Myanmar - ReliefWeb News

Syndicate content
ReliefWeb - Updates
Updated: 10 min 34 sec ago

World: South-East Asia Opium survey 2014: Lao PDR, Myanmar

8 December 2014 - 1:06am
Source: UN Office on Drugs and Crime Country: Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, World

Opium production in the Golden Triangle continues at high levels, threatening regional integration

Bangkok (Thailand) 8 December 2014 – Opium poppy cultivation in Myanmar and Lao PDR rose to 63,800 hectares (ha) in 2014 compared to 61,200 ha in 2013, increasing for the eighth consecutive year and nearly triple the amount harvested in 2006, according to a new UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report released today.

The UNODC report, Southeast Asia Opium Survey 2014 – Lao PDR, Myanmar, says that Myanmar remains Southeast Asia’s top opium producer – and the world’s second largest after Afghanistan. Together, Myanmar and Lao PDR produced an estimated 762 tonnes (mt) of opium, most of which – using smuggled precursor chemicals like acetyl anhydride – was refined into a estimated 76 mt of heroin and then trafficked to markets in neighbouring countries and outside the region.

“This two-way trade of chemicals going in and heroin coming out of the Golden Triangle is a significant challenge to stability and the rule of law,” said Mr. Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. “The region’s large demand for heroin provides profitable incentives for transnational crime groups. Not only by bringing in the chemicals needed to make heroin, but in particular by trafficking and distributing the drug to markets in China, Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.”

Shan State in the north of Myanmar, which hosts a number of conflict areas and insurgent groups, remains the center of Myanmar’s opium and heroin activities, accounting for 89 per cent of opium poppy cultivation in the Golden Triangle. In Lao PDR, the UNODC survey confirms opium poppy cultivation in the three northern provinces of Phongsali, Xiangkhoang and Houaphan.

The report also noted that Malaysia has become a transshipment hub for opium from Afghanistan, and Cambodia a transit country for heroin shipped to Australia.

UNODC pointed out that economic surveys of farmers in poppy-growing villages show that money generated from poppy cultivation is essential for villagers threatened with food insecurity and poverty.

“The link between poverty, lack of alternative economic options and opportunities, and poppy cultivation is clear,” said Mr. Cheikh Toure, UNODC Lao PDR Country Manager. “Opium farmers are not bad people. They are poor, food insecure people, usually living far from centres and markets where they could sell other products. They need viable alternatives to growing poppy.”

UNODC also warned that the opium business and trade threatens well intentioned regional integration and development plans.

“We need to act. The Golden Triangle is the geographic centre of the Greater Mekong Sub-region, and plans are well underway to expand transport connections and relax trade barriers and border controls, including around opium producing areas. The organized networks that benefit from Southeast Asia’s illicit drug trade are very well positioned to take advantage of regional integration,” Mr. Douglas said.

Link to full report: http://bit.ly/15PGwW3

Media inquiries:
John Bleho, Media and Communications Specialist
UNODC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific
john.bleho@unodc.org M: +66.81.750.0539 Twitter: @johnbleho Skype: john.bleho

Richard Priem
UNODC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific
Richard.priem@unodc.org M: +66 81.750.0539

Myanmar: France to give 100 million euro development aid in 2015

7 December 2014 - 10:00pm
Source: Mizzima News Country: France, Myanmar

Written by Tin Zar Aung

France is committed to providing 100 million euro (US$123.8million) in aid for Myanmar’s rural development, environmental conservation, health, culture and education, according to Mrs Annick Girardin, France’s Minister of State for Development and Francophony.

Mrs Giradin was speaking to the media at the French embassy in Yangon on December 4 during her official visit to Myanmar.

The aid commitment includes soft loans to Myanmar, through the French development agency; Agence Française deDéveloppement, and follows 29 million euro ($40million) in 2013-14 fiscal year assistance, 90 percent of it spent on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis control.

The minister said France has its eye on Myanmar’s reform process.

“Everybody knows the year of 2015 is very important. France is watching to see if the 2015 elections in Myanmar will be successful,” she said.

In reply to a question from Mizzima on the attitude of France to perceived delays in Myanmar’s reform process, she said, “We would like to put emphasis on the betterment of the democratisation process that has been taking place in the country, without being critical.”

She stressed that national reconciliation plays a pivotal role in Myanmar’s peace-making process, in addition to the election issue.

During her stay in Myanmar from December 4 to 6, the minister visited the National Health Laboratory and signed an agreement on cooperation in technology. She met students from the Institut Français de Birmanie and visited the Myanmar Journalism Institute, partly funded by France.

On December 5, she will deliver the opening address at the Women’s Forum Myanmar-ASEAN 2014 in Nay Pyi Taw.

She is also set to visit Dala in the Yangon Region to view the work of French non-governmental organisations.

Myanmar: Government Blocking Aid to Kachin IDP Camps: KIO

7 December 2014 - 9:28pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By YEN SNAING & NANG SENG NOM / THE IRRAWADDY

RANGOON — Camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) near Laiza, the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), are facing a shortage of food supplies amid reported restrictions on UN and NGOs’ humanitarian aid deliveries.

Kachin IDPs have seen food stocks dwindle in recent weeks as humanitarian aid has been blocked by the Burmese government, according to Doi Be Za, chair of the KIO’s IDPs and Refugees Relief Committee.

Doi Be Za, who is also a member of the KIO central committee, said: “The UN and NGOs told us that they will come in October. To date, they have not arrived. Now we are surviving with the help of local donors. The government has suspended the UN and NGOs’ permission to come to Laiza, citing security reasons.”

It was not immediately clear if aid deliveries were being denied in relation to an incident on Nov. 19 in which a KIO military academy near Laiza was shelled by the Burma Army, killing 23 cadets.

There are more than 20 IDP camps under KIO management, with an estimated total population of 50,000 people living in them, according to Doi Be Za’s committee.

“The UN told us that they would come in early November but they didn’t come,” said Mary Tawn, head of the humanitarian NGO Wunpawng Ningtoi, based in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State. “The government has closed the road for security reasons. Now, in the Laiza refugee camps, there is a shortage of basic groceries like rice, oil, salt and peas.”

With IDP camps that in some cases are more than three years old, deteriorating conditions are beginning to take their toll on inhabitants. Some IDPs in Panwar, at a camp more than 10,000 feet above sea level known as Border Post 8, struggle to keep water from freezing and face other difficulties associated with the rugged frontier, Mary Tawn said.

Doi Be Za said as winter approaches, humanitarian aid groups face increasing difficulties in sending rations to Border Posts 6, 7 and 8, which are along the China Border. He said the IDPs are in urgent need of warm clothes, and are also fearful because their camps are sited in close proximity to Burma Army bases.

The UN estimates that more than 100,000 people have been displaced since fighting resumed between the KIO’s armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and government forces in 2011. They are living in temporary camps across Kachin State, some of which are administered by the government and others managed by the KIO.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Humanitarian Organizations Working in IDP Camps in Northern Shan State (21 Oct 2014)

5 December 2014 - 11:25am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Myanmar: Humanitarian Organizations Working at IDP Camps, Rakhine State (21 Oct 2014)

5 December 2014 - 11:23am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Myanmmar: Internal Displacement in Rakhine State (Nov 2014)

5 December 2014 - 11:21am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Myanmar: Internal Displacement in Kachin and northern Shan States (Nov 2014)

5 December 2014 - 11:18am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Myanmmar: Humanitarian Organizations Working in IDP Camps in Kachin State (21 Oct 2014)

5 December 2014 - 10:59am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Myanmar: IDP Sites in Kachin and northern Shan States (1 Nov 2014)

5 December 2014 - 10:55am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Myanmar: IDP Sites in Kachin and northern Shan States (Nov 2014)

5 December 2014 - 10:55am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

World: More people risk lives across Indian Ocean despite abuse, deterrence

5 December 2014 - 8:00am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Australia, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, World

This is a summary of what was said by the UNHCR spokesperson at today’s Palais des Nations press briefing in Geneva. Further information can be found on the UNHCR websites, www.unhcr.org and www.unhcr.fr, which should also be checked for regular media updates on non-briefing days.

A new UNHCR report has found that more people are risking their lives on smugglers’ boats in South-East Asia despite the prospect of horrific violence en route.

UNHCR estimates that 54,000 people have undertaken irregular maritime journeys in the region so far this year, based on reports by local sources, media and people who survived the journey. This includes some 53,000 people leaving from the Bay of Bengal towards Thailand and Malaysia, and hundreds of others moving further south in the Indian Ocean.

The outflow from the Bay of Bengal tends to peak in October, when calmer waters follow the end of the rainy season. Departures this October surged more than in previous years. Some 21,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshis have set sail since then, a 37-per cent increase over the same period last year. About 10 per cent are believed to be women. Roughly one-third of arrivals interviewed by UNHCR in Thailand and Malaysia were minors under 18 years of age. Children as young as eight years old are known to have made the journey alone.

In total some 120,000 people are believed to have embarked on these voyages in the Bay of Bengal since the start of 2012. With payments ranging from US$1,600 to US$2,400 demanded for each passenger, smugglers plying this route are believed to have generated nearly US$250 million in revenue in the last three years.

Myanmar/Bangladesh

While the majority of people paid smugglers for the journey, there were isolated accounts of people who said they were forced onto boats, sometimes at gunpoint, in Myanmar and Bangladesh. UNHCR staff met two Rohingya boys in Malaysia who said they were kidnapped off the street in northern Rakhine state in late September and forced onto boats.

Conditions on the smugglers’ boats were dire. Survivors consistently described overcrowded conditions and daily rations of one sparse meal and one to two cups of water. People who asked for more or tried to use the toilet out of turn were beaten with belts or kicked down ladders by the armed crew on the deck above. An estimated 540 people have reportedly died this year at sea from such beatings, starvation or dehydration, and their bodies thrown overboard.

Thailand

Survivors told our staff that they were ferried from the big boats on smaller boats to Thailand. There they were held in smugglers’ camps and made to call relatives to pay for their release. When payment was not immediate, they were beaten or subjected to other acts of torture. A large number of survivors were able to show signs of serious mistreatment on their body.

Since last year, hundreds of people are alleged to have died in the camps from illness, starvation, dehydration and killings by smugglers when they tried to escape or could not pay.

According to survivor accounts, raids by law enforcement agencies in Thailand since the beginning of the year seem to have led to a marked reduction in the number and size of smugglers’ camps in the country.

Some of the survivors UNHCR interviewed had gone through the camps more than once. They were rescued in government raids, placed in immigration detention, then opted for deportation or escaped and re-entered the smuggling cycle to escape the prospect of indefinite detention.

Rohingya and Bangladeshis who arrived in Thailand in recent months have been systematically screened by government multi-disciplinary teams to assess the potential for human trafficking. If found to be victims of trafficking, they are transferred to shelters to facilitate their rehabilitation and investigations of suspected smugglers. UNHCR hopes that this ongoing screening can be expanded to an assessment of all international protection needs.

Malaysia

Most arrivals in Malaysia crossed by land from Thailand and were kept in holding houses in northern Malaysia, usually for a few days. UNHCR staff met a teenage girl who married a Rohingya man after he paid for her and her brother’s release from a holding house.

As a result of the abuse and deprivations they suffered on smugglers’ boats and camps, this year nearly 200 people approached UNHCR in Malaysia with beri beri disease, a form of Vitamin B1 deficiency that left them unable to walk.

Several boats arrived directly in Malaysia from the Bay of Bengal this year. Nearly 300 people who arrived on three boats were arrested. UNHCR has been able to access people from the first two boats and is seeking access to the third group.

Yet others arrived by boat undetected and are living in the community. In interviews with UNHCR, they said they disembarked on Langkawi island off Malaysia’s north-western coast or were ferried by speedboat from the Andaman sea to the mainland.

Indonesia

Two-way boat traffic continued between Indonesia and Malaysia, with some Rohingya moving to Indonesia after spending some time in Malaysia. More than 100 Rohingya were registered with UNHCR in Indonesia this year.

UNHCR staff spoke to some Rohingya who tried to sail onward to Australia but returned due to bad weather, engine failure or interception by Australian authorities.

Australia

In 2014 there were 10 known interceptions of boats carrying 441 people hoping to reach Australia. Seven boats with 205 people were returned to Indonesia. All but one of 79 passengers on two boats were returned to Sri Lanka. Separately 157 people on a boat from India were transferred from the Australian mainland to an offshore processing centre in Nauru, where they remain detained.

Of the more than 6,500 people of concern to UNHCR who travelled by sea and were put in detention in the region, over 4,600 were held in Australia or the offshore processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Committee against Torture recently added their voice to UNHCR’s own set of concerns about these practices.

Link to access the full report:

http://storybuilder.jumpstart.ge/en/unhcr-imm

For more information on this topic, please contact:

In Bangkok (regional office), Vivian Tan, +63 818 270 280 In Geneva: Babar Baloch, +41 79 557 9106

Myanmar: Creating Lasting Change In Myanmar

4 December 2014 - 7:49am
Source: Mines Advisory Group Country: Myanmar

MAG is equipping local organisations in Myanmar with the knowledge and practical tools to deliver lifesaving Mine Risk Education in landmine-contaminated communities.

Thanks to funding from the US State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, MAG is training six youth Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to carry out Mine Risk Education (MRE) in the landmine-riddled Kayah State.

Kayah borders Thailand in the south-east of Myanmar; it has suffered greatly from the violent conflict between ethnic armed groups and the Myanmar Army that has left large parts of the country contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO).

Each day, communities here live with the threat of mines and UXO, which kill, maim, prevent people from using their land, and hamper development.

To enable the CBOs, that have limited MRE experience, to help these communities effectively, MAG recently ran a workshop aimed at building their technical and organisational capacity.

‘Mine Risk Education Training of Trainers’ took place in Kayah’s capital, Loikaw, and among other things focused on:

• Basic messages on recognition and dangers of landmines/UXO

• Dangerous areas and behaviour, and landmine-safe behaviour

• Behavioural change communication

• Data collection and impact monitoring

• Working safely in contaminated areas.

All six organisations work in potentially unsafe areas, but previously had little or no knowledge of how to keep their staff safe.

It is vital that they have proper safety and security policies for their staff before they can positively influence the behaviour of communities in contaminated areas, which is the ultimate goal of MRE activities.

One CBO member shared a story about his friend, the son of a military man, who brought a grenade to a social gathering and started juggling it around. It seemed the young man did know the item could be dangerous, but with the (wrong) information his father had given him still felt confident in his dangerous behaviour.

It is this kind of risky behaviour based on misinformation that organisations working in Kayah will try to change.

"I want to thank MAG for giving this training," said one participant afterwards. "Now I understand how to keep myself safe from landmines and how to give this awareness to the community."

Following the training, MAG gave organisational capacity-building workshops on Finance & Governance, Human Resources, and Project Cycle Management. All CBOs will receive ongoing guidance during the subsequent months, as well as six individual and catered monitoring and evaluation visits.

Community-based organisations

Community-based organisations (CBOs) are civil society non-profit bodies that can play an important and role in providing services at a local level. CBOs are seen as an important part of civil society, especially in countries where there previously was not much space to operate outside of government control.

The six CBOs involved in the training sessions were:

• Community Yu Katta (CYC)

• Karen New Generation Youth (KNGY)

• Kayah Phu Social Services & Development Organization (KPBA)

• Pay Sat Alin Tan (PSALT)

• Union of Karenni State Youth (UKSY)

• Youth Life Formation Center (YLFC)

MAG's impact in Myanmar

MAG’s Community Liaison team started work in Kayah State in 2014, and since then has given 111 MRE sessions to 3,470 people (53 per cent male, 47 per cent female); included amongst these beneficiaries are 1,160 children.

This work has been carried out with the support of our donors in Myanmar: AusAid, IrishAid and the US State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal & Abatement.

Myanmar: Reports of minority ethnic groups to form their own federal army

3 December 2014 - 9:01pm
Source: Mizzima News Country: Myanmar

In a move likely to anger the Nay Pyi Taw government, twelve of Myanmar’s minority ethnic groups are reported to have announced the establishment of a federal army, said the Voice of America on December 2.

The news comes at a time of conflicting views on the future make-up of Myanmar’s defence forces with the government seeking to disarm the ethnic groups and rejecting the idea of a federal force.

VOA says the new force, called the Federal Union Army or FUA, will be under the supervision of the United Nationalities Federal Council or UNFC, an umbrella group that has been trying to negotiate a nationwide ceasefire between ethnic minorities and Myanmar’s military.

Major Khun Okkar, co-secretary of the UNFC, reportedly told VOA the new force would be vital in national peace efforts.

While the Myanmar government has not yet publicly reacted to the announcement, members of the government have made clear the country should only have one army, the Tatmadaw.

Speaking in an interview last week, Army Chief General Min Aung Hlaing made clear there is room for only one national military force.

The general told VOA in an interview that countries like the United States, India and China do not have two or three national armies.

Speaking during the visit of the Norwegian delegation to Myanmar on November 30, Myanmar’s Minister of the President’s Office U Aung Min said there was no pressing need for a federal armed force.

The minister, a crucial government player in negotiations with the ethnic groups, was responding to a question on whether Myanmar’s military should actively seek to incorporate military personnel from all ethnic groups.

After the November 30 conference, U Aung Min told Mizzima that the armed forces and the union government come under the same umbrella according to the constitution.

Questions of the possible development of a federal armed force and the future deployment of military units are due to be discussed further at the next meeting of the government’s Union Peace-making Work Committee and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team slated for early December.

Padoh Mahn Nyein Maung, central executive committee member of Karen National Union, recently told the media about the need for ethnic minority groups to co-ordinate with the government armed forces to establish a federal army, a process that he said would take time.

Myanmar: Myanmar to Provide Free Treatment to Half of HIV/AIDS Patients by 2016

3 December 2014 - 8:35pm
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Myanmar has pledged to provide free treatment to around half of the country’s patients affected by HIV and AIDS by 2016, as civil society groups called on the government to increase efforts to meet upcoming global eradication targets on World AIDS Day.

Health Minister Than Aung told reporters in the capital Naypyidaw on Monday that the government would spend around U.S. $5 million next year on antiretroviral therapy (ART) for nearly all of the people affected with HIV/AIDS in Myanmar that are not already receiving the treatment.

“According to our records from June, more than 120,000 HIV/AIDS patients [are not receiving ART] and around 75,000 patients have been getting it for free through local and international organizations in 2014,” he said at a press conference to mark the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 27th annual World AIDS Day.

“We plan to provide free ART treatment to 111,000 HIV/AIDS patients [in 2016].”

According to the United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) agency, some 190,000 people in Myanmar were living with HIV in 2013.

Sit Naing, Myanmar country director for the U.K.-based Marie Stopes organization, welcomed the announcement, but told RFA’s Myanmar Service that it is time for the government to increase the portion of its health care budget allocated to tackling HIV/AIDS in the nation from a mere four percent.

“This is the time to debate an increase in the [share of the] health care budget because ART has mostly been provided from [foreign donors],” he said.

“The government has done little domestically to provide enough ART.”

Meeting targets

Ahead of World AIDS Day, France-based Doctors Without Borders (MSF) released a statement commending Myanmar’s health authorities in their efforts to take control of diagnosis and treatment, and support the global “Getting to Zero” campaign, which targets zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths by 2016.

But MSF called for increased support for the Ministry of Health’s National AIDS program to meet the 2016 targets, together with improving the quality of care for people living with HIV/AIDS in the country.

“MSF urges all organizations and international partners involved in supporting the fight against HIV/AIDS to accelerate efforts to assist the Myanmar health authorities to adapt their HIV/AIDS strategies to reflect the realities of the significant challenges ahead,” the statement said.

It noted that while Myanmar is currently on track to reach the 2016 targets, last year the WHO expanded the criteria for people with HIV/AIDS that qualify for treatment, which it said will lead to a large expansion in the number of patients requiring ART and related medical care in the country, and impose extra challenges on existing constraints.

MSF also noted that as Myanmar develops economically on the back of reforms initiated by President Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government since taking power from the former military junta in 2011, the country may not qualify for the same level of international donor money and resources to fund its health system in the future.

“In close collaboration with the Ministry of Health’s National AIDS Program, MSF firmly believes the way forward in this situation is adapting and innovating in the way HIV/AIDS is addressed in Myanmar,” MSF Myanmar country health director Nana Zarkua said.

Zarkua said Myanmar needs to scale up treatment, strengthen human resources, and improve the overall health and laboratory infrastructure in the country to better address the problem of HIV/AIDS in the country.

Furthermore, he said, it is “crucial” that changes are made in the delivery of HIV/AIDS services, such as restructuring health staff duties relating to HIV/AIDS and accelerating the decentralization of medical services for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Reported by Win Naung Toe and Moe Kyaw for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Myanmar: Education in Action!

3 December 2014 - 4:56pm
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

By Eunwoo Kim, Knowledge Management Specialist, UNICEF Regional Office for East Asia and the Pacific.

03 December is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The day reminds us that children with disabilities are one of the most marginalized groups in society, facing daily discrimination in the form of negative attitudes and barriers to accessing services and opportunities. Our vision is to build a world where every child can grow up healthy, protected from harm and educated, so they can reach their full potential.

I have always been eager to understand how UNICEF’s national level policy work affects the daily lives of children in the field. Since I joined the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) last December as an Education Officer, I have witnessed regional initiatives such as evidence-based policy advocacy and capacity building of government officials. I have also had opportunities to learn about UNICEF Country Office work at the national level, but I had not yet had a chance to see UNICEF’s programmes in the field. So, I was keen to find the link between national work and the impact on children on the ground during my first field visit.

In Myanmar, I visited a school in Hlaingtaryar Township whose teachers had received trainings in Child Friendly Schools (CFS) and School Self-Assessment/School Improvement Planning (SSA/SIP) with the support of the Quality Basic Education Programme (QBEP), implemented by UNICEF.

Positive changes from QBEP trainings

Hlaing Thayar Township is about an hour’s drive from Yangon, the majority of the population work in factories and a large number of people migrate to this township from other parts of the country to seek work. In school #19 I met Daw Aye Aye San, Head Teacher. She recalls 2012 as a landmark year for the school when the entire faculty of 19 teachers received trainings in CFS and both her and another teacher received training in SSA/SIP. In 2013, three teachers including Daw Aye Aye San also attended a refresher CFS training on quality improvement, and they passed along their learnings to the other teachers in the school.

Thanks to the SSA/SIP training, Daw Aye Aye San established a Committee on School Improvement, with members including 10 teachers, 10 parents and 10 students. The Committee has identified a school improvement plan for the 2014/15 school year and through this has introduced a teaching quality improvement programme, which enables teachers of the same subjects to have monthly meetings to share challenges and lessons-learned.

The Committee has also addressed equity issues by providing additional exercise books and stationery to 100 children with one parent or no parents. Non Formal Primary Education has been delivered to 15 children who are not in regular school and 10 “Food Days” are planned, where children receive nutritious food at school. A water purification facility was also planned but proved too expensive to afford. Lastly, with help of other NGOs, the Committee is supporting the two children in the school who have been identified as having a disability.

Meet Aung Thu Phyo

One of these children is Aung Thu Phyo is, a fourth grader who came to School #19 after being rejected at a different school because of his disability. Aung Thu Phyo may be different from his classmates, but he is very happy in school, dancing and singing “Gangam Style” and achieving the second best grade score in the class. Last year, Aung Thu Phyo’s father had to bring him to school in a wheelchair because he could not walk unaided. This year, he has become stronger and has no problem walking and getting around the school by himself.

Supporting children with disabilities in the school is done in collaboration with two NGOs and includes activities such as building ramps for wheelchair users. QBEP’s role has been pivotal in this change in that it was the Committee for School Improvement that recognised the needs of the children who have disabilities and decided to address them. To me, this is a perfect example of how QBEP's work can yield positive changes for children.

I also wonder if it was the CFS approach, which emphasises child-centred teaching methods such as group activities, that has brought Aung Thu Phyo closer to his classmates. It was delightful to see all these changes. Having observed UNICEF work only at the regional and national levels, I have always wondered how the organisation impacts change on the ground. Primary School #19 has fulfilled my curiosity.

So what next?

Is providing teacher and head teacher trainings sufficient? The teachers I met commented that a refresher training in CFS had been useful in helping them to fully understand the CFS approach. These teachers believe the CFS method is good for children, the children in their classes have become more active and are not afraid of expressing their ideas. However, the teachers also reported that it is challenging to apply CFS methods whilst also trying to follow the national curriculum as CFS approaches tend to take more time than traditional teaching methods. The fact that there are 70-80 students per class puts an extra burden on teachers. The teachers were also concerned by how well the children will do at the next government exams at the end of grade 5. Although, it seems they need not worry and these classes will be well prepared to pass their exams - 70% of students have passed their first mock exam and for those 30% who failed, the school is providing extra lessons.

A notable achievement from this initiative is that the school now has an official space and mechanism where teachers, parents and students can discuss and contemplate ways to improve the school. Establishment of the Committee on School Improvement can be seen as the first step towards a better learning environment for children.

Needless to say, QBEP’s trainings have positively affected school #19. But such positive changes can be sustained only with appropriate infrastructure and policies. It is important that feedback from the field – from UNICEF field officers, teachers and NGO partners – is reflected in national level policy advocacy in order to bring positive changes to communities throughout the country.

The Myanmar Quality Basic Education Programme (QBEP) is supported by the Multi Donor Education Fund (MDEF), comprising Australia, Denmark, the European Union, Norway and the United Kingdom, and by UNICEF.

World: Landmine Monitor 2014

3 December 2014 - 10:00am
Source: International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Cluster Munition Coalition Country: Afghanistan, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Sharp drop in landmine casualties; but international funding for remaining mine clearance declines

(Washington DC, USA, 3 December 2014): Fewer people were killed and injured by landmines in 2013 than in any previous year, and nearly all use and production of the weapon has ceased, said the latest annual report of the Nobel Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Landmine Monitor 2014 was released on the seventeenth anniversary of the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty.

“While far too many people are still losing their lives and limbs to landmines, new casualties are at their lowest level ever recorded—possibly the best measure of how successful the Mine Ban Treaty has been,” said Megan Burke, casualties and victim assistance editor of Landmine Monitor. “But we can’t forget that there are hundreds of thousands of landmine survivors waiting for their needs to be met and their rights to be fulfilled,” Burke added.

In 2013, the recorded number of casualties caused by mines and other explosive remnants of war decreased to 3,308—the lowest level since the Monitor started recording casualties in 1999—and nearly one-quarter fewer than in 2012. In 2013, there was an average of nine victims per day, indicating that many lives are being saved when compared to the 25 each day reported in 1999. As in previous years, the vast majority of the recorded casualties were civilians (79%).

With the August 2014 accession by Oman, a total of 162 countries are now States Parties to the treaty. Of only 35 states still outside the agreement, almost all abide by its key provisions, indicating near-universal acceptance of the mine ban norm. A victory for global recognition of the treaty came when the United States announced new policies in June and September 2014 banning use of antipersonnel mines except on the Korean Peninsula, banning production of the weapon, and accelerating destruction of its stockpile. The US said that this is “signaling our clear aspiration to eventually accede” to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Landmine use remains isolated

There was no confirmed use of landmines by a member of the Mine Ban Treaty in the reporting period, from September 2013 to October 2014. There has only been one confirmed instance of a violation of the ban on use by a State Party, by Yemen in 2011.

Stocks of antipersonnel mines are present in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine between government forces and Russian-backed separatists, although it is not yet possible to determine whether antipersonnel mines have been used. Ukraine is a State Party to the treaty.

“Yemen must do more to clarify and hold accountable those who used antipersonnel landmines in 2011, and any use in Ukraine must be halted and fully investigated,” said Mark Hiznay, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and ban policy editor of Landmine Monitor.

As recorded in the last year’s report, the Monitor again confirmed new use of antipersonnel mines by the government forces of Syria and Myanmar, states still outside the Mine Ban Treaty, as well as in the internationally unrecognized breakaway area of Nagorno-Karabakh; but the latest report found a sharp decline in new use in Myanmar.

Non-state armed groups used antipersonnel mines or victim-activated improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen, one fewer country (Tunisia) than reported in Landmine Monitor 2013.

Stockpiles, trade, and production continue to decline

More than 48 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines have been destroyed since 1999 and just six States Parties have yet to complete destruction of their stockpiles. Three of these countries failed to complete the destruction of their stockpiles within four years of joining the treaty and therefore remained in violation of that treaty provision: Belarus and Greece since 2008, and Ukraine since 2010.

The United States was removed from the list of potential landmine producers following its June 2014 policy announcement foreswearing any future production or acquisition of antipersonnel mines. Active production may be ongoing in as few as four countries: India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and South Korea.

In June 2014, China stated that its stockpile of antipersonnel mines numbered less than five million, not the 110 million previously estimated, and the United States stated its stockpile is now some three million, not the more than 10 million previously reported by the Pentagon.

For the past decade, the global trade in antipersonnel mines has consisted of a very low level of illicit and unacknowledged transfers, but the appearance of mines in Sudan and Yemen indicates that some form of market for, and trade in, antipersonnel mines exists.

Landmine clearance and support still critical

Today, 56 states (32 of which are treaty members) and four other areas (Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, Somaliland, and Western Sahara) are known to have hazardous antipersonnel landmine contaminated areas. However, within the next five years, 40 of these states and three other areas are fully capable of completing the mine clearance obligations of the treaty if adequate resources are available.

The treaty obligates each State Party to clear all mined areas in its jurisdiction or control within a 10-year period, with provision for extension requests to be approved by member states.

Ten States Parties were granted extension requests within the past year. States were anticipating that Ethiopia, which has a clearance deadline of 1 June 2015, would also request an extension. It has not made one to date, thus leaving its status uncertain.

Of the 32 States Parties with outstanding mine clearance obligations, 23 have been granted at least one extension period and more than half of these are deemed to either not be on track with their extension requests or have not reported clear progress.

At the Third Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in June 2014 in Maputo, Mozambique, States Parties agreed to set the goal of a mine-free world by 2025. “Most states can meet their treaty obligations by 2025, but they will have to redouble their efforts and make land release, including clearance where appropriate, a top priority,” said Atle Karlsen, deputy director of humanitarian disarmament at Norwegian People’s Aid and mine action research team leader of Landmine Monitor.

At least 185km2 of mined areas were released through clearance and survey in 2013—a decline from some 200 km2 in 2012—destroying almost 275,000 antipersonnel mines. The mine action programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Croatia continued to account for the large majority of area released worldwide, demonstrating that with determination progress is achievable.

Global expenditures for activities such as mine clearance, survey, and risk education, collectively known as mine action, totaled USD$647 million in 2013, down from $681 million in 2012. International support for mine action amounted to almost $446 million in 2013, down $51 million from 2012’s record high of $497 million. Conversely, funding from national authorities increased by some $17 million in 2013, to $201 million.

“Sustained levels of international funding remains vital as mine-impacted countries continue striving to clear their last minefields and to assist landmine victims,” said Jeff Abramson, program manager of the Monitor initiative and final editor of Landmine Monitor 2014.

ENDS

PDF Major Findings (Arabic-Pending, contact for copy) PDF Major Findings PDF Principales Conclusiones PDF Conclusions Principales

About the Monitor: Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor is the research arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines - Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL-CMC). The ICBL was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its work to eradicate landmines. The Monitor is coordinated by a Monitoring and Research Committee comprised of ICBL-CMC expert staff, research team leaders, and representatives of four non-governmental organizations: Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Mines Action Canada, and Norwegian People’s Aid.

Links: Monitor website - http://www.the-monitor.org ICBL website - http://www.icbl.org/ Mine Ban Treaty - http://www.apminebanconvention.org/ ICBL Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/minefreeworld ICBL Twitter - https://twitter.com/minefreeworld ICBL Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/minefreeworld/collections/ ICBL Youtube - http://www.youtube.com/user/ICBLnetwork Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor Twitter - https://twitter.com/MineMonitor

For more information, to request a full copy of the report or schedule an interview, contact: • Jared Bloch, ICBL-CMC Media and Communications Manager, Geneva (CET), Mobile +41-78-683-4407 or email media@icblcmc.org • Jeff Abramson, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor Manager, Washington, DC (EST), Mobile 1-646-527-5793 or email jeff@icblcmc.org

Bangladesh: Climate and Disaster Minister visits Rohingya refugee camp

2 December 2014 - 9:05pm
Source: Kaladan Press Network Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

Written By Kaladan News

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh: Climate and Disaster Minister Mofazal Hussain Chowdhury Maya of Bangladesh visited Nayapara Rohingya refugee camp on November 27, to observe the situation and to discuss local concerned authorities regarding the evacuation of refugee camp from the existing place, according to Helal Uddin from Teknaf.

“The Minister told the reporters in a press brief that there is malnutrition, increase mortality rate due to lack of birth control because of not existing rules and regulations. It is needed for self-earnings and to establish small industries for the refugees.”

“Ukhiya-Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar district is a tourist center. Rohingyas are living in these places and committed crimes, therefore, our image are going to be destroyed,” the minister more added, according to a refugee leader preferring not to be named.

In other hand, for the purpose of ensure of security, education, shelter and health care, it is necessary to transfer the refugees to another suitable place, Bangladesh Prime Minister Shek Hasina is thoughtful, according to Bangladesh news reporters.

Besides, after visiting an especial team to the refugee camps, government will take inclusive decision regarding the matter (relocation).

In future, after discussion between Burma and Bangladesh regarding the entry of Rohingyas into Bangladesh, Bangladesh will start to relocate the camps, the Minister hope, sources said.

On November 27, at around 2:15 pm, the Minister went to Nayapara camp along with a local committee of Climate Disaster and Aid and held a meeting with local authorities. . After discussion about 45 minutes, they visited nutrition center and small industry in the camp.

Other local MP Abdur Rahman Bodi, DC Ruhul Amin, Ukhiya cycle AASP Shattrawdar Tripura, Upazila Nirbahi officer Sha Mujahid Uddin, secretary Amitaw Kumar Bawl, secretary Shattawbroto Shaha, secretary of minister Abu Taher, Refugee Aid and Rehabilitation ministry secretary Farid Ahmed, Social officer Darmodorshi Borwa, Teknaf upazila chairman Jaffar Ahmed, Camp-in-charge of Nayyapara refugee camp Jalal Uddin, Teknaf OC Moktar Hussain and other GO- NGOs officers were also present in the meeting, according to Helal Uddin of Teknaf.

The minister left to Teknef after briefing to reporters regarding the meeting and took rest at the Hotel of Central Resort of Teknaf sea beach, having lunch there and left Teknaf for Cox’s Bazar in the evening.