt the commission of mass atrocity crimes.

Syria {p. 2}
Iraq {p. 4}
Yemen {p. 5}
Sudan {p. 7}
Burma/Myanmar {p. 9}
DR Congo {p. 11}
Nigeria {p. 12}
Burundi {p. 14}
Israel & the Palestinian Territories {p. 16}
CAR {p. 17}
South Sudan {p. 18}

Myanmar: Water donated to village in Natmauk

15 May 2016 - 6:29am
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

To aid local people suffering from water scarcity issues caused by the rising heat that accompanies El Niño, the Department of Rural Development (DRD) of Natmauk Township together with the Road Transportation Department (RTD)donated yesterday 2,000 gallons of water for drinking, bathing and washing to the local villagers of Oakshitkon village, which has been facing a severe shortage of clean water.

There is currently a 2″ tube well and handmade wells installed next to the local stream of the village as well as a nearby lake. These groundwater sources are currently drying up due to the extreme climate.

Hla Win (Natmauk)

World: Above-normal rain expected for South Asian monsoon

15 May 2016 - 3:33am
Source: World Meteorological Organization Country: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, World

The WMO South Asia Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) has finalized its consensus outlook for the 2016 Southwest Monsoon season. The outlook suggests that during the 2016 southwest monsoon season (June – September), above-normal rainfall is likely over much of South Asia. Above-normal rainfall is likely over broad areas of central and western parts of South Asia. Below-normal rainfall is most likely over eastern parts of the region and the southeastern part of the peninsula. Normal rainfall is likely over the remaining areas.

To further explain the consensus outlook, WMO invited Colombo-based News 1st to produce a TV weather report about the outlook. WMO also collaborated with Climate Central to produce high-resolution graphics and other information about the monsoon outlook, which are posted here

. From June through September, the Southwest Monsoon dominates life in much of South Asia. Accounting for 75-90 per cent of the rainfall in most parts of the region (excepting Sri Lanka and southeastern India), the monsoon determines the success of farmers and thus of national economies. Advance information about the likely performance of the monsoon makes it possible for decision-makers to plan agricultural, public health and other risk-management strategies. The 2015 monsoon outlook proved to be accurate; nevertheless, although a great deal of progress has been made in understanding monsoons, it should be noted that prediction, particularly of rainfall amounts, remains a challenge.

Seasonal prediction

WMO has established Regional Climate Outlook Forums around the world to promote collaboration and information sharing on seasonal climate prediction and related issues. SASCOF was launched in 2010 to engage South Asian countries that share a strong interest in understanding and forecasting the monsoon. With support from Canada, this year’s SASCOF meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, developed the 2016 outlook through an expert assessment of prevailing global climate conditions, including the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Indian Ocean Dipole (oscillations of sea-surface temperatures), Northern Hemisphere snow cover, and other factors, as well as forecasts from various climate models. Participants at the SASCOF meeting came from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka and other countries and leading national and international climate centers.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, seasonal mean rainfall in South Asia has been marked by a declining trend, with more frequent deficit monsoons. An increase in extreme rainfall events has occurred at the expense of weaker rainfall events over the central Indian region and in many other areas. In South Asia overall, the frequency of heavy precipitation events is increasing, while light rain events are decreasing.

Links to weather and health

The SASCOF meeting is being immediately followed by Climate Services Forums for the water and health sectors on 27-28 April. These forums are designed to support the Global Framework on Climate Services by promoting dialogue among weather and climate scientists and key users of climate information and predictions. The health forum will focus on improving the management of extreme heat events in South Asia. The water forum will bring together the climate and water communities to explore how SASCOF forecasts can support flood management, irrigation planning, water storage and so forth. For more information about the Climate Service Forums in Colombo, see the WMO news story here.

World: ADPC Annual Report 2015

13 May 2016 - 10:02am
Source: Asian Disaster Preparedness Center Country: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam, World

2015 at a glance: A year of milestones

2015 marked the beginning of a new era in disaster risk reduction and sustainable development. ADPC embraced the new Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction while continuing to build resilience side by side with the Asia-Pacific countries.

Each year, disasters affect more than 163 million people in the Asia-Pacific region causing economic losses worth over USD 23 billion. The earthquake in Nepal, Cyclone Pam in the Pacific, and the El Niño-triggered extreme flooding and drought have been stark reminders of the region’s continued vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change. 2015 was truly a year of milestones in the fora for global action against disaster risk. ADPC contributed to the preparation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction that was adopted at the 3rd UN World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan. Nations around world endorsed the new Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement on tackling climate change – accords that resulted in a global commitment to work towards a low-carbon, resilient and sustainable future.

In June, the 12th meeting of the Regional Consultative Committee on Disaster Management (RCC), hosted by ADPC together with the Government of Bhutan, provided a timely opportunity for Asian countries to agree on regional action plans for implementing the new global framework for disaster risk reduction.

Against the background of climate-induced hazards of increasing intensity and frequency, delegates from across the region committed to concerted efforts to mitigate the impact of disasters that affect a growing number of people across country borders.

Bangladesh: Attackers kill guard at Bangladesh Rohingya refugee camp

13 May 2016 - 4:41am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

Dhaka, Bangladesh | AFP | Friday 5/13/2016 - 08:06 GMT

A group of armed attackers stormed a security post at a camp for Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh near the Myanmar border Friday, killing the post commander and looting weapons, police said.

The attackers shot dead the commander and tied up other security personnel with ropes, before stealing 11 rifles and 570 rounds, local police chief Mujibur Rahman said.

"The attack occurred at 2:20 am (2020 GMT) Friday. There were 10-15 attackers who were armed. They beat and then shot the Ansar (government security guard) commander of the camp from behind. He died on the spot," Rahman told AFP.

The Nayapara refugee camp near Teknaf town, two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the Myanmar border, is home to about 25,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, according to UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency.

Police are investigating the attack and said Rohingya refugees themselves were also suspected.

"The miscreants could be hiding inside the camp," said a police inspector, who requested anonymity.

However, he said the camp was not secure and was easy to enter.

"People can enter from any sides of the 0.75-square kilometre camp which is surrounded by jungle and can easily hide among its crowds," he said.

Rohingya people living in Bangladesh are officially restricted to living in camps and cannot participate in normal society such as going to regular schools or having contact with locals.

However, the government says more than 300,000 unregistered refugees are living in the Bangladeshi districts bordering Myanmar.

In recent years police have alleged Rohingya refugees are involved in criminal activities including human trafficking.

sa/sj/erf/mtp

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Artillery shells, taxes take high toll on Shan villagers

12 May 2016 - 10:13pm
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

By NANG MYA NADI / DVB

A civilian was injured and three homes destroyed in northern Shan State’s Kyaukme Township during clashes between Burmese government forces and the Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation Army (TNLA) on Wednesday.

Tin Maung Thein, the chairman of local charity group the Kyaukme Social Assistance Association said fighting broke out on 11 May between the Burmese army and the TNLA on the outskirts of Kyaukme near the village of Tohsang when an artillery shell landed and exploded in the village.

“On Wednesday morning, TNLA forces were on the move to Tohsang from the village of Kalowai. They took positions on the cemetery hill next to the village and began shelling the Burmese government forces that later arrived in the village,” said Tin Maung Thein.

“Three homes were destroyed when a shell landed and exploded in the village although we are not sure who was responsible for that.”

He added that a resident from the village of Tonhkan was also hit and wounded by shrapnel on the way home from his farm on 10 May.

“A Tonhkan resident named U Maung was on his way home from his farm when he was hit by shrapnel, but he only made it to [Kyaukme] the following day due to transportation problems. He had a piece of shrapnel in his left buttock and we took him to the hospital, where he is in stable condition,” said Tin Maung Thein.

The government media confirmed a civilian was injured by shrapnel when an artillery shell exploded in the area.

The TNLA also released a statement regarding the incident on 11 May, claiming civilian homes were destroyed by the Burmese army’s artillery shelling.

Renewed fighting between ethnic armed groups and government forces in northern Shan State displaced some 1,600 local civilians on 7 and 8 May, forcing them to flee their homes to take shelter in Kyaukme and Hsipaw towns, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Civilians also complain that the armed groups are extracting heavy taxes to fund their armed struggle.

“There are various armed groups operating in northern Shan state, each with their own territory, so we have to pay taxes to these armed groups as well as to the government. We are rural people who make a living by farming and this is hurting our livelihood,” said one villager who spoke to DVB.

"Here in the rural Shan hills, armed groups are imposing heavy taxes on us in the name of the revolution, and this has been going on for more than 60 years,” said another villager. “All we can do is cry and pay the money; if we don’t have enough, we borrow from elsewhere, since they threaten to kill us if we can’t pay up.”

In response to these charges, a TNLA spokesperson told DVB that the tax burden on local villagers would only lessen once peace was achieved in the region.

“In order to end the taxation, the government and armed groups should resolve their issues at a political round table and when everyone has their territories specified and can trust the government, then the civilians will no longer have to pay tax to these armed groups, and will only have to pay the official tax to the government,” he said.

Myanmar: Three months after landslide, Kachin villagers running out of food

12 May 2016 - 10:01pm
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

People living in the remote township of Kawnglanghpu in northern Kachin State are facing food shortages nearly three months after a landslide on 18 February completely cut off access to other areas.

According to Ar Moe Si, the Lisu National Development Party’s lower house MP for Kawnglanghpu, food prices are rising steeply as supplies run out.

“The price of a bag of rice in the first week of May was already 16,000 kyat per pyi [about 2.5 litres],” he told DVB. “Phone lines are out of service and many people have nothing left to eat but bamboo shoots.”

He said around 30 homes and local farms, as well as five wooden bridges and three rope suspension bridges in the area were destroyed by heavy rainfall and a landslide that cut off all transportation routes out of the area.

Kawnglanghpu is about 130 miles from Burma’s northernmost town of Putao and is normally accessible only in the dry season.

"The paddy yield this year was very low and so the rice stock has been inadequate,” said Ar Mo Si. “People have to rely on rice imports from China, but as the transportation routes to China were also cut off, the locals are in need of urgent help.”

With a population of around 12,000, Kawnglanghpu Township has a cold climate year round. The area is covered with snow for much of the year, making it difficult to access even under normal circumstances.

Previously the Burmese army airlifted aid to flooding and landslide disaster victims in Hsawlaw and Chipwi townships.

Malaysia: UNHCR Bay Of Bengal Situation 2016 Funding Update as of 9 May 2016

12 May 2016 - 11:21am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand

4.2 M required for 2016
795,300 contributions received, representing 19% of requirements
3.4 M funding gap for the Bay Of Bengal Situation

Myanmar: Rebuilding resilient communities after conflict and disaster in northern Rakhine

12 May 2016 - 10:32am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Myanmar

12/05/2016

Daw Thein Shwe’s house in Taung Ywar Ward appears to be leaning. The roof is patched together with tarpaulin and bamboo and slopes precariously over the single-storey structure. It looks unlikely to withstand a strong storm, let alone the impending monsoon rains. Reflecting on the torrential rains that struck the township of Buthidaung in July and August last year, Daw Thein Shwe expresses her desire to maintain the house. “I don’t know how the future weather conditions will be and so I want to improve the house,” she told FAO.

See the full photogallery

Taung Ywar Ward had the highest water levels in all of Buthidaung during the 2015 floods associated with **Cyclone Komen**, rising up to three feet and sweeping away precious food storage (mainly rice, potatoes and oil) as well as non-food items such as clothing. Most houses were damaged in some way, with fences destroyed and roofs caved in from fallen trees, and villagers report that some pigs and “a lot” of chickens were lost. Daw Thein Shwe’s household of five relies on her husband’s income as a casual labourer, but at 35 000MMK per week (around USD30) this hasn’t been enough to afford repairs.

As part of a project to help conflict- and flood-affected communities in northern Rakhine state, villagers like Daw Thein Shwe are receiving small livestock which they can rear and breed for additional income. “I am very happy to receive FAO’s assistance with this pig. I want to rear the pig for a long time and then be able to earn income to maintain my house,” she said.

“If sold at the right time, a pig can earn up to 250 000MMK, a significant income boost for these poor, rural households,” said Andrea Berloffa, Emergency Coordinator for FAO Myanmar. In addition to its vulnerability to natural disaster, Rakhine State suffers from inter-communal tensions and is still recovering from significant outbreaks of violence in 2012, with more than 100 000 people still displaced in camps across the state. Over one million Muslims, most of whom call themselves “Rohingya” but who the Government refers to as “Bengali”, have unresolved citizenship status, affecting their access to services and freedom of movement.

FAO, with funding from the **Central Emergency Response Fund**, is providing support to boost the livelihoods of 3 300 conflict- and flood-affected households (around 18 000 individuals) in both Muslim and Rakhine Buddhist communities in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships. Beneficiaries have received winter crop seeds to increase food availability and recover from losses felt after the floods last year, as well as small livestock (goats and pigs) which can increase income opportunities and the availability of animal protein. The latter is particularly urgent in Rakhine, where rates of **Severe Acute Malnutrition** are higher than the critical threshold identified by the World Health Organization.

This project is part of FAO’s broader emergency programme in **Myanmar**, which includes projects in Sagaing, Chin and Rakhine.  FAO has called for USD 12.1 million to provide assistance to 332 750 conflict- and flood-affected people under the **2016 Humanitarian Response Plan for Myanmar**. A further USD 7.6 million is urgently required to reach this total target population.

Myanmar: Myanmar: 2014 Census Population by Township (As of 11 May 2016)

12 May 2016 - 4:39am
Source: Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

12 May 2016 - 1:30am
Source: Voice of America Country: Myanmar

Paul Vrieze

LOIIKAW, KARENNI STATE— In a dusty, small workshop on a quiet street in Loikaw, three men are busy adjusting plastic frames and pieces of wood. They are creating simple prosthetic legs for the victims of a hidden but ever present danger here in Karenni State: landmines.

Like many ethnic areas in Myanmar, the poor, isolated southeastern state has been wrecked by decades of ethnic conflict and its rural areas have some of the highest levels of landmine contamination in the country.

The men at the workshop know the weapon’s consequences well. All three are former ethnic Karenni (Kayah) fighters who lost a leg to mines. Kyaw Win, 40, leads the workshop in the state capital and recalled the incident that left him maimed.

“It was June 2003, we were marching through the forest and rivers for the KNPLF to organize villagers, then I stepped on a land mine. It was terrible,” he said, while using the acronym of the Karenni National People's Liberation Front, a rebel group turned pro-government militia in 1994.

Kyaw Win was taken to Loikaw and on to the Mae Tao clinic in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, which treats war-torn communities from southeastern Myanmar. After recovering from his amputation, the clinic trained him in prosthetics-making and he returned to set up a KNPLF-supported workshop in 2007. It has since fitted some 750 people with prostheses, the vast majority being civilian mine victims.

“I wanted to struggle for a new life, as my mind is still strong,” Kyaw Win said of his motivation. “The victims are just poor villagers who go fishing and farming in their areas and then step on mines — they need help.”

But he added the workshop has been recently lacking funding.

Heavily mined

Myanmar has the third-highest mine casualty rate in the world after Colombia and Afghanistan, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which said between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died. “This is believed to be only a small fraction of the actual figure,” the group noted, as Myanmar lacks official data on mine incidents.

In 2014 alone, there were 251 casualties in Myanmar, 45 of whom died, according to the Monitor’s most recent report from November 2015. In 2013, there were 145 casualties. Lacking exact data, the group refrains from distinguishing trends, but says use of the weapon continues unabated.

“Mine warfare has consistently been a characteristic of armed conflict in Myanmar. That has not changed,” said Yeshua Moser-Puanguswan, the group’s Myanmar researcher.

The country has not signed the 1997 Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty and in 2014 Myanmar, Syria and North Korea were the world’s only countries “with confirmed new use” of mines, said the Monitor.

The military is suspected of deploying antipersonnel mines produced at its arms factories, while ethnic rebels use foreign-produced and improvised mines as an important defensive weapon that prevents them from being overrun.

The Bago Region, as well as Karenni and Karen states in the southeast, remain Myanmar’s most heavily mined and incident-prone areas, according to the Monitor, followed by Kachin and Shan states in the north.

The cease-fire initiated by the previous government in recent years brought a reduction in conflict in the southeast and led to the September 2015 ‘nationwide’ cease-fire with eight rebel groups, but there has been little progress on the landmine issue. In the north, fighting with the Kachin Independence Army and other groups has worsened, and so has mine use and civilian displacement.

International aid

The international community was to quick to hail the government’s cease-fire talks and in 2013 the EU donated 3.5 million euro ($4.6 million) to create a government-run Myanmar Mine Action Center. INGOs such MAG, Halo Trust and Norwegian People’s Aid arrived eager to help with mapping and de-mining, victim assistance and public awareness raising—all of which were banned by the former junta.

However, the government and military failed to authorize international de-mining and mapping, saying cease-fire talks should be concluded first. The 2015 nationwide cease-fire commits to de-mining “in accordance with the progress of the peace process,” but since its signing there has been no mine clearance approval.

“The mine action center has failed completely, it doesn't exist. A fraction of the (EU) money has been used for some training and cars, a small survey,” said Bjarne Ussing, a program manager with DanChurchAid Humanitarian Mine Action, who works in southeastern Myanmar.

The cease-fire’s text on de-mining, he noted, is somewhat “vaguely-worded,” adding, “We will have to see what that means.”

The lack of de-mining progress, he said, also threatens plans by Myanmar and Thailand to repatriate some 150,000 refugees to the southeastern region in coming years.

The new National League for Democracy (NLD) government will soon resume the cease-fire process, but security issues remain under the authority of the powerful military.

Still, Melissa Andersson, Norwegian People’s Aid country director, remains hopeful that progress could finally be made, saying, “It may still be possible to start with the clearance of some areas that are less strategically sensitive.”

Thailand: Feature - After 30 years in Thailand, a glimmer of hope for refugees from Myanmar

11 May 2016 - 5:31pm
Source: AlertNet Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 00:01 GMT

By Alisa Tang

MAE SOT, Thailand, May 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Ta Mla Saw was about seven when she and her family fled from Myanmar troops attacking her village in the country's ethnic Karen region, and crossed the river into Thailand to the safety of refugee camps dotted along the border.

Read the full story on the Thomson Reuters Foundation

World: Consolidating gains and accelerating efforts to control and eliminate malaria in developing countries, particularly in Africa, by 2015 - Note by the Secretary-General (A/70/833)

11 May 2016 - 10:36am
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guinea, India, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Paraguay, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, World, Zambia, Zimbabwe

The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the General Assembly the report of the Director-General of the World Health Organization, submitted in accordance with General Assembly resolution 69/325.

Report of the Director-General of the World Health Organization on consolidating gains and accelerating efforts to control and eliminate malaria in developing countries, particularly in Africa, by 2015

Summary

The present report is submitted in response to General Assembly resolution 69/325. It provides a review of progress in the implementation of the resolution, focusing on the adoption and scaling-up of interventions recommended by the World Health Organization in malaria-endemic countries. It also provides an assessment of progress towards the 2015 global malaria targets, including Millennium Development Goal 6, targets set through the African Union and the World Health Assembly, and goals set through the Global Malaria Action Plan of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. It elaborates on the challenges limiting the full achievement of the targets, and provides recommendations to ensure that progress is accelerated towards the goals of the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 in the coming years.

I. Introduction

  1. While malaria is a preventable and treatable disease, it continues to have a devastating impact on people’s health and livelihoods around the world. In 2015, approximately 3.2 billion people were at risk of the disease in 95 countries and territories, and an estimated 214 million malaria cases occurred (uncertainty range: 149 million-303 million). The disease killed 438,000 people (uncertainty range: 236,000-635,000), mostly children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a multi-pronged strategy to reduce the malaria burden, including vector control interventions, preventive therapies, diagnostic testing, quality-assured treatment and strong malaria surveillance.

  2. The present report highlights progress and challenges in the control and elimination of malaria in the context of General Assembly resolution 69/325. It draws on the World Malaria Report 2015, issued by WHO in December 2015. The analysis is based on the latest available comprehensive data (2014) received from malaria-endemic countries and organizations supporting global malaria efforts and includes projections to 2015 where it is feasible to do so. Data from 2015 are currently being collected and reviewed by WHO. Projections for 2015 were also published in The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015.

  3. Between 2005 and 2015, malaria received worldwide recognition as a priority global health issue. Under the umbrella of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, endemic countries, United Nations agencies, bilateral donors, public-private partnerships, scientific organizations, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector worked together to scale up WHO-recommended interventions, harmonize activities and improve strategic planning, programme management and funding availability. A steep rise in international funding enabled endemic countries to expand their malaria programmes. Since 2010, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) has provided more than $4 billion for malaria interventions, while the Governments of the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have been the second and third largest bilateral funders.

  4. The success of efforts to control and eliminate malaria is measured through an analysis of trends in the disease burden and intervention scale-up, and a review of progress made towards a set of global goals and targets, which have been designed through intergovernmental processes or set in the context of global initiatives. For the period 2000 to 2015, the four main sets of goals and targets were: Millennium Development Goal 6, targets set through the African Union and the World Health Assembly, and goals set by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership through the Global Malaria Action Plan. Further details are provided in section IV of the report. Regional and subregional targets for malaria control and elimination are not addressed here.

Thailand: After 30 years in Thailand, a glimmer of hope for refugees from Myanmar

11 May 2016 - 5:57am
Source: Reuters - AlertNet Country: Myanmar, Thailand

BY ALISA TANG

MAE SOT, Thailand (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Ta Mla Saw was about seven when she and her family fled from Myanmar troops attacking her village in the country's ethnic Karen region, and crossed the river into Thailand to the safety of refugee camps dotted along the border.

Read Full Article on AlertNet

World: Forced Migration Review No. 52: Thinking ahead: displacement, transition, solutions

11 May 2016 - 5:22am
Source: Forced Migration Review, University of Oxford Country: Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Ghana, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Myanmar, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, World, Yemen

The new issue of FMR explores the ideas and practices that are being tried out in order to engage both development and humanitarian work in support of ‘transitions’ and ‘solutions’ for displaced people. What we need, says one author, is “full global recognition that the challenge of forced displacement is an integral part of the development agenda too”. FMR issue 52 includes 32 articles on ‘Thinking ahead: displacement, transition, solutions’, plus ten ‘general’ articles on other aspects of forced migration.

Myanmar: Hail storm destroys Shan tea plantations

11 May 2016 - 12:41am
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

A spat of hail storms which hit upper Myanmar last month have had unforeseen side effects on the tea plantations of the Nam-Shan township village of Mahnlone, Shan State, which started to wither up and die during the end of April, according to plantation owners.

“Our whole village makes a living off the tea plantations on this mountain side. We were still picking tea leaves in the few days after the hail storm. It wasn’t long after that when the tea crops slowly started drying out, to the point whereby the whole plantation has now withered up with nothing left to pick.” said U Thein Zaw, a tea plantation owner from Mahnlone village.

He continued by stating that the drying up of tea plants during the start of May, the time when tea leaves are soft and ripe for picking, has effectively ended the 2016-17 tea picking season, rendering local tea pickers in dire straits for whom tea picking is their sole form of employment.

U Mya Kyaw, head of the Department of Agriculture for Lashio, explained the wilting up of tea crops is likely the combined result of the velocity with which the hail stone impacted the tea plants, bacteria in present within the hail stones themselves, together sweltering summer temperatures.

“Our homes were destroyed by the gale force winds. Now without a place to live and the death of our tea crops, I don’t know how we’re going to survive anymore. I’m just going to have to order my sons and daughter to go seek work in China.” said Daw Dipogyein, a local tea picker.

A local youth charity group has made it know tea crops were not the only victims of the hail storms, with approximately fifty households in the village tract, together with a local primary school, flattened by the storm’s ferocious winds.

Myitmakha News Angency

World: 2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2016)

10 May 2016 - 8:00pm
Source: Norwegian Refugee Council, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Kenya, Kiribati, Malawi, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, World, Yemen

28 MILLION PEOPLE FORCIBLY DISPLACED BY CONFLICT AND DISASTERS IN 2015 AND MILLIONS MORE STILL INVISIBLE: IDMC NEW REPORT HIGHLIGHTS GLOBAL CRISIS OF INTERNAL DISPLACEMENT

Conflict, violence and disasters internally displaced 27.8 million people in 2015, subjecting a record number of men, women and children to the trauma and upheaval of being forcibly displaced within their own country.

"This is the equivalent of the combined populations of New York City, London, Paris and Cairo grabbing what they can carry, often in a state of panic, and setting out on a journey filled with uncertainty," said Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). “Put another way, around 66,000 people abandoned their homes every day of 2015.”

Today, NRC's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) publishes its new Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2016), marking a breakthrough for IDMC as it synthesizes all of its reporting on global internal displacement into one report. This will be supported by a new Global Data Platform which will continually update the figures online.

“By reporting on all situations of internal displacement, regardless of their cause, our intention is to provide an ever more holistic picture of what has truly become a global crisis,” said Alexandra Bilak, Director (a.i.) of IDMC.

The report covers internal displacement caused by conflict and sudden-onset disasters, on which IDMC has been the global authority for years. In addition it now also explores displacement currently "off the grid", such as that caused by criminal and gang violence, slow-onset disasters like drought, and development projects. It also takes the reader “inside the grid” and presents some of the methodological and conceptual challenges faced in trying to paint as complete a picture as possible.

“Having comprehensive and accurate figures is essential to efforts to alleviate the suffering and needs of tens of millions of highly vulnerable people. National governments have primary responsibility for collecting this data, and for protecting and assisting internally displaced people. Sadly, this responsibility is not fulfilled in many contexts,” Bilak said.

The report makes sobering reading. Some 8.6 million new displacements associated with conflict and violence were recorded in 2015, and as of the end of the year the total including those who fled in previous years stood at 40.8 million. “This is the highest figure ever recorded, and twice the number of refugees worldwide,” Egeland said.

The Middle East and North Africa bore the brunt of new conflict-related displacement in 2015, with 4.8 million people internally displaced, with Syria, Yemen and Iraq accounting for over half of all new conflict-induced internal displacement worldwide.

Of the ten countries with the highest number of people internally displaced by conflict, five - Colombia,
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, South Sudan and Sudan - have been on the list every year since 2003. “This is further evidence that in the absence of the help IDPs need, displacement tends to drag on for years and even decades,” Bilak said.

As if this were not enough, the number of people internally displaced by disasters in 2015 was 19.2 million in 113 countries. Over the past eight years, a total of 203.4 million disaster-related displacements have been recorded. As in previous years, south and east Asia were worst-affected, with India, China and Nepal accounting for 3.7m, 3.6m and 2.6m people displaced respectively.
The vast majority of displacement associated with disasters is triggered by weather-related hazards such as storms and floods, but the earthquakes in Nepal were a stark reminder of the potential of geophysical hazards.

Additionally, preliminary estimates of internal displacement by other causes suggest at least a million people were forcibly displaced by criminal violence in Mexico and Central America, and tens of millions more by development projects such as dams, urban renewal projects and mega sporting events. “This report illustrates the many challenges to addressing this global crisis of internal displacement. It also highlights the glaring absence of political solutions to address displacement, and constitutes an important wake-up call to national governments and global policy-makers alike.” Bilak said.

NOTES TO EDITORS

From 11 May, 2016, a micro website for the 2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement can be found at:

www.internal-displacement.org/globalreport2016 This new report replaces both the ‘Global Overview’ and the ‘Global Estimates’, IDMC’s previous flagship reports on conflict and disaster-related internal displacement.

Media are welcome to attend the launch of the IDMC 2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2016) on Wednesday, 11 May 2016 at Chatham House, London by registering at https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/global-crisis-internal-displacement Media based in Geneva are also invited to attend a second launch event on 13 May at the CICG in Geneva (for more info please contact info@idmc.ch)

What is the difference between an IDP and a refugee?
The main difference between IDPs and refugees is that internally displaced people remain within the borders of their own country. Refugees have crossed an international border in search of refuge, and this gives them legal refugee status which entitles them to certain rights and international protection. However an IDP is not a legal status because IDPs are still under the jurisdiction of their own government and may not claim any rights additional to those shared by their fellow citizens.

FOR INTERVIEWS WITH JAN EGELAND, ALEXANDRA BILAK OR ELIZABETH RUSHING PLEASE CONTACT:

Ms Sian Bowen Head of Communications Email: sian.bowen@idmc.ch Office Tel: 00 41 22 552 3612 Mobile: 00 41 (0) 78 630 16 78 Ms Francesca Da Ros (Geneva)
Communications Coordinator Email : francesca.da.ros@idmc.ch Office Tel: + 41 22 552 3645 About the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) (http://www.internal-displacement.org) was established by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in 1998. Monitoring internal displacement caused by conflict, violence, human rights violations and natural disasters worldwide, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is widely respected as the leading source of information and analysis on internal displacement throughout the world.
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