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Myanmar: Myanmar: Landslide and Bridge Damage Location in Tonzang and Tedim Townships, Chin State (20 Aug 2015)

24 August 2015 - 10:33pm
Source: Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

Description:
This map shows reported locations of landslide events. Reported events occurred between 2-19 August 2015 and locations are approximate. Please send ground feedback to MIMU.

Myanmar: Irrigation Dept plans to improve Myanaung embankment

24 August 2015 - 10:31pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Myanaung, 24 Aug— The Myanaung embankment can withstand rising waters, Staff Officer U Myo Zaw Zaw of Township Irrigation Department told media on 23 August.

After the Ayeyawady River rose to its danger point at the sluice gate near Ngabatchaung village in Myanaung Township from 24 July to 6 August, local residents and officials of the Irrigation Department participated in maintenance of the embankment.

“In accord with the guidance of the president on his inspection tour of Ayeyawady Region, Township Irrigation Department plans to improve the embankment,” a staff officer said.

During the flash flooding period in August, local residents from Shwekyin village-tract moved to Htoo village-tract. Officials opened relief camps at monasteries in Htoo village to accommodate the flood victims. Residents returned home on 7 August.

The Myanaung embankment is roughly 49 miles long, running from Taikkyi village in Kyangin Township to Lutawsu village in Ingapu Township.

Nay Win Zaw (Myanaung)

Myanmar: Much remains to be done to repair flood damage: president

24 August 2015 - 10:24pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, 24 Aug — The damage bill from flooding across the nation has hit K139 billion (U.S. $109 million), President U Thein Sein said Monday, as he urged ministries, along with state and region governments, to do everything required to help victims repair their lives.

At a reconstruction planning meeting in Nay Pyi Taw, the president said the entire country, with the exception of one region and two states, had been affected by floods in July, with more than 5,000 buildings and 1.4 million acres of farmland damaged.

The president said it was necessary to provide food, clothing, shelter and healthcare services to flood victims, and while some problems had been solved through international assistance, private donations and government action, much remained to be done.

The reconstruction efforts will be spearheaded by the government based on data collected by state and region governments, the president added.

After the speech, Vice President U Nyan Tun, who chairs the natural disaster management committee, and chief ministers of states and regions hit by floods reported to the president on tasks being carried out for disaster relief.

MNA

Myanmar: Getting to the goal of 100 percent birth registration

24 August 2015 - 10:23pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, 24 Aug — UNICEF released a press release Monday that at the third National Forum on Birth Registration in Myanmar held in Nay Pyi Taw Monday, donors, policymakers and service providers from around the country, reconfirmed the critical importance of birth registration and reflected on what more needs to be done to realize an efficient and effective birth registration system for the country.

To get to the goal of 100 percent birth registration, the Government of Myanmar and UNICEF are urging donors to respond to a request for US$1.5 million to support the ongoing national birth registration campaign.

Myanmar has made considerable progress on birth registration in recent years. Demand for birth registration is being created through awareness raising at region and state level.

The successful campaigns in 2014-2015 in the six states and regions of Ayeyawady, Chin,
Kayin, Kayah, Magway and Mon saw the registration of more than 300,000 children aged under five years.

This brings the national coverage to approximately 79% of births registered, up from 72% in 2009-2010.

There are wide differences across the country. While nearly all children born in Yangon are registered, many children in remote rural areas still lack a birth certificate.

GNLM

Myanmar: Search For New Homes: Land survey seeks relocation sites for landslide-hit households

24 August 2015 - 10:19pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

By Aye Min Soe

Yangon, 24 Aug — The government will publish the findings of a geological survey carried out in Haka, Chin State in September.

The survey aims to identify a suitable location for the resettlement of residents left homeless by landslides in late July and early August.

Geological experts met with representatives of the Chin State Government and the Ministry of Mines on Sunday to discuss the preliminary findings of the survey, which will be officially published by the ministry.

Across Haka, more than 600 houses were affected by the landslides, with 370 completely destroyed.
In western Chin State, landslides and flash floods caused severe damage; leaving more than 1,000 homes damaged or destroyed, affecting 7,670 people and killing five.

Haka Township Administrator U Thein Zaw Oo told The Global New Light of Myanmar on Monday that nearly 200 homes in Myo Haung Ward need to be relocated as a result of the damage caused by the landslide that hit the mountain-side capital city.

He added that many residents have already left their homes and moved to safer areas.

At the start of the month the city was threatened by food shortages after the Haka-Gangaw Road was almost completely cut off by a landslide.

The Chin State government is building an emergency road route that links Kalay in Sagaing Region with Falam in Chin State, in order to transport aid to the mountainous region.

The nationwide death toll from landslides and floods between June and late August reached 121. Most of these deaths occurred in Rakhine State, where 56 people were killed, followed by 23 in Sagaing and 12 in Mandalay Region, according to data from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.

GNLM

Indonesia: Aid for stranded Rohingya

24 August 2015 - 9:53pm
Source: Islamic Relief Country: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar

People displaced from Myanmar and Bangladesh are receiving lifesaving food aid in Islamic Relief’s latest project in Indonesia.

According to the UN, in the first three months of this year an estimated 25,000 people left Myanmar and poverty-stricken Bangladesh in boats operated by smugglers. Thousands are currently thought to be stranded at sea, including Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar, a country which has endured devastating inter-communal violence. Many facing the perilous journey – during which they are at risk of being exploited, abused and abandoned by their traffickers – are women and children. Some 1,662 people have reached Indonesia’s Aceh province, where they are now living in four temporary facilities awaiting a decision regarding their futures.

We want peace, freedom and justice”

“Before this tragedy [in Myanmar], our life was joyful and secure,” said Rosida Bagom, 20, who fled Myanmar with her family. Her father and her husband, Er Hasan, are now working in Malaysia whilst Rosida, her two-year old son and teenaged brother live in a migrant shelter in North Aceh.

“We got separated by distance and time. We lost our happiness and time together as a family. Generally, the Rohingya women and men here are in the same situation as myself. My hope for the future is quite simple. I want to reunite with my father and my husband. I want to raise our son properly, with love and protection. We want peace, freedom, and justice as much as everybody else does.

“There are no rooms solely built for a family at the moment,” she said, describing the migrants shelter in Blang Ado village. “We still sleep and live in group in a single-roomed shelter, which has a brickwall and metal roofing. We need a more comfortable and permanent [place to stay], because we do not think of ever returning to Myanmar.”

Food supplies for three months

Islamic Relief, which has been working in Aceh for more than a decade, has kitted out the communal kitchens in the facilities with furniture and cooking equipment such as gas stoves and pots.

Rosida and her family are among more than 1,600 people receiving regular food supplies for at least three months through the Islamic Relief project. Culturally-sensitive staples provided so far include rice, sardines, cooking oil, mung beans, juice, and sugar.

“We, the migrants who are given refuge in this temporary shelter, are very grateful to Islamic Relief, which has delivered water and food to us,” she said. In a bid to prevent malnutrition amongst children in the facilities, Islamic Relief has also distributed supplementary foodstuffs such as biscuits and juice.

“Those things alone have already refreshed the hearts of the stranded migrants. The generosity and kindness of Islamic Relief’s donors have proven that humanitarianism is very strong in this world. Therefore, on behalf of Rohingya migrants, I wish to say thank you. We also hope that the donors will always be protected by God and that Islamic Relief will always be able to help humanity.”

Altogether, some 1,662 people are benefitting from the project, which began in July.

Myanmar: Civil Society Groups to Cooperate on Flood Rehabilitation Efforts

24 August 2015 - 12:57pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

RANGOON—Around 50 organizations involved in relief efforts in flood-stricken parts of Burma have agreed to coordinate their efforts toward flood rehabilitation programs in the coming months, according to attendees of a conference held in Sittwe over the weekend.

Dr. Kyaw Thu, director of the Paung Ku consortium of civil society groups, told The Irrawaddy that conference attendees wanted to build on emergency response and information sharing networks developed during the crisis to help villagers in future recovery efforts.

Wunlark Foundation director Khaing Kaung San said that organizations involved in flood relief saw a need for civil society to assist in rehabilitation plans, as the Burmese government did not have the resources to prepare a long-term flood response on its own.

“We don’t want to depend on the government’s resettlement plan, and the rehabilitation period will be more difficult than emergency response, this is why we’re trying to organize,” he told The Irrawaddy.

He added that plans to merge and coordinate civil society rehabilitation efforts were likely to be finalized by the end of August.

According to government statistics, by Monday the floods had affected more than 1.6 million people across 12 states and divisions. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on Friday that nearly 1 million acres of farmland had been damaged since the floods began, with nearly 400,000 households displaced by the deluge.

PanDeikTun, who attended the Sittwe conference as a member of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, said that the local organizations represented would work to coordinate their rehabilitation efforts with international non-government organizations.

Myanmar: Myanmar Election Season Makes Dramatic Start

24 August 2015 - 12:10pm
Source: US Institute of Peace Country: Myanmar

Friday, August 21, 2015

By: Priscilla Clapp

Myanmar’s 2015 election season is off to a dramatic start. Massive flooding and complaints about inaccurate voter lists have caused delays in early procedural deadlines. In a midnight raid on the headquarters of the governing Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) party, ministers from the president’s office, accompanied by soldiers and police, deposed the speaker of parliament, Thura U Shwe Mann, as head of the party. Meantime, when the list of candidates was released for the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the party faced protests from those who did not make the cut.

Despite the drama of candidate lists and leadership struggles, the prospects for credible elections still look promising. Very large numbers of political parties and candidates have signed up to run in the elections, suggesting that hope for the political process is on the upswing.

The Union Election Commission set November 8 as the election date and announced procedural deadlines for finalizing voter registration lists, party registration, candidate registration, and commencement of campaigning. It was then forced by unforeseen circumstances to delay its first two deadlines.

First, the confusion and complaints over inaccurate voter registration lists delayed the August deadline for publishing final lists. This deadline may slip further if the next iteration of the lists still contains major inaccuracies. The confusion is leading to speculation within the NLD and ethnic minority parties that the disarray may be a deliberate ploy by the election commission, acting on behalf of the USDP, to disadvantage opposition supporters.

Second, unusually heavy monsoon rains and a cyclone inundated much of the country, displacing some 200,000 people and forcing a week’s delay in the candidate registration deadline. The election commission announced that 93 parties have submitted 6,189 candidates to run for 1,171 parliamentary seats. Decisions will be issued soon on the eligibility of the proposed candidates. Thus far these procedural delays do not appear to have risked a delay in the election date itself.

Meanwhile, controversy has already erupted within the two major parties.

National League for Democracy

Anticipation built for weeks that the NLD would broaden its electoral base by including prominent members of the 88 Generation --one of the country’s most prominent pro-democracy movements -- and other longtime political activists on its list of election candidates. But the NLD included only a handful of these activists on its final list.

Most notable among the omissions was 88 Generation leader U Ko Ko Gyi, who spent more than 17 years as a political prisoner. He had partnered with the NLD in its campaign to amend the constitution to eliminate the military’s current veto power in the parliament, and he hoped to run from his hometown in Yangon as an NLD candidate for the lower house of parliament.

These decisions brought a loud outcry from NLD members and 88 Generation supporters. When NLD members in the district center of Pakkoku staged a demonstration to protest candidate decisions, the NLD dismissed several of them from the party. Still others have criticized the NLD for deciding to compete against ethnic minority parties in the ethnic states.

Union Solidarity and Development Party

The commotion in the NLD, however, was quickly overshadowed by open strife within the government party leadership. On the night of Aug. 12, security forces swooped down on USDP headquarters in Naypyitaw to support ministers from the president’s office as they took control of the party away from party Chairman Shwe Mann.

Tensions between Shwe Mann and both the president’s office and the armed forces commander-in-chief had been building for more than two years over Shwe Mann’s management of the parliament and the party, his challenges to the constitution, and his growing alliance with NLD leader Suu Kyi.

The pressures boiled over after an Aug. 12 meeting to finalize the USDP candidate list. Shwe Mann accepted only 50 of the 150 newly retired military officers whom the commander-in-chief had asked to be included as USDP candidates. Prominent ministers from the president’s office were also excluded from the list. Shwe Mann’s opponents thus moved to oust him in time to correct the candidate list before the Aug. 14 deadline for registration.

Party and government spokesmen have confirmed that Shwe Mann will remain speaker of parliament until the end of the current term and he will still run in the elections as the USDP candidate from his hometown of Phyu, north of Yangon.

Suu Kyi quickly came to Shwe Mann’s defense, decrying the undemocratic nature of the strong-arm tactics used to remove him from the party leadership. She declared that the NLD would now count Shwe Mann as an ally.

Meanwhile, a recall drive was launched against Shwe Mann by voters in his current Naypyitaw constituency, which is predominantly military. The petition accused him of disrespecting the military by proposing constitutional amendments to curb its power in the parliament. When the parliament reconvened on Aug. 18, Shwe Mann’s opponents introduced a bill to implement the constitutional provision that as few as 1 percent of voters in a constituency could force a member’s recall. In a show of support for Shwe Mann, a majority of parliamentarians voted to delay consideration of the bill until after the elections.

If Shwe Mann’s enemies in the government, the party, or the military take further steps to remove him from political life, it could easily backfire on them: With democracy icon Suu Kyi’s strong support, Shwe Mann could be cast as a martyr crucified for promoting democracy.

In reality, the warfare among military and ex-military leaders is probably more a struggle over power and personality than over the country’s direction. Both U Shwe Mann in the parliament and President Thein Sein’s team in the executive have been advocates of reform and democratization for the last four years. And, on the whole, the military has supported this process. What they are fighting over now are the questions of who will lead the reform process after the elections and at what pace it will proceed.

Ethnic Parties

Although the NLD and USDP are the two giants in the parliamentary race, the ethnic minority parties are also aiming to capture a larger share of seats. Ethnic parties in the Shan and Rakhine states are the largest, but many small ethnic parties have emerged throughout the country in this election. There was not much ethnic minority enthusiasm for the 2010 elections, because at that time the parliament was expected to be merely an instrument of continued military rule.

Now, however, ethnic groups see that the parliament could be key to pursuing their interests at both the national and regional levels. Instead of competing on the USDP ticket, as many did in 2010, they are forming their own parties and aiming especially at seats in the state-level parliaments to take control of regional and local governance.

Recognizing that their political strength will be enhanced by unity, many of the ethnic parties are exploring the formation of alliances to advance common agendas in the next government.

This early enthusiasm to jump into the political arena suggests that the fundamentals of democratic governance are already beginning to guide the 2015 elections, offering hope that the election itself will come to mark a major step toward the country’s democratization.

Priscilla Clapp is a senior advisor to the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Asia Society, and a former U.S. chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Emergency Response to Floods | Situation Report 24 August 2015

24 August 2015 - 12:01pm
Source: World Food Programme Country: Myanmar

Highlights

· According to the Government as well as inter-agency and WFP individual needs assessments, more than 1.7 million people have now been affected by severe floods and landslides in 13 states/regions of Myanmar: Ayeyarwady, Bago, Chin, Kachin, Kayin, Mandalay, Magway, Mon, Rakhine, Sagaing, Shan, Tanintharyi and Yangon.

· Provision of food, safe water, temporary shelter adequate sanitation and emergency health services remain the most urgent humanitarian priorities.

· The U.N. organizations, in coordination with the Government, are conducting multi-sectoral initial rapid assessments (MIRA) in Sagaing, Magway and Bago Regions to identify the scale of longer term requirements for livelihood support, health and education assistance and other interventions during the early recovery phase in the offing.

World: Enhancing Agricultural Productivity of CLMV Countries: Challenges and Agenda for Reforms

24 August 2015 - 9:02am
Source: Asian Development Bank Country: Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Viet Nam, World

This paper examines the agriculture sector reforms and developments in Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, and Viet Nam.

Responding positively to economic reforms, the economies of Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, and Viet Nam (CLMV) have shown tremendous growth since the mid-1980s, including in their respective agriculture sectors. Recent developments, however, have brought into question the CLMV countries’ ability to sustain further increases in agricultural productivity given the slow pace of reforms and emerging challenges. Going forward, the reform agenda must go beyond the traditional view of expanding yields and supply of agricultural products for development gains in the sector to contribute to inclusive growth, poverty alleviation, and food security. This will require changing the market structures and regulatory policies that govern the sector.

Bangladesh: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (18-24 August 2015)

24 August 2015 - 5:58am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Myanmar, Northern Mariana Islands (The United States of America), Papua New Guinea, Philippines

BANGLADESH

A rapid assessment launched after Cyclone Komen reports that a total of 2.6 million people affected, with Sathkia, Chittagong and Noakhali districts the worst affected. Nearly 220,000 households are in need of emergency assistance, the vast majority of whom require immediate food assistance. An estimated US$6.3 million is required to cover the needs and proposals were sent to donors.

2.6 million people affected

MYANMAR

Floods and landslides in Jul and Aug affected over 1.6 million people, including 384,900 displaced households, according to Government reports. At least 117 people are confirmed dead. Flood waters receded in many areas, but roads and bridges are damaged or are covered with mud and debris, posing challenges for ongoing relief and recovery operations. People started to return home but some remain in evacuation centres as homes are covered in mud and sediment.
According to the Government the highest numbers of affected people are in Ayeyarwady, Sagaing and Magway states.
The government-led emergency response is ongoing while recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction is planned.

1.6 million people affected

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Prolonged drought and frost affect over 1.8 million people in the Highlands region. 10 people have died. Hardest hit provinces include Simbu (Chimbu), Southern Highlands, Enga, Eastern Highlands, and Western Highlands. Water shortages forced several schools and hospitals to close. The Government is leading the response providing food, water and emergency health care. The National Disaster Response Committee has dispatched 4 assessment teams composed of Government and Disaster Management Team (DMT) members.

1.8 million people affected

INDIA

Heavy rainfall resulted in flash floods and landslides affecting more than 500,000 people across 19 districts in Assam State. According to the State Disaster Management Authority, three people were killed. Rescue operations are underway and 177 relief camps have opened to support over 122,000 displaced people. Relief distributed: rice, dal and tarpaulins.

500,000 people affected

PHILIPPINES, CHINA, JAPAN

Tropical Cyclone Goni crossed the north-west Pacific as a Category 4 storm, but did not have a significant humanitarian impact. 10 people died in the Philippines, while three remain missing. In Taiwan, Province of China, heavy rain and strong wind were reported. In Japan, the islands of Iriomote and Ishigaki were in the cyclone’s path but there are no reports of significant damage as of 24 Aug.

10 people dead

NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS

The Northern Mariana Islands are still cleaning up after Typhoon Soudelour three weeks ago, as well as heavy rainfall delivered by two further typhoons as they traveled through the region. Government has been able to move from response to recovery mode with attention now turning to rebuilding accommodation for the thousands of Saipan residents still living in temporary shelters or damaged homes. Power and continuous tap water are still not available at most homes on Saipan. Public schools on Saipan remain closed. OCHA ROP has reached out to Government officials and the American Red Cross but there are no requests for international assistance.

Myanmar: Flash flooding in Kyaukme returns to normalcy

24 August 2015 - 3:36am
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Kyaukme, 23 Aug— The flash overflow of Namsaungngaung creek inundated residences in Ward 6 and a basic education primary school in Ward 5 in Kyaukme, Shan State on 22 August.

As the water level of the creek ebbed on 23 August, local people cleared debris at the flood-affected areas. Firefighters cleaned silt on the floor of No 1 Engineers reopen KanbaluHtangon railroad section with repairing derailment of train BEPS and sprayed there in the afternoon.

There was no casualty in the sudden flooding in the township, according to an official.

Myint Aung (KaMa)

Myanmar: Burma: Discriminatory Laws Could Stoke Communal Tensions

23 August 2015 - 10:07pm
Source: Human Rights Watch Country: Myanmar

New Laws Target Muslims, Other Religious Minorities

(Bangkok) – President Thein Sein of Burma should refuse to sign into law two pieces of legislation that violate fundamental rights, Human Rights Watch said today. On August 21, 2015, the joint parliament approved the Religious Conversion Bill and the Monogamy Bill, two of four contentious so-called “race and religion” laws that will entrench discrimination based on religion, and also violate internationally protected rights to privacy and religious belief.

“By passing these two draft laws, Parliament has ignored basic human rights and risks inflaming Burma’s tense intercommunal relations, threatening an already fragile transition ahead of landmark elections,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “These discriminatory laws could fuel anti-Muslim sentiment, so Thein Sein should demonstrate solid leadership, stand up for rights, and refuse to sign them."

The four laws – including the Population Control Law, which became law in May, and the Interfaith Marriage Law, passed by parliament in July but as far as the government has revealed, not yet signed into law – have all been heavily promoted by the Association for Protection of Race and Religion (known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha). This nationwide organization of Buddhist monks promotes an often anti-Muslim and ultra-nationalist agenda. It was the Ma Ba Tha that first urged the government of Thein Sein to adopt the laws in late 2013.

The religious conversion bill will enable the state to regulate religious profession and conversion, a wholly unjustified state interference in the right to freedom of conscience and religion. The law will create Religious Conversion Scrutinization and Registration Boards at the township (district) level consisting of five local officials and two local elders chosen by the township administrator.

Anyone wishing to change their religion will have to be over 18 and will be required to file an application with a local board, including the reasons for the conversion. The applicant would be interviewed by at least five board members, followed by a 90-day study period for the applicant to examine the “essence of the religion, marriage, divorce, and division of property practices in that religion, and inheritance and parenting practices in that religion.” If the board approves the conversion, the applicant would then get a certificate of conversion.

There are concerns that the make-up of many local boards will be predominantly ethnic Burman Buddhist officials, who may be biased against conversions from Buddhism to other religions. The conversion would only be valid when the certificate is issued – allowing the rights to marry, inheritance, and division of property to be regulated according to the rules and practices of the new religion. The local board would forward all information it collects about the person to national religion, immigration, and identification agencies, interfering with their right to privacy.

The law also prohibits converting with the intent to “insult, disrespect, destroy, or abuse a religion” and bars anyone from bullying or enticing another person to convert or deterring them from doing so. Punishments for breaching the law would range from six months to two years in prison, depending on the violation.

The law is directly incompatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ article 18, which states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion” and goes against Burma’s own 2008 Constitution, which also guarantees freedom of religion.

“Allowing local officials to regulate private faith so closely is a pathway to repression of religious freedom,” Robertson said. “In their zeal to protect Buddhism, the authors of these laws are imperiling other religious minorities, including Christians, Hindus, and especially Burma’s persecuted Muslim minority.”

The Monogamy Bill, taken together with the other three ‘race and religion’ laws, is also problematic. The law states that it applies to everyone living in Burma and Burmese citizens living abroad, but also foreign nationals married to Burmese citizens while living in Burma. The law prohibits a married person from entering a second marriage or “unofficially” living with another person while still married. It sets out punishments for violations, including loss of property rights upon divorce for the spouse who is guilty of breaking the monogamy law. The law also includes criminal penalties of up to seven years in prison and a fine under Section 494 of Burma’s Penal Code.

The Monogamy Bill is intended to target religious minorities where polygamy and extra-marital affairs are perceived to occur more frequently. While outlawing polygamy is compatible with the right to marry protected under international law, legal sanctions against polygamy already exist in the Penal Code, making those sections of the Monogamy Bill redundant. On the other hand, legal provisions that criminalize consensual sexual relations between adults, regardless of marital status, violate the right to privacy as outlined in article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, laws criminalizing consensual sex disproportionately impact women. For example, a rape victim may be deterred from filing a criminal complaint if the failure to win a conviction puts her at risk of prosecution for adultery.

The United Nations Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice, which is tasked with identifying good practice on the elimination of laws that discriminate against women, stated in 2012 that adultery should not be a criminal offence and noted its often disproportionate impact on women.

Many of Burma’s independent organizations have roundly condemned the four bills. Groups have issued public statements warning that enforcing the laws could exacerbate religious tensions and threaten the rights of women and religious minorities.

The international community, including the European Union in a statement in January and another in July criticizing the marriage law, and United Nations Special Rapporteurs, including the present rapporteur on situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, have warned that the bills breach Burma’s commitments to international human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRD). Critics of the bills have been attacked by senior members of the Ma Ba Tha, with some Burmese civil society leaders subject to violent threats and being branded “traitors.”

“Heading into the November elections, Burma’s parliament is passing laws that fail human rights tests, in an opaque fashion, bringing into question lawmakers’ commitment to democracy and respect for rights,” Robertson said. “Burma’s main donors – Japan, the European Union, the UK, and the US – should publically condemn these laws and call for their immediate repeal.”

Malaysia: Malaysia finds more graves and human remains near Thai border

23 August 2015 - 4:02am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | AFP | Sunday 8/23/2015 - 07:50 GMT

Malaysian police said on Sunday they had found 24 human skeletons - all believed to be victims of trafficking - in newly discovered graves along the Thai border in the northern Malaysian state of Perlis.

The latest gruesome discovery comes after police found 139 graves and 28 abandoned "detention" camps capable of housing hundreds of people in May, laying bare the grim extent of the region's migrant crisis.

The new graves were found on Saturday near the peak of a hill surrounded by jungle terrain and along the Thai border, not too far from the graves unearthed in May, Perlis police chief Shafie Ismail was quoted as saying by Bernama, the country's official news agency.

"It is believed that heavy rain had eroded the graves," he said.

After May's unearthing, the remains of 106 people were exhumed, mostly believed to be Muslim Rohingya fleeing persecution in Myanmar, as well as Bangladeshis seeking better opportunities abroad.

Mass graves were also discovered on the Thai side of the border.

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

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

skc/kb

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Myanmar: Flood Inundated Area in Kale Township (near Kale Town), Sagaing Region (as of 06.08.2015)

23 August 2015 - 12:39am
Source: Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Myanmar / Burma - Flood Analysis August 2015 - ECHO Daily Map | 21/08/2015

22 August 2015 - 11:49pm
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: IHH sends emergency aid to flood stricken Arakan

22 August 2015 - 11:05pm
Source: IHH Country: Myanmar

Myanmar is suffering from the worst flood in recent years. It is said that the torrential rains, which has continued for three consecutive weeks, have affected millions and the death toll has exceeded 100 people. Those who live less disadvantaged regions have been affected the most as many people are trapped in their homes and are desperately waiting for aid. It is reported that close to 50 people have died in the state of Arakan, which is known to be the most affected by the floods.

Meanwhile, the Komen hurricane has also caused disaster in the town as many homes have been destroyed and thousands of people have been evacuated. Close to 140 thousand Muslims, who live in run down camps in the province, is amongst those who have been severely affected the torrential rains and floods.

IHH team at Arakan

IHH began emergency relief work in the disaster stricken region by sending a team of three people to Arakan. The IHH team first visited the camps in the region and with the support of Qatar RAF, Qatar AID and Al-Imdaad the team distributed tents and food aid to two seperate refugee camps. At the Ohn Taw Gyi Camp, 450 people received tents and 400 families received food packages. Similarly, in the Nget Chaung Campm 304 received food aid. Due to the heavy damages to highways, railways and bridges, it is hard to reach certain regions.

Turkey: Turkey detains over 400 migrants trying to cross to Greece

22 August 2015 - 7:59pm
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Afghanistan, Greece, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey | AFP | Saturday 8/22/2015 - 14:18 GMT | 241 words

Turkish security forces have detained 435 migrants and Syrian refugees along with three suspected people smugglers, before they embarked on an attempt to cross the Aegean Sea to Greece, reports said Saturday.

There has been an upsurge this summer in the numbers of refugees and migrants using shaky vessels to make the crossing, sparking a humanitarian crisis for the European Union.

The latest arrests in the district of Ayvacik on the Aegean in the Canakkale region of western Turkey appear to have been made even before they put to sea to try to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.

Of those detained, 345 are Syrians, 64 from Afghanistan, 19 from Myanmar and 7 from Pakistan, the official Anatolia news agency said, adding that police were acting on a tip-off.

Three suspected people smugglers -- all Turkish nationals -- were also detained. Two boats, two outboard motors and a large numbers of life jackets that were to have been used in the crossing were also seized.

Turkish officials say the security forces have been detaining thousands of migrants around the Aegean seeking to cross to Europe every week this summer.

Many have been trying to make the short crossing from the Turkish resort of Bodrum to the Greek island of Kos in the southern Aegean.

Far from striking out independently, they rely on the services of people smugglers who coordinate the enterprise, paying around $1,200 a head for the risky crossing.

sjw/boc

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Myanmar: Public Health Dept lends a hand to flood victims in Sagaing

21 August 2015 - 11:56pm
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, 21 Aug—Emergency response squads from the Public Health Department and specialists from Kalay General Hospital provided healthcare services to local residents in flood affected areas of Kalay Township in Sagaing Region on Thursday.

Wells and tanks were chlorinated, along with other works aimed at improving sanitation levels.

Meanwhile, members of the Traditional Medicine Department treated residents in Sagaing region, in addition to those in Chin and Rakhine states and Magway and Ayeyawady regions.

Since the flash floods began in July, the Ministry of Health has responded by opening 149 temporary dispensaries and 189 mobile health clinics. It has also distributed chlorine powder, mosquito nets, water purification tablets and dengue fever test kits to flood affected communities.

MNA