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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

World: Communications with Communities Asia-Pacific Newsletter August 2014

25 August 2014 - 9:43pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, World preview

This update seeks to support growth in innovative policy, practice and partnerships in humanitarian action to better communicate with disaster-affected communities. Readers are encouraged to forward this email through their own networks.

Myanmar

Recruitment - Communications with Communities Consultant –3 months based in Sittwe, Rakhine State - The post will have primary responsibility for developing an overarching CwC (Communications with Communities) Strategy for the 'Save the Children-led Consortium' for the implementation of Humanitarian WASH and Nutrition Programme.

News - Myanmar Will Be the First Smartphone Only Country - Today, Myanmar has the same mobile phone usage as North Korea, Eritrea, and Cuba – less than 10% – with only the urban elite owning smartphones, and mobile networks limited in scope and functionality. Yet technology restrictions are ending, and three mobile operators are racing to roll out services to 60 million across the country.

News - Myanmar’s new mobile internet users embrace Android smartphones, pick Viber over Facebook – An ‘On Device Research’ survey found that Viber has scored an early win in Myanmar in the heated messaging app battle. Viber scores 79 percent of users versus 27 percent on Facebook Messenger. Clearly people are using multiple messaging apps.

Summary Report – ICT and Disaster Response Workshop, hosted by OCHA and FHI 360 on 6 August 2014. The Workshop was attended by 35 people from humanitarian agencies (UN, INGO and NGO), private sector, telecoms companies, media development agencies and Myanmar TV. The Workshop Report provides a summary of the day where there was agreement on the importance of technology, awareness that there are several different initiatives going on with little opportunity to share information and conflict sensitivity and the need for ethnic minority languages to be addressed.

Philippines

News – “Moving forward after Haiyan – The Story of Radyo Abante”, by Leoniza O. Morales, World Vision.

Response Update - The OCHA Communications with Communities team are working as part of the Preparedness unit in supporting the first Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) Emergency Preparedness Plan.

In Zamboanga, a SMS blast system (which now sends to IDPs) was set up by the Communications Working Group (CWG) as part of its two-way communication strategy.

In Tacloban, OCHA, IOM and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) conducted the first regional Right to Information (RTI) workshop for sub-national information and communication officers of various government agencies. The workshop further enhances the coordinated communications system and feedback platform for affected communities.

Nepal

Common Messaging - After several months of committed and engaged work with the Government of Nepal, UN, Red Cross Movement, International and local NGOs, theNepal Risk Reduction Consortium (NRRC) Communications Group has finalized the first edition of a Common Messages Guideline for Disaster Risk Reduction.

These guidelines outline the need for coordinated and coherent messaging and how organizations can use common messages to strengthen collective efforts in awareness and behavior change. The guidelines outline 10 key messages for DRR, earthquakes, floods, landslides and fires that organizations are encouraged to use and customize for their communications purposes.

Moving forward, the NRRC Communications Group will be finalizing a common messages platform to strengthen access to messages and showcase communications products that have been developed using the messages. In addition, the NRRC Communications Group is in the process of finalizing 10 key messages for thunderstorms.

Global

News – Many of the world's most talented young computer programmers are now based in cities like Nairobi, Hyderabad or Rio de Janeiro. They are driven by a powerful belief that communications technology can deliver social change.

Al Jazeera’s Life Apps programme follows young applications developers from around the world as they visit remote communities to experience the everyday hardships of the poor and marginalized - and then create app solutions for a better, more sustainable world.

Tech – “Crowdsourcing the fight for human rights” - In closed societies around the world, brave human rights defenders face enormous hurdles to advance human rights.Movements.org is a new platform that allows people everywhere to help protect basic freedoms.

Tech - Who is distributing solar lights that recharge mobile phones in Iraq?

Myanmar: Locals flee extreme floods in Hpakant

25 August 2014 - 9:21am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

Most neighbourhoods in Hpakant, a jade-mining town in Burma’s northern Kachin State, have been evacuated following days of heavy rain.

All quarters except for those at high altitudes were flooded by overflow from the Uru River over the past week. The most hard-hit areas are Ayemyatharyar, Mashikahtaung, Myoma and Ngetpyawdaw, according to locals affiliated with a community organisation called Parami.

On Monday, locals said that water levels had lessened to some degree but that transportation is still difficult as most roads are still underwater.

Hpakant, an area rich with coveted jade stones, has seen a recent influx of illegal, small-scale mining operations since the breakdown of a 17-year ceasefire between the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Army. The conflict brought commercial operations to a stop, leading many of the remote state’s poor population to rush in and capitalise on the gems.

Burma’s Ministry of Mining announced earlier this year that commercial mining operations will resume in September, however.

Last week, Malaysia’s UMW Group announced it had secured contracts worth US$63 million to supply more than 60 units of Komatsu equipment - presumably excavators, caterpillars and bulldozers – to jade mining firms in the township.

Myanmar: Visit to Myanmar by United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary General

25 August 2014 - 9:12am
Source: UN Information Centres Country: Myanmar

Visit to Myanmar by Mr. Vijay Nambiar, United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General

The Special Adviser to Secretary-General Mr. Vijay Nambiar visited Myanmar from 18 to 25 August in pursuance of his mandate. Undertaken ahead of the 69th session of the General Assembly, this was Mr. Nambiar's eighth visit to the country during the past year.

The Special Adviser was received by President Thein Sein on 22 August and held discussions with senior officials including Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin, Senior Ministers in the President's Office U Soe Thane and U Aung Min, Minister for Immigration and Population Affairs U Khin Yi and with Rakhine Chief Minister U Maung Maung Ohn. During his visit he also met with the Speaker of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Thura Shwe Mann and with Deputy Commander-in-Chief Vice Senior General Soe Win of the Tatmadaw and held consultations with members of political parties, ethnic armed groups, civil society, aid agencies, women and youth organizations as well as with diplomatic representatives. The Special Adviser had met with opposition leader Daw Aung Sang Suu Kyi during his earlier visit in July this year.

At the invitation of the Government, the Special Adviser participated as observer at a tripartite meeting of the UPWC, NCCT and representatives of various political parties in the discussion on the peace process including the finalisation of a nationwide ceasefire and framework of a political dialogue. This discussion held in Yangon on 18 August was the first of its kind held in the country. On behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Nambiar conveyed a key message to all stakeholders to take a leap of faith and to set aside all narrow agendas in the common interest of peace and a unified Myanmar.

In addition to meetings in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, the Special Adviser visited Rakhine from 23 to 25 August to obtain a first-hand understanding of the latest situation and progress in relief efforts to assist the local communities including the population affected by the violence of the past months as well as actions being taken to address underlying causes. In his discussions with the authorities, Mr. Nambiar highlighted that translating various plans and commitments, including with regard to the urgent resumption of humanitarian assistance in Rakhine, would help address prevailing tensions and pave the way for sustainable solutions.

In his exchanges with various interlocutors, the Special Adviser touched on areas relating to the reform and democratization process, development, national reconciliation and the strengthening of harmony and cooperation between the communities and ethnic groups as well as emerging constitutional and other issues. He underlined the commitment of the United Nations in providing support to Myanmar during this critical period of the reform process in the country as well as its working constructively with all major national stakeholders.

Yangon, 25 August 2014

Ends

Myanmar: Making the right choices

25 August 2014 - 8:17am
Source: DanChurchAid Country: Myanmar

25.08.2014 by Maiken Skeem

In Myanmar village development committees help women to make the right choices – not only for the benefit of their own families but also for the benefit of the entire village.

We are sitting on the wooden floor in the newly constructed community meeting hall in the village of Kan Hla in northern Myanmar. This small community was moved from their original village around 1 km. away from here. A new electro hydro dam was built where they used to live and they had to give space.

70 women and men have turned up to meet today’s visitors. Life in the old village was easier, they tell. Now everything is more difficult.

“We used to do shifting cultivation, this is what we know. But now we are not sure if that will be the best option in our new village. We don’t know any alternatives to shifting cultivation,” says Khin Mya New who is a member of the village’s VDC (Village Development Committee).

When relocated the authorities promised to allocate land for permanent agriculture - but so far nothing has happened. The villagers were only told verbally. There was no contract and no signature.

Challenges

Organising the villagers in a VDC means that they are now able to take up common issues with the authorities in a constructive way. They will continue to discuss with the clerk in the Township administration. But there is also another challenge: Not all villagers have the same size of land and they certainly don’t agree how the new land should be distributed.

“The government expects us to come to an agreement internally and to come up with a plan to how we want to distribute the land between us. Unless we do that it is not very likely that the authorities will allocate the new, promised piece of land,” adds Ei Ei Khaing, who is another member of the VDC.

There are plenty of challenges waiting for Khin Mya Nwe, Ei Ei Khaing and the other members of the VDC.

Independent and confident

Both women were both appointed by the community as they were already volunteering in social work in the village. Being members of the VDC means a lot to both of them. They seem proud and confident in their job.

"I am independent now – depending less on my parents. I used the compensation from the government to construct a house (1 mio Kyat/5.500 DKK). I also borrowed money from the self help group to start a small shop selling basic household items,” tells Khin Mya New and adds:

“We spend time in the VDC for the benefit of the community - but it also helps us personally. We learn how to set up meetings and how to negotiate. Acquiring these skills also makes it easier to make the right choices for me and my family. You could even say that my self-esteem is much better now. Before all women used to sit behind and keep quiet when there were village meetings, now after the training, we are more confident and speak out.”

Myanmar: Arakanese Leaders to Propose Detention Camps for Undocumented Rohingya

24 August 2014 - 10:35pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By LAWI WENG

RANGOON — Buddhist Arakanese leaders are considering a proposal that would see Rohingya Muslims without documentation proving their right to citizenship detained in camps.

The plan will be discussed publicly in the Arakan State capital, Sittwe, in the coming days, said Than Tun, an Arakanese leader and a member of the state’s Emergency Coordination Committee, and comes as a citizenship verification project is restarted for Muslims in Arakan State.

Clashes between ethnic Arakanese and Rohingya broke out in mid-2012 and about 140,000 people, mostly Muslims, still live in temporary camps after fleeing their homes. Arakanese Buddhists see the Rohingya, who are not a recognized ethnic group under Burmese law, as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and refer to them as Bengalis.

The nascent verification process—currently only underway in earnest in Myabon Township—is being conducted by the Ministry of Immigration to find out who is entitled to citizenship, based on how long their families have been settled in Burma.

Than Tun said a proposal would be sent to President Thein Sein asking that those who are not able to provide documentation be rounded up into camps.

“This is just our draft proposal. We will have a public meeting this week. After that, we will send the draft to the president. At the public meeting we will ask for [the public’s] agreement,” Than Tun told The Irrawaddy.

“This proposal refers to all Bengalis who stay in Arakan, including both those who stay in villages and those in refugee camps. This proposal comes from Sittwe, but it will be presented from all Arakanese.”

With Arakan State already dotted with large makeshift camps full of those displaced in earlier rounds of violence, the Burmese government may have to put undocumented Muslims elsewhere in Burma, Than Tun said.

“We will tell him [Thein Sein] if there is a problem to set up a camp for the people in Arakan, he can set up a camp in a suitable area in the union [Burma],” said Than Tun, who predicted that many people without documentation would be found in Sittwe, Maungdaw Township and Buthidaung Township.

“Firstly, they migrated to our land and they were illegal migrants. But they had children, and those children are born in our land, so we cannot say their children are illegal. But, their children are still illegal settlers.”

An estimated 1 million Rohingya live in Arakan State, many tracing their roots in the area back generations. Only a handful of people—who must first agree to identify themselves as Bengali—have so far taken part in the citizenship verification process.

A Rohingya activist said that many displaced people would not have possession of their documents, since they fled their homes to escape Buddhist mobs.

“They killed us and burned our houses. We did not have time to bring documents with us. If the government asks us for documents, we don’t have them,” said Aung Win from Sittwe, arguing that such lost documents should be replaced by the government.

“They should not say that those who do not have documents are stateless. If the government does this in Sittwe, our people will not go to the verification center.”

Myanmar: Drugs and development in the Wa region

24 August 2014 - 10:23pm
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

By AYE NAI

United Wa State Army (UWSA) spokesman Aung Myint speaks to DVB about drugs, development and education in the Wa region.

Q: What role do you think the UWSA will play in the drug eradication programme that Burma has agreed to implement with the United Nations?

A: Needless to say, we realised once we made peace with the Burmese government in 1993 that growing opium as a business venture does not improve the lifestyle of our people; in fact, it is more likely to harm them, especially children. Drugs could lead to our extinction.

From that point, we adopted a policy to propagate, persuade and lead our people in the right direction.

In 1995, we adopted a ten-year programme for opium eradication. In 2005, we were completely opium free –we substituted opium plantations with rubber, tea and other cash crops such as sandalwood. Also, we use the best of our limited knowledge to mine minerals. But we have now completely eradicated the opium the English brought to us more than 100 years ago.

As a result, we have seen much more development in our region than, say, 20 years ago. Back in those days, we had no roads. Over the past 25 years, we have upgraded dirt tracks into gravel roads. We are now working on a five-year plan to further upgrade them – stretching about 700-800km in total – into two-lane, tarmac roads. Once this is completed, transportation in the region should be a lot more efficient and convenient.

If we can operate transportation correctly, local businesses will gradually grow. Now we have rubber plantation projects in many villages, which is creating income for many households. Nowadays many Wa people can afford to own motorbikes. This is a clear mark of improvement in the region’s economy.

Q: Can you tell us more about the two-lane road construction? When did it start?

A: We are now in the second year of a five-year plan to build two-lane roads over a stretch of about 700 km. So far, we have paved tarmac on about 200 to 300 km. We have also levelled the terrain, which is a large-scale project.

Q: So this may lead to the opening of schools, and further development in the region?

A: We have opened schools in many villages and towns in the Wa region. In the past, we did not have high literacy. Many adults were uneducated and could not even speak Burmese.

I think we now have about 300 schools in the Wa region. Our education policy is not restricted –if a teacher specialises in Burmese language, then he or she may open or run a Burmese language school, and the same applies for Shan, Wa and Chinese language lessons. We believe that education is worthwhile no matter which language is taught. We also encourage the study of mathematics and such. What we are trying to do is to develop middle and high schools that can accommodate students from different language backgrounds. So far we have about nine high schools like that.

World: Global Humanitarian Overview - Status Report, August 2014

22 August 2014 - 1:29pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Gambia, Haiti, Iraq, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Philippines, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen, South Sudan preview

2014 has seen a major surge in humanitarian crises around the world. Inter-agency strategic response and regional response plans now target over 76 million people in thirty-one countries compared to 52 million in December 2013. 102 million people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance compared to 81 million in December 2013. Global financial requirements to cover humanitarian needs rose from US$12.9 billion in 2013 to $17.3 billion now. More and more crises are having a regional impact with a spill-over effect on countries which are already fragile.

Five crises have been classified by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee as “L3 emergencies”. L3s are considered to be the highest level of crisis requiring sustained, top level, system-wide support focused on leadership and coordination to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian response efforts. The response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines was declared an L3 emergency in November. An estimated 11.3 million people in nine regions of the Philippines were affected by Typhoon Haiyan. At least 6,201 people were killed and the force of the storm caused widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure in many towns.

The ongoing L3 emergencies in Syria, the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan are all complex crises which have resulted in significant internal displacement resulting from conflict and ongoing insecurity and the need for protection. They have also become regional crises with political, security, development and humanitarian consequences in their region. In Syria, the number of people in need is estimated to have risen from 9.3 million in December 2013 to 10.8 million now.
As many as 6.5 million men, women and children are dis- placed inside the country and over 2.9 million refugees have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and other countries. The breakdown of law and order and ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic has resulted in more than 518,000 people displaced internally and more than 171,273 people have crossed the border into Chad, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo. Since December 2013, South Sudan faces a looming famine, 1.3 million people are displaced internally and more than 447,000 people have fled into Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda since December 2013. At the rate of escalation of the crisis an estimated 6 million people will either be refugees, displaced inside their country or face severe food insecurity by the end of the year. Most recently, the humanitarian crisis in Iraq has been declared an L3 emergency. Over 1.2 million people have been displaced and are dispersed throughout the Governorates of Neneveh, Salah Al-Din, Diyala, Al-Anbar and Baghdad due to the current conflict. Access to clean water has emerged as a critical, life- threatening problem. Food security is a growing concern.

In addition to the L3s, a number of major crises require ongoing attention. In nine countries across the Sahel, the drought of 2012 exacerbated the devastating cycle of malnutrition and poverty in the region leaving more than 20.2 million people food insecure, of whom 11.9 million people will receive food assistance this year. 2.9 million children will be treated for moderate and severe acute malnutrition across the Sahel. Rising severe and acute malnutrition rates in DRC and Sudan also require a sustained and strengthened humanitarian response. Some 6.7 million people are food insecure in DRC and 5 million others in Sudan. In DRC, 35 per cent of children’s deaths are attributed to malnutrition. 14.7 million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen.

Protection needs remain high in many complex and protracted crises. In DRC for example, protection against sexual and gender-based violence remains a critical area of humanitarian response. Crises in Somalia, Haiti, Myanmar, Djibouti, Sudan, Mali, the occupied Palestine territory and Afghanistan all demand ongoing high level engagement and response. Political upheaval and social unrest have flared into violence in Ukraine and Gaza.

To respond to these ongoing as well as emerging crises, evidence-based, strategic and targeted humanitarian response plans have been developed for each country/ region. As situations evolve plans are revised or extended.

To date in 2014 donor partners have enabled 608 aid agencies and their partners to scale-up life-saving operations to support national efforts and help affected people. Details of the flow of humanitarian funding as reflected by the Financial Tracking Service as of 19 August are on pages 12 and 13 of this overview.

The $17.3 billion combined requirements for 2014 represent the highest amount ever requested in a single year for inter-agency strategic response plans and exceed the sum required last year by more than 30 per cent. The majority of requirements are for L3 emergencies. With 43 per cent of funding for 2014 received, another $9.9 billion is required. A pledging conference organized by the Government of Kuwait, a high-level meeting in Brussels and a pledging conference co-organized by OCHA and Norway in Oslo elicited pledges of over $3 billion for the Syria, CAR and South Sudan L3 crises. Efforts will continue throughout the rest of the year to raise the sums required.

World: Global Humanitarian Overview - Status Report

22 August 2014 - 1:29pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Gambia, Haiti, Iraq, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Philippines, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen, South Sudan preview

2014 has seen a major surge in humanitarian crises around the world. Inter-agency strategic response and regional response plans now target over 76 million people in thirty-one countries compared to 52 million in December 2013. 102 million people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance compared to 81 million in December 2013. Global financial requirements to cover humanitarian needs rose from US$12.9 billion in 2013 to $17.3 billion now. More and more crises are having a regional impact with a spill-over effect on countries which are already fragile.

Five crises have been classified by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee as “L3 emergencies”. L3s are considered to be the highest level of crisis requiring sustained, top level, system-wide support focused on leadership and coordination to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian response efforts. The response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines was declared an L3 emergency in November. An estimated 11.3 million people in nine regions of the Philippines were affected by Typhoon Haiyan. At least 6,201 people were killed and the force of the storm caused widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure in many towns.

The ongoing L3 emergencies in Syria, the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan are all complex crises which have resulted in significant internal displacement resulting from conflict and ongoing insecurity and the need for protection. They have also become regional crises with political, security, development and humanitarian consequences in their region. In Syria, the number of people in need is estimated to have risen from 9.3 million in December 2013 to 10.8 million now.
As many as 6.5 million men, women and children are dis- placed inside the country and over 2.9 million refugees have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and other countries. The breakdown of law and order and ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic has resulted in more than 518,000 people displaced internally and more than 171,273 people have crossed the border into Chad, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo. Since December 2013, South Sudan faces a looming famine, 1.3 million people are displaced internally and more than 447,000 people have fled into Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda since December 2013. At the rate of escalation of the crisis an estimated 6 million people will either be refugees, displaced inside their country or face severe food insecurity by the end of the year. Most recently, the humanitarian crisis in Iraq has been declared an L3 emergency. Over 1.2 million people have been displaced and are dispersed throughout the Governorates of Neneveh, Salah Al-Din, Diyala, Al-Anbar and Baghdad due to the current conflict. Access to clean water has emerged as a critical, life- threatening problem. Food security is a growing concern.

In addition to the L3s, a number of major crises require ongoing attention. In nine countries across the Sahel, the drought of 2012 exacerbated the devastating cycle of malnutrition and poverty in the region leaving more than 20.2 million people food insecure, of whom 11.9 million people will receive food assistance this year. 2.9 million children will be treated for moderate and severe acute malnutrition across the Sahel. Rising severe and acute malnutrition rates in DRC and Sudan also require a sustained and strengthened humanitarian response. Some 6.7 million people are food insecure in DRC and 5 million others in Sudan. In DRC, 35 per cent of children’s deaths are attributed to malnutrition. 14.7 million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen.

Protection needs remain high in many complex and protracted crises. In DRC for example, protection against sexual and gender-based violence remains a critical area of humanitarian response. Crises in Somalia, Haiti, Myanmar, Djibouti, Sudan, Mali, the occupied Palestine territory and Afghanistan all demand ongoing high level engagement and response. Political upheaval and social unrest have flared into violence in Ukraine and Gaza.

To respond to these ongoing as well as emerging crises, evidence-based, strategic and targeted humanitarian response plans have been developed for each country/ region. As situations evolve plans are revised or extended.

To date in 2014 donor partners have enabled 608 aid agencies and their partners to scale-up life-saving operations to support national efforts and help affected people. Details of the flow of humanitarian funding as reflected by the Financial Tracking Service as of 19 August are on pages 12 and 13 of this overview.

The $17.3 billion combined requirements for 2014 represent the highest amount ever requested in a single year for inter-agency strategic response plans and exceed the sum required last year by more than 30 per cent. The majority of requirements are for L3 emergencies. With 43 per cent of funding for 2014 received, another $9.9 billion is required. A pledging conference organized by the Government of Kuwait, a high-level meeting in Brussels and a pledging conference co-organized by OCHA and Norway in Oslo elicited pledges of over $3 billion for the Syria, CAR and South Sudan L3 crises. Efforts will continue throughout the rest of the year to raise the sums required.