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Updated: 2 hours 35 min ago

Myanmar: Myanmar Humanitarian Fund (MHF) (as of 31 December 2016)

8 February 2017 - 1:17am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

Bangladesh: Humanitarian mission - Food flotilla for Myanmar

7 February 2017 - 11:28pm
Source: Government of Malaysia Country: Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar

The Malaysian Government welcomes the decision of the Bangladeshi Government on 3 February 2017 to grant the Food Flotilla mission to access the Port of Teknaf and provide humanitarian aid to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi Government had also agreed to issue Visa On Arrival to the volunteers and crew of the vessel.

However, on 6 February 2017, the Bangladeshi side has since informed Malaysia that Port of Teknaf is incapable to accommodate a big vessel like Nautical Aliya.

On the basis of the Bangladeshi Government’s agreement, KP1M had earlier undertaken necessary logistical preparations for the vessel to dock at Teknaf and had been reassured by the Bangladeshi local authorities that the delivery of humanitarian aid could be made at Teknaf.

In this regard, we call upon the Bangladeshi Government to adhere to its decision of 3 February 2017 to provide access at Teknaf Port and VOA facilitations for all the volunteers and crew of the vessel.

The Malaysian Government looks forward to receiving the fullest cooperation and facilitation from the Bangladeshi authority on the food flotilla mission.

PUTRAJAYA

7 February 2017

On 2/8/17

Myanmar: Emergency project boosts nutrition for vulnerable Pe Pin Yin villagers in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

7 February 2017 - 7:01pm
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Country: Myanmar

08/02/2017

Relative to the rest of Myanmar, Rakhine State not only has the highest level of poverty in the country but also suffers from excessive rates of malnutrition. Almost 50 percent of the children in Rakhine State are stunted because of insufficient nutrition. Poverty is the underlying cause, but **malnutrition** in the region is further aggravated by a variety of factors, including sporadic **inter-ethnic violence**, high levels of landlessness, indebtedness and the vulnerability of Rakhine State’s poorest residents to devastation from natural disasters.

Like nearly half of Rakhine residents, Zaw Mi Lar Harta, a 40-year-old widow from Pe Pin Yin village, relies on agriculture for her living. She and seven family members depend entirely on paddy production from 3.5 acres of land. Since their agricultural production is dominated by **rice**, the family’s usual daily food consumption, consisting of plain white rice with various vegetable side dishes, lacks many important foods, such as fruit, dairy products, oils, grains and proteins that would support a balanced diet.

Restrained by a variety of socio-economic and cultural factors, the family cannot afford to buy a more diverse selection of food produce on the market, which would allow them to increase their consumption of nutritious foods, such as vegetables, or foods rich in animal protein.

Although they work hard every day in the field, often they suffer from periodic food shortages caused mainly by natural disasters that affect their agricultural production. Frequently after the crisis subsides, reduced access to food changes their eating habits and they consume notably fewer vegetables, meat and animal products. This was true in the case of Zaw Mi Lar Harta’s family when last year’s floods struck her household and led to **food shortages**.

“Usually, I would eat rice with vegetables and sometimes fish, but after what happened to us I had to decrease the amount of rice and vegetables we consumed and I could not afford to buy fish anymore,” Zaw Mi Lar Harta said.

In order to address the needs of farmers like Zaw Mi Lar Harta, FAO is supporting 165 people from Pe Pin Yin village with an emergency response project funded by the **Government of Japan**. The project assists vulnerable agriculture-dependent households using a comprehensive set of initiatives. Access to food is increased by providing affected farmers with quality seeds prior to the winter season to allow them to diversify **crop production** and decrease their dependency on rice.

Additionally, beneficiaries are given assorted **vegetable kits**, consisting of white radish, okra, yard long bean, red hot chilli, eggplant and bitter gourd to increase the variety of foods they consume.

Through this project, FAO is focusing not only on providing a staple crop for poor Rakhine State farmers and their families, but also on meeting the **nutritional needs** of the families. This is particularly relevant because vulnerable farmers have previously struggled to access diversified foods. “Women are the primary target of the seed distribution because they represent the entry point for household nutrition. The aim of **vegetable seeds distribution**  is to support a more diverse and micronutrient rich diet for the entire family,” explained Andrea Berloffa, FAO Senior Emergency Coordinator.

Giving people an opportunity to grow and consume more nutritious food is also relevant to building resilience against natural and man-made threats and disasters. Often during the time of recovery, poor nutrition undermines an individual’s capacity to cope, while lowering their **resilience**. Consequently, good nutrition is necessary to build up the resilience of farmers to future shocks. “I’m very happy to receive this kind of assistance from FAO,” Zaw Mi Lar Harta said. “With the vegetable seeds that I have received I can expand my food production and eat more diverse and nutritious foods.”

This project is part of a wider FAO emergency response and resilience-building programme being implemented in close collaboration with the Government of Myanmar. Overall, FAO’s emergency activities in 2016 helped more than 150 000 vulnerable farmers across Rakhine, Chin, Sagaing and Magway States/ Regions. FAO is appealing for an additional USD 5.1 million to provide **critical livelihood assistance** to 87 000 people who are exposed to the threat of **food and nutrition insecurity**.

Myanmar: Immunisation efforts to be renewed in Buthidaung and Maungtaw

7 February 2017 - 1:52pm
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Immunisation efforts that became unpopular due to rumours in Maungtaw township, Rakhine State, will begin again, officials said.

Immunisations for jaundice, whooping cough, tetanus, H Influenza type-B, polio, measles and German measles are being carried out, it was learnt in a meeting with authorities.

“On 24 and 26 December in 2016, immunisation work was carried out in Magyichaung village of Maungtaw. A rumour happened that a child was dead due to the wrong immunisation. After careful investigation, it was determined that the child died of diarrhea, not from the wrong immunisation. Due to that information, the immunisation program lost momentum in Buthidaung and Maungtaw townships. People did not come out to be immunised,” said Dr Chan Thar, minister for social affairs in Rakhine State said.

“For the success of the task, it is necessary to educate villagers on the medical benefits. And it needs to cooperate with NGOs and INGOs more than ever. Mainly, it needs to organise the people. In Buthitaung, immunisation was restarted. In doing so, medical doctors, health staff, health assistants are visiting villages with medicines. Women, children and expectant mothers who needed to be vaccinated were injected. And the effects of immunisation and the need to trust medicines were discussed for them to accept.”

Ref; The Global New Light of Myanmar

Thailand: Refugees in Thailand

7 February 2017 - 12:19pm
Source: Handicap International Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, Thailand

For the past few decades, Thailand has been a major destination country for asylum seekers and refugees from Myanmar. Since 1984, Thailand has provided refuge to people fleeing violence in Myanmar, and more recently to economic migrants. The population in the Thai refugee camps, located along the Myanmar-Thailand border, is now estimated at 111,000 people. Many were born in the camps and have never set foot outside.

Most of the refugees in the nine camps are Karen people, an umbrella term that refers to a heterogeneous ethnic group without a shared language, culture, or religion. Since the 1940’s, ongoing violent conflicts between Karen separatists and the Burmese army have forced many families to move. Around 400,000 Karen people are homeless.

The living conditions in the camps are extremely poor. Drinking water is collected from wells and streams, and in the past, cases of cholera and malaria have occurred. Children suffer from chronic malnutrition and respiratory infections.

ISOLATED AND OVERCROWDED

Most of the camps are isolated in the mountains and therefore hard to access. There’s no electricity grid and some camps have no phone service. Health care and education opportunities are extremely limited. In the rainy season, flash floods can cause damage to the infrastructure and even casualties.

Other camps, such us Mae La Camp–the largest refugee camp with more than 40,000 refugees–is an hour’s drive from Mae Sot, the nearest town. Health service providers and schools are more present, but the camps are overcrowded. The lack of room between the temporary houses, composed of bamboo and wood, has been the cause of many fires in the camp.

RESTRICTION AND MENTAL ILLNESS

The life of the refugees is quite restricted because they usually cannot go out, and the Thai police might arrest them if they do. If adults want to earn money, they have to do it in secret outside the camps. Most of the refugees don’t take the risk. They rely heavily on the weekly food distributions and the humanitarian assistance provided by international NGOs and community-based organizations, which makes them feel dependent and bored.

Depression and alcohol addiction are very common among adult refugees, which puts their children at risk of neglect and malnutrition. Approximately half of the adults suffer from mental illness, which has led to a rising number of suicides.

This increase can partially be explained by the rumors that refugees will have to return to Myanmar. As the peace process continues, both the Myanmar and the Thailand government, as well as the United Nation Refugee Agency (UNHCR) encourage voluntary repatriation. But Karen refugees fear that the situation in their home country is not safe yet. Moreover, the idea of a ‘home country’ is for many a non-existent concept, since they were born in the camps. Growing up in the camps is the only life they have ever known.

LONGING TO BE A CHILD

Almost half of the population of the camp is under 18. Most children were born in the camp. They don’t have birth certificates and are stateless, which jeopardizes their future.

Besides difficult backgrounds, the poor living conditions listed above, and an uncertain future, children lack the opportunity to play. “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Children states that every child should have the right to play," says Cheryl Shin-Hua Yeam, regional technical coordinator of the Growing Together project. "Unfortunately, the right to play is often neglected."

“In Mae La Camp, children have no place or opportunity to play. Yet, play is a really important tool for them to be able to work through some of their issues and to be a child. For children with disabilities, it is even more difficult. A lot of them are hidden away, because places in the camps are simply not accessible if you’re in a wheelchair or if you need a walking device to assist you.”

“Our goal is to create spaces where children with and without disabilities–children of all kinds–can play and learn.”

GROWING TOGETHER PROJECT

Growing Together is a four-year project in Thailand, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and is funded by the IKEA Foundation. Handicap International is creating inclusive spaces where children can come together–through play–to work through some of the challenges they face, especially children with disabilities. In addition to inclusive playgrounds, Growing Together will target the youngest children who are at risk of developmental problems. Simultaneously, the program will engage local child development service providers and help them become more responsive to the needs of boys and girls with disabilities and other vulnerable children. Learn more about the partnership.

HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL IN THAILAND

Since 1984, Handicap International has worked along the border with Myanmar. The main activities are fitting refugees with locally-produced prostheses, rehabilitation services, empowering people with disabilities and social inclusion in local communities, and the prevention of mine accidents through risk education. Learn more about our work in Thailand.

Myanmar: Statement by Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide following OHCHR’s report on the situation in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar

7 February 2017 - 10:35am
Source: United Nations Country: Myanmar

(New York, 6 February 2017) The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, stated that he was shocked and alarmed to read the accounts of serious human rights violations being committed against Muslim Rohingya in northern Rakhine State by Myanmar’s security forces, as set out in the report published on 3 February by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). According to the findings of the report, human rights violations committed by the security forces include mass gang-rape, extra judicial killings – including of babies and young children - brutal beatings and disappearances. These attacks have taken place in the context of an escalation of violence in northern Rakhine State since border security posts were attacked by armed assailants in early October 2016.

There have been allegations that security forces were committing serious human rights violations against the civilian population of northern Rakhine State from the very beginning of the recent escalation of violence. “I and many others have been urging the authorities to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into these allegations. The investigation conducted by OHCHR gives further credibility to those accounts and describes a level of dehumanization and cruelty that is revolting, and unacceptable. This must stop right now!” The Special Adviser welcomed the Government’s commitment to investigate the matter immediately. The commission previously appointed by the Government to investigate allegations of human rights violations in norther Rakhine state, which was led by Vice-President U Myint Swe, reported just a few weeks ago that it had found no evidence, or insufficient evidence, of any wrongdoing by Government forces.

“I am concerned that the Government Commission, which had unhindered access to the location of the incidents, found nothing to substantiate the claims, while OHCHR, which was not given access to the area, found an overwhelming number of testimonies and other forms of evidence through interviews with refugees who had fled to a neighbouring country” stated the Special Adviser. “The existing Commission is not a credible option to undertake the new investigation. I urge that any investigation be conducted by a truly independent and impartial body that includes international observers. If the Government wants the international community and regional actors to believe in their willingness to resolve the matter, they must act responsibly and demonstrate their sincerity.”

According to the Special Adviser, “There is no more time to wait. All of this is happening against the background of very deeply rooted and long-standing discriminatory practices and policies against the Rohingya Muslims and a failure to put in place conditions that would support peaceful coexistence among the different communities in Rakhine State. If people are being persecuted based on their identity and killed, tortured, raped and forcibly transferred in a widespread or systematic manner, this could amount to crimes against humanity, and in fact bethe precursor of other egregious international crimes. The Government has a responsibility to protect its populations against these atrocious and punishable acts.

For media queries please contact:
Claudia Diaz, Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect
http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/
Phone: +1 917-367-2061; Email: diazc@un.org

World: Humanitarian Funding Update January 2017- United Nations Coordinated Appeals

7 February 2017 - 9:09am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen
  • As of 31 January, United Nations Coordinated Appeals and Refugee Response Plans within the Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) require US$22.5 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of 93.5 million crisis-affected people in 33 countries. Needs and financial requirements have increased due the finalisation of five additional Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs). Seventeen HRPs have been published so far. Together the appeals are funded at $77.2 million, leaving a shortfall of $22.4 billion.

  • Timely funding is required to meet pressing needs in several countries. In Afghanistan, deepening conflict has resulted in a 13 per cent increase in the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance, now at 9.3 million people. Funding is urgently required early in the year to support the return of Afghans from Pakistan and of others displaced by conflict. Some 2.2 million people, or almost half the population of Central African Republic (CAR), urgently require humanitarian assistance, amid continuing insecurity and a steep decline in funding. Humanitarian partners are withdrawing from central CAR because of funding shortages and in the absence of funding, agencies may be forced to suspend food distributions in February.

  • Continued low funding is hampering humanitarian partners’ ability to respond to the humanitarian needs of an estimated 3.7 million people in Mali. In Nigeria, aid organizations require funding to step up life-saving assistance in areas previously held by Boko Haram, where new needs are being revealed. In Somalia, drought-driven food insecurity and malnutrition could plummet to "famine" levels in the coming months. A new drought in the lowlands and in southern and eastern parts of Ethiopia is placing some 5.6 million Ethiopians at risk of hunger, threatening 300,000 children with malnutrition, over 9 million people with zero access to safe drinking water and 2.4 million farmers and herders with unsustainable livelihoods.
    Please see icon overleaf for information on other urgent funding needs.

  • In January, the Emergency Relief Coordinator released $100 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to sustain aid operations in critically underfunded operations in Cameroon, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia and Uganda. These allocations will reach more than 6 million alarmingly vulnerable people in the throes of poorly funded crises. CERF also allocated $1.1 million to Mongolia to provide emergency agricultural and multi-purpose cash assistance for 3,500 herder households living the consequences of a particularly harsh winter. A further $6 million was allocated to the CAR to provide emergency food assistance to 36,800 people recently displaced by violence. CERF received $14.8 million in contributions for 2017, with $255.5 million in pledges.

  • In 2017, OCHA aims to increase the amount of humanitarian appeal funding channelled through Country-Based Pooled Funds (CBPFs) to 15 per cent, in keeping with the UN Secretary-General’s Agenda for Humanity. As of 31 January, seven countries had already pledged a combined $65 million to CBPFs, including $25.3 million for the Syria crisis (through CBPFs in Jordan, Syria and Turkey) and $24.4 million for Afghanistan.

World: Private sector networks from across the world come together to prevent and respond to crises

7 February 2017 - 6:53am
Source: UN Development Programme, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Côte d'Ivoire, Fiji, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey, World

Geneva, February 7, 2017 – Business networks from 12 countries - members of the Connecting Business initiative (CBi) - are coming together today in the first CBi Annual Event to identify opportunities for collaboration and share their experiences to disaster risk reduction, emergency response and recovery.

More than 128.6 million people in the world today are affected by conflict, displacement, natural disasters and profound vulnerability. The occurrence and severity of natural disasters, political crises and protracted emergencies are increasing, stretching the global capacity to meet humanitarian needs. Private sector solutions can help save lives and safeguard livelihoods. The Connecting Business initiative and its Member Networks support the private sector to engage as an equal partner in risk-informed emergency preparedness, response and recovery. For example, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation members helped to restore power and telecommunications services in coordination with the Government-led response after the recent Typhoon Nock-Ten which affected almost a million people in the Philippines.

The Connecting Business initiative builds the capacity of local business networks to be part of risk informed crisis preparedness, response and recovery efforts. The Connecting Business Global Portal is a global entry point, connecting companies, the UN, governments and civil society, and providing resources and tools that support effective private sector engagement. “Recovery can be a huge task, especially for small companies who are often the lynchpin of an economy.

We improve the risk preparedness of small companies and help them to recover faster. Through the Connecting Business initiative, we are sharing our experiences and learning from others. Through CBi we can be part of creating and implementing international best practice” said Ms. Guler Altinsoy, Managing Partner of IDEMA and Saglam Kobi representative.

Connecting Business initiative Member Networks coordinate private sector engagement with other humanitarian actors, map private sector resources available to respond to humanitarian needs, train their members on disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness, and organize emergency simulation exercises to test private sector capacity and identify appropriate response in crisis situations. When an emergency occurs, these Member Networks mobilize and coordinate the private sector response, helping to restore infrastructure and basic services and providing relief items such as water and school materials to families in crisis-affected areas.

During the Annual Event, Connecting Business initiative Member Networks share experiences from Cote d’Ivoire, Fiji, Kenya, Haiti, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Turkey and connected to partners from all over the world.

“To overcome the enormous humanitarian crises we face, we need collective action from all actors.
Philanthropy can be a catalyst to help unlock private sector resources and transforming the future of humanitarian and development response. I encourage all partners to get engaged so that we can make a real difference in the lives of people by helping to avoid, mitigate and more effectively respond to disasters and humanitarian crises.” noted the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation's Vice President Ed Cain. “We have come together with our partners to find ways to build up resilience so that hazards would not force people into a humanitarian crisis mode. CBi is one of the tangible outcomes from the World Humanitarian Summit. It adds strength and structure to our expanding public private partnerships and the way we prepare for and respond to humanitarian emergencies.” explained OCHA’s Chief of Partnerships and Resource Mobilization Branch Marcy Vigoda.

By 2020, CBi aims to support strengthened private sector engagement in 40 high-risk locations. Partners from the private sector, governments, civil society and international community are providing technical advice to the initiative and collaborating on the delivery of programmes. The initiative aims to mobilize more than 10,000 people over the next four years through an online portal and deliver positive results for people affected by crisis. “We are very excited about the work that the CBi Member Networks are leading in countries. We are seeing a real change when knowledge resources and experiences are shared more effectively. The Networks and partners are helping to think more creatively beyond the traditional models of prevention, response and recovery and engaging the private sector to help people in need across the world.” said UNDP’s Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development Director Marcos Neto.

Note to the Editor:

The Connecting Business initiative is a private sector driven and UN-supported initiative. Key supporters, which endorsed CBi’s strategic approach on 6 February, includes Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Government of Belgium, UPS Foundation and the Boston Consulting Group, as well as the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation as a representative of CBi Member Networks and IFRC through One Billion Coalition for Resilience representing CBi Program Partners. Operational and technical support to the initiative is provided by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) while United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) is playing a role in providing technical advice on disaster risk reduction.
CBi Annual Event is organised on 7 February 2017, alongside the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week at the International Conference Centre (CIGC) in Geneva.

Contact Information For further information, go to www.connectingbusinessinitiative.org or contact: ConnectingBusiness@un.org

For media enquiries, contact:

UNDP: Tiina Turunen tiina.turunen@undp.org +41 (0)79 586 9576

OCHA: Jens Laerke, laerke@un.org +41 (0)79 472 9750

Twitter: @Connecting_biz #ConnectBiz

Myanmar: Site Profile - Ohn Taw Gyi (South) Camp - Township: Sittwe (Rakhine, Myanmar) | Reporting Month, December 2016

7 February 2017 - 4:53am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, CCCM Cluster Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Myanmar: Myanmar National, Kachin/Northern Shan and Rakhine Shelter Cluster Factsheet, January 2017

7 February 2017 - 4:52am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Shelter Cluster Country: Myanmar

NEED ANALYSIS

  • In Rakhine, 119,876 people remain displaced across 36 camps or camp-like settings. In Kachin/Northern Shan, over 97,500 IDPs are mostly dispersed over 150 camps or camp-like settings but around 10,000 with host families.

RESPONSE

  • Rakhine: Emergency shelter response in 2012/13 and temporary shelter response in 2013 for 140,000 IDPs.
    Care and maintenance in 2014/15. Owner-driven housing solutions in places of origin/relocation in 2015 for 26,800 IDPs, reducing number of camps from 67 to 36.
    Government plan to assist with individual housing in 2016, which combined with 2015 progress, could have benefitted in total 40,000-50,000 IDPs, stalled. This meant major repair/maintenance of temporary shelters in 2016.

  • Kachin/NS: Main contribution was local-faith based NGOs in 2011/12. Cluster focus has been to enhance technical capacity, including greater awareness of and adherence to minimum standards. Five rounds of camp profiling covering 130 sites completed. NFI coverage only needed for vulnerable IDPs, new displacement or winter items.

GAPS / CHALLENGES

  • Prone to natural disasters, Rakhine remains potentially volatile context where underlying social, political and economic causes cannot be solved completely with humanitarian response. Solutions that avoid ethnic segregation and support communities to become self-reliant are needed, however, elections, lengthy period of transition and major instability in northern Rakhine State is inhibiting long-term planning and perpetual cycle of repairing and replacing temporary shelters.

  • Belated international engagement in Kachin/NS required huge information gathering/operational undertaking to address shortfalls. Protracted nature means perpetual cycle of repairing and replacing temporary shelters.
    Significant variations for quality and quantity of assistance provided partly due to intermittent access to nongovernment controlled areas.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Kachin/Northern Shan Shelter Cluster Factsheet, January 2017

7 February 2017 - 4:52am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Shelter Cluster Country: Myanmar

NEED ANALYSIS

  • In Rakhine, 119,876 people remain displaced across 36 camps or camp-like settings. In Kachin/Northern Shan, over 97,500 IDPs are mostly dispersed over 150 camps or camp-like settings but around 10,000 with host families.

RESPONSE

  • Rakhine: Emergency shelter response in 2012/13 and temporary shelter response in 2013 for 140,000 IDPs.
    Care and maintenance in 2014/15. Owner-driven housing solutions in places of origin/relocation in 2015 for 26,800 IDPs, reducing number of camps from 67 to 36.
    Government plan to assist with individual housing in 2016, which combined with 2015 progress, could have benefitted in total 40,000-50,000 IDPs, stalled. This meant major repair/maintenance of temporary shelters in 2016.

  • Kachin/NS: Main contribution was local-faith based NGOs in 2011/12. Cluster focus has been to enhance technical capacity, including greater awareness of and adherence to minimum standards. Five rounds of camp profiling covering 130 sites completed. NFI coverage only needed for vulnerable IDPs, new displacement or winter items.

GAPS / CHALLENGES

  • Prone to natural disasters, Rakhine remains potentially volatile context where underlying social, political and economic causes cannot be solved completely with humanitarian response. Solutions that avoid ethnic segregation and support communities to become self-reliant are needed, however, elections, lengthy period of transition and major instability in northern Rakhine State is inhibiting long-term planning and perpetual cycle of repairing and replacing temporary shelters.

  • Belated international engagement in Kachin/NS required huge information gathering/operational undertaking to address shortfalls. Protracted nature means perpetual cycle of repairing and replacing temporary shelters.
    Significant variations for quality and quantity of assistance provided partly due to intermittent access to nongovernment controlled areas.

Myanmar: UNICEF seeks $42 million emergency assistance for children caught in conflict and crises in East Asia Pacific

7 February 2017 - 4:38am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Myanmar

BANGKOK, 6 February 2017 – As part of its annual global humanitarian appeal, UNICEF is seeking $42 million to deliver lifesaving aid for children in emergencies in two countries in the East Asia and Pacific region. The two East Asian countries that feature in the 2017 Humanitarian Action for Children report are DPR Korea and Myanmar, where children are affected by conflict, food shortages or natural disaster.

Globally, almost one in four of the world’s children lives in a country affected by conflict or disaster. UNICEF estimates up to 7.5 million children will require assistance just to avoid severe acute malnutrition, including almost half a million children in each of northeast Nigeria and Yemen. The agency’s 2017 appeal totals $3.3 billion, to be used to provide children with access to safe water, nutrition, education, health and protection in 48 countries.

“War, natural disaster and climate change are driving ever more children from their homes, exposing them to violence and disease,” said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Director. “UNICEF is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children from natural disasters, conflicts and other crises.”

The appeal seeks support to provide essential medicines to more than 2 million children in DPR Korea, as well as funds to support assistance for other urgent initiatives including access to decent nutrition and clean water, and to safe sanitation and better hygiene. In August 2016, heavy rains from Typhoon Lionrock in North Hamgyong Province resulted in widespread flooding and the destruction of infrastructure, livestock and crops, affecting more than 600,000 people. Children, pregnant women and lactating mothers face increased risks of water-borne and communicable disease. Last year, the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition and in need of urgent life-saving treatment quadrupled in flood-affected areas from 500 to 2,000 per month.

In Myanmar, protracted crises in three states continue to threaten at least 220,000 internally displaced people. Children need urgent humanitarian assistance in Rakhine State, especially Rohingya children, in Kachin State and in Shan State. Compounding the protracted crises are issues related to religious and ethnic discrimination, exploitation, chronic poverty, vulnerability to natural disasters, statelessness, trafficking and humanitarian access. UNICEF is appealing for funds to meet the basic needs of some 127,000 of the country’s most vulnerable children. The money will be used by UNICEF and its partners to provide some 12,500 children aged 6 to 59 months affected by severe acute malnutrition with life-saving treatment; 75,000 people (30,000 of them children) with access to clean water for drinking, cooking and safe sanitation facilities as well as information about proper hygiene practices; and to provide some 127,000 children with access to psychosocial support.

In the first ten months of 2016, as a result of UNICEF’s support for children in emergencies around the world, some:
- 13.6 million people had access to safe water;
- 9.4 million children were vaccinated against measles;
- 6.4 million children accessed some form of education;
- 2.2 million children were treated for severe acute malnutrition.

###

Notes to Editors:

The Humanitarian Action for Children 2017 appeal can be found here: www.unicef.org/HAC2017

For DPR Korea: https://www.unicef.org/appeals/dprk.html

For Myanmar: https://www.unicef.org/appeals/myanmar.html

Video and photos are available for download here: http://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIF0Y3VA

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook

For more information or for interviews please contact:

Chris de Bono, UNICEF East Asia & Pacific, +66-844277431, cdebono@unicef.org

Simon Nazer, UNICEF East Asia & Pacific, +66-618833557, snazer@uncief.org

World: UNICEF seeks $42 million emergency assistance for children caught in conflict and crises in East Asia Pacific

7 February 2017 - 4:38am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Myanmar, World

BANGKOK, 6 February 2017 – As part of its annual global humanitarian appeal, UNICEF is seeking $42 million to deliver lifesaving aid for children in emergencies in two countries in the East Asia and Pacific region. The two East Asian countries that feature in the 2017 Humanitarian Action for Children report are DPR Korea and Myanmar, where children are affected by conflict, food shortages or natural disaster.

Globally, almost one in four of the world’s children lives in a country affected by conflict or disaster. UNICEF estimates up to 7.5 million children will require assistance just to avoid severe acute malnutrition, including almost half a million children in each of northeast Nigeria and Yemen. The agency’s 2017 appeal totals $3.3 billion, to be used to provide children with access to safe water, nutrition, education, health and protection in 48 countries.

“War, natural disaster and climate change are driving ever more children from their homes, exposing them to violence and disease,” said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Director. “UNICEF is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children from natural disasters, conflicts and other crises.”

The appeal seeks support to provide essential medicines to more than 2 million children in DPR Korea, as well as funds to support assistance for other urgent initiatives including access to decent nutrition and clean water, and to safe sanitation and better hygiene. In August 2016, heavy rains from Typhoon Lionrock in North Hamgyong Province resulted in widespread flooding and the destruction of infrastructure, livestock and crops, affecting more than 600,000 people. Children, pregnant women and lactating mothers face increased risks of water-borne and communicable disease. Last year, the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition and in need of urgent life-saving treatment quadrupled in flood-affected areas from 500 to 2,000 per month.

In Myanmar, protracted crises in three states continue to threaten at least 220,000 internally displaced people. Children need urgent humanitarian assistance in Rakhine State, especially Rohingya children, in Kachin State and in Shan State. Compounding the protracted crises are issues related to religious and ethnic discrimination, exploitation, chronic poverty, vulnerability to natural disasters, statelessness, trafficking and humanitarian access. UNICEF is appealing for funds to meet the basic needs of some 127,000 of the country’s most vulnerable children. The money will be used by UNICEF and its partners to provide some 12,500 children aged 6 to 59 months affected by severe acute malnutrition with life-saving treatment; 75,000 people (30,000 of them children) with access to clean water for drinking, cooking and safe sanitation facilities as well as information about proper hygiene practices; and to provide some 127,000 children with access to psychosocial support.

In the first ten months of 2016, as a result of UNICEF’s support for children in emergencies around the world, some:
- 13.6 million people had access to safe water;
- 9.4 million children were vaccinated against measles;
- 6.4 million children accessed some form of education;
- 2.2 million children were treated for severe acute malnutrition.

###

Notes to Editors:

The Humanitarian Action for Children 2017 appeal can be found here: www.unicef.org/HAC2017

For DPR Korea: https://www.unicef.org/appeals/dprk.html

For Myanmar: https://www.unicef.org/appeals/myanmar.html

Video and photos are available for download here: http://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIF0Y3VA

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook

For more information or for interviews please contact:

Chris de Bono, UNICEF East Asia & Pacific, +66-844277431, cdebono@unicef.org

Simon Nazer, UNICEF East Asia & Pacific, +66-618833557, snazer@uncief.org

Myanmar: Two Myanmar Ethnic Groups From Strife-torn Areas Not Allowed to Hold Advance Talks

7 February 2017 - 1:59am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

A joint committee overseeing the drafting process of the framework for political dialogue in Myanmar on Monday suspended regional-level discussions by two ethnic minority groups in the run-up to the second meeting of nationwide peace talks scheduled for the end of February.

The Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC), headed by State Counselor and de facto national leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has put on hold regional-level discussions about policies regarding national-level talks planned by the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) and the Chin National Front (CNF) in Chin state in western Myanmar before the 21st-Century Panglong Conference on Feb. 28.

The UPDJC, which is holding a two-day meeting in the capital Naypyidaw, is composed of ethnic armed groups that have signed a nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA) with the government, representatives from political parties and the central government, and military officers.

The UPDJC did not give a reason for suspending regional-level talks in Rakhine and Chin state, while other ethnic minority parties that have signed the NCA have been permitted to hold them in their respective regions in preparation for the national-level conference later this month, said presidential spokesman Zaw Htay.

“It’s not that there wasn’t any solid reason [for the decision],” he said. “We are not saying they cannot do it. Of course, the talks will take place sooner or later.”

The ALP and CNF are both signatories to the NCA.

Kachin political parties in Myanmar’s northernmost state have held discussions to prepare for the next round of the Panglong Conference, but the UPDJC has not recognized their preparatory meetings, and the groups will not be able to submit their meeting results to the peace conference, Eleven Myanmar media group reported on Monday.

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), one of the state’s major parties and the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), has not signed the NCA and is not officially allowed to hold talks, the report said.

The KIA has been engaged in recent skirmishes with the government army in neighboring northern Shan state.

Who will attend?

The UPDJC urged those in attendance at the current meeting to do what they can to ensure that ethnic militias that have not signed the NCA attend the Feb. 28 conference.

It is not yet clear whether groups that did not sign the NCA will be invited to attend.

About 700 delegates will attend the second session of the of the 21st-Century Panglong Conference to work out a peace plan for the nation to end decades of civil wars between the military and ethnic militias.

Delegates who attended the first session at the end of August and beginning of September 2016 agreed to hold the national-level talks between sessions of the Panglong Conference in order to consider what various ethnic groups and political parties wanted.

Both Rakhine and Chin states have been scenes of recent volatility. Security forces moved into northern Rakhine state in October 2016 after nine border guards were attacked and killed in raids by Rohingya militants.

Deadly clashes between army troops and groups of armed men ensued in November. The crackdown has left hundreds dead by some estimates and forced more than 66,000 Rohingya Muslims who live in the region to flee, mostly to neighboring Bangladesh where they have accused security forces of murder, toture, rape, and arson.

Renewed clashes between the government army and Arakan Army (AA) took place last December in Paletwa township, Chin State, which sits on the border with Rakhine state. The fighting displaced hundreds of residents.

HRW calls for action

On Sunday, New York-based human Rights Watch issued a call for the Myanmar government to endorse an independent, international investigation into alleged human rights abuses in northern Rakhine, including reports of rape and sexual violence against Rohingya women and girls.

The group, which documented cases of rape from interviews it conducted with Rohingya survivors and witnesses in Bangladesh, also called for security forces involved in the violence to be punished.

“These horrific acts on Rohingya women and girls by security forces add a new and brutal chapter to the Burmese military’s long and sickening history of sexual violence against women,” said Priyanka Motaparthy, senior emergencies researcher at HRW.

“Military and police commanders should be held responsible for these crimes if they did not do everything in their power to stop them or punish those involved,” she said.

The group’s statement comes two days after the United Nations human rights office (OHCHR) issued a report confirming attacks of rape and sexual violence against Rohingya women and girls based on interviews it conducted, and said that abuses committed against the minority by security forces indicate “the very likely commission of crimes against humanity.”

Rights groups have blasted a national-level commission investigating the violence, which said in an interim report issued in January that it had found no cases of genocide or religious persecution of Rohingya Muslims living in the region.

The commission also said that its interviews of local villagers and women had yielded insufficient evidence of rape to take legal action, though its investigations into accusations of arson, torture, and illegal arrests were still under way.

Commission inspects jails

Meanwhile, Myanmar’s independent National Human Rights Commission inspected jails and prisons in Rakhine state’s capital Sittwe on Monday about two weeks after a U.N. human rights envoy visited the state.

During a 12-day visit, Yanghee Lee visited violence-affected areas in northern Rakhine state, the prison in Buthidaung township, Sittwe prison, and internally displaced persons camps where Rohingya live. She will deliver a report on her findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March.

The members of the commission found that improvements have been made in Sittwe Prison and other jails in Rakhine state according to human rights guidelines, a member of the body said.

“We noticed there were still minor violations at the prisons we inspected,” commission member Yu Lwin Aung told RFA’s Myanmar Service on Monday after his visit to Sittwe. “The toilets in Sittwe prison are not as clean as they should be, and some of the plastic bedsheets are torn. Apart from that, we didn’t find any major human rights violations.”

Regular inspections by officials and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had resulted in the improvements, he said.

Commission members also inspected courtrooms and the general hospital in Sittwe and visited Ponnagyun, a township of Sittwe district, Yu Lwin said.

The Commission has drawn up a working plan to meet the minimum standards in prisons prescribed by the U.N. and are on an inspection tour of various prisons, he said.

No Rohingya support from Cambodia

The crisis in Rakhine has prompted government leaders of some member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to condemn violence against the Rohingya and increased pressure on Myanmar to stop it, though the members of the regional body have long agreed to a policy of noninterference in each other’s internal affairs.

Malaysia and Indonesia—both Muslim-majority countries—have sent ships with food and other essentials to Rakhine state.

But Cambodia is not among those criticizing Myanmar. Following a meeting with Myanmar President Htin Kyaw, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said his country would refrain from intervening in the Rohingya crisis.

Hun Sen also said the issue was an internal matter, and that the ASEAN charter bans members from intervening in each other’s internal affairs.

“The issue is purely that of Burma’s,” said Cambodia government spokesman Phay Siphan, using the former name of Myanmar. “It falls within the sovereignty of Burma. We shall respect that.”

Reported by Min Thein Aung and Kyaw Thu for RFA’s Myanmar Service, and by Sel San of RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane and Nareth Muong. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Myanmar: Fleeing the Shells of War, Kachin Civilians Struggle Against Freezing Cold

7 February 2017 - 1:33am
Source: The Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

6 February 2017 Myo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy

SHAIT YANG VILLAGE, Kachin State — Nearly 2,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) arrived at Shait Yang village in Laiza District, an area controlled by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), on Jan. 21. These IDPs came from the Zai Awng and Hkau Shau camps in Waingmaw Township.

They had to flee the camps in darkness on Jan. 19 when artillery shells—fired in a battle between the Burma Army and KIA—rained down around their camps. These civilians rushed into Shait Yang village, which is situated on the Burma-China border. They expected that Shait Yang would be safe because there were no soldiers there, and because the Chinese and KIA had an agreement not to deploy soldiers too close to the frontier. An IDP and refugee relief committee struggled to assist the new arrivals.

The weather offered no help—the area is one of the few in Burma with snowfall. At night, the temperatures dropped to -4 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit). On Jan. 25, when The Irrawaddy visited, some residents in the camp lacked clothes warm enough to protect them from the bitter cold. Some built fires to stay warm.

“My legs are killing me. They are numb due to the cold,” said 60-year-old Laphai Zau Ra, who wore only a worn-out blue sweater. He said that he’d had no time to grab other clothes when he ran for his life, away from the artillery shells at Zai Awng.

Another IDP, Kawt Mai, said she was afraid of the nighttime because the temperatures were becoming extreme.

“I have never experienced this kind of cold in my life,” she said. “It seems very long when I wait for the day to break.”

Myanmar: Statement by Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide following OHCHR’s report on the situation in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar

6 February 2017 - 11:06pm
Source: United Nations Country: Myanmar

(New York, 6 February 2017) The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, stated that he was shocked and alarmed to read the accounts of serious human rights violations being committed against Muslim Rohingya in northern Rakhine State by Myanmar’s security forces, as set out in the report published on 3 February by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). According to the findings of the report, human rights violations committed by the security forces include mass gang-rape, extra judicial killings – including of babies and young children - brutal beatings and disappearances. These attacks have taken place in the context of an escalation of violence in northern Rakhine State since border security posts were attacked by armed assailants in early October 2016.

There have been allegations that security forces were committing serious human rights violations against the civilian population of northern Rakhine State from the very beginning of the recent escalation of violence. “I and many others have been urging the authorities to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into these allegations. The investigation conducted by OHCHR gives further credibility to those accounts and describes a level of dehumanization and cruelty that is revolting, and unacceptable. This must stop right now!” The Special Adviser welcomed the Government’s commitment to investigate the matter immediately. The commission previously appointed by the Government to investigate allegations of human rights violations in norther Rakhine state, which was led by Vice-President U Myint Swe, reported just a few weeks ago that it had found no evidence, or insufficient evidence, of any wrongdoing by Government forces.

“I am concerned that the Government Commission, which had unhindered access to the location of the incidents, found nothing to substantiate the claims, while OHCHR, which was not given access to the area, found an overwhelming number of testimonies and other forms of evidence through interviews with refugees who had fled to a neighbouring country” stated the Special Adviser. “The existing Commission is not a credible option to undertake the new investigation. I urge that any investigation be conducted by a truly independent and impartial body that includes international observers. If the Government wants the international community and regional actors to believe in their willingness to resolve the matter, they must act responsibly and demonstrate their sincerity.”

According to the Special Adviser, “There is no more time to wait. All of this is happening against the background of very deeply rooted and long-standing discriminatory practices and policies against the Rohingya Muslims and a failure to put in place conditions that would support peaceful coexistence among the different communities in Rakhine State. If people are being persecuted based on their identity and killed, tortured, raped and forcibly transferred in a widespread or systematic manner, this could amount to crimes against humanity, and in fact be the precursor of other egregious international crimes. The Government has a responsibility to protect its populations against these atrocious and punishable acts.

For media queries please contact:
Claudia Diaz, Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect
http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/
Phone: +1 917-367-2061; Email: diazc@un.org

Bangladesh: Bangladesh: Foreign Minister briefed the members of the diplomatic community on the situation of Myanmar refugees and undocumented Myanmar nationals

6 February 2017 - 9:55pm
Source: Government of Bangladesh Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

Foreign Minister Mr. A H Mahmood Ali, MP, briefed the members of the diplomatic community on the situation of Myanmar refugees and undocumented Myanmar nationals at the State Guest House Padma today. About 60 (sixty) Ambassadors/High Commissioners / Heads of Missions /representatives of various Diplomatic Missions in Dhaka as well as representatives from Office of UNRC, IOM, UNHCR and other UN agencies attended the briefing. The briefing was also graced by Advisor to Hon’ble Prime Minister on Political Affairs, Hon’ble State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cabinet Secretary, and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, among others.

During the briefing, Hon’ble Foreign Minister apprised the diplomatic community of the steps that the Government of Bangladesh had taken vis-à-vis Myanmar refugees and the undocumented Myanmar nationals who entered Bangladesh to flee persecution and communal violence in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. This huge population numbering more than 400,000 (including the newly arrived 69,000) is living mainly in Cox’s Bazar in two registered camps and makeshift settlements. He also mentioned about successful repatriation of around 236,599 Myanmar refugees through an agreement negotiated during 1991-92 in which he had been deeply involved in his official capacity.

The Foreign Minister stressed that the presence of the huge number of Myanmar Nationals in Cox’s Bazar district has not only created formidable challenges for the authorities to manage humanitarian assistances to them but also created a number of adverse effects on the overall socio-economic, political, demographic, environmental, and humanitarian and security situation of Cox’s Bazar and adjacent districts and also negatively affecting the eco-tourism prospects. Citing the vulnerable nature of this population, he added that networks have emerged in this area for the purpose of human trafficking and smuggling of narcotic drugs.

The Foreign Minister explained that since the existing accommodation arrangements in the Cox’s Bazar District for the Myanmar Refugees and undocumented Myanmar Nationals are already over-stretched, arranging shelters for the new arrivals has become a new challenge for the authorities. In this situation, in order to ensure humanitarian assistance to the Myanmar Nationals, the Government of Bangladesh has decided to relocate this population to Thengar Char, an Islandnext to Hatia Island in the Bay of Bengal. He hoped that it would help the Myanmar refugees including undocumented Myanmar nationals to have better access to the humanitarian assistances. The Foreign Minister informed that in order to make the place habitable, the Government plans to build necessary infrastructure including shelter, schools, hospitals/health centers, mosques, roads etc and he added that the relocation will take place only after the development activities are completed. He also hoped that he would be able to lead the diplomatic community to visit the place once the infrastructure is in place.

In this regard, he requested the bilateral, UN and other international partners to render their support in the implementation of this relocation plan by providing assistance in developing the island and in transporting the Myanmar nationals living in Bangladesh to the new place of their residence. He also mentioned that while this remains a temporary arrangement for the Myanmar refugees, Bangladesh would like the international community to take meaningful measures for repatriation of this population to their homes back in Myanmar.

The Dean of Diplomatic Corps the Brazilian Ambassador, the US Ambassador, the Saudi Ambassador, UNRC highly praised Bangladesh Government and its people for hosting this population for decades and rendering necessary humanitarian support to them. The Saudi Ambassador particularly referred to the presence of Myanmar population in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and explicitly stated his Government’s support to Bangladesh. The representatives of diplomatic community in general expressed their readiness to help the government implement its relocation plan as and when it is finalized. They also expressed their hope that this will bring improvements in the living condition of this population. In addition the representatives also recognized that the ultimate solution lies in the repatriation of these refugees from Myanmar to their homeland and also assured their full support in this regard.

The Foreign Minister thanked the diplomatic community for their presence in the meeting and assured them to keep them abreast with all future developments on this matter.

Media Type:

Press Release

Publish Date:

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Myanmar: Site Profile - Ohn Taw Chay Camp - Township: Sittwe (Rakhine, Myanmar) | Reporting Month, December 2016

6 February 2017 - 12:17pm
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, CCCM Cluster Country: Myanmar

Philippines: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (31 January - 6 February 2017)

6 February 2017 - 3:17am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar, Philippines, Vanuatu

Bangladesh

Aid agencies in Cox’s Bazar estimate that 69,000 people have crossed the border from Myanmar since the 9 October attacks in northern Rakhine. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a report based on interviews with 200 Rohingya people who have newly arrived in Bangladesh. The OHCHR report details allegations of serious human rights abuses by security forces in northern Rakhine. The recent OHCHR report underscores the need for immediate action to strengthen protection of civilians in Rakhine and to allow full, unhindered humanitarian access to the affected area, including for international staff.

69,000 people crossed the border from Myanmar since 9 October

Myanmar

More than 24,000 people remain internally displaced in northern Maungdaw township which is the area most severely affected by the 9 October border post attacks and subsequent security operations. WFP has reached more than 45,000 people in this area with emergency food aid since 13 January. UNHCR has also delivered non-food items to more than 10,000 people and aid from Indonesia has reached 99,000 people. International humanitarian staff are still not allowed to participate in delivery of life-saving services, including health and nutrition, outside the main centres. Access for the delivery of other assistance, including protection activities, remains severely restricted.

24,000 people remain internally displaced

Philippines

As of 6 February, about 178,000 people in north-eastern Mindanao remain displaced by flooding caused by a series of weather systems that brought heavy rains since 8 January. Of those displaced, 20,000 are at 127 evacuation centres while most are being hosted by relatives or friends. A total of 586 houses in the towns of La Paz and Trento (Agusan del Sur province) were damaged. Roads in some areas, particularly Agusan del Sur, remain impassable while school classes have been suspended. DSWD is coordinating assistance with local government authorities.

178,000 people displaced by floods

As of 30 January, about 5,700 people displaced by military operations began to return to their homes in Ampatuan municipality, Maguindanao province. Those displaced were predominantly members of indigenous groups. The local government provided transportation and DSWD provided food packs for their return. No civilian casualties were reported as a result of the incident. On 29 January the military announced it had ended its operation against an armed group associated with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Vanuatu

Since the latest eruption of Lopevi Volcano in Malampa Province on 13 January, authorities raised the alert level to 3 (out of 5). Aerial observations indicate that Lopevi has spewed volcanic plume up to 3 km above sea level. While the current volcanic activity is considered to be minor with no reported casualties or major damage, the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geo-hazards Department has issued an advisory to communities in the surrounding islands and visitors as a precaution. The last reported eruption of the volcano was in 2007

Myanmar: Whose Crops, At What Price? Agricultural investment in Myanmar

6 February 2017 - 1:43am
Source: Oxfam Country: Myanmar

SUMMARY

After years of international isolation, Myanmar is liberalizing its economy and seeking to attract growing levels of foreign investment. Agriculture currently plays a crucial role in the country's economy and more than 60 percent of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

The Government of Myanmar (GoM) has acknowledged the need to support smallholders by improving access to credit and providing affordable fertilizers and seeds, but it has also made it clear that attracting foreign investment is crucial to achieving its goals for economic reform and reintegrating Myanmar into the global economy. This paper looks at the current level and types of agribusiness investment into Myanmar, outlines some of the potential risks to communities posed by these investments, and explores state regulation of outbound investments as a potential way to promote responsible business practices in the sector.

The paper finds that while foreign investment can play an important role in developing Myanmar‟s agriculture sector, in the current environment of limited transparency and accountability, an increase in agribusiness investments poses serious risks to the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and others dependent on land for their livelihoods.

Although the agriculture sector accounts for a small percentage of overall investment into Myanmar, a very substantial amount of land has already been handed over to companies. As of April 2014, an area nearly 10 times the size of Hong Kong (939,683 hectares) had been granted to private businesses (both Myanmar and foreign) in the form of land concessions.3 Agribusiness investments are often hidden in Myanmar. Official statistics on investments are unreliable due to over-reporting (of projects that are approved but not implemented) and under-reporting (of projects that do not go through the formal approval channels). In many cases, land concessions that have been granted to private businesses are not being cultivated, but are instead being used to enable mineral extraction or logging. Some publicly available data do exist, but more information on agribusiness investments is required both from the GoM and from investing companies. Limited transparency creates blind spots in which corruption can flourish, and incoming investors risk worsening this situation if they do not act responsibly and publish investment details.

As of December 2015, China, Singapore and Hong Kong (China) rank as the top three foreign investors into Myanmar. Thai, Malaysian, Korean and Vietnamese companies are also significant investors, and all have invested in agriculture projects in the country. Where land concessions and investments are being used for agriculture purposes, foreign businesses are investing in rubber and palm oil, with smaller investments into corn, sugarcane, biofuels, fruits and other crops.

Some companies have obtained large tracts of land for plantations, while others are purchasing from small- and medium-scale local farmers through contract farming agreements or brokers.

Both of these paths of investment – large-scale land acquisitions and contract farming arrangements – carry risks for smallholders and communities who rely on land. The granting of land for large-scale agriculture in Myanmar, as elsewhere in Southeast Asia, is frequently connected to land conflict and displacement and environmental degradation. Land dispossession has already reportedly occurred through Malaysian joint investments with the development of palm oil plantations in Tanintharyi. Poor rural women are often disadvantaged with regards to land access and ownership, and therefore investment that affects the land use of local people has a disproportionate impact on women. Even in cases where investment generates employment, when those investments require large-scale land acquisition, the disadvantages may outweigh the benefits for local people in a context where land rights are unclear and insecure.

The number of land and agricultural investments in Myanmar is highly likely to rise in the near future, from foreign and domestic companies alike. Thailand and China have guidelines and mechanisms in place to promote socially and environmentally responsible behaviour of outbound investments, although it is unclear to what extent these guidelines are being implemented.

If investment in agribusiness is isolated from the broader development of Myanmar's agriculture sector, the potential benefits will be limited. Simply approving large-scale investments will not automatically translate into benefits for small-scale farmers unless targeted policies are put in place that focus on increasing smallholders‟ access to inputs, safe credit, training, markets and security of land tenure.

This paper sets out recommendations that businesses and governments could consider following to ensure that agriculture investments into Myanmar are transparent and follow international best practice regarding due diligence, upholding human rights and providing redress to communities for violations.

Recommendations to the Government of Myanmar

Land concessions

  • Cease granting large-scale concessions until the new National Land Use Policy is being effectively implemented and a Land Law is passed. The laws currently being used to grant concessions are widely seen as failing to protect smallholders and ethnic groups. Until the new Land Law is passed, the GoM should suspend the granting of new concessions.

  • Review the implementation of existing concessions. Existing concessions should be monitored against their development plans and agreements with the government, and if the company has not met its obligations, concessions should be frozen, or revoked if serious violations have occurred.

  • Ensure that decisions to grant additional land concessions in the future are based on a thorough and responsible assessment of proposals. This must take into account existing land use, and no concession should be granted without a detailed assessment and mapping of existing land use rights.

  • Ensure that all relevant stakeholders are consulted on concessions, including, crucially, potentially affected communities. No land use rights should be transferred from pre-existing land users without their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

  • Increase transparency and access to information regarding existing and future investments related to land. The GoM should increase transparency in investment by making available reliable statistics, maps and other documents related to land-based investments. This includes releasing details of the locations and boundaries of existing land concessions. These data should be stored in an open database which includes project maps, names of investors, purpose of the project and status of implementation.

Support for small-scale farmers

  • Reallocate the national budget to increase agricultural spending, particularly to improve the quality and reach of extension services and inputs; this also means resourcing local government to focus on farmer-identified challenges and solutions.

  • Support the development of agricultural cooperatives and producer organizations based on an appropriate regulatory framework, and empower them to link to and work with the local private sector.

  • Provide scrutiny of investment proposals and monitoring of approved investments to ensure that they protect smallholder interests.

  • Use government bodies to provide support to farmers in the negotiation of contract farming arrangements, and regulate and monitor ongoing contract farming agreements.

Recommendations to foreign governments

  • Recognize that, to be effective, the duty to protect must extend beyond national boundaries. The duty to protect against business-related abuses is not confined to a state‟s own territory. In cases where a company‟s overseas operations are causing harm, both host and home states have a duty to act.

  • Promote the adoption of international standards, principles and guidelines by companies investing overseas. Home governments should promote and encourage companies to implement international standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the OECD Guidelines to Multinational Enterprises and the UN‟s Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT). • Governments across the region and regional institutions such as ASEAN should develop guidelines related to social and environmental safeguards in overseas investment. China has developed a number of guidelines for Chinese companies and financial institutions operating overseas. Although basic, they can serve as a foundation from which to promote improved conduct in overseas investment.

Recommendations to businesses investing in or sourcing from Myanmar

  • Ensure compliance with local laws and regulations and follow international standards, including the responsibility to respect human rights as set out in the UNGPs, and the VGGT. Businesses have the obligation to follow local laws and regulations, but should go further by implementing higher standards that go beyond what is required under state law, using the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability as a minimum. End-user companies should ensure that the companies with which they have business relationships adhere to these standards.

  • Consider alternatives to large-scale land investments. Prioritize models of investment that do not require the transfer of land away from small-scale farmers and communities, and that are based on fair contracts.

  • Conduct thorough due diligence. Before buying or leasing new land, expanding existing operations or developing existing holdings, investors must conduct robust due diligence. This enables the company to gain a clear understanding of the local context and of social, environmental and human rights risks and/or impacts. End-user companies should likewise conduct due diligence, looking into the policies and practices of the companies with which they have business relationships. According to the UNGPs (Guiding Principles 17–21), due diligence includes:

    • assessing the actual and potential impacts of human rights (including investigating impacts on existing land users);

    • integrating assessment findings into decision-making processes and addressing risks and adverse impacts identified;

    • tracking the effectiveness of the company‟s efforts to address adverse impacts;

    • communicating these efforts to stakeholders (such as local communities).

  • Assessments should also examine other environmental and social impacts, and must include the participation of potentially affected communities. Assessments must be based on timely, transparent and meaningful consultation with affected communities, including women. Businesses should engage with and seek the input of those who could be affected by investment decisions. These assessments should be made public in an accessible format so that communities and civil society groups can engage with the findings.

  • Ensure respect for the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples and local communities. Before making major investment decisions, businesses must consult with local people, including women and marginalized groups. Any land acquisition or land use change must follow the principles of FPIC. Consultation should continue after a project becomes operational.

  • Make available operational-level grievance mechanisms, as per UNGP 29 and following the principles of UNGP 31. Effective grievance mechanisms will enable investors to catch adverse impacts before they escalate, and provide potentially affected communities and workers with a means of redress.

  • Provide access to remedy in cases where the company has caused or contributed to adverse human rights impacts, as per responsibilities under the UNGPs.

  • Improve transparency by disclosing project details. Companies should disclose the locations of their investments, including maps showing the boundaries of plantations and processing plants, the purpose of the investment, periods of contracts and concession agreements. Businesses should also publish information on what processes they have in place to ensure respect for human rights, including access to grievance mechanisms. Publications should be presented in a form that is accessible to affected people, and this should be done in a manner that guarantees accessibility to affected communities (e.g. appropriate language, channels of communication for disclosing project details, and so on).

  • Adopt a comprehensive commitment to respect the land rights of women, communities and indigenous people; including customary and usage rights. The policy commitment should cover the company and its suppliers, and should be based on existing guidance for such commitments. • Champion responsible land-based investments among government officials, peer companies, multi-stakeholder initiatives and other stakeholders. Take an active role to foster a race to the top and strengthen sector-wide initiatives and regulations.

Further recommendations for governments, businesses and development actors can be found in the "Conclusions and recommendations‟ section at the end of this paper.