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World: FPMA Bulletin #8, 9 September 2016

9 September 2016 - 9:01am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Country: Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam, World, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Key messages

↗ Ample supplies and improved production prospects kept cereal prices generally under downward pressure. Maize and rice quotations fell the most, while high quality wheat prices firmed on strong demand.

↗ In Africa, food prices in South Sudan declined in August although they remained high, while in Nigeria the weak currency continued to underpin prices. In Southern Africa, decreasing maize quotations in South Africa eased prices in importing countries.

↗ In Asia, domestic prices of rice weakened in the main exporting countries in August, particularly in Thailand, amid mostly favourable prospects for the 2016 paddy crops and overall sluggish export demand.

↗ In South America, domestic prices of yellow maize in Argentina fell significantly from their record highs as a result of ample supplies from the recently-completed 2016 harvest, while they generally increased elsewhere due to an anticipated decline in this year’s outputs.

Thailand: Thailand Border Operation: RTG/MOI-UNHCR Verified Refugee Population, 31 August 2016

9 September 2016 - 7:16am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Myanmar, Thailand

World: South-East Asia countries to set up fund for health emergencies preparedness

9 September 2016 - 6:37am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, World

Colombo, 9 September 2016 - In a critical step for emergency preparedness across the WHO South-East Asia Region, Member countries today agreed to establish a dedicated funding stream aimed at building preparedness for health emergencies in the Region, which is one of the most disaster-prone.

“To date, post-disaster funding through South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund has done an excellent job of helping countries respond to health emergencies once they’ve occurred, as we saw most recently in Nepal and Sri Lanka. The new funding stream will allow countries to invest in infrastructure and human resources that will enhance preparedness,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said.

In recent years earthquakes, cyclones and floods have caused health emergencies in the South-East Asia Region. The Region has also been threatened by a range of emerging diseases, including SARS, MERS CoV, pandemic influenza and Zika virus.

Establishing a joint funding stream under the South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund (SEARHEF) to help countries better prepare for such events was seen by Member countries as a key priority for the Regional health agenda. At present, SEARHEF funds are disbursed only once a disaster has occurred.

“Enhancing health security is a critical component of our public health mission, and a core part of WHO’s work in the South-East Asia Region. The new funding stream for emergency preparedness established by Member countries is an expression of the solidarity shared within the Region, as well as recognition that preparedness is less costly than response,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

Another resolution passed by the session called for promoting physical activity across the Region. Insufficient physical activity is a major contributor to rising rates of non-communicable diseases in the Region, with four-fifth of adolescents not getting enough of it.

“Effective promotion of physical activity needs commitment at the highest level, with leadership from the health sector absolutely crucial. In this Regional Committee Meeting, Health Ministers have led by example, being role models for physical activity by themselves,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

The session also passed a resolution on health workforce strengthening which is vital to achieving universal health coverage – a key part of the Sustainable Development Goal of leaving no one behind. At present, the density of health care providers in the Region is 12.5 per 10 000 population, which is less than the WHO recommended minimum of 44.5 per 10 000 population.

“Expanding health workforces across the Region is one part of what countries in the Region are trying to achieve, but we also need to increase staff retention, particularly in rural areas, as well as provide further training to health workers to enhance their skills,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

The Regional Committee meeting is WHO South-East Asia Region’s highest decision-making body, and includes health ministers and senior health ministry officials of the 11 Member countries of the Region – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Media Contacts Ms Shamila Sharma Communication Officer WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia E-mail: sharmasha@who.int Mobile: +91 98182 87256 Tel: +91 11 23370804, Extn: 26575

Ms Karen Reidy Communication Officer WHO Country Office for Sri Lanka Email: reidyk@who.int Mobile: +94 77 310 4513 Tel +94 11 2379191 Ext. 24664 Fax: +94 1125 02845

World: Crop Prospects and Food Situation No. 3, September 2016

9 September 2016 - 6:10am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Country: Afghanistan, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Timor-Leste, Uganda, World, Yemen, Zimbabwe

HIGHLIGHTS

Prospects for global cereal production in 2016 continued to improve in recent months with significant upward revisions for maize and wheat, reflecting particularly favourable weather conditions in some of the large producing countries.

COUNTRIES IN NEED OF EXTERNAL ASSISTANCE: FAO estimates that 36 countries, including 28 in Africa, are in need of external assistance for food. Persisting conflicts and drought induced production declines are the main causes that have stressed food security in 2016.

AFRICA: Despite expected cereal production increases in East and West Africa, drought-reduced harvests in North and Southern Africa are forecast to pull down the aggregate 2016 cereal output to a below-average level. The impact of the El Niño-induced drought resulted in a significant increase in food insecurity in Southern Africa. Persisting conflicts, notably in Nigeria and in South Sudan, continue to severely impair agricultural production and food security in affected countries.

ASIA: In the Far East, cereal production is forecast to rebound strongly in 2016, after a reduced output in 2015 due to dry weather. Similarly, the output of the Asian CIS subregion is anticipated to increase, benefitting from improved weather conditions, while 2016 production in the Near East is forecast to fall from the bumper level of 2015. Several countries in the Near East continue to be affected by the negative impact of conflicts on agricultural production, livelihoods and food security.

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: Despite a record maize crop forecast in Argentina in 2016, drought-reduced outputs in Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay have resulted in a large year-on-year decrease for the aggregate South American cereal output. Moderate production recoveries from last year’s drought reduced outputs are expected in most Central American countries, while Mexico is anticipated to harvest a bumper cereal crop in 2016.

Myanmar: Myanmar: 800 children and young people released since 2012

9 September 2016 - 12:19am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

Yangon, 9 September 2016 – The Tatmadaw today released 55 children and young people as a result of coordinated efforts with the United Nations to implement the 2012 Joint Action Plan to end and prevent the use and recruitment of children by the army.

This is the first discharge to take place since the new government took power in April 2016, and a week after the 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference, which is a strong signal on the importance of protecting children in the context of armed conflict and within the peace process.

Since the signature of the Joint Action Plan in 2012, 800 children and young people have been released by the army. In addition, a further 13 young people recruited as children but already adults by 2012, were also released today*.

The children and young people discharged will benefit from social-economic reintegration programmes to help them re-start their lives with their families, with an emphasis on access to education and vocational training, and income generating activities.

“We welcome this discharge and the continued commitment of the Myanmar Government to implementing the Joint Action Plan, while stressing the need for the Government to continue making every effort to end the recruitment and use of children in its armed forces”, said Renata Dessallien, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, and co-chair of the UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) on Grave Violations against Children.

Since the signature of the Joint Action Plan, important actions have been taken, namely the centralisation of the recruitment, and the signature one year ago of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which still needs to be ratified.

“We call on the Government to accelerate essential remaining steps, particularly by clearly banning use and recruitment of children in the soon to be adopted national Child Law, further reinforcing age assessment procedures within the military recruitment process, and including the prevention of violations against children in the military curriculum”, said Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar and co-chair of the CTFMR.

In addition to the Tatmadaw, seven non-state armed groups in Myanmar, are named on the UN Secretary-General’s list of parties to conflict who recruit and use children. The UN has started dialogue with several of these to discuss the possibility of signing action plans to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children under 18.

Whilst the peace process moves forward, commitment to stop recruitment and use of children should be immediate.

BACKGROUND

With the exception of these 13 young people, all young people released were children under 18 at the time of the signing of the Joint Action Plan in June 2012.

In addition to the Tatmadaw, there are seven non-state armed groups listed by the UN Secretary-General as being “persistent perpetrators” in the recruitment and use of children in Myanmar. They are the:

  • Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA)

  • Kachin Independence Army (KIA)

  • Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)

  • Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council

  • Karenni Army (KA)

  • Shan State Army South (SSA-S)

  • United Wa State Army (UWSA)

ABOUT THE UN COUNTRY TASKFORCE ON MONITORING AND REPORTING (CTFMR) ON GRAVE VIOLATIONS AGAINST CHILDREN

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1612 mandates the UN to establish UN-led CTFMRs in countries where there is verified evidence that Grave Violations against children are being committed by parties to a conflict, either by armed forces and/or by armed groups. The CTFMR is tasked with establishing a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) which documents, verifies and reports to the UNSC on Grave Violations against children. The six Grave Violations that are monitored and reported are:

-killing or maiming of children

  • recruitment and use of children in armed forces and armed groups

  • attacks against schools or hospitals

  • rape or other grave sexual violence

  • abduction of children

  • denial of humanitarian access for children

The CTFMR is also mandated to provide a coordinated response to such Grave Violations. The CTFMR was established in Myanmar in 2007 and is co-Chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator and the UNICEF Representative in Yangon. The CTFMR in Myanmar includes relevant UN agencies (ILO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UN OCHA, the UN RCO and WFP), Save the Children and World Vision.

HOTLINE

In November 2013, UNICEF supported the Myanmar Government to launch a nation-wide campaign to raise awareness on its population on its commitment to end use and recruitment of Children by Tatmadaw. As part of this campaign, and on behalf of CTFMR, UNICEF and World Vision are managing 2 hotlines (09-421166701 and 09-4211667020) where anyone can alert and report suspected cases of children being recruited or used by the Tatmadaw.

For more information please contact:

Mariana Palavra, Communication Specialist, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09795452618, mpalavra@unicef.org

Htet Htet Oo, Communication Officer, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09250075238, hoo@unicef.org

Myanmar: International Development Minister Rory Stewart concludes Asia visit to promote peace, security and prosperity in the region

8 September 2016 - 10:25am
Source: Department for International Development Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Rory Stewart visits Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan on first trip to the region since becoming International Development Minister.

Rory Stewart visited Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan on his first trip to the region since becoming International Development Minister to see how UK support is helping to build more peaceful, prosperous, safer and healthier countries, which is also in Britain’s interest.

Burma In Burma, the Minister met with Aung San Suu Kyi and a range of Burmese government ministers. He visited Yangon General Hospital which DFID has helped to rebuild, and announced that the UK is helping to cut malaria deaths by providing 450,000 testing kits, providing lifesaving treatment for 11,000 people suffering from malaria, and distributing 2 million mosquito nets.

The UK is also helping build Burma’s resilience and strengthen its capacity to respond to humanitarian disasters, so they can be less reliant on donors such as the UK. UK support for UNICEF is improving sanitation and the quality of water for 90,000 people across 150 villages in Rakhine State, Yangon, Bago and Ayeyarwady. DFID is also providing rainwater ponds in 80 villages and rainwater tanks for 8,000 households in those regions, as well as helping them prepare for natural disasters.

Britain remains a global and outward-looking nation and we will deepen our international partnerships to secure our place in the world by supporting economic prosperity, stability and security overseas.

UK International Development Minister Rory Stewart said:

I’m really proud to be able to announce that DFID will be providing additional support for malaria prevention as part of the UK’s global campaign to eliminate the disease. And in the wake of the Burmese earthquake I am delighted to announce further UK support to communities who suffer under the horrendous impact of floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Bangladesh

The Minister then travelled to Bangladesh to assess the progress made by UK aid in support of the Government of Bangladesh’s aim to achieve middle income status within the next decade. He visited UK-supported projects in Dhaka including a primary school and a garment factory to see first-hand how UK aid is making a difference to people’s lives; and also met with the Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina.

Nepal

In Nepal, the Minister saw the impact of last year’s earthquakes, assessed the progress made on reconstruction and reaffirmed the UK’s support for Nepal’s development. The Minister met with Honourable Prime Minister Dahal and other government ministers to discuss the next phase of UK support to Nepal. He also met with the CEO of the Nepal Reconstruction Authority and DFID programme partners to discuss how access to bank accounts could be increased to speed up the payment of housing grants to households affected by the earthquake.

Afghanistan

The Minister concluded his Asia visit in Afghanistan where he met with His Excellency President Ashraf Ghani, His Excellency CEO Abdullah Abdullah and His Excellency Minister of Finance Mr Eklil Ahmad Hakimi, and discussed preparations for the upcoming Brussels Conference on Afghanistan.

The Minister attended a girls’ education event and heard how UK support has helped the number of Afghan children attending primary school rise from 4.3 million in 2008 to more than 7.2 million by 2014. Of these, 39 per cent were girls, up from virtually none under the Taliban when girls were not allowed to go to school.

World: Focus on migrant health: WHO - WHO SEARO Press release 1637

8 September 2016 - 3:36am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Timor-Leste, World

Colombo, 8 September 2016 – One in seven people globally is a migrant, refugee or an internally displaced person. With countries across South-East Asia Region host to large migrant populations, WHO today called for focused attention to address their health needs.

“Disease is universal and transcends borders and nation states. As health leaders we must tackle the health problems that affect migrant populations. We need to construct better information systems to collect data on the health issues of migrants; institute policy and legal frameworks that facilitate greater health care access; and create inclusive health systems sensitive to the needs of migrants,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said here.

Health and migration are key concerns of Member countries across the Region, with Thailand, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia named among the top ten countries witnessing large movements of people in Asia. Migration poses greater risk and vulnerability to infectious diseases, mental health disorders, maternal and neonatal mortality, substance use, alcoholism, malnutrition, violence and noncommunicable diseases.

“As migration continues to accelerate at unprecedented levels, we are presented with an opportunity to come together as a Region to ensure that migrants are able to access adequate health coverage,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

Mobile populations pose additional challenges to countries often already struggling to cope with day-to-day demands on their health care systems. Migrants also encounter obstacles to accessing quality health care, as provision of health services is contingent on their legal and administrative status.

At the WHO Regional Committee meeting here, Member countries shared experiences in addressing this growing regional issue, including the potential of infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance spread. In response to the issue, for example, Thailand has formulated a ‘Healthy Borders’ approach in the Greater Mekong Subregion, a border area with Laos and Cambodia, which focuses on the prevention and control of tuberculosis, HIV, and other prevalent communicable diseases.

Additional concerns raised and discussed included the fact that mobile and migrant populations are uniquely vulnerable to contracting malaria. In February 2016, five South-East Region Member countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Nepal – came together to enhance cross-border collaboration on malaria elimination efforts.

The Regional Committee is WHO South-East Asia Region’s highest decision-making body, and includes health ministers and senior health ministry officials of the 11 member countries of the Region – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

###

Media Contacts

Ms Shamila Sharma Communication Officer WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia E-mail: sharmasha@who.int Mobile: +91 98182 87256 Tel: +91 11 23370804, Extn: 26575

Ms Karen Reidy Communication Officer WHO Country Office for Sri Lanka Email: reidyk@who.int Mobile: +94 77 310 4513 Tel +94 11 2379191 Ext. 24664 Fax: +94 1125 02845

Myanmar: Immunization and Nutrition Activities in a remote village in Kayin State

8 September 2016 - 1:44am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

By Tin Aung, Health and Nutrition Specialist, Mawlamyine UNICEF Field Office

In August, I accompanied a midwife on her mission to an out-of-reach area, and observed the routine immunization, vitamin A supplementation and deworming activities as part of the National Nutrition Promotion Month. These activities took place in Mel Ta Le village in Kya Inn Seik Gyi Township, Kayin State. This village, which is 10 kilometre away from the nearest rural health sub-centre, can only be reachable during the rainy season by ““trolley jeep””, as it is known in Myanmar.

The midwife Naw Pwe Awng comes here every two month for routine immunization activities. In addition, in August, as it is the National Nutrition Promotion Month, the 40 year old woman visits the village not only for routine immunization but also for vitamin A supplementation and deworming activities.

Early in the morning, Naw Pwe Awng and a maternal and child health (MCH) worker, who was trained by the Swiss Development Committee (SDC) and the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW), took a “trolley jeep” from Kwe Khle rural heath sub centre to the village. The midwife carried her vaccine carrier and a registration book where children’s vaccinations are recorded.

She has been doing this for the last two years: every two months she travels to Mel Ta Le village by “trolley jeep” in the rainy season and by motorbike in the dry season. Her husband has been always her driver for both means of transportation. He smiles and confirms her words. The “road” to the village is very rough. First, we had to cross a one meter depth river. Then we crossed three creeks along the road. The travel lasted about 30 minutes.

Naw Pwe Awng mentioned she would only dress her midwife’s uniform after arriving in the village. On the way there, I understood the reason: for several times she had to help pushing the “trolley jeep” whenever it stuck in the mud.

As soon as Naw Pwe Awng arrived to the village, she informed the mothers she saw along the road to come to the village leader’s house for immunization. After changing her clothes, she started the work. Pregnant women and mothers with under five years old children gradually arrived.

The midwife vaccinated the children with the help of the MCH worker. Since the mothers were worried about the number of vaccination shots, the midwife gave advice on symptoms and treatment after immunisation. She also asked to be informed as soon as possible in case such situations occur.

The majority of the mothers speak local Karen language, also spoken by Naw Pwe Awng, who is from a Karen ethnic group. “Since I speak their language, we can communicate better, which is useful to build their trust and the relationship with the local authorities”, the midwife said. In fact, before she joined the government services, Naw Pwe Awng worked as a midwife for two years in the Karen National Union (KNU) area. I noticed that many children and mothers were quite familiar with Naw Pwe Awng.

After vaccinating every child, she recorded it in the chart and in the registration book. During that day, a total of 8 children came to the vaccinaton session. In adition, she also administered vitamin A supplementation to 20 children between 6 months and 5 years old. Plus, she administered deworming tablets to nearly 20 children between 2 to 5 years.

With the support of the MCH worker, this mission also included ante-natal care and tetanus vaccines for pregnant women. They examined six pregnant mothers and recorded the data in their MCH booklets.

“Every time the midwife arrives, we come here with our children”, said some of the mothers. “We don’t know exactly what vaccines are given and which diseases are prevented but we always come. We believe vaccination can prevent diseases and make our children healthier”.

Although it is notorious that community knowledge on immunization needs to be improved, the work performed by this midwife in a remote area is remarkable. She maintains the cold chain, uses the correct doses and mode of administration, as well as keeps all records up to date. UNICEF will continue to support the work of these health professionals, namely by reinforcing community education and awareness.

Myanmar: Changes brought by WASH in School in remote village

8 September 2016 - 1:42am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

My name is Naw Sae Phaw and I am a teacher of a primary school of Thee Kwe Kaw village, Kyarinseikygi Township. I have been teaching in this very remote village of Kayin Sate, in the South-East Myanmar, for about a year. There are 30 children in the school.

Thee Kwe Kaw village is one of the Ethnic Armed Organization (EAO) controlled villages which is not under the supervision of Government township administration. It is located in the Kayin National Union (KNU) area, which is one of the several EAOs in Kayin state.

Social services are not sufficient in many villages in this state. The Kwe Kaw village is not an exception and villagers are often neglected. Each year, half of the school children gets sick with diarrhea and, therefore, they are often absent from classes. In August 2015, there was also a cholera outbreak in the village and more than 10 schoolchildren suffered from severe diarrhea. One of these children died. This situation was a threat to the whole community. The villagers did not know how to prevent diarrhea and these cases were always treated in a traditional way.

I realized that the lack of safe water, sanitary latrines, handwashing facilities, and awareness on good hygiene behaviours could be some of the reasons of the outbreak. In Thee Kwe Kaw village, there were no latrines in the entire village, including in the school. As a result, open defecation was practiced by the villagers and schoolchildren.

In this context, I started thinking on how to help and prevent diarrhea. One day, I heard that UNICEF was planning to support our village to improve school water and sanitation facilities through the NGO PU-AMI and the State’s Health Department, so I got involved in the community discussions. UNICEF planned to support schools in the construction of WASH facilities and my school was also included in this project.

With UNICEF support, the local NGO built new latrines and conducted hygiene promotion sessions in my school. As a teacher, I also took part in these awareness activities and education training sessions. Now, I am very happy to see our children using the sanitary latrines, and washing hands. Every day, I guide them on the proper use of latrines and conduct group handwashing activities, which are also fun.

The situation has significantly changed since handwashing and sanitation facilities were built. I see that children have a good personal hygiene and notice they take those behaviors back home. Parents and communities confirm that their children do not have diarrheal diseases anymore and, therefore, they don’t miss classes. After only a few months of practicing, the community have also realized the benefits of hand washing and latrines. As of now, more than 50% families have built household latrines and they are using it.

I am hoping that one day this village will be free from diarrhea and have a healthy living environment.

Thanks UNCEF and PU-AMI for helping us to have WASH facilities and change children’s behavior. You have saved the lives of many children in our village. I am confident that my students will have better health and school performance.

* Naw Sae Phaw interviewed by Khin Mar Win, WASH officer at UNICEF Mawlamyine Field Office

Sri Lanka: Address double burden of malnutrition: WHO

7 September 2016 - 11:18pm
Source: World Health Organization Country: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste

SEAR/PR/1636

Colombo, 7 September 2016 - The World Health Organization today called for a whole-of-society approach to address the double burden of malnutrition which affects populations across South-East Asia Region, particularly women and girls.

“The current nutrition profile of the South- East Asia Region is characterized by under nutrition rates that are declining slowly alongside rapidly rising rates of overweight and obesity, often within the same communities, and even in the same households. This double burden is depriving people of reaching their potential, and is fueling rising rates of noncommunicable diseases. We need to mobilize multisectoral action to address the problem at the earliest,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said.

Across the Region, an estimated 60 million children aged 0-5-years are stunted, while 8.8 million are overweight. Thinness affects 24-47 per cent of adolescent girls, while between 2-24 percent are overweight. Among adult women, prevalence of overweight or obesity ranges between 18-30 per cent.

“The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda calls for an end to all forms of malnutrition. As a means of fulfilling this objective, in consultation with all Member countries of the Region, WHO developed the Strategic Action Plan to Reduce the Double Burden of Malnutrition in the South-East Asia Region 2016-2025,” said Dr Khetrapal Singh. “This will provide the basis for action moving forward.”

The Strategic Action Plan serves as an advocacy and reference tool for Member countries that will ensure national interventions are comprehensive and evidence-based. It lays particular emphasis on promoting a supporting environment for nutrition interventions and securing multisectoral commitment to addressing the problem, including from the private sector.

Dr Khetrapal Singh said traditional determinants of malnutrition, which include inequality and inadequate care, economic growth and demographic changes and globalization, have all altered the nutrition profile of the Region and are providing challenges for policymakers.

Member countries discussed the trans-generational impact on future generations caused by maternal under nutrition as well as overweight and obesity resulting from inadequate and unhealthy eating habits and low physical activity.

The Strategic Action Plan was adopted by member countries at the Sixty-ninth session of WHO Regional Committee, the highest decision-making body which includes health ministers and senior health ministry officials of the 11 member countries of the Region – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Media contacts:

Shamila Sharma
Phone: +91 9818287256
Email: sharmasha@who.int

Karen Reidy
Phone: +94 77 310 4513
Email: reidyk@who.int

Myanmar: Water in Myanmar's dry zone

7 September 2016 - 7:08pm
Source: UN Development Programme Country: Myanmar

Daung Yi is a young mother living in Myanmar’s dry zone where clean water is scarce, vegetation is thin and the soil is dry and eroded. The communities here are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.

“I don’t have time for dreams in my life. My family is usually struggling for our daily needs… Water is always a big concern. Without rain, I cannot do anything,” says Daung Yi, whose family survives on the equivalent of US$2-3 a day.

Their village of Sin Ka in Chauk Township, in the Magway Region, has only one well that serves 700 people. It is a 20 minute walk away and costs US$0.60 to fill a 200 litre barrel. This is a serious burden on Daung Yi and her husband, who look after a family of 12, including children and grandparents.

Many landless people in Myanmar’s dry zone work as seasonal farm labourers, migrating to urban areas during non-planting time to find temporary employment. Chronic poverty is directly correlated with the effects of drought and climate change.

UNDP is supporting efforts to secure water resources and reduce food insecurity in 42,000 households in five of the most vulnerable townships of Myanmar’s Dry Zone. With financial support from the Adaptation Fund (AF), UNDP and the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry are addressing environmental risks through community-based and community-driven adaptation.

By reducing the risks and effects from recurring droughts, floods and erosion, the Myanmar government has an ambitious target of supporting nearly 250,000 people in the area.

To reach the people of the Dry Zone, one of the key project initiatives is to enhance water capture and storage in 280 villages, providing continuous freshwater availability and making the difficulties in procuring sufficient water for livelihood and survival a thing of the past.

The increase in water availability will be further leveraged by promoting climate-resilient agricultural and livestock practices. These efficiency measures will allow the scarce water of the Dry Zone to go farther and reach a broader swathe of the most vulnerable.

Efforts are also underway to rehabilitate 4,200 hectares of micro-watersheds through farmer-managed natural regeneration strategies, and establishing community-based agro-forestry plots on 7,650 hectares of private and communal lands. These initiatives will ensure the conservation of the region’s soil and water.

This story was adapted and edited from an earlier version.

World: Countries bordering Indian Ocean to test tsunami preparedness down to community level

7 September 2016 - 6:00pm
Source: UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Country: Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, United Republic of Tanzania, World, Yemen

Twenty-four countries* will participate in a large scale tsunami simulation exercise organized under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO on 7 and 8 September.

Together, they will test standard operating procedures of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System including communications links between all stakeholders, as the rapid transmission of messages between authorities and populations at risk is crucial to save lives in the event of a tsunami. The exercise will include community evacuation drills in at least ten countries, involving over 50,000 participants.

The exercise, known as IOWave16, will comprise two scenarios: the first simulates an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.2 south of Sumatra, Indonesia, on 7 September (0300 UTC); the second simulates an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 in the Makran Trench south of Iran and Pakistan on 8 September (0600 UTC).

Operations will begin when the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre, the Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre and the Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System issue alert notifications to the 24 countries concerned. Simulating tsunami waves travelling across the Indian Ocean, both exercises will be conducted in real time lasting about 12 hours.

The test is designed to assess the effectiveness of communication flows between the operational centres and stakeholders, emergency procedures, and country readiness. Australia, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mauritius, Oman, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste will, moreover, carry out public evacuation exercises in coastal areas.

In Sri Lanka, 14 villages will be evacuated, involving some 7,000 participants. In Oman eight schools and about 8,000 students will take part in simulated evacuations. In India, community level evacuations will be carried out in about 350 villages involving some 35,000 participants. An evaluation will be conducted after the exercise to identify gaps and weaknesses and improve the Indian Ocean System.

Indian Ocean nations called for the establishment of an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System in the wake of the 2004 tsunami disaster. The new System became operational in 2011 with the support of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, which continues to coordinate the system’s governance mechanism.

UNESCO promotes scientific exchange and collaborative efforts in order to establish effective early warning systems for different hazards such as landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, droughts and tsunamis. UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission assists nations in improving standard operating procedures for tsunami through stakeholder workshops, development and evaluation of ocean wide exercises as well as overall scientific coordination across the regions.

  • Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, France (Réunion), India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Yemen.

World: Address double burden of malnutrition: WHO - WHO SEARO Press Release 1636

7 September 2016 - 7:32am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, World

Colombo, 7 September 2016 - The World Health Organization today called for a whole-of-society approach to address the double burden of malnutrition which affects populations across South-East Asia Region, particularly women and girls.

“The current nutrition profile of the South-East Asia Region is characterized by under nutrition rates that are declining slowly alongside rapidly rising rates of overweight and obesity, often within the same communities, and even in the same households. This double burden is depriving people of reaching their potential, and is fueling rising rates of noncommunicable diseases. We need to mobilize multisectoral action to address the problem at the earliest,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said.

Across the Region, an estimated 60 million children aged 0-5-years are stunted, while 8.8 million are overweight. Thinness affects 24-47 per cent of adolescent girls, while between 2-24 percent are overweight. Among adult women, prevalence of overweight or obesity ranges between 18-30 per cent.

“The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda calls for an end to all forms of malnutrition. As a means of fulfilling this objective, in consultation with all Member countries of the Region, WHO developed the Strategic Action Plan to Reduce the Double Burden of Malnutrition in the South-East Asia Region 2016-2025,” said Dr Khetrapal Singh. “This will provide the basis for action moving forward.”

The Strategic Action Plan serves as an advocacy and reference tool for Member countries that will ensure national interventions are comprehensive and evidence-based. It lays particular emphasis on promoting a supporting environment for nutrition interventions and securing multisectoral commitment to addressing the problem, including from the private sector.

Dr Khetrapal Singh said traditional determinants of malnutrition, which include inequality and inadequate care, economic growth and demographic changes and globalization, have all altered the nutrition profile of the Region and are providing challenges for policymakers.

Member countries discussed the trans-generational impact on future generations caused by maternal under nutrition as well as overweight and obesity resulting from inadequate and unhealthy eating habits and low physical activity.

The Strategic Action Plan was adopted by Member countries at the Sixty-ninth session of WHO Regional Committee, the highest decision-making body which includes health ministers and senior health ministry officials of the 11 Member countries of the Region – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

Media Contacts Ms Shamila Sharma Communication Officer WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia E-mail: sharmasha@who.int Mobile: +91 98182 87256 Tel: +91 11 23370804, Extn: 26575

Ms Karen Reidy Communication Officer WHO Country Office for Sri Lanka Email: reidyk@who.int Mobile: +94 77 310 4513 Tel +94 11 2379191 Ext. 24664 Fax: +94 1125 02845

World: Asia’s Child Migrants

7 September 2016 - 1:22am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Afghanistan, Myanmar, World

Bina D'Costa Child Migration Specialist, UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti

Leaving one’s birthplace to move to a new region or country has been one of the central features of human civilisation. An estimated 214 million people worldwide are international migrants and 740 million people are internal migrants.[i] Migration is not always a negative experience. Yet, the contemporary history of migration is replete with stories of conflict, persecution, economic hardship and trauma. Data from the UN agencies tell us that we are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees.[ii] There are also 10 million stateless people. Though the UNHCR provides most of the data for displaced persons, there is not enough precise collection, analysis and distribution of age and sex-disaggregated data on overall migration flows. A very large number of displaced children living close to camps and elsewhere are undocumented. What we do know is that children represent about half of the displaced population globally.

According to the UNHCR the Asia Pacific Region is home to 3.5 million refugees, 1.9 million internally displaced persons and 1.4 million stateless people. The majority originate from Afghanistan and Myanmar.[iii] Although both voluntary and involuntary migration occur in Asia, the prevalent flows are of temporary labour migrants.[iv] Migration is a major driver of social and economic change in Asia. Asia hosts some of the largest numbers of child migrants under the age of 18, who migrate internally and across national borders, with or without their parents.

Some of the key concerns raised by humanitarian actors who work with migrant children in Asia are: incitement to violence; sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) and impunity; child labour and trafficking; extortion, arbitrary arrest and torture; humanitarian needs; statelessness and identity; segregation and property rights; discriminatory restrictions on family life; freedom of movement; and, and crimes against humanity. This commentary provides a brief overview of the experiences of two of the major child migrant groups in the region, Rohingya and Afghan children. It also offers some reflections on how the international and local actors can respond to the predicaments experienced by a child migrant.

Experiences of Child Migrants in Asia

The Rohingya population is one of the most persecuted, marginalised and disenfranchised groups in the world. Through Myanmar’s state-sponsored exclusion policies Rohingyas were made aliens in their own land. The forced migration of Rohingyas that generated the recent crisis beginning from 1942 is well documented. Some of the key exclusion policies and strategies that started with the military coup after which freedom of movement was restricted in 1962 include: the promulgation of the Emergency Immigration Act designed to prevent Rohingya re-entering from India, China and Bangladesh in 1974; the census program Nagamin, to check identification cards and take action against ‘illegal aliens’ in 1977; and finally the 1982 Citizenship Law following the 1978 exodus when many Rohingyas returned or attempted to return to Burma/Myanmar. The strict licensing system to restrict movements, deportation and forced labour, land grabbing and torture have made the living conditions harsh for Rohingyas in their own homeland. Racial hatred has been a significant factor in the human rights abuses perpetrated against Rohingyas.

In 1942 a significant event of internal displacement resulted from communal violence in Burma/Myanmar, which enveloped the whole of Arakan State. The Buddhist Rakhine and the Muslim Rohingya were engaged in a bitter battle after which the Buddhist Arakanese moved to the South and the Muslim Rohingyas to the north, including 22,000 who crossed the border to Bengal. A second wave of migration occurred in 1977, prior to a nationwide census project during the military operation Nagamin to register citizens and screen out foreigners. Over 200,000 Rohingya fled across the border in Bangladesh. During 1991 and 1992, more than 270,000 Rohingya refugees crossed the border from Burma/Myanmar. With them they brought their experiences of horrific violence, forced labor, rape, executions and torture. Two refugee camps in Bangladesh have hosted 28,000 Rohingyas from Burma/Myanmar for more than 16 years. In addition, an estimated 200,000 Rohingyas live outside the camps in Bangladesh.

Most recently, after a series of communal riots in 2012, Rohingya families were again forced to move. Thailand permitted 2,055 Rohingya migrants to enter the country in 2013. However, they were treated as illegal migrants and did not receive any protection traditionally provided to refugees. Human rights groups observed that the Thai government did not carry out regular age assessment procedures and lacked adequate screening to identify children.[v] Even after the family members confirmed their ages, many children were forced to remain in detention centers. Unaccompanied children also remained in the detention centers facing innumerable risks.

Boys from rural and poor areas, mainly from Burma/Myanmar and Cambodia are trafficked and delivered to fishing ports in Southeast Asia. Some extreme forms of exploitation occur in Asia’s fishing industry due to poor regulation and a lack of political will to end the rights violations. Thousands of Rohingya children, particularly older boys have been trafficked through three trafficking camps in Southern Thailand. Many of them were also held for ransom or sold to fishing boats. Thailand’s seafood industry, worth an estimated $7.3bn a year uses them as manual labourers.

As a battleground for several intra-state and international conflicts, including the Cold War and the Global War on Terror, the Afghan socio-political infrastructure has been deeply affected. While the Unites States of America-led international military intervention that ousted the Taliban regime was generally welcomed by the Afghan public, the statebuilding and peacebuilding efforts in Afghanistan have had limited success. One of the largest recorded events of displacement in history occurred in Afghanistan in 1979. A mass exodus of refugees from Afghanistan began in 1979 following the Soviet invasion. This group still constitutes the second-largest refugee group and the world’s most protracted refugee situation. At the height of the displacement there were 6 million Afghans exiles.

Currently some 2.6 million, representing 18 per cent of the global refugee population are under UNHCR’s mandate.[vi] About half of them are children. Pakistan hosts 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees (10.5 per cent). While more than half of the registered refugee population is under the age of 15, 64 per cent are between 5-14 years and youth 15-24 make up another 20 per cent.[vii] Many Afghan children, usually male children between 13 to 17 have embarked on unaccompanied journeys.

Child migrants frequently work in physically demanding, harmful and dangerous situations. Internally displaced children employed in Afghanistan’s brick making industry start as early as five. Their days begin at 4 am and end in nightfall. Child labour has persisted and been reconstituted from traditional forms to become even more exploitative. Afghan refugee children in Pakistan are employed in potentially hazardous businesses such as shipwrecking, gem mining, construction, commercial farming, deep-sea fishing, and transporting goods and services. One of the central themes of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism policy is to ensure mandatory return of unregistered Afghans. In May 2016 for example, more than 2,000 refugees were arrested and 400 deported.[viii] Undocumented Afghan children were returned, and many experienced secondary displacement inside Afghanistan.[ix]

Protection and Justice for Child Migrants

The international humanitarian discourses provide us with some insights on how in the age of the ‘Global War on Terror’, those who are forced to move are no longer welcome and are seen as security threats. While citizens can be under surveillance and, at the same time ‘protected’ from outside threats, illegal immigrants, refugees, stateless people and internally displaced people remain as threats, thus creating moral and ethical dilemmas for states. Although it is poor practice as a member of the international community and detrimental for the global image to send away refugees, governments often claim that it is imperative for state security and for the protection of citizens. In this kind of security architecture, borders are strictly controlled; Identity differences are accentuated and securitized.

Three durable solutions: voluntary repatriation; local integration; or resettlement, are options available to address the ‘refugee cycle’. Current debates on migration control offer new opportunities in the search for solutions. When durable solutions are delayed, children, in particular, are vulnerable to exploitation, discrimination and violence. The interests of states in resolving these pressures can best be met by providing effective protection in regions of origin.

A significant number of child migrants in Asia live in or near refugee/IDP camps. Children are particularly marginalised and vulnerable in these environments. Civil society organisations can play a crucial role in the promotion and protection of the rights of child migrants. In environments where child protection laws have limited reach and are poorly enforced, appropriate family and community support systems are crucial. Grass roots protection strategies can contribute to addressing displacement by strengthening resilience, rebuilding social networks and creating safe spaces. Although human trafficking as a transnational crime and advocacy on prevention, redress, policy response and treatment of the victims has received attention, there has been little focus on developing grass roots solutions, including through a gender justice approach, to protect displaced children. While the role of international and national agencies is crucial, we also need to explore how local organisations and networks can contribute to the design and implementation of policies that protect children on the ground. One key question is to consider how do protection measures enable and constrain children’s justice? How do they affect a displaced child’s participation, access to economic resources and her/his exposure to gender-based violence? How are rights, protection and justice understood and negotiated inside and outside camp environments?

Another significant gap in the scholarship is the experience of displaced girls’. While a range of education and health programs exist, interventions to improve adolescent girls’ knowledge and access to justice are rare. Pregnant girls, in particular, have limited access to schooling or quality vocational and technical training, contributing to their extreme vulnerability and lack of agency. Girls are identified as a high-risk group requiring special assistance and protection, and are often defined solely by their perceived vulnerability. However, experiences on the ground show that displaced girls have skills, knowledge and experience that could be fostered. For example, the YWCA of Sri Lanka through its three Service Groups focuses on girls and youth activism. The success of the YWCA ‘Young Women Lead Change’ project in Jaffna and micro-credit and education programs in Batticaloa indicate that partner collaboration, training and advocacy are key issues for internally displaced girls and young women. Their participation in protection design, implementation, education and training is imperative.

Despite the increasingly securitized stance of States, their policies can make a significant difference. Since 2001, in Afghanistan, school enrolment has increased from 900,000 to more than 6 million. Many of them are returnees. Importantly, the proportion of girls in schools has risen from almost nil to 35 per cent. The number of teachers has grown sevenfold - again, many of them returnees - and the number of schools have doubled.[x] On the other hand, Rohingya children of Myanmar are lucky to complete fourth grade. A vast majority of Rohingya children, approximately 60 percent of them have never been to school due to poverty. There are only five government schools for all of 12 Rohingya camps in the Western Rakhine State of Myanmar. The government excludes Rohingya children from accessing higher education in the name of maintaining peace. Local and international actors need to work together to develop a more child sensitive and child responsive mechanisms. The best interest of the child migrant must be at the heart of such mechanisms.

[i]http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/documents/genericdocument/wcms_322637.pdf

[ii]http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

[iii]http://www.unhcr.org/asia-and-the-pacific.html

[iv]http://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/SDD%20AP%20Migration%20Report%20report%20v6-1-E.pdf, page 9

[v]https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/01/06/thailand-protect-rohingya-boat-children

[vi]http://www.unhcr.org/protection/operations/542522922/afghanistan-regional-portfolio-solutions-strategy-afghan-refugees-20152016.html?query=Afghanistan

[vii] Ibid. page 5.

[viii]http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-refugees-afghanistan-idUSKCN0ZF173

[ix]http://www.voanews.com/a/afghanistan-returning-refugees-pakistan/2795211.html

[x]http://www.unhcr.org/news/latest/2014/11/546de94f9/challenge-life-afghan-homeland-children-born-exile.html?query=Afghanistan

Myanmar: Building an Inclusive Security Sector in Myanmar

7 September 2016 - 1:18am
Source: Government of the United States of America Country: Myanmar

By Jesse Hall | DKI Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies | September 06, 2016

HONOLULU, Hawaii -- DKI APCSS conducted the workshop titled “Building an Inclusive Security Sector in Myanmar” in partnership with that nation’s National Defence College (NDC). Workshop coordinator Dr. Miemie Winn Byrd, said the August event was one of several steps in Myanmar’s building a more transparent, inclusive government.

“New models of collaborative and inclusive governance are required for the country to successfully address its complex challenges. In particular, the focus is on cohesive and healthy civil-military relations at all levels; this is essential to the country’s progress in areas such as maritime security, porous borders, trafficking and ethnic tensions, among others.”

Thirty-one senior officials from Myanmar government and security organizations took part along with four members of the DKI APCSS faculty. Subject matter experts shared information on key principles of security sector inclusivity, collaborative governance, effective interagency cooperation, civil-military cooperation and consultative decision making.

Associate DKI APCSS professor Dr. Imes Chiu, for example, presented the brief “Collaborative Governance and Inter-agency Framework using the Philippine Case Study.” Chiu walked participants through successes the Philippines government achieved in crisis response situations through deliberate inter-agency planning, operations coordination and professional networking. Experts also showcased case studies from Indonesia and the United States.

Daily break-out sessions followed topical discussions, enabling participants to coalesce their enhanced understanding into a set of objectives and associated courses of action.

Key recommended actions focused on increase face-to-face interaction among government and non-government entities and included:

  • Establish a joint task force for assessing basic education conditions in military-controlled conflict areas;

  • Develop a civilian-military higher education institution network and partnerships to share information, knowledge, programs and resources;

  • Initiate a series of periodic and regular inter-agency inclusive workshops and training to increase awareness of collaborative governance;

  • Establish a joint civilian-military research team to increase understanding of ethnic groups’ traditions, cultures and experiences; and

  • Initiate combined and joint outreach programs at local levels in conflict and post-conflict areas.

“Participants actively analyzed needs and opportunities for inclusiveness and were enthusiastic in exploring how it can be applied,” said Byrd. “The warm relations established between DKI APCSS and NDC were remarkable and indicative of a high level of trust and confidence.”

A Myanmar participant related, “I was satisfied with the whole process of the workshop. I gained a lot of knowledge and experience.” Others stated that group discussions brought out a variety of perspectives, promoting cooperation and increased their understanding of the value of inclusion.

According to Byrd, the group selected a core cohort to implement the plan and track its progress over the next 12 months.

Academic workshop lead for the NDC was Col. Nay Myo Hlaing, DKI APCSS alumnus and senior instructor at the NDC. His organization is the premier institution in Myanmar to educate future leaders of the Myanmar Armed Forces and civilian government officials for high-level policy, command and staff responsibilities by conducting an executive-level course of study in national, regional, and international security strategies. The curriculum emphasizes the joint and interagency perspectives at the operational and strategic levels.

DKI APCSS is a Department of Defense institute that provides a program of executive security education, professional exchanges and outreach events, both in Hawaii and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The Center supports the U.S. Pacific Command by developing and sustaining relationships among security practitioners and national security establishments throughout the region. DKI APCSS’ mission is to build capacities and communities of interest by educating, connecting and empowering security practitioners to advance Asia-Pacific security. It is one of the Department of Defense’s five regional security studies centers.

Since opening in 1995, more than 10,300 alumni representing over 122 countries and territories have attended DKI APCSS courses and workshops.

Myanmar: Japan’s Emergency Assistance to The Republic of the Union of Myanmar for flood disaster

6 September 2016 - 11:43pm
Source: Japan International Cooperation Agency Country: Japan, Myanmar

Related to the article on the 25th of August, 2016, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has dispatched emergency relief goods to the Myanmar.

Emergency relief goods including blankets, plastic sheets, and portable jerry cans arrived at Yangon International Airport in the morning of 26th of August.

A handover ceremony of the emergency relief goods took place at the Natural Disaster Management Center of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement at 4pm (local time) on the 26th of August.

The emergency relief goods will be distributed by the Myanmar government to the people affected by the flood.

Myanmar: Myanmar Buddhists Protest Against Advisory Commission on Troubled Rakhine State

6 September 2016 - 8:57pm
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

More than 2,000 Buddhist hardliners demonstrated in the capital of western Myanmar’s Rakhine state on Tuesday against a government advisory commission headed by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan that will examine the restive area’s religious conflict and human rights situation.

Rakhine is home to more than 1.1 million stateless Rohingya Muslims whom many Burmese call “Bengalis” because they consider them illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. The Buddhist majority have long subjected the Rohingya to persecution and attacks and denied them basic rights, including citizenship.

The Arakan National Party (ANP), an ethno-centric political party in Rakhine state, led two protests in Sittwe—one in which about 2,000 residents and monks protested near the city’s airport and another in which 200 people protested near state government offices, said Aung Than Wai, ANP secretary in Sittwe.

The ANP and local Buddhists object to the inclusion of Annan and two other foreigners on the nine-member commission created by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on Aug. 24, saying that Rakhine’s situation should be handled domestically.

The commission, whose other six members are from Myanmar, is on an initial two-day visit to meet local communities in Rakhine.

“The world might not know [ethnic] Rakhine people’s feelings,” protester Thein Kyaw told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “Foreigners can’t know our feelings. We don’t want foreigners to interfere in our problems.”

Protester Kyawt May said: “Whenever they [foreigners] come to the state, they only work for Bengalis, and they tell the world that the Rakhine people have discriminated against the Muslims. That’s why we have suffered.”

Aung Than Wai also noted that a previous investigative committee had been formed in 2012 just after communal violence between Buddhists and the Rohingya left more than 200 dead and tens of thousands displaced.

“That commission submitted a report with suggestions for the township and state levels, but these suggestions have not been implemented yet,” he said. “The current government must continue working on the implementation of these suggestions, because they have to be transferred from the previous government’s responsibility.”

Meetings go on

Despite the protests, Annan and the other members of the commission met with 32 people, including community leaders and officials from civil society organizations, who could see the members of the commission but were not allowed to address them, local residents said.

But when Annan and Kyaw Tint Swe, minister of the State Counselor’s Office, said they wanted to hear what locals had to say, the meeting was abruptly ended, they said.

“We were told previously that we could express our feelings, opinions, and suggestions, but the meeting was stopped a short time before we were supposed to speak,” said Maung Than Sein, a community leader in Sittwe. “We don’t know why that is.”

Maung Than Sein said his group had planned to talk about why the Rohingya do not qualify as an ethnic group in Myanmar, according to the country’s history and its previous military-backed government.

Sittwe community leader Than Tun said he expected to speak directly with Annan, but felt insulted when he wasn’t given the opportunity to do so.

“It means they didn’t want to listen to ethnic Rakhine people’s voices,” he said. “We had just a little trust in this commission before and now we’ve lost it because of what happened today. Although we don’t know who is responsible for this event, the commission made a bad impression because of it.”

Commission member Saw Khin Tint, chairwoman of the Rakhine Literature and Culture Association in Yangon and vice chairwoman of the Rakhine Women’s Association, expressed surprise that locals could not address them.

“We were happy when we saw Rakhine representatives so that we could listen to what they had to say, but we were not able to listen to them,” she said. “I don’t know why.”

The commission also held a closed-door meeting with Rakhine state government officials, Rakhine chief minister Nyi Pu and other ministers, and local Muslim leaders.

The commission will meet with Buddhist monks, Muslim leaders, and coordinators from refugee camps on Wednesday. They will also visit the camps where about 120,000 Rohingya, who were part of a larger group displaced by the communal violence four years ago, currently live.

Lawmakers reject proposal

Meanwhile in the administrative capital Naypyidaw, lawmakers in the lower house rejected a proposal on Tuesday 250-140 to reform the Rakhine commission after ANP chief and lawmaker Oo Hla Saw questioned Aung Sang Suu Kyi’s mandate on the body.

Last Tuesday, ANP lawmaker Aung Kyaw Zan submitted the proposal to reconsider the appointments of the three foreigners to the commission. Two days later, the ANC sent a letter to the government demanding that the commission be disbanded, arguing that the foreigners would not be able to grasp the history and current situation in ethnically diverse Rakhine.

Thirty-four members of parliament (MPs) from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, ANP, military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), and military deputies discussed the proposal to exclude foreigners from the commission.

The 22 NLD lawmakers rejected it, saying that they believe the Rakhine problem will be resolved because Annan, one of the most respected people in the world, was leading the commission.

“The NLD doesn’t consider us dialogue partners,” said Oo Hla Saw. “Kofi Annan suggested to the NLD before the commission was formed that it should hold talks with Rakhine parties, but the NLD didn’t listen to him.”

Furthermore, he said, the state counselor does not have the right to form commissions.

“That’s why this commission is not legitimate,” he said. “Even when a commission must be formed, it shouldn’t include any foreigners.”

The remaining MPs who discussed the proposal had been in favor of further discussions about the proposal, pointing out that the issue would not be resolved because ethnic Rakhine people won’t accept any foreigners on the commission.

They contended that the three should be replaced by local experts and academics.

“We should think about whether we should trust the commission’s report because a foreigner has been appointed as commission chairman, and there are no members on the commission that people trust,” Lieutenant Colonel Mya Oo, a military MP.

“We should be very careful because a local problem may become an international issue, and it is like we are welcoming international interference so that the country’s sovereignty could be harmed,” he said.

Reported by Min Thein Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Myanmar: Ex-UN chief meets displaced in Myanmar's restive Rakhine

6 September 2016 - 8:00pm
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

Sittwe, Myanmar | AFP | Wednesday 9/7/2016 - 13:05 GMT

People forced from their homes by religious violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state gathered Wednesday to meet former UN chief Kofi Annan, as the envoy toured displacement camps during his peace mission.

Annan has been asked by the leader of Myanmar's new government, Aung San Suu Kyi, to head a commission tasked with trying to heal divisions between Buddhists and Muslims and alleviate poverty in Rakhine.

Annan's two-day visit to the western state, which is home to the minority Muslim Rohingya, got off to a shaky start Tuesday when angry Buddhist nationalists protested against his "international interference".

But the Ghanaian diplomat's arrival Wednesday at several decrepit camps outside the state capital Sittwe, where tens of thousands of people -- mostly Muslims -- languish after being displaced by religious violence, was largely met with curiosity.

Crowds gathered to listen as community elders spoke of the hardships they face, such as severe restrictions on their movement and limited access to health care, work and education.

Rakhine has been effectively split on religious grounds since bouts of communal violence tore through the state in 2012, killing scores and forcing tens of thousands to flee.

"Our lives here are worse than those of prisoners," Aung Nyein, a 63-year-old Rohingya leader, told AFP after meeting Annan in Aung Mingalar, an impoverished Muslim neighbourhood which residents cannot leave without permission.

"We asked him to find the best solution for the future of Muslims here... we welcome anyone who comes to work for stability of Rakhine state," he said.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize winner, has come under pressure from international rights groups to find a solution for the Rohingya, a one-million strong group whom the UN considers to be one of the world's most persecuted people.

But at home she must contend with hardline Buddhist nationalists who revile the Muslim minority, describing them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. The hardliners protest at any move to grant them citizenship or even to utter the name "Rohingya".

The protracted conflict has cast a shadow over new freedoms in recent years as Myanmar emerges from decades of brutal army rule.

Annan is scheduled to discuss his visit at a press conference on Thursday in Yangon.

bur/ssm/sm

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Caritas aid people fleeing conflict in Myanmar

6 September 2016 - 3:44pm
Source: Caritas Country: Myanmar

Since 2011, the government of Myanmar has been involved in a low-intensity conflict with an internal ethnic insurgency, the Kachin Independence Army. With elections in early 2016, there is renewed hope of a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Nonetheless, an estimated 96,400 people in Kachin and northern Shan states remain displaced as a result of the armed conflict that re-ignited in 2011. Approximately half of the displaced populations live in areas beyond government control, where local and national NGOs have access but most international organisations do not.

While many of the displaced are living in camps that are being managed by national NGOs, others still live in crowded conditions in temporary accommodation that was not designed to house people for a protracted period of time. Supported by a range of sister Caritas organisations from around the world, Caritas Myanmar provides services to over 16,000 displaced people in both government controlled and non-government controlled areas.

On my mission to visit Caritas’ project helping the people forced to flee the conflict, I spoke to Thein Thein Khein, an 40 year old woman living in St. Joseph Maina Camp, outside Myitkyina Town in northern Myanmar.

Four years ago, as fighting raged near her village, Thein Thein fled with her sister He Ma Moh, 38 years old. In their home village of Nansiam, they ran a mini-market. Fleeing with only what they could carry, they came to Myitkyina, where they found refuge at St Joseph Maina Camp, which is managed by Caritas Myanmar.

At the camp, displaced people themselves run and monitor the quality of services provided. Thein Thein is the Camp Focal Point, which is a full-time job and gives her a chance to earn money. The Focal Point’s job is to ensure coordination with internally displaced people (IDPs), Caritas and the other agencies providing services in the camp.

She is in constant contact with camp residents so she is always up-to-date about their needs and concerns. Thein Thein also assists in accompanying visitors to the camp, ensuring camp cleanliness, providing support to the other camp committees, for example, food, education and sanitation. Thein Thein said, “I’m happy that Caritas has provided for people’s most urgent basic needs in a timely fashion”.

She also tries to assist fellow displaced people with their complaints. The most frequent are about food quantity, as budget constraints only allow for a limited contribution to household’s total needs and discrimination against students when they go to local schools – they are seen as outsiders and sometimes treated badly by other children and teachers.

Thein Thein hopes that in the future she will be able to receive livelihood recovery assistance. In light of limited financial support, livelihood assistance such as for training in weaving for women is restricted to only the most vulnerable households. In this part of the project, women learn how to use a loom and basic business skills.

The weaving businesses that have been set up are much appreciated and give people hope of once again having a steady income and depend less and less on services provided by Caritas. Thein Thein believes that these skills will help her to re-locate to a village where she can live in peace.

Myanmar: Interview: ‘We are still very concerned’ about Naga measles outbreak

6 September 2016 - 5:10am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

By LIBBY HOGAN / DVB

More than a month after initial reports of a deadly outbreak of measles in the Naga Self-Administered Zone started reaching people outside of this remote region of northern Burma, people there continue to die from the disease, despite efforts to contain its spread. To find out about the response to the health crisis hitting one of the poorest parts of Burma, DVB spoke to Naw Aung Sann, the general secretary of the Council of Naga Affairs.

Question: Can you describe the current situation in the Naga Self-Administered Zone?

Answer: So far, the death count has reached over 80. The emergency response from the government is also still slow and the health officers coming to the Naga area also have less concern to go to the Nanyun area — they mainly focus on Lahe Township. When we make a comparison between the two townships, the death toll is higher and the situation is more severe in Nanyun compared to Lahe Township. Health workers are coming to the Naga area, but they mainly focus on the Lahe region.

Q: Is it just the measles outbreak that is affecting people in the area right now, or are there other illnesses as well?

A: It’s not just measles but also malaria and flu. Another one is diarrhea.

Q: What support are you receiving?

A: We are getting support from both the national and regional government. The international organisations WHO and UNICEF came with the government around 12 August. The government has also allowed MSF to hold an office in the Naga region.

Q: So is the situation under control?

A: The government says the situation is under control but we are still very concerned. Not every region has a health officer or health workers or clinics, so it is very hard to control. So if the government says again that the situation is under control, we will not accept it.

Q: How many villages have been affected so far?

A: So far more than 16 villages. In nine villages, the death rate is very severe, but we cannot get detailed information from affected village administrators as communication is difficult. There are two types of issues in recording [the situation]: In Naga, there are more than 10 tribes, each with its own dialect, so language is a challenge. Also, the village administrators, when they have to make reports to the government, most don’t have access to telecommunications. So if you want to get information from the villagers, it will take at least two days. It takes two days for the local government get information, then they report it to the regional government, which takes another two days, and it will take them one or two days to get to the national government. So when the national government gets the information it is after a week. So we are pushing the government to do an emergency response. They say they are already making it, but it is not an emergency response, it is just a gradual response to the affected area.

Q: Moving forward, what improvements can be made to this relief effort?

A: We have made demands to the government to make more effective assistance to the affected area. The Naga area is very remote, like Chin State, so it has been neglected for many years. So it is time the government gave its attention and care to the Naga people. Naga is one of the ethnicities of our countries so we should have citizens’ rights and government protection.