Myanmar - ReliefWeb News
Myanmar: Statement by the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator A.I. in Myanmar, Janet Jackson [EN/MY]
(YANGON: 14 April 2016). A 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck the Sagaing region in north- western Myanmar on 13 April at 20:27 local time (13:55 UTC, 13 April 2016). The United Nations and partners are working closely with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, in particular with the Department of Relief and Resettlement and local authorities as well as with the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology to determine the impact of the earthquake.
The earthquake struck at 134 Km depth with the location of the epicenter in a sparsely populated area, which may have limited damage caused. Information is still incomplete and the area impacted remote. Although no deaths or major damage to infrastructure has been reported, the UN and humanitarian partners are closely monitoring the situation in support to national authorities. Teams on the ground continue the initial assessments and the collection relevant information.
The United Nations stands ready to support the Government and the people of Myanmar in responding to the earthquake should support be requested.
MYANMAR. A 6.8 M earthquake occurred on 13 April 2016 at 20:25 (UTC +6:30). The epicentre is located about 180 km, north-west of Mandalay Observation Station, and 67.60 km east southeast of Kalay Township as reported by Myanmar’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology.
Current government assessment results state that 3 religious structures (Stupas and Pagodas) near Ka Ni Ta Township suffered substantial damages with most of the upper structures collapsing to the ground. Residences in the area were not affected. Other damaged structures include the community building for Women, Maternal and Childcare Association with a collapsed rooftop measuring about 16 feet.
In other areas, initial reports from the State and the Regional Relief and Resettlement Department (RRD) offices also state no casualties and heavy damages. The government also gave particular attention to the natural dam that was created by a landslide and flooding last year in the Chin State. Initial assessment has shown that the area was not affected by the earthquake and is safe from possible dam failure. Monitoring of this landslide dam is ongoing. Aside from the ongoing assessments and monitoring, the RRDs are ready to respond and deploy in case of any reported seriously affected communities.
Yangon, Myanmar | AFP | Thursday 4/14/2016 - 07:31 GMT
Myanmar appeared to have escaped with only minor damage to buildings after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that rattled its remote north, police said Thursday, as early reports said there not had been any casualties.
The quake, which struck late Wednesday more than 130 kilometres (80 miles) below the surface, was felt from China to Bangladesh, where scores of people were injured in stampedes as panic spread.
But initial surveys suggested the damage was limited in Myanmar, according to an official from Sagaing province, around 100 kilometres from the epicentre.
"We have no casualties although there was some small damage to pagodas in villages," a police official told AFP, requesting anonymity.
"People are now enjoying the water festival," he added, referencing the Buddhist new year celebrated across the region.
Myanmar's relief department posted on its Facebook page that "there were no casualties, injuries or major damage to buildings because of (the) earthquake".
A second, unnamed policeman in the capital Naypyidaw said emergency checks on the quake-rattled zone had so far revealed no serious damage to buildings.
"It seems like there was not so much damage from the quake," the officer told AFP.
"But we are releasing instructions of 'dos and don'ts' if earthquakes occur in the future."
Wednesday's quake rippled out to Bangladesh, which shares a border with Myanmar.
More than 80 people in the country were injured, mostly in stampedes, as panicked residents fled their homes and offices, local television reported.
In neighbouring India, tremors were felt in several northeastern cities, while Chinese state media said some residents in the Tibetan city of Lhasa ran out into the streets in panic.
Earthquakes are relatively common in Myanmar, but the country has not seen a major quake since November 2012, when a powerful 6.8 magnitude tremor struck the centre of the country, killing 26 people and injuring hundreds.
Crumbling infrastructure and poor urban planning have made the country's most populous areas vulnerable to earthquakes and other disasters, experts say.
Myanmar regularly suffers tropical storms, droughts and floods, while the Sagaing faultline that bisects the country from its northern hills to southern coast causes sporadic earthquakes.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
An earthquake of 6.9 Magnitude struck Myanmar the 13 April 2016 13:55 UTC (20:25 local time) with an epicentre located in the Sagaing region in the central part of Myanmar.
Population exposure estimates are based on Earthquake’s related moderate to strong shake areas deduced from USGS peak acceleration data.
57,590,000 Total population of Myanmar
6,403,404 Total population living in Moderate to Strong Shake Zones
MYANMAR. A 6.8 M earthquake with a depth of 134 km occurred on 13 April 2016 at 19:55 (UTC +8). The epicentre is located 100 km (62 miles) north-northwest of the city of Monywa and 385 kilometers (239 miles) northwest of the capital Naypyidaw. Tremors were felt through Myanmar, north and eastern India, Bangladesh and parts of Nepal.
The strong tremors have caused panic in residential areas. However, initial information states that the epicenter was located in the jungle far from densely populated areas.
The Relief and Resettlement Department (RRD) of Myanmar, is continuously collecting reports and information. As of this time, no reports of casualties and damages were received. Assessment is ongoing.
Yangon, Myanmar | AFP | Wednesday 4/13/2016 - 21:34 GMT
by Hla-Hla HTAY
A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck Myanmar on Wednesday, causing tremors around the region, including in neighbouring Bangladesh where scores were reported injured in stampedes and buildings were damaged.
The quake, which took place at a depth of 134 kilometres (83 miles), hit some 400 kilometres northwest of Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), and was also felt in parts of India and China.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, although the region where the earthquake hit has poor communications infrastructure like many of Myanmar's outlying provinces.
A lawmaker from the Sagaing region, some 100 kilometres from the epicentre, told AFP she felt rough tremors that lasted for several minutes.
"There may be some destruction and damage. But it's difficult to know the (extent) of destruction at nighttime," Cho Cho Win said, adding that the town does not have many high-rise buildings.
Tin Nyo, 67, from another township in Sagaing, said the earthquake was the strongest she had ever felt.
"Although it happened over a short period, it was really rough," she said.
Some in Yangon -- Myanmar's former capital and biggest city -- who also reported feeling tremors fled their multi-story apartment buildings in fear.
The quake was also strongly felt across Bangladesh, which shares a border with Myanmar.
More than 80 people in the country were injured, mostly in stampedes as panicked residents fled their homes and offices, Channel 24 reported.
In the port city of Chittagong, some 200 kilometres from the Myanmar border, at least four buildings stood on a slant following the quake.
"Around 50 people were injured in the Chittagong city, including 24 who were admitted to hospital with minor injuries. They were mostly injured in stampedes," the city's police constable Imran Hossain told AFP.
Traffic ground to a halt in parts of the capital Dhaka as tens of thousands of alarmed residents rushed into the streets.
- 'Let's get out!' -
In neighbouring India, tremors were felt in the northeastern cities of Kolkata, Shillong, Guwahati and Patnam.
In Kolkata, one of India's largest cities, startled residents ran from their houses after the trembling.
"I was inside, working and then suddenly I felt the ground shaking," local resident Chiranjeet Ghosh told television news channels.
"People started yelling 'Something is happening, let's get out!' and we immediately rushed out."
"I came out and saw that everyone else around here had already evacuated their homes and poured onto the streets."
Residents in Kolkata reported seeing cracks appearing in buildings following the quake, and the city's metro was suspended for a few minutes.
Strong tremors were also felt in Tibet, with some residents of Lhasa out on the streets, Chinese official news agency Xinhua said.
Earthquakes are relatively common in Myanmar, where six strong quakes of 7.0 magnitude or more struck between 1930 and 1956 near the Sagaing Fault, which runs north to south through the centre of the country, according to the USGS.
Myanmar has not seen a major quake since November 2012, when a powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck the centre of the country, killing 26 people and injuring hundreds.
The impoverished Southeast Asian nation, which is emerging from decades of military rule, has a strained medical system, especially in its rural states.
The breakneck pace of development in Myanmar's cities, combined with crumbling infrastructure and poor urban planning, has also made the country's most populous areas vulnerable to earthquakes and other disasters, experts say.
In 2015, severe flooding swept across swaths of Myanmar, including the region where Wednesday's earthquake hit, leaving more than 100 people dead and affecting thousands as rescuers struggled to reach isolated regions.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
Yangon, Myanmar | AFP | Wednesday 4/13/2016 - 14:22 GMT
Myanmar was struck by a magnitude 6.9 quake on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey reported, with tremors felt around the region, including in neighbouring India and China.
The quake, which was 134 kilometres (214 miles) deep, hit some 396 kilometres north northwest of the capital Naypyidaw, according to the USGS.
Much of Myanmar's outlying provinces have poor communications infrastructure, including the area where the earthquake hit.
However there were no immediate reports of casualties.
A lawmaker from Mawlite in Sagaing region, some 100 kilometres away from the epicentre, told AFP she felt rough tremors that lasted for several minutes.
"There may be some destruction and damage. But it's difficult to know the [extent] of destruction at night time," Cho Cho Win said, adding that the town does not have many high rise buildings.
Tin Nyo, 67, from Minkin, also in Sagaing, said it was the strongest earthquake she had ever felt.
"I have never experienced that kind of big earthquake in my lifetime. Although it happened over a short period, it was really rough," she told AFP.
In India, tremors were felt in the northeastern cities of Kolkata, Shillong, Guwahati and Patnam.
In Kolkata, one of India's biggest cities, people spilled out of their houses on to the streets, an AFP reporter said.
"I was inside, working and then suddenly I felt the ground shaking," local resident Chiranjeet Ghosh told television news channels.
"People started yelling 'something is happening, let's get out!' and we immediately rushed out.
"I came out and saw that everyone else around here had already evacuated their homes and poured onto the streets."
Residents in Kolkata also reported seeing cracks appearing in buildings following the quake, while the city's metro was suspended for a few minutes.
Chinese official news agency Xinhua said strong tremors were felt in Tibet, with some residents of Lhasa out on the streets.
Earthquakes are relatively common in Myanmar, though the country has not seen a major quake since 2012.
In November of that year a powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit the centre of the country, killing nearly 40 people and injuring hundreds.
The impoverished Southeast Asian nation, which is emerging from decades of military rule, has weak infrastructure and a strained medical system, especially in its rural states.
The breakneck pace of development in Myanmar's cities, combined with crumbling infrastructure and poor urban planning has made the country's most populous areas more vulnerable to the dangers of earthquakes and other disasters, experts say.
Last November more than 100 people died when a huge landslide in northern Kachin state hit a jade mining region. It took days for authorities to pull the scores of bodies from the rubble.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
GENEVA (12 April 2016) – The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, welcomes the recent release of political prisoners as a truly significant moment for Myanmar. She also welcomes the commitment by State Councilor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to release additional political prisoners as a fundamental step towards further democratic transition and national reconciliation.
“It was particularly touching to see the joyful scenes across the country as individuals, who should never have been imprisoned for exercising their basic rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, were freed and able to reunite with their families. As one political prisoner told me in Insein Prison last year, these men and women want to help bring more positive changes to Myanmar. Now they can take their rightful part in the country’s continuing transformation. This is a truly significant moment for Myanmar.
I hope to see quick and real progress on the recommendation of the Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission to amend over 140 laws. Changes to these laws are vital to ensure that there are no new political prisoners in the future. I look forward to the day when nobody will face charges for exercising their basic rights in Myanmar.
This year’s Thingyan Festival brings many things to celebrate in Myanmar. I will continue to work closely with the Government and all concerned to improve the human rights situation. I am hopeful that future Thingyan Festivals will be filled with similar celebration for all people in a free and democratic Myanmar.”
(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s last report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/31/71): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/MM/Pages/SRMyanmar.aspx
Ms. Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014. She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Lee served as member and chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2003-2011). She is currently a professor at Sungkyunwan University, Seoul, and serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Ms. Lee is the founding President of International Child Rights Center, and serves as Vice-chair of the National Unification Advisory Council. Learn more, go to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/MM/Pages/SRMyanmar.aspx
UN Human Rights, country page – Myanmar: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/MMIndex.aspx
For media inquiries:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / firstname.lastname@example.org)
Iraq: The humanitarian situation in besieged Fallujah continues to deteriorate. Supply lines have been cut off since December, when government forces surrounded the city. Islamic State is reportedly preventing people from leaving. Prices of basic food stuffs are 500% above December prices for the third consecutive month. Acute shortages of food, medicine and fuel, as well as cases of starvation and suicide, have been reported.
DRC: Fighting between FARDC and armed groups in late March in Masisi, Nord-Kivu, has displaced 30,000 people. Most were already IDPs. Humanitarian organisations have suspended operations due to the volatile security situation.
Nigeria: 200,000 people in the northeast are currently in Emergency food insecurity (Phase 4 of the Cadre Harmonisé) and in urgent need of assistance in the northeast. The situation is expected to deteriorate as the lean season approaches (June–August). Population movements are extremely fluid with more IDPs being identified, and others relocating or returning. 64,000 Nigerian refugees have returned from Cameroon since January 2016.
Updated: 12/04/2016. Next update: 19/04/2016.
WFP is the recognized global leader in the fight against hunger. In this role, WFP is committed to meeting the needs of the people it serves with the most effective support, and cash-based transfers (CBT) is the reflection of the progress made in innovative delivery of food assistance in an everchanging world.
CBT is the provision of monetary assistance in the form of physical cash to the targeted most food-insecure and vulnerable communities enabling access to food directly, through cooperating partners, or service providers in areas with accessible markets and functioning cash infrastructure - two key preconditions for this transfer modality.
CBT has rapidly become an important and appropriate assistance tool for WFP to address hunger and improve livelihoods outcomes particularly for populations affected by conflicts and natural disasters. CBT are particularly useful where food is available but people lack the resources to buy it – where access to food is the problem, rather than availability. CTB has proven to be efficient and effective when applied in appropriate circumstances. CBT can be integrated into broader social protection and safety net systems. WFP recognizes the importance of building and/or using government systems and infrastructure to support this kind of quick and effective deployment. Over the past six years, WFP’s use of CBT has extended across crises, affected populations and economies, and geographic areas, including Myanmar.
Humanitarian organizations are currently provding assistance to over one million people in Myanmar. This includes 460,000 people who were severely affected by the devastating floods in July/August 2015 who continue to require support, particularly in the food security sector.
KACHIN AND SHAN
In June, it will be five years since conflict re-erupted in Kachin and northern Shan states. Around 100,000 people remain displaced and in need of ongoing humanitarian assistance in those areas.
Approximately 50 per cent of the displaced are in areas beyond Government control.
Renewed fighting in February and March 2016 newly displaced over 7,300 people in northern Shan State. By 31 March, over 4,700 of these people had returned to their homes, primarily in Kyaukme Township.
In Rakhine State, around 145,000 people were displaced and moved to IDP sites following outbreaks of violence in 2012. By the end of 2015 the Government had helped about 25,000 of these IDPs to either return or relocate, providing individual housing to over 3,000 families. About 120,000 people currently remain in IDP camps.
Muslim IDPs continue to face severe restrictions on their freedom of movement, limiting their access to healthcare, education and livelihoods. This makes them heavily dependent on humanitarian aid. Many other people in the state remain vulnerable due to ongoing inter-communal tensions, unresolved citizenship issues, lack of documentation, restrictions on freedom of movement, chronic poverty and under-development.
IDPs in camps in Rakhine State urgently need repairs to their shelters ahead of the rainy season
Dry season water shortages in Rakhine State
Thousands displaced following renewed clashes in northern Shan State in February and March
Majority of people in flood evacuation sites have now been resettled, but over 3,000 remain displaced
Major assessment by FAO and WFP shows that food security and livelihoods are still at risk following 2015 floods
Putting ‘Protection’ at the heart of humanitarian action in Myanmar
number of IDPs in Kachin and Shan states 100,000
number of IDPs in Rakhine State 120,000
Rakhine: IDP shelters need urgent repair
Many IDP shelters in Rakhine in need of rehabilitation or major repairs
About 120,000 people remain displaced in 39 camps or camp-like settings across Rakhine State as a result of the inter-communal violence that broke out in 2012. While some repair and maintenance work occurred in 2014 and 2015, many of the long-houses that were built in 2013 as a temporary measure to last for two years are now in very poor condition. They have weathered three monsoon seasons, as well as Cyclone Komen, which made landfall in southern Bangladesh, close to Rakhine State, in July 2015. The next rainy season is two months away. Ensuring that people are protected from the elements and that they are able to live in dignified conditions is an increasingly critical need. This is particularly the case in Pauktaw and Myebon townships, where many shelters will have to be almost entirely rebuilt, with only 5 per cent of the original building structure being salvageable. Water and sanitation infrastructure is also in need of repair and maintenance in many IDP camps.
In March 2016, the Rakhine State Government, Shelter Cluster Lead UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and OCHA conducted a joint assessment of IDP camps in Sittwe, Pauktaw and Myebon townships. The 21 camps in these three townships account for over 90 per cent of all remaining IDPs across the state. Needs were categorized between full rehabilitation (requiring an almost total rebuild), major repair (requiring 60 per cent to be repaired), and minor repair (requiring 20 per cent to be repaired). The assessment found that in Sittwe Township of the 1,600 eight-unit structures, more than 60 per cent are in need of major repairs. In Pauktaw Township, the situation is worse: 80 per cent of the 298 eight-unit structures in three of the four camps need full rehabilitation. This is indicative of the more exposed location of these camps. The fourth camp in Pauktaw had significant shelter repair and maintenance in 2015. Significant work is also required in the one large camp in Myebon Township, which contains 89 long-houses.
Additional funds urgently needed
Based on these detailed assessments, the combined financial needs to complete rehabilitation and repairs stands at US$3.2 million. UNHCR as Cluster Lead and LWFhave committed $1.1 million and $0.5 million respectively, leaving a remaining gap of $1.6 million. Efforts to address this shortfall continue. To date, it is not known what the Rakhine State Government may be able to contribute. The funding currently available is being prioritized for Pauktaw and Meybon townships where the needs are most urgent, with the balance to be spent in some of the camps in Sittwe Township. Implementation will either be directly by UNHCR and LWF or by cluster partners, notably DRC.
If the $1.6 million funding gap is not closed, thousands of displaced people, including small children and elderly people who are already living in precarious conditions, will be exposed to another rainy season without the necessary shelter repairs being undertaken. This includes 36,000 people in Sittwe Township in temporary shelters that are in need of major repair and 2,500 people in temporary shelters that are in need of full rehabilitation.
By SAW YAN NAING / THE IRRAWADDY| Thursday, April 7, 2016 |
Burma’s long-established ethnic Karen armed organization, the Karen National Union (KNU), has been preparing land and shelter for the possible return of civilians displaced internally and on the Thai-Burma border after more than six decades of civil war with government forces.
The plan is underway in areas controlled by the KNU in southern and eastern Karen State, such as Kyainseikgyi Township and Hpa-an District, according to sources from the group.
Maj Saw Zorro, head of the KNU’s liaison office in the Burma border town of Myawaddy, told The Irrawaddy that the KNU has built 150 shelters in areas under the KNU’s Brigade 7. The buildings are intended to house internally displaced persons (IDPs) when they are ready to return.
“As far I know, 50 houses in Paikyu, 50 in Maw Poe Kay and 50 in Mae Taree have been built. They will build more houses. These are for IDPs, not for refugees [from Thailand],” said Maj Saw Zorro.
He insisted that there is no timeframe established for IDPs and refugees to return to Karen State and that the choice remains voluntary. There are an estimated 120,000 Burmese refugees in Thailand, the majority of whom are ethnic Karen who fled due to military offensives in the eastern parts of the country. Many have been living on Thai soil for over two decades.
Mahn Kennedy, secretary of the Dooplaya District under KNU’s Brigade 6, told The Irrawaddy that the KNU local administration is prepared to grant more than 10,000 acres of land to refugees who want to come back in the future.
“We are just getting some land ready for them to live on, if or when they return home. We don’t go and bring them back,” he said of the refugees. “And we don’t know when they will return. But they can return home if they want. It very much depends on UN and the Burmese government too.”
He added that repatriation of refugees also is related to regional stability, particularly the implementation Burma’s so-called Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) by respective stakeholders such as the Burmese government, the KNU leaders, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other relevant NGOs.
“We are demarcating some land for them in Kyainseikgyi Township—more than 10,000 acres. There is a land-grabbing problem. But we will make sure that we don’t have problem with it when demarcating land,” said Mahn Kennedy.
In late March, NGOs including The Border Consortium (TBC), Karen Refugees Committee (KRC) as well as local Thai authorities and refugee community leaders visited the resettlement site in Kyainseikgyi to view the land and meet with local KNU officials.
Saw Robert Htway, the head of the Karen Refugee Committee (KRC) also went to see the proposed site.
“We just went to observe the conditions. The KNU told us that it is not time for repatriation yet. We don’t know when it will happen. The site is just a place for us to go back and live when we return home,” he explained.
After the KNU signed ceasefire agreements with the former government administration—in both 2012 and 2015—hopes of and preparation for return were widely discussed among NGOs and Thai and Burmese authorities.
Saw Say Say of KNU’s headquarters in Mae Sot, on the Thai border, raised concerns over the safety of those who return, as there is not yet full implementation of the aforementioned ceasefire agreements.
There is no guarantee for civilians to return home, he said, as there are reports of Burma Army troops currently being deployed near the proposed resettlement sites. Saw Say Say argues that withdrawal of Burma Army troops in some KNU strongholds should be mandatory before plans can be made for refugee repatriation.
In early 2015, the KNU built a new “model village” named Lay Kay Kaw for IDPs in in Kawkareik Township, southeastern Karen State. It remains sparsely populated.
Many Activists Released, but Hundreds Still Jailed or Facing Charges
(New York) – The new Burmese government, led by the National League for Democracy (NLD), has taken a major step in releasing approximately 200 political prisoners and detainees, Human Rights Watch said today. It has also pledged to release remaining political prisoners or have their politically motivated charges dropped by the end of April 2016.
The NLD-led government should also use its absolute majorities in both houses of parliament to repeal or amend the many rights-abusing laws that have been used to prosecute dissidents and others during a half-century of mostly military rule, Human Rights Watch said.
“The new NLD-led government’s release of large numbers of political prisoners has been welcomed in Burma and around the world, but there are hundreds more still in prison or facing charges,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The NLD has correctly made releasing political prisoners a priority and should now follow through to ensure that all remaining activists are freed and that charges dropped against hundreds of others.”
Political prisoner groups estimate that 121 political activists remain in prison and another 320 people are facing charges for political offenses.
On April 7, NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the newly appointed state counselor to President Htin Kyaw and the parliament, announced a plan to release political prisoners and activists facing charges for political activities. Under section 204 of the Burmese constitution and section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure granting the president power to issue pardons, the government pledged to release all political prisoners, but did not provide a timetable for the promised releases.
On April 8, 199 activists, including 69 students facing a prolonged trial for protests against the National Education Law in 2015, were pardoned or had charges dropped and were released from custody. Those released included protest leaders Honey Oo, Phyo Phyo Aung, Nandar Sit Aung, Kyaw Ko Ko, Min Thway Thit, and Lin Hlet Naing. Prominent activists, such as the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society members Mei Mei and Nilar Thein, and land rights activists Su Su Nway and Naw Ohn La, were also pardoned and released.
More than 2,000 other prisoners whose sentences were almost completed were also released in a general amnesty scheduled before the national Thingyan water festival, which starts the week of April 10 and continues for several days. A statement from Aung San Suu Kyi’s office, late on Friday, April 8, announced that the process of releases would be delayed over the holiday, but all other political prisoners would be freed or have charges dropped by the end of April.
In a sign of the challenges ahead, on April 8, a court in Mandalay sentenced two Muslim interfaith activists to an additional two years in prison with hard labor. Pwint Phyu Latt and Zaw Zaw Latt, already sentenced to two years in prison in 2016, were convicted on charges under the Unlawful Association Act section 17(a) for visits they allegedly made to the Kachin Independence Army in 2012. This follows the two-year hard-labor sentence handed down to the former NLD information officer, Htin Lin Oo, in June 2015, on charges of insulting religion. The NLD-led government should include these activists in the pardon process, Human Rights Watch said.
The new government has pledged to follow a definition of political prisoner that was agreed upon by the NLD and former political prisoner organizations in 2014: “Anyone who is arrested, detained or imprisoned for political reasons under political charges, or wrongfully under criminal and civil charges because of his or her perceived or known active role, perceived or known supporting role, or association with activity promoting freedom, justice, equality, human rights and civil and political rights, including ethnic rights, is defined as a political prisoner.”
Last week, the newly formed government Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission, led by former army general and house speaker Thura Shwe Mann and including a mix of NLD members and members of parliament, proposed the amendment or repeal of 142 laws used to prosecute political activists.
Human Rights Watch called on the government to prioritize the swift repeal or amendment of key laws used by authorities against peaceful activists, such as various sections of the penal code; section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law, under which many students were recently charged; the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act; and section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, which has been used to detain activists such as Robert Khum Jarr Lee for alleged social media posts.
Activists have told Human Rights Watch that they worry legal reforms will be hampered by the Burmese military’s continuing control, mandated by the military-drafted constitution, over key ministries. Notably, the Ministry of Home Affairs is headed by an army general appointed by the commander-in-chief, giving the military effective control over the Myanmar Police Force, the Corrections Department, and the Special Branch.
“To break the decades-long cycle of politically motivated arrests of peaceful critics of the government and military, Burma’s new government should look systematically at laws long used to stifle basic freedoms,” Adams said. “But until the constitution is amended to put the police fully under civilian control and oversight, the threat of political arrests will remain.”
World: Prevention and Treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition in East Asia and the Pacific - Report of a Regional Consultation - Bangkok, Thailand, June 24-26, 2015
Rationale and objectives of the meeting
In the East Asia and the Pacific Region (EAPR), despite economic growth and achievements in health and nutrition indicators, maternal and child undernutrition rates and burden remain extremely high. The annual estimated number of cases of severe wasting in EAPR countries is over six million, but the indirect coverage of the treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) is less than 2%. Prevention and management of acute malnutrition is therefore a large unfinished agenda in this region.
As part of a broader effort by UNICEF and partners to raise awareness and promote commitment to the issue, the “Regional Consultation on Prevention and Treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition in East Asia and the Pacific” was held in Bangkok, Thailand, on June 24-26, 2015. The meeting was organised by the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO). Participants included government representatives, UNICEF staff from headquarters, regional offices and EAPRO country offices, staff from other United Nations (UN) agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), such as Save the Children, Action Against Hunger (ACF-UK) and Alive & Thrive (Vietnam), Institute de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), academia (University of Louvain) and donors.
The objectives of the consultation were to:
(1) discuss the latest evidence on nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive delivery platforms and models for the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition, with a special focus on SAM;
(2) examine the strengths and challenges of the currently implemented approaches in the region, with a focus on SAM management;
(3) identify the importance of acute malnutrition within the larger nutrition operating environment, and the integration into national systems and existing coordination mechanisms at country level.
The ICRC as a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organizazion continues to help those affected by the armed conflict, other situations of violence and natural disasters where it has an operationel presence. Wherever possible, activites are carried out with its partner, the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS).
Below is an overview of the ICRC's work in Myanmar during 2015.
50,000 people affected by the conflict in the northeast received emergency assistance (access to water, shelter, health-care, essentiel items) and/or cash to support their livelihood recovery.
120.000 people affected by severe floods in Rhakine State received water, sanitation, shelter, hygiene kits and/or to cash to support for their livelihood recovery.
15 hospitals in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States enhanced the quality of their services thanks to ICRC financial, logistical and technical training support.
3,000 people with disability received prostheses and physical rehabilitation to improve their mobility. The construction of two new physical rehabilitation centres started in Kachin and Shan States.
30 places of detention were visited and their authorities were supported to improve living conditions (access to water, hygiene, health-care, and family contacts).
240 police officers and trainers improved their knowledges of international policing standards and 24 officers from Myanmar Armed Forces of international humanitarian law.
For more information, read the full update on our work in Myanmar.
Living on the banks of the Chindwin River in Myanmar's Sagaing region, Daw Nye Mya (60) reports that she "had never seen flooding as bad" as the floods which swept through her village in July and August 2015.
When the floods first hit, she and her three daughters fled to the hills with only the clothes on their backs. The villagers from Yin Yein used small boats to ferry the children and elderly first and took their valuable livestock with them. A month later a second wave of flooding followed.
It was three months before they could return to their homes and begin to recover their agricultural livelihoods. But even after the initial floodwaters had receded the mud left behind was two feet thick, making access difficult to impossible.
Those with land close to the river found their plots covered in several feet of mud which dried hard and cracked. Some could afford the extra cost of a heavy tractor to prepare the land but many others had to abandon their plots.
Those like Daw Nye Mya with land on higher ground were also impacted significantly.
"When the floods came, the torrential heavy rains caused the upper layer of soil to be washed away. The soil fertility decreased and my yield [of groundnut and pigeon pea] was only half the yield of the previous year," said Daw Nye Mya.
As head of her household, Daw Nye Mya grows sesame, groundnut and pigeon pea on ten acres of land. She employs some casual labourers while two of her daughters also work the land to make enough money to fund a third daughter who attends university in Monywa. But the outlook for her daughter's tertiary education is precarious.
"With the impact of the floods and the unpredictable climate [not knowing when the rains will come], it is very difficult to plan the purchase of labour. I am very worried that I will not be able to continue paying for my daughter's university," she said.
The Sagaing region was one of the hardest hit in the 2015 floods and was officially declared a natural-disaster-affected zone by the Government at the end of July. Nearly 45 000 hectares of paddy area were damaged in the region which also recorded the highest livestock losses.
FAO, together with implementing partner Solidarités International, is assisting 79 farmer households and landless families from Yin Yein through the provision of 54 agricultural and home gardening kits and 50 piglets in advance of the next rainy season. This is part of a larger project - funded by the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) administered by UN OCHA - which will assist more than 50 000 flood-affected individuals in four townships of Sagaing region.
Daw Nye Mya expressed her thanks for FAO's assistance, saying "We are very hopeful that the fertiliser and seeds from FAO will be helpful in the upcoming crop season to increase the yield and improve quality".
FAO has called for a total of USD 12.1 million to provide assistance to 332 750 conflict- and flood-affected people under the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan for Myanmar.
With 2016 funding to date, around 62,000 people will be assisted by FAO. Under funding received in 2015, an additional 93 000 flood-affected people are being assisted. A further USD 7.6 million is urgently required to reach the total target population for 2016.
Report by the Secretariat
Strong progress continues to be made towards each of the four objectives of the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013–2018 (the Endgame Plan). With only Afghanistan and Pakistan remaining endemic for poliomyelitis, wild poliovirus transmission is at the lowest levels in history, with the fewest-ever reported cases from the fewest-ever affected countries.
The declaration of international spread of wild poliovirus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and the temporary recommendations promulgated under the International Health Regulations (2005) remain in effect. In September 2015, the Polio Oversight Board of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative reviewed progress and concluded that wild poliovirus transmission is more likely to be interrupted in 2016 than in 2015. This delay shifts the predicted date for certification of global polio eradication to 2019 and increases the cost of completing polio eradication by US$ 1500 million. In October 2015, WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization confirmed its recommendation that the withdrawal of oral polio vaccines containing the type 2 component should occur during the period 17 April–1 May 2016 in all countries that are using trivalent oral polio vaccine through a globally-synchronized replacement of this vaccine by the bivalent oral polio vaccine. The Group also reaffirmed that, in preparation for this global event, it is crucial that countries meet established deadlines to identify facilities holding wild or vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2, destroy all type 2 poliovirus materials and, only where necessary, appropriately contain type 2 poliovirus in essential poliovirus facilities. The Executive Board at its 138th session noted an earlier version of this report.1 The text of the report has been updated and revised in light of the Board’s deliberations.
To build on its historic election victory, Myanmar’s ruling party must invest in agriculture to tackle poverty and stimulate growth
Deirdre May Culley and Martha Baxter
On 30 March, Htin Kyaw, a long-time adviser and ally of Aung San Suu Kyi – whose National League for Democracy party achieved a historic victory in recent elections – became the first elected civilian to hold office in Myanmar since the army took over in 1962.
Read the full report on the Guardian.