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World: FAO in the 2015 Humanitarian Appeals: Enhancing Food Security and Resilient Livelihoods - Mid-Year Update

23 June 2015 - 7:45am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Iraq, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Foreword

In 2015, the world continues to face an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises.

Over USD 750 million are required to address the immediate challenges facing agriculture and food security in the countries and regions highlighted in this mid-year review of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) participation in the 2015 humanitarian appeals. Even though agriculture is a source of livelihood for 75 percent of the population in most of the affected countries and the FAO appeal only represents a tiny fraction of the overall humanitarian needs, resource partners’ contributions received to date barely cover 20 percent of FAO’s appeal. And the needs are bigger than ever.

Most recently, Nepal’s devastating earthquakes severely impacted farming families. The deepening food security and nutrition crisis in South Sudan is raising serious concerns and the number of severely food insecure people is expected to escalate from 2.5 million at the beginning of the year to at least 4.6 million by July. The situation is likely to be even worse if the renewed conflict in Greater Upper Nile continues to spiral down.

Globally, conflict and protracted crises are further weakening the resilience of families and communities in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sahel, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Together these crises account for about 50 percent of FAO’s total appeal. Millions of people, many of them food insecure and suffering from malnutrition, are fleeing violence in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, and now Burundi. Without assets or livelihoods, they mostly depend on humanitarian assistance for their very survival. These displacements have knock-on effects, often destabilizing neighbouring countries and placing increased pressure on already strained service infrastructure and food availability in camps and host communities.

World: FAO in the 2015 Humanitarian Appeals: Enhancing Food Security and Resilient Livelihoods

23 June 2015 - 7:45am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Iraq, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

Foreword

The idea of losing one’s assets to a flood or conflict, or enduring hunger day after day is an unlikely prospect for most readers of this document. In the event that a disaster strikes, there is a cupboard full of canned goods to tide us over and an insurance settlement with which to rebuild. For one-third of the world’s population, however, disaster can instantly destroy a family’s home, a lifetime of accumulated assets, and any means with which to restore their livelihoods.

As we present this appeal in early 2015, hazards and crises threaten 2.5 billion people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. The number of acute humanitarian emergencies has increased tremendously. In the past year alone, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has responded to system-wide Level 3 emergencies in the Central African Republic, Iraq, the Philippines, South Sudan and Syria, and supported the response to Ebola in West Africa.

FAO plays a unique role in responding to these crises. From day one of a humanitarian emergency, we start to protect and restore the livelihoods of affected farmers, fishers, herders and foresters. The immediate provision of feed saves livestock from starvation at a fraction of their replacement cost. Seed assistance restores the self-sufficiency and dignity of vulnerable farming families, reducing the need for food assistance. By integrating relief and development activities, FAO’s resilience building efforts save livelihoods while helping communities lay the foundations for their own long-term recovery.

Last year, conflict and natural disaster forced millions to abandon their farms and livestock in countries such as the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, among others. Without assets or livelihoods, they have no choice but to depend on humanitarian assistance. FAO’s mission is to help these people once again start producing food for their families and communities, and eventually return to their homes and fields.

In 2014, a food crisis was contained in the Central African Republic, where FAO helped over 110 000 families plant their fields while the World Food Programme provided food assistance to help them cope until the harvest. In South Sudan, joint efforts in the food security, livelihoods and nutrition sectors helped 2 million people avert famine and severe food insecurity. FAO’s programmes in Somalia combine cash-for-work activities, livestock redistribution, animal health support, and seeds and tools for the next planting season. Despite these efforts, over 4.7 million people in these countries remain severely food insecure.

In addition to these crises, an estimated 9.8 million people are food insecure in Syria, including 6.8 million in critical need of food and agriculture support.

Almost 20 million people in the Sahel are food insecure, as well as millions more in Afghanistan, Iraq, West Bank and Gaza Strip, Yemen and other priority countries.

In 2015, FAO seeks USD 697 million to assist around 30 million crisis-affected people in 31 countries. With your support, we can help these vulnerable families better withstand current and future crises and regain their self-sufficiency, livelihoods and lives.

Thailand: The Border Consortium E-Letter: Issue 24, June 2015

23 June 2015 - 1:55am
Source: The Border Consortium Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Situation update

Peace process:

190 people, including senior representatives from 17 ethnic armed organisations, participated in a Summit to review the Draft Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement from June 2-9 in Karen State. A number of amendments were proposed to the common text which had been drafted over the past 18 months by the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) representing the ethnic armed organisations and the Union Peace-making Work Committee (UPWC) representing the Government. The Summit also reiterated the importance of including all ethnic armed organisations in the process of negotiating a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and appointed a High Level Delegation to oversee ongoing discussions with the Government. Nonetheless, the likelihood of a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement being reached and substantive political dialogue commencing before the elections scheduled for November 2015 appears remote.

Trafficking, Irregular Migration and Refugees:

A crackdown on human trafficking in Thailand led to the discovery of mass graves near the border with Malaysia during May and international attention on the plight of Rohingya and Bengali refugees and migrants. 90,000 people are estimated to have been smuggled by boat across the Andaman Sea since the beginning of 2014. Already stateless and struggling with severe restrictions on their movements and access to basic rights, the Rohingya have been further marginalised in Myanmar during this period by the rise of religious hatred and the passage of a discriminatory Population Control Law. Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have at various times adopted a push-back policy and not allowed the boats to reach land or even remain in their territorial waters. This stance was softened following a regional meeting on 29th May that included representation from the USA and other Western Governments. Local Thai authorities conducted some preliminary assessments as to whether the refugee camps could accommodate the “boat people” but this appears unlikely. With the onset of the wet season and the end of the sailing season, the scale of irregular migration may decrease in the coming months but the causes of vulnerability and flight remain.

World Refugee Day

The Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO) recognised World Refugee Day on June 20 by reiterating calls for the international community to respect the voices and rights of refugees from Burma/Myanmar. KWO’s statement noted “the conditions that led to refugees to flee in the first place have yet to be resolved”. Despite preliminary ceasefire agreements, ongoing militarisation undermines security in areas of potential return. KWO also expressed concern that reductions in international assistance and an increase in restrictions in movement are challenging refugees’ subsistence in Thailand. Looking to the future, genuine and regular consultation with, and participation by, refugees in planning was highlighted as essential to ensuring a sustainable return process.

Malaysia: Malaysia bids sombre farewell to nameless Rohingya dead

22 June 2015 - 4:08pm
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Malaysia, Myanmar

Kampung Tualang, Malaysia | AFP | Monday 6/22/2015 - 07:27 GMT

by Manan VATSYAYANA

Malaysian authorities on Monday held a sombre mass funeral for 21 suspected ethnic Rohingya found in human-trafficking graves last month, with fellow Muslims praying for the unidentified victims to find a place in heaven.

The remains were what police said were the first of 106 exhumed so far from pits at trafficking camps found in late May in jungles in northern Malaysia along the Thai border, a discovery that laid bare the brutal extent of the region's migrant crisis.

About 100 local villagers offered quiet Muslim prayers as 21 wooden coffins -- containing 19 men and two women -- were lowered into deep graves cleared by earth-movers at an Islamic graveyard in the northern state of Kedah.

The discovery of camps and graves on both sides of the Thai-Malaysian border and a flood of thousands of starving boat people to Southeast Asian shores in May has highlighted the plight of the Rohingya.

A Muslim minority from Myanmar, they have for years sought to escape what they say is worsening persecution by the country's Buddhist majority.

Fleeing abroad by the thousands each year, they typically put their lives in the hands of often brutal smugglers and traffickers who arrange a perilous passage by sea and land, usually destined for Muslim-majority Malaysia.

"These are innocent Muslims, like brothers and sisters to us. We are really sad that they had to undergo misery and pain. I am sure they will take their rightful place in the heavens above," said Mohamad Yusuf Ali, 57, a local carpenter of Rohingya origin.

Despite not knowing the unidentified victims, scores of Malaysians and Rohingya turned out for the ceremony in the sleepy village of Kampung Tualang despite fasting for the month of Ramadan.

During Ramadan, the faithful avoid consuming food or liquid during daylight hours, offer more prayers, and reflect on what it means to be Muslim.

  • 'Allah will punish the traffickers' -

"I hope Allah will punish the criminals who were responsible for their deaths. The Rohingya people did not do anything wrong. They were only looking for a better life," Mohamad Yusuf said.

A Malaysian police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the remains of 106 people had been exhumed so far and that authorities were still conducting post-mortems on the majority of them.

Police had earlier said 139 grave sites were found at more than two dozen abandoned jungle camps in the Malaysian state of Perlis. They are yet to offer a final tally of dead, or announce the suspected causes of death.

A government minister said last month that 12 Malaysian police officers were being investigated for possible involvement in the camps, but authorities have since released no new information on their investigations.

Earlier in May, Thai police said seven camps were found on their side, and 33 bodies have been discovered. Fifty-one people have been arrested, including a senior army general, and more are being sought.

Rights groups -- which have long accused Malaysian authorities of tolerating abusive and deadly human-trafficking -- and the US government have called for a full and transparent investigation.

"The (traffickers) will never have a place in heaven. All for money, they are prepared to beat and kill a human being," Mohamad Noor Abu Bakar, 48, a Rohingya Muslim resident of Malaysia, told AFP.

mv-jsm/dma/eb

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Dengue fever doubles in Burma this year

22 June 2015 - 8:47am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

Thirty-seven persons in Burma have died of dengue fever so far this year, according to the Ministry of Health, which warned that the rate of infection in the first half of 2015 is double that of the same period last year.

Speaking at a coordination meeting on the prevention of dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) in Naypyidaw on Friday, Minister of Health Dr Than Aung said that as of 17 June, 8,475 cases of the disease have been reported in Burma this year.

According to the ministry, the administrative regions with the highest infection rates across the country are Rangoon and Mandalay divisions, and Mon State. People living in these areas were advised by the ministry to remain vigilant. my As the majority of DHF infections have been reported among schoolchildren, health officials advised prioritising preventive measures, such as removing potential mosquito habitats around schools.

Dengue is transmitted by several species of mosquito within the genus Aedes. As there is no commercially available vaccine, prevention is sought by reducing the habitat and the number of mosquitoes and limiting exposure to bites.

DHF is nowadays more common in Southeast Asia and India than in Africa, where it originated. The most dangerous period for contracting dengue is during the rainy season and monsoon season, which in most of Burma runs from June to September.

Myanmar: Council conclusions on forthcoming elections in Myanmar/Burma

22 June 2015 - 8:09am
Source: European Union Country: Myanmar

22/06/2015 13:20 Press release 488/15 Foreign affairs & international relations

  1. The European Union reiterates its strong commitment and continued support for Myanmar/Burma's democratic and economic transition in accordance with the Comprehensive Framework as adopted by the Council on 22 July 2013. It welcomes enhanced EU-Myanmar/Burma cooperation including the holding of two rounds of EU-Myanmar/Burma Human Rights Dialogue, the signing of a framework agreement between the European Investment Bank and the Government of Myanmar/Burma, the ongoing negotiations on an EU-Myanmar/Burma Investment Protection Agreement and the EU recently joining the Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labour Rights and Practices in Myanmar/Burma.

  2. Elections in 2015 will be an important milestone in the democratic transition of Myanmar/Burma and an opportunity to confirm that reforms are irreversible. The Council welcomes the holding of political dialogue in various formats between major actors, including the President, the speakers of Parliament, the Commander-in-Chief, the opposition and the ethnic political parties. The conduct of elections in a peaceful environment will contribute towards a democratic Myanmar/Burma based on respect for human rights and rule of law for all its people.

  3. The European Union follows closely negotiations between the Government of Myanmar/Burma and ethnic armed groups on the text of a nationwide ceasefire agreement and encourages continued progress towards signature. It encourages all leaders to continue to work together towards peace and national reconciliation, in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Myanmar/Burma.

  4. The Council reaffirms its call for the conduct of democratic, inclusive, credible and transparent elections in which all the people of Myanmar/Burma, including persons belonging to minorities, can fully exercise their political rights and cast their vote and where a level playing field is ensured for all candidates. The participation of women in the electoral process should be encouraged. Full respect for fundamental rights including freedoms of expression, association and assembly is key for ensuring an open and inclusive process.

  5. Arrangements for former Temporary Registration Card holders should urgently be put in place and their political representation and participation ensured. The disenfranchisement of white card holders risks further fuelling the sentiment of alienation of the Rohingya. A durable solution to the issue of citizenship would also contribute towards addressing the root causes of the migratory crisis in the Andaman Sea. The Council is preoccupied by the dire situation of thousands of migrants in the Andaman Sea and highlights the need for a regional response to save lives and tackle human trafficking.

  6. The European Union welcomes the invitation by the Union Election Commission to observe the elections in 2015. It encourages continued consultations between the Union Election Commission and political parties and civil society to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections.

  7. The Council appreciates the good cooperation between the Union Election Commission and its international partners in preparing the elections. In this context, the European Union is providing electoral support to bring election management practices in line with international standards. This will cover domestic election monitoring, voter education, public outreach targeting minorities and assistance to develop media capacity. Transparency and unhindered access by media and observers will enhance public confidence in the integrity of the elections.

  8. The European Union welcomes the adoption by consensus of resolutions on the 'Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar' in the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council and urges the Government of Myanmar/Burma to implement the recommendations.

Myanmar: Chin civilians bear brunt of conflict in Paletwa, Chin State

21 June 2015 - 10:54pm
Source: Mizzima News Country: Myanmar

The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) today condemned both the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar Army for human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, in the context of recent outbreaks of conflict between the two sides in Paletwa, southern Chin State in a media release dated 15 June.

CHRO urged the authorities to cooperate with UN agencies and the international community to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance to more than 350 Khumi Chin internally-displaced persons (IDPs), who will run out of food supplies before the end of this month.

CHRO’s briefing describes how the community of Khumi Chin indigenous people were forced to flee when their village of Pyin So,where there is a Myanmar Army military outpost, came under direct attack by the Arakan Army at the end of March.

Around 6pm on 28 March, about 40 armed soldiers from non-ceasefire ethnic armed group the Arakan Army approached the village. On their way to the village, they detained 8Khumi Chin men, two of whom managed to escape and were able to warn the villagers of the impending attack. The eight Myanmar Army soldiers stationed there left their outpost and took up positions around the village. Fighting broke out late that night, and again early the next morning, and Myanmar Army Captain Kyaw Htet Aung was killed. After the Arakan Army effectively seized control of the village, they ordered the Pyin So villagers to dig a grave and bury the body of the Captain. Another ten men were forcibly taken by the Arakan Army to porter their loads for them to the border with Bangladesh.

The primary school in the village was destroyed in the fighting, as well as the schoolteacher’s hostel and two other homes. The roofs were heavily damaged and the properties riddled with bullet holes. Both the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army have allegedly laid landmines around Pyin So village.

“This is yet another case where ordinary civilians, this time Khumi Chin indigenous people, bear the brunt of armed conflict in Myanmar and suffer human rights violations,” said Rachel Fleming, CHRO’s Advocacy Director. “The long-standing pattern of abuses hasn’t stopped; in fact we see it escalating in the Paletwa area.”

Myanmar: Hundreds of migrants waiting repatriation

21 June 2015 - 9:22pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

More than 700 people rescued from a boat in Myanmar waters last month are still being held in the western state of Rakhine. Authorities verifying their citizenship claim most of them are from both neighbouring Bangladesh, while the rest are Rohingyas according to a report by Channel News Asia on 17 June.

At the shelter housing the rescued migrants Ya Ya Khant is known as number 173 to the authorities, but to his family, he's a lost son.

The Myanmar Navy rescued him, together with these other migrants on their way to hopefully find employment in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. The 25-year-old had been living in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Rakhine and desperately wanted to make a better life for himself.

“We are not fine. There are no jobs at the refugee camps. That's why we left for Malaysia,” he said. “Dead or alive, we are leaving for Malaysia, because we have no job. We know we have to work six months for US$2,000 (to pay off the broker). We are then able to send the money to our family after six months. That's why we are leaving.”

The Myanmar government recently repatriated 150 people to Bangladesh. The remaining 700 would-be migrants housed in a temporary shelter will be next in line.

Ya Ya Khant’s hopes of starting a new life have been shattered, all he wants right now is to return to the IDP camp and let his family know that he's alive and well. The Myanmar government maintains that Ya Ya Khant, and other migrants like him, leave for economic reasons and not because they are persecuted.

"Even though we try to stop the smuggling and trafficking, they are still leaving of their free will through their own connections,” said Rakhine Chief Minister Maung Maung Ohn. “It does not make sense that the boat people are fleeing from the camps because Myanmar is torturing them. We might have our weak points but that doesn't cause them to flee.”

Some left because they wanted to find a job in a different country, some left because they were tricked into doing so. Others could no longer bear the life filled with restrictions. However, one thing remains clear. Many of them remain extremely worried today, and that is because their future ahead lies with greater uncertainty.

For now, many of them take comfort in the knowledge that they are no longer drifting aimlessly at sea. And even though regional governments have addressed the migrant issue temporarily, a long term solution is yet to be found.

World: Landmines/ERW, Refugees and Displacement

20 June 2015 - 6:27am
Source: International Campaign to Ban Landmines Country: Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Myanmar, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, World

Recognizing record high and increasing levels of global displacement and ongoing impact of landmines and cluster munitions, today the Landmine Monitor and Cluster Munition Monitor Casualties and Victim Assistance team is publishing Landmines/ERW, Refugees and Displacement, a timely new briefing paper that expands upon and updates developments since the last Monitor report on these important topics in 2013 “Landmines and Refugees: The Risks and the Responsibilities to Protect and Assist Victims.”

This briefing paper update focuses on refugees fleeing from, or into, countries contaminated by landmines and other explosive hazards, including cluster munitions and on the assistance provided to survivors of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) who are refugees or displaced persons.

The Intersessional Meetings to the Convention on Cluster Munitions will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, on 22-23 June 2015. At this meeting, States Parties will report on efforts made and plans to implement their treaty obligations. States that have not yet joined the Convention will present updates on steps they are taking towards joining. The Mine Ban Treaty will hold its 2015 Intersessional Meetings in Geneva from 25-26 June 2015. Monitor briefing papers and factsheets are issued several times per year, usually surrounding major international meetings.

The Landmine Monitor 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. Factsheet content is often drawn from the most recent annual Monitor reports and online thematic country profiles available at the-monitor.org.

World: World refugee day: One in two refugees is a child

20 June 2015 - 2:45am
Source: Terre des hommes Country: Eritrea, Indonesia, Italy, Lebanon, Malaysia, Myanmar, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, World

Today we are faced with the highest numbers of refugees around the world and their situation is more critical than ever.

50 million people have either been displaced inside their countries or have fled to foreign lands. The risks they take to reach a safe place are also higher than ever. Over 1800 people lost their life trying to cross the Mediterranean over the last 6 months of 2015. The majority of them were fleeing Syria and Eritrea. In South-East Asia a refugee drama is taking place. In barely seaworthy boats tens of thousands of Rohingya, one of the most persecuted minorities worldwide, tried to reach Malaysia and Indonesia in the last months.

One in two refugees is a child. Many of them are born in refugee camps and denied a birth registration and nationality. Around the world, many of the refugee children do not access education, health care and enter harmful work to maintain themselves and their families.

In the ongoing Syrian civil war 6 million Syrians had to flee their country – still, the European Union hosts only 6% of these refugees as compared to 1.3 million living in Lebanon and 2 million in Turkey. In the European Union, in 2014, out of the total number of asylum applications, 25% were coming from children. 1.200.000 Syrians living in Turkey are under 18 years old. Despite the relatively limited numbers and the developed child protection system within the EU, much more needs to be done to ensure the rights of refugee children.

“The stories of children arriving at the coasts of Italy are difficult even to hear, they are unbelievable”- says Raffaele Salinari, Chair of Terre des Hommes International Federation.

According to Italian Government official data, as of the end of March 2015 over 12.600 unaccompanied minors were residing in Italy – more than 3.500 of them being untraceable after having escaped from social services facilities, confirming the worrying phenomenon of children disappearing.

“This is confirming the loopholes of the reception system in Italy”, affirmed Alessandra Ballerini, lawyer and consultant for Terre des Hommes in Italy.

“Many of these children have experienced violence in their countries of origin and have been severely traumatized on their way to Europe. They need fast and qualified help, but unfortunately there are too few adequate facilities and experts for psychotherapeutic treatments available” says Danuta Sacher, member of the Board and Head of Terre des Hommes Germany.

“We face increased xenophobia against foreigners in Europe and this affects also refugee and migrant children. Moreover, children seeking asylum can often end up in immigration detention either because they fled with their families, or, when unaccompanied, while awaiting their age assessment” says Ignacio Packer, Secretary General, Terre des Hommes International Federation.

As a child rights organisation Terre des Hommes supports refugee children and advocates for their rights world-wide. Terre des Hommes provides humanitarian aid, psychosocial and legal support to asylum seekers and refugee children in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and Italy among others. It also supports NGO partners who support refugee children in Cyprus, Greece and Malta. In addition, Terre des Hommes member organisations and their partners active in the Destination Unknown campaign advocate for better protection of refugee children.

On this international day of refugee protection, we call for :

  • Renewed efforts to address the root causes of forced displacement, including political solution for ongoing crises in the Middle East and improving human rights standards including minority rights;

  • Fight xenophobia, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination against foreigners, in particular children any youth, including refugees worldwide;

  • More solidarity and support by European states towards other countries hosting the larger number of today’s world refugees as are Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey;

  • More solidarity between all European countries and further investment in all of them to ensure that child refugees access the rights they are entitled to, including specialised services such as legal guardians and psychosocial support;

  • An end to child immigration detention worldwide.

Read more On Human Rights of Migrants

Myanmar: Japan offers $3.5 million to help Rohingya

20 June 2015 - 12:39am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand

Tokyo, Japan | AFP | Saturday 6/20/2015 - 04:22 GMT

Japan on Saturday offered a $3.5 million to help the Rohingya boat people who have fled Myanmar where they faced severe discrimination.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan remained committed to helping national reconciliation efforts on various fronts in Asia, including between Myanmar's government and "ethnic minority groups".

"With regard to non-regular immigrants, including women and children trying to cross the Indian Ocean, Japan has decided to extend $3.5 million" through global agencies such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, he said in a public address.

The money will go to providing food and shelter as well as to fund data analysis of their maritime movements, the foreign ministry said.

The plight of the persecuted and impoverished Rohingya has drawn international attention as thousands of them and Bangladeshi migrants cram into boats and struggle desperately to reach other Southeast Asian countries.

The Muslim Rohingya complain of systematic discrimination and mistreatment by Myanmar's Buddhist-majority government, which refuses to even recognise them as citizens.

hih/mtp

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Suu Kyi party to decide 'soon' on contesting Myanmar polls

20 June 2015 - 12:36am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar | AFP | Saturday 6/20/2015 - 04:12 GMT

Aung San Suu Kyi Saturday said her opposition party would shortly decide whether to contest crucial elections in Myanmar later this year as it battles to change the constitution barring her from the presidency.

Speaking to senior National League for Democracy (NLD) members at the start of their annual two-day conference in Yangon, Suu Kyi injected some fresh doubt over whether her party would compete in its first national vote in a quarter of a century.

The polls, slated for October or November, are seen as a vital test of democratic reforms in Myanmar after decades of junta rule, and if free and fair, the NLD is expected to make sweeping gains.

But under the current charter Suu Kyi is barred from the top job under a constitutional provision excluding those with a foreign spouse or children from the presidency -- her two sons are British.

"Soon the National League for Democracy will decide whether we will run for election or not," she told dozens of senior party members gathered for the meeting in downtown Yangon. "After we decide, we will choose representatives."

The Nobel laureate has previously declined to rule out a boycott of the polls as her party struggles to amend the junta-era charter.

Its campaign has been focused on changing a constitutional clause that hands a crucial say over changes to the charter to the military, which is guaranteed a quarter of parliamentary seats.

But military members have vociferously opposed any reduction to their voting privileges.

Myanmar began emerging from military rule in 2011 following an election marred by widespread accusations of cheating and the absence of the NLD.

The once pariah nation was widely praised for then launching a spread of economic and political reforms with most international sanctions against it dropped.

But in recent months rights groups and Suu Kyi have warned that the country's transition towards democracy has stalled.

The NLD last competed in general elections in 1990, when it won by a landslide but was never allowed to take power.

nan-klm/pj/mtp

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

World: Beyond News and Numbers: Who are Refugees?

19 June 2015 - 11:42pm
Source: US Agency for International Development Country: Myanmar, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, World

Posted by Jennifer S. Kim on Friday, June 19th 2015

Today, in honor of World Refugee Day, USAID recognizes the strength and resilience of the more than 60 million people around the world who flee war, persecution, and human rights abuses in pursuit of safety and stability.

The world is facing an extraordinary time of conflict and crisis— the number of refugees and displaced persons globally is at its highest point since World War II. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 90,000 refugees seeking safer, more prosperous shores have risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean by boat in 2015.

World Refugee Day marks an opportunity for the international community to recognize the plight of these uprooted families across the globe.

This year’s theme is ‘Get to Know a Refugee – Ordinary People Living through Extraordinary Times.’ The goal is to remind us that refugees are just like everyone else, that their borderless status is not the only thing that defines them.

As many advocates and international development professionals know, more than anything refugees seek normalcy – whether it is a traditional meal that reminds them of home or ensuring that their children continue their education.

The story behind the journey

A mission trip working with Haitian refugees in the Dominican Republic inspired my own personal identification and commitment to refugees.

After witnessing the social exclusion and instability that new refugees face, I knew that I wanted to help them re-establish their lives. With the resolve to protect the human rights of refugees, I became a resettlement caseworker for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a USAID partner dedicated to serving refugees.

As a member of the reception team, I was the first point of contact for refugees arriving in the United States. I greeted refugees at the airport, helped them settle into their new homes, and connected them to vital social services.

I learned that refugees have two stories: one of their past and one of the future they dream of. Both are incredibly unique and complex. Understanding their background stories helped me bridge their worlds together.

I remember taking the bus with one of my clients to show him his travel route home. As a young refugee from the Near East, he told me his friends couldn’t believe he made it. His mom didn’t sleep for the two nights while he traveled to America.

He had watched a lot of American movies and he said that he felt like he was living in one. Although he had been in the United States only four days, he already visited a friend several hours away to prove that he could get lost and find his way back. Like myself, he left home at 17 to pursue his education and career, and had an insatiable sense of wanderlust.

As we shared our hopes for the future, we were colleagues, compatriots, and comrades. I encouraged him to not give up, because even with an education, achieving success in the U.S. takes patience and perseverance.

Although it has been many years since I personally greeted refugees with the IRC, their stories continue to influence my work in international development.

A commitment to the human rights of refugees

USAID is working around the world to support refugees by giving them dignity and opportunity as they regain normalcy in their new lives.

From Syrian refugees in Jordan to Rohingha refugees in Bangladesh, USAID equips families with the resources and support they need to meet their basic needs despite the extraordinary struggles they face every day.

The civil war in Syria has resulted in the world’s largest refugee population. Since 2011, more than four million Syrians have been displaced to neighboring countries. Through innovative food assistance programs USAID is providing electronic vouchers and regionally purchased food to refugees. With access to local ingredients, refugees can cook traditional meals—a small comfort that helps them feel more at home in an unfamiliar environment.

In Thailand, USAID is working with the IRC and other partners to provide long-term health programs for as more than 100,000 Burmese refugees. More than two million people from Burma have been displaced due to political instability and human rights violations. The USAID Support to Health, Institution Building, Education, and Leadership in Policy Dialogue (SHIELD) project provides access to essential health services and education for migrants, refugees, and other displaced persons living on the Thailand-Burma border.

As we work to end extreme poverty, our Agency is committed to ensuring that every person, everywhere, feels safe, protected, and has the opportunity to thrive. Helping refugees and ensuring they are able to regain quality lives across the world is critical to this mission.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer S. Kim, Program Support Specialist in USAID’s Center of Excellence for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG Center).

Myanmar: UEC releases dates for electoral roll announcements

19 June 2015 - 11:34pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, 19 June — The Union Election Commission on Friday issued a statement listing dates and locations for the announcement of electoral rolls for the 2015 general elections.

Voter lists will be announced for the fourth time at the offices of ward and village election sub-commissions in all districts in Kachin, Rakhine, Shan (North) and Shan (East) States and Ayeyawady Region, Meiktila, NyaungU and Yamethin districts in Mandalay Region, Toungoo, Thayawady and Pyay districts in Bago Region, Katha, Kalay, Mawlaik and Hkamti districts and Naga Self-Administered Zone in Sagaing Region and Kawthoung district in Taninthayi Region and remaining 21 townships in Yangon Region from 22 June to 5 July 2015.

Voters whose names are absent from rolls must submit form No. 3, the statement said, while those listed with incorrect information must use form No. 4-C.

People may contest the nomination of unsuitable persons, such as those who are deceased or imprisoned, with form No. 4.

Visitors’ names will be included in voter list of permanent residences provided they submit household registration form No. 66/6. Political parties should cooperate with the Union Election Commission in assisting voters to be properly enrolled and to have comprehensive voter lists, the statement said.—MNA

Myanmar: Villagers tap natural spring to ensure water supply

19 June 2015 - 11:24pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Bamauk, 19 June — Facing regular water shortages, residents in Ashaegon Village in Bamauk Township,
Sagaing Region, are creating infrastructure to obtain water from a nearby natural spring.

The village’s 700 residents have faced shortages of drinking water for many years. They have built a 20-foot-long and six-footwide water tank and installed two 3-inch-diameter water pipes at Waimahi natural lake at the foot of Sawbwa Hill, more than 3 miles west of the village.

The local people will construct a reinforced concrete tank 40 feet in length and 20 feet in width near the village to store water.

“The village needs potable water for consumption and fire prevention,” a villager said. “Water from tube-wells is not fit for consumption.”—Cyclone

Myanmar: Mandalarians get another one month to receive citizenship scrutiny card

19 June 2015 - 11:22pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Mandalay, 19 June — The Immigration and National Registration Department extended one more month of the project to issue citizenship scrutiny card to local ethnic people in Mandalay Region, an official reported on Thursday.

To have a right to vote the 2015 general election, the department continues its services for residents without citizenship cards through a one-stop service.

Since the new government, the Immigration and National Registration Department has been issued the citizenship cards through its Moepwint projects, with easing restrictions in the citizenship rules.

Thiha Ko Ko (Mandalay)

Myanmar: Nationwide survey on nutrition conducted before end of year

19 June 2015 - 11:20pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

By Khaing Thanda Lwin

Yangon, 19 June— Myanmar’s Ministry of Health plans to carry out a nationwide survey on nutrition by the end of this year, according to the National Nutrition Centre (NNC) of the ministry’s Department of Health.

“The country-wide survey will be done by the ministry in cooperation with related departments and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),” said Dr May Khin Than, Director/ Nutrition Program Manager at the NNC.

“Currently, necessary preparations for the survey are being made by the NNC,

“Since 1954, the Ministry of Health has been working on nutritional development, with the result that Myanmar could deal with health problems such as deficiencies of protein, vitamins and iodine. But anemia remains the country’s major health problem.”

According to previous surveys conducted in 2003 and 2005, seven in ten pregnant women and children under age five were found to be anemic.

Young females should eat iron-rich foods or take iron supplements for preventing and treating low levels of iron, Dr May Khin Than suggested, adding that people’s participation plays a vital role in the success of nutritional development schemes.

“Myanmar still has a long way to go in terms of helping children thrive as the rate of stunting is 35 percent among children under the age of five, said Elizabeth Whelan, nutrition program manager of the Leveraging Essential Nutrition Actions to Reduce Malnutrition (LEARN) Project.

“That means 1 in 3 Myanmar children are malnourished and shorter than they should be, based on international growth standards,” she added.

According to a 2013 household survey by the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT), a multi-donor fund established in 2009 to improve the lives and prospects of poor and vulnerable people in rural Myanmar, only one in three Myanmar children aged two and under eat sufficiently diverse diets. Myanmar people rely on rice as their main food, with the consumption of body-building and protective foods being low compared to other countries.—GNLM

Myanmar: UEC seeks cooperation for successful compilation of voters’ lists

19 June 2015 - 11:15pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, 19 June —The Union Election Commission urged administrative bodies, political parties, civil society organizations, and voters to cooperate for compilation of correct and complete voters’ lists and welcomed all constructive engagements of them, according to a statement dated 19th June released by the UEC.

As there were weaknesses in voters’ lists in 2010 General Election and 2012 by-elections, the commission has started tasks for compilation of voters’ lists earlier in the entire country since November, 2014 and voters’ lists were announced through four phases from April to June, the statement said.

Voters’ lists were compiled based on family members’ lists of the Immigration and National Registration Department, according to the statement.

Voters are allowed to apply for inclusion of their names in voters’ lists if their names are not stated there with form-3 while they can reject inappropriate persons in the voters’ lists with form-4 and make corrections with form-4 (c), the statement said.

After such process, the commission has stored the correct information in the main server and will make the voters’ lists available online, according to the statement. —MNA

Myanmar: Burma – Complex Emergency Fact Sheet #3 (FY) 2015

19 June 2015 - 6:35pm
Source: US Agency for International Development Country: China, Myanmar, United States of America

HIGHLIGHTS

  • An estimated 230,000 people remain displaced in Kachin, Rakhine, and northern Shan due to conflict and inter-communal violence

  • USAID/OFDA provides nearly $3 million in additional funding to support humanitarian operations in Burma

  • USAID/FFP commits an additional $4.5 million to provide food assistance in Kachin, Rakhine, and northern Shan