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Myanmar: Myanmar Government Peace Envoy to Meet With Shan Groups

8 June 2016 - 2:12am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Two armed ethnic groups from Myanmar’s Shan state that did not sign a nationwide peace agreement with the Myanmar government last year agreed on Monday to meet a government committee working on an upcoming peace conference, an official involved in the process said.

The United Wa State Party (UWSP) and its political wing the United Wa State Army (UWSA), and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) have agreed to talk with the convening committee of the 21st-century Panglong Conference, said committee secretary Hla Maung Shwe.

Under the previous government, the two rebel groups, who are not members of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC)—an alliance of armed ethnic groups that did not sign the nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA) last October—had called for separate autonomous states. The MNDAA, which had been fighting the Myanmar army in Shan state’s Kokang self-administered zone, was excluded from the NCA talks.

Tin Myo Win, the new peace envoy of the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, met with leaders from the UWSA and MNDAA to get them to agree to a sit-down meeting in the run-up to the peace conference scheduled for late July.

“Our Chairman Tin Myo Win himself contacted them on the phone and made an agreement to sit down with them for a meeting,” Hla Maung Shwe told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “It’s likely we will have it in a few days; we just need to find a suitable venue.”

Tin Myo Win, who was appointed to his position by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, also plans to contact the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), which was also excluded from the NCA.

But Hla Maung Shwe said representatives from the government’s peace team had yet to meet TNLA leaders to clarify the government’s position.

Committee members attempted last weekend to meet the armed ethnic groups that had not signed the NCA in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but the TNLA did not respond to a request for a sit-down.

Nevertheless, the TNLA has been invited to the commercial capital Yangon for further talks this month.

Last week, Tin Myo Win met in Thailand with representatives from the UNFC to invite them to the Panglong Conference.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, has opened the door for all rebel groups to participate in what she has termed a 21st-century Panglong Conference, modeled on a similar meeting that her father, late General Aung San, held with ethnic groups in 1947.

Unity among Shan groups

Also on Monday, Khun Tun Oo, chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), called for unity among all ethnic groups at the Panglong Conference.

“This conference can only be a success if all individuals, groups and parties representing the Shan people, who deserve to be among the participants, are invited to take part in it with the spirit of preserving the Union and all work together,” he said during a speech marking the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Shan State Joint Action Committee (SSJAC) in Lashio.

Members of the SNLD attended the anniversary celebration along with leaders from the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), Hsinkyaut militia leaders, and 400 members from various local groups.

The SSJAC was formed jointly in 1996 by the SNLD and the two Shan armed groups in a bid to resolve the war-torn region’s problems through political means.

The meeting participants also discussed the latest round of fighting between the Ta’ang and Shan groups in northern Shan state.

Support from former activists

Students and worker activists who participated in various demonstrations in the mid-1970s pledged on Monday to support the government’s efforts to hold the new Panglong Conference.

The activists held a gathering in South Okkalapa township in Yangon to commemorate riots that took place during that time.

“We have new hope after seeing a new political scenario and the encouraging efforts of the new government, including the plan for a 21st-century Panglong Conference,” said Kyaw Aung, a former student leader of the 1975 demonstrations.

“And so, to continue carrying out our historic tasks, we have decided to join hands with all political forces, ethnic forces and new student generations to support Aung San Suu Kyi’s new government.”

Authorities under former military commander and president Ne Win violently attacked laborers who demonstrated in mid-1974 for adequate rice supplies and workplace guarantees, shooting dead about 100 of them. Authorities also violently attacked student demonstrators in December 1974 and June 1976.

Reported by Tin Aung Khine, Kan Tha, Thiha Tun and Htet Arkar for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Myanmar: Landslides victims in Mawchi get new village

7 June 2016 - 12:01am
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

A new village for people displaced by landslides in Mawchi, Kayah State, in 2015, was opened yesterday to house more than 360 people.

The village, which was named “Brighter Future Myanmar” by the local people after the KBZ Brighter Future Myanmar Foundation, which funded the construction of the village, includes 60 houses, one school and one library.

The village is also equipped with two water tanks with a total storage capacity of 8,000 gallons and a pipe system to supply water to each home and one 100 KVA transformer for electrification.

The village was opened by Daw Nang Kham Naung and Daw Nang Mo Hom, the two vice chairpersons of BFM.

Around 60 houses were destroyed and more than 360 people were displaced by the landslide, which occurred in a mountainous area between Mawchi Taung Paw Village and Lokharlo Village on 10 and 11 October last year.

The official death toll following the landslide was 17.

The foundation, since its establishment in 2007, provides relief aids to victims of disasters and has been carrying out a nationwide water supply project, spending more than K100 billion so far. As part of its water supply project, BFM has successfully drilled 76 tube wells, dug and maintained 98 lakes and established 262 water distribution taps in water-scarce areas in southern and eastern Shan State, Kayah State, Mandalay Region and Nay Pyi Taw, while supplying water with 43 tankers to more than 60 monasteries, 49 schools, 11 hospitals and 12 fire services centres.—GNLM

World: Commission Implementing Decision of 24.5.2016 amending Commission Implementing Decision C(2015) 8936 of 15.12.2015 on the financing of humanitarian aid operational priorities from the 2016 general budget of the European Union (ECHO/WWD/BUD/2016/010

6 June 2016 - 11:14pm
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office Country: Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, World, Yemen

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION,

Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

Having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/96 of 20 June 1996 concerning humanitarian aid1 , and in particular Article 2, Article 4 and Article 15(2) and (3) thereof,

Having regard to Council Decision 2013/755/EU of 25 November 2013 on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Union2 , and in particular Article 79 thereof,

Having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union3 , and in particular Article 84(2) thereof,

Whereas:

(1) Commission Decision C(2015) 8936 adopted on 15 December 2015 provides for the financing of humanitarian aid operational priorities from the 2016 general budget of the European Union for a total amount of EUR 930 997 848 from budget articles 23 02 01 and 23 02 02.

(2) The Commission is committed to providing a humanitarian response in those areas where there are the greatest humanitarian needs. Accordingly, the humanitarian response may be subject to reorientation or scaling-up in the course of the implementation of actions when required by changing circumstances in the field which might affect existing humanitarian needs or generate new needs.

(3) The global humanitarian context has been characterised by an increase in humanitarian needs in locations such as Philippines, Fiji, Nigeria, Ukraine, Iran, Syria and neighbouring countries as well as related to the EU Children of Peace Initiative.

Myanmar: Dengue fever drops sharply within first five months

6 June 2016 - 8:45pm
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

The number of dengue patients has decreased dramatically within the first five months of 2016 between January and May compared to the same period last year, according to statistics from the Department of Health for Yangon Region.

The period of January to the end of May last year saw a total of 968 cases of dengue fever, resulting in six deaths, but the same period this year saw these figures drop to just 280 cases and four deaths.

Dr Mon Mon Kyaw, a doctor specialising in mosquito-borne diseases at the Department of Health, said that although the number of dengue fever patients has decreased this year, precautions still need to be taken during the rainy season to guard against the disease.

“Last year’s high volume of dengue fever patients was a catalyst for the beginning of dengue protection and prevention activists from the start of this year. It’s important that the public participates in measures against the disease,” she added.

Dengue fever prevention activities were also conducted in schools across Yangon Region, including spraying mosquito repellent and clearing mosquito larvae.

“Classrooms have been closed and left unused during the long holidays. Schools are now reopen for the new term, so they’re being sprayed with insect repellent to kill off any breeding mosquitos. Students make up a third of the whole population, so it’s important that special attention is paid to their wellbeing,” continued Dr Mon Mon Kyaw.

World: Collective Action Only Chance for Global Peace, Security, European Union High Representative Tells Security Council

6 June 2016 - 5:05pm
Source: UN Security Council Country: Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, occupied Palestinian territory, Serbia, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

SC/12389

7705th Meeting (AM)
Security Council
Meetings Coverage

United Nations Cooperation with Regional Bodies Critical, Speakers Stress

In a conflictual world characterized by scattered power, global peace and security would only stand a chance only if nations and regions united against common threats transcending their borders, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy told the Security Council today, amid calls for greater cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations.

In her second briefing to the Council, High Representative Federica Mogherini recalled the common efforts she had carried out with various United Nations agencies around the world in different multilateral formats. Multilateralism would be among the core principles in the European Union’s new global strategy for foreign and security policy, which she would present in the coming weeks. “In times like these, we need each other,” she said. “We need the United Nations.”

Providing an overview of European Union priorities, she urged renewed efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recalling that the regional bloc had pushed to revitalize the Middle East Quartet in 2015, and held several meetings where Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the League of Arab States had joined the discussions.

Last November, the European Union had met with the newly formed International Syria Support Group in Vienna, where all regional and international actors had gathered around the same table for the first time since the outbreak of the war in Syria. Unity was also central for Libya, and the European Union had begun to mobilize a €100 million package to help restart the country.

She went on to say that the European Union had launched its Operation Sophia naval initiative against trafficking networks in the Mediterranean Sea, asking the Council to adopt a resolution authorizing it to enforce the United Nations arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya. As for Ukraine, she said the Minsk agreements must be fully implemented, emphasizing that the European Union did not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.

Describing migration and displacement as “one of the great challenges of our era”, she said that she would be in Strasbourg, France, on 7 June to present a plan for a “new migration partnership”. Going forward, the European Union would seek to reinforce old ties and create new ones in bilateral, regional and global relations, she said, adding that while formats could change, the bloc would always return to the United Nations and the stubborn idea of a cooperative world order.

In the ensuing debate, speakers praised the European Union’s cooperation with the United Nations, especially in matters of peace and security, with some singling out its diplomatic efforts on the Iranian nuclear file, its peacekeeping work in Africa, and broader initiatives to combat human trafficking, terrorism and violent extremism. Concern expressed by Venezuela’s representative about the need to respect principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter was echoed by his counterpart from China, who emphasized the importance of upholding sovereignty and independence, as well as non-interference in domestic affairs, among other values.

Other speakers struck a more cautious tone, with the Russian Federation’s representative expressing regret that the quest for a political settlement in Syria had led European partners to take destructive and unilateral actions, engaging in propaganda rather than patient, joint efforts. Likewise in Ukraine, Brussels had played an “unseemly role” in that country’s ongoing crisis, he said, expressing hope that the European Union would insist that Kyiv follow through on its obligations under the Minsk agreements.

On that point, Ukraine’s representative expressed hope that the new European Union Global Security Strategy would reflect the root cause of instability in his country. Its dedication to protecting universal principles of international law was particularly relevant in light of the attempted illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian Federation’s ongoing military aggression in eastern Ukraine, he said.

Malaysia’s representative said he would like to see the European Union play a more active role as a broker within the Middle East Quartet, given the absence of efforts by the Security Council to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The regional body could use available tools to end decades of impunity, he said, stressing that those involved must move from managing the conflict to addressing its root causes.

Egypt’s delegate expressed hope that the European Union would play an effective role in pushing for greater efforts to support Libya’s Government of National Accord, warning that any delay in that regard could result in the failure of the political process there, strengthening terrorist groups and exacerbating the situation of migrants and refugees.

Also speaking today were representatives of Senegal, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Spain, Uruguay, United States, Angola and France.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:40 p.m.

Briefing

FEDERICA MOGHERINI, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, recalled the common work she had carried out with United Nations agencies around the world, in different multilateral formats, saying: “I believe this is the only way we have — as Europeans, as responsible members of the international community — to face these difficult times.” An unprecedented number of people were on the move, with tens of millions fleeing war, she said, noting that cities in Europe had been hit by terrorist attacks. Inequality, insecurity, xenophobia, islamophobia and anti-Semitism were also on the rise. “In times like these, we need each other. We need the United Nations,” she said. In that context, the European Union had placed multilateralism at the core of its common external action.

She said new security threats in the Middle East should push everyone to renew efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because further escalation, especially around holy sites in Jerusalem, would have grave consequences for the region. On the other hand, a peaceful solution could unlock regional cooperation, she said, adding that she had made the Middle East peace process a top priority for European Union action. The trends were clear: violence had amplified mistrust, Israel’s settlement policy was eroding prospects for a two-State solution, and the absence of unity among Palestinian factions was a major stumbling block. In 2015, the European Union had pushed to revitalize the Middle East Quartet, and several meetings had been held, including in New York, where Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the League Arab States had joined the discussions. In Paris, a few days ago, parties had discussed how the international community could help.

Recalling the Council’s July 2015 endorsement of the deal on Iran’s nuclear programme, she said monitoring of its implementation continued, in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In November, the European Union had met with the newly formed International Syria Support Group in Vienna, where all regional and international actors had finally been at the same table for the first time since the start of the war in Syria. “It is vital that humanitarian aid reaches a greater number of areas,” she stressed, noting that the Union had reopened its humanitarian office in Damascus. In Iraq, progress had been made in the military campaign, she said, underlining the need for rapid stabilization and restoration of services after Da’esh-held areas were liberated. The campaign against the group must be framed by an adequate political settlement and the European Union supported Iraq’s efforts in that regard. Unity was also central for Libya, she said, noting that the European Union had restated its support for the Government of National Accord in Vienna last month. It had also started to mobilize a €100 million package to help restart the country.

The European Union had launched the Operation Sophia naval initiative against trafficking networks in the Mediterranean, she continued, thanking the Council for its resolution endorsing that mission and requesting that it now adopt one authorizing that operation to enforce the United Nations arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya. The need for a political solution in Yemen, and to address the dire humanitarian situation there, was just as urgent as elsewhere in the region, she added. As for Ukraine, that situation was a priority for the European Union, she said, emphasizing that the Minsk agreements must be fully implemented. The bloc did not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, and was working with Kyiv to help Ukraine implement reforms, she said, citing a recently approved constitutional amendment to improve the independence of the judiciary. As for its efforts as a global security provider, she said the European Union was following the negotiations to end the conflict in Colombia, and she had recently signed important agreements.

The bloc would host an a major international conference on Afghanistan in Brussels, she said, suggesting that a United Nations police mission could deter further threats to peace in Burundi. In the Central African Republic, the European Union and the United Nations had joined forces to restore the police and gendarmerie, while the regional bloc provided support to the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The European Union’s cooperation had also yielded historic results in building resilience in relation to the Paris Agreement on climate change, and a similar approach had been integral to its response on migration. She said she would be in Strasbourg on 7 June to present, with colleagues in the European Commission, the plan for a “new migration partnership”. Describing migration and displacement as “one of the great challenges of our era”, she said: “Our response is the measure of our very humanity.” Going forward, the European Union would seek to reinforce old ties and create new ones, in bilateral relations, as well as at the regional and global levels. It had supported African-led peace efforts through the Africa Peace Facility, while its cooperation with the African Union, the Arab League, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) could only grow stronger, she said.

Statements

VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that, despite the ongoing crisis in relations between his country and the European Union, the two had worked together in areas including religious extremism, drug trafficking and illegal migration, and the settlement of challenges facing the Middle East. In that regard, the Russian Federation welcomed the European Union’s role in securing agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue, and expected that its member States would continue to play a constructive, honest and impartial role in seeking a political settlement for Syria. It was important that the European Union maintain an open channel for dialogue with that country’s Government, he said, expressing regret that European partners often allowed themselves to take destructive and unilateral actions, engaging in propaganda instead of patient, joint efforts. Continued pressure on Damascus would not have the desired result, he emphasized, calling for efforts to force Turkey to stop encroaching on Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He went on to state that his country was closely following the European Union’s efforts to address the crisis in Libya, and was puzzled by its decision to include key players in that country on its sanctions list, which seemed to be an attempt to punish Libyan politicians. The Russian Federation was also concerned about the flow into the country of fighters belonging to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) from other States, although that should not be used as a pretext for interfering in Libya’s internal affairs, he stressed. The increasing number of deaths in the Mediterranean underlines the need to resolve the root issues that forced so many people to undertake such a dangerous journey, he said. Turning to the situation in Ukraine, he said Brussels had played an “unseemly role” in that country’s ongoing crisis, and expressed hope that the European Unions and European capitals would insist that Kyiv follow through on its obligations under the Minsk package of measures.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said the partnership between the United Nations and the European Union was one of the most important examples of cooperation between the world body and regional organizations. The strategic partnership covered a number of crises that went beyond the immediate geographic area of the European Union. Noting that the heightening of some crises had resulted in the international community leaving the Palestinian question to the side, he said that had increased tensions in the Middle East region, and there was need for greater efforts by the international community to revive the peace process on the basis of a two-State solution, which could not be accomplished given the recent actions of the Israeli side.

Turning to the situation in Libya, he said that country was going through a critical political phase, which called for greater international efforts to support the Government of National Accord. A major challenge would be to build and strengthen State structures so that the Government could respond to the major political and economic challenges it faced. Egypt hoped that the European Union would be able to play an effective role in that regard, he said, emphasizing that any delay could result in the failure of the political process, the strengthening of terrorist groups and the deterioration of the refugee and migrant situation. Expressing concern about the expanding actions of terrorist groups, he stressed that international efforts to address the terrorist threat should not be confined to the security and political dimensions, but must also send a message to counter the narratives of terrorist organizations, which worked under the guise of religion to attract funds and draw interest.

GORGUI CISS (Senegal) said regional and subregional organizations could help foster peace by bringing their local conflict-resolution expertise to bear. Noting that the European Union had the institutional mechanisms to finance peacekeeping missions and carried out actions to prevent crises, he welcomed its comprehensive approach to peace and security, and urged a development-focused effort to tackle migration. Citing the bloc’s prevention activities in dealing with the root causes of conflict, he said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) attached great importance to its activities in Guinea-Bissau, expressing hope for its further cooperation in that regard.

YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA (Japan) said his country’s partnership with the European Union was based on such values as democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Japan cooperated with the bloc on peace and security, economic and other global issues, and they had recently organized joint programmes to improve security situations in Africa, including in Mali. In Niger, Japan had provided radio equipment and vehicles for integral command centres, to which the European Union provided capacity-building training. In the Middle East, Japan and the European Union continued to address humanitarian needs brought on by violent extremism, he said, noting that his country had announced a $6 billion package for stability in the Middle East and North Africa for the period 2016 to 2018. Japan supported United Nations efforts for political solutions in Libya, Syria, Yemen and other regional crises, and valued the Organization’s cooperation with the European Union under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.

GERARD VAN BOHEMAN (New Zealand) said the partnership of the United Nations with the European Union was one of its deepest and most productive. Among other things, it played an ongoing role in supporting implementation of the Minsk agreements in Ukraine, and in seeking to revive the Middle East peace process. In Syria, where the peace process was faltering and the disastrous humanitarian situation deteriorating, “we need to do all we can to resume negotiations on a political transition”, he said, acknowledging the significant humanitarian and development assistance that the European Union and its member States had provided to mitigate the human cost of the conflict there. Turning to the flow of irregular migrants who continued to enter the European Union, he noted that many others perished as they attempted the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. New Zealand had co-sponsored Council resolution 2240 (2015) on international efforts to intercept vessels off the Libyan coast suspected of migrant smuggling, and was ready to consider other contributions that European Union countries could make, in partnership with the Council, to support safety and stability in the Mediterranean as part of a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenges of irregular migration.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) highlighted the origins of both the United Nations and the European Union in the scourge of war, saying it was unsurprising that they shared so many values that underpinned the collective ability to protect and maintain international peace and security. The European Union and its member States played an active role in peacekeeping and provided complementary support to United Nations missions, as well as those undertaken by other regional organizations. During the Security Council’s recent visit to Somalia, members had been able to see first-hand the critical role played by the European Union in supporting the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and broader efforts to bring long–term peace to Somalia. It also played a valuable role in promoting peace through various mediation and peace agreements around the world, he said noting that it had been active in promoting the political process under way in Syria. He welcomed the close cooperation between the European Union and the United Nations on Libya, which had helped in establishing the Government of National Accord in that country. It had also provided financial support for quick-impact projects in Libya, which would have immediate benefits on the ground. It had provided practical support to address the ongoing migration and refugee crisis, he said, adding that the United Kingdom would support the European Union’s efforts to build the capacity of Libya’s coast guard.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said his delegation was pleased that the European Union had reserved a major role for prevention in its global security strategy. Spain had recently organized the first-ever international conference on preventive diplomacy, in which high representatives of the bloc had participated, he said, adding that its conclusions would be distributed to the Security Council and the General Assembly in due course. On Iran, he highlighted the very important role played by the European Union in the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan agreed with Iran in July 2015. The European Union had supported stability in Libya and the fight against human traffickers working on its coast, he said, noting that Operation Sophia had saved more than 15,000 lives. The European Union had had a very firm commitment in Africa, to two operations in particular — the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), he said.

WU HAITAO (China) said the European Union was an important partner of the United Nations, citing its participation on the Iranian nuclear issue and “hotspots” in the Middle East, as well as its support for the African Union’s peacekeeping efforts. China supported the European Union’s constructive role in United Nations affairs, which must advocate political settlement of hotspot questions through dialogue and respect for sovereignty, independence, non-interference and other values. It should respect each country’s sovereign choice of path to development and maintain a fair view of its human rights situation, he emphasized. Further, it should facilitate synergies with United Nations efforts to foster development, notably by strengthening North-South cooperation and helping countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. China took a long-term view of cooperation and was ready to enhance efforts to that end within the framework of the United Nations.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said history had shown the need to “treat the disease, not the symptoms” in tragic situations like those in Ukraine and Syria. In the case of the former, there should be a strategic answer on the European Union side to security challenges in the Eastern Partnership, which had originated with the Russian Federation, he emphasized, expressing hope that the new European Union Global Security Strategy would not only reflect the root cause of instability there, but provide for cooperation mechanisms, as well as a stronger role for itself in the conflict-resolution process. The European Union’s efforts and dedication to the peaceful resolution of conflicts and protecting universal principles of international law were particularly relevant in light of the attempted illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian Federation’s ongoing military aggression in eastern Ukraine, he said, adding that such hybrid warfare could only be countered through bold and coherent strategies based on joint efforts, a clear understanding of the source of the threat and a vision of how to tackle it. In that regard, he urged the Russian Federation to comply with the United Nations Charter, the provisions of General Assembly resolution 68/262 on Ukraine’s territorial integrity and international treaties. Calling upon that country also to end its occupation of Crimea, he expressed further urged it to fulfil all its obligations under the Minsk agreements, including the withdrawal of Russian weapons, military forces and mercenaries from Ukraine.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said his delegation placed great value on the European Union’s role in international peace and security, emphasizing that United Nations cooperation with such organizations was essential. Terrorism, migration and piracy were among the challenges requiring synergies and complementarities, he said, recalling that his country had received European migrants following the world wars, while Uruguayans had travelled to Europe for economic and other reasons. The European Union’s response to the Ebola outbreak had helped attainment of a positive outcome, while membership in the Middle East Quartet gave it an important role in finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the Balkans, the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) had played an important role in fostering the rule of law in Kosovo, he recalled.

SAMANTHA POWER (United States) said every member State of the European Union was a democracy and none had raised arms against another, a “remarkable accomplishment”. The benefits of Europe’s peace and prosperity had extended beyond the continent, making it an invaluable partner to many Member States. Lessons could be drawn from the European Union about more effectively advancing peace and security, she said, noting that the pressure it had exerted had been critical in bringing Iran to the negotiating table. The bloc was now monitoring implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as coordinator of the Joint Commission. The European Union’s diplomatic pressure sought to end the conflict in Ukraine and to forge and ensure compliance with the Minsk agreements. It had demonstrated how regional organizations could use financial, technical and military tools to help prevent violence. It was managing nine civilian and military forces in Africa, and had provided more than €1.6 billion since 2003 to support capacity-building. Emphasizing that closing borders could not be the answer to monumental challenges like migration, she said they required a common response and redoubled commitment to the principles upon which the world’s common security and humanity depended.

ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the European Union’s cooperation strengthened United Nations efforts to prevent conflict, restore peace and build stability in post-conflict situations. The long-standing triangular cooperation between the United Nations, European Union and the African Union was a key element of the search for stability in Africa, and the European Union’s participation was particularly relevant in three theatres of operation — the Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia. Its role in combating piracy off the Somali coast and its support of UNSOM had been instrumental in fighting terrorism in that country, he said, describing terrorism as the main cause behind the forced migration of millions of people in search of survival, peace and a better future.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), emphasizing that the European Union and its member States must continue to act in accordance with to Charter principles, he said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran demonstrated that dialogue and negotiations were the only way to address challenges to international peace and security. Venezuela called for the Security Council, with support from the European Union, to play a prominent role in finding a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on a two-State solution. The armed conflict in Libya figured prominently on the European Union’s agenda, he said, calling upon the bloc to redouble its efforts in support of dialogue aimed at bringing stability to that country. Noting that the migrant and refugee crisis was costing lives every day, he stressed that security measures, or criminalizing migration, were not appropriate ways to address the issue, which was essentially one of human rights.

RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) reaffirmed his delegation’s support for enhanced cooperation with regional and subregional organizations under Chapter VIII of the Charter, welcoming the European Union’s efforts to promote peace and security. However, Malaysia would like to see it play a more active role as a broker in the Middle East Quartet, given the lack of Council efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The bloc could use available tools to end decades of impunity, he said, stressing that, given the “slow death” of a settlement based on a two-State solution, actors must move from managing the conflict to addressing its root causes. Welcoming the European Union’s support for political dialogue in Syria, and its critical support for Syrian refugees in European countries or in the Middle East through its migration policies and humanitarian aid, he proposed that it make similar efforts to address human trafficking and smuggling in South-East Asia. He acknowledged the bloc’s attempts to address Islamophobia as part of its response to xenophobia, urging more dialogue around socioeconomic inclusion to complement its counter-terrorism strategy.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), Council President for June, spoke in his national capacity, saying that the European Union’s military and civilian missions had supported implementation of the Council’s decisions on many fronts, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo. Noting its contribution of more than one third of the regular and peacekeeping budgets, he said more than 1,000 European Union “Blue Helmets” were participants in MINUSMA. It had joined those calling for resumed political talks in Syria, and had spared no effort to help the Government in Libya fight terrorism. It was also working on a draft resolution in the Council that would strengthen intervention on the high seas in situations arms-embargo violations, and was a primary stakeholder in the response to the migrant and refugee crisis. Indeed, the European Union and the United Nations were strategic partners united by a shared vision of the world, where rights were stronger than force, he said.

Ms. MOGHERINI, said the European Union had a legacy of providing for the citizens of Europe, and for promoting peace and security both in the European region and across the world. Its partnership with the United Nations was critical for both organizations. She noted the appreciation expressed by Council members for the bloc’s efforts in several key areas, including the Balkans and Myanmar, and on such the issues as non-proliferation, counter-terrorism and the fight against xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. On migration, she pointed out that Operation Sophia had already saved tens of thousands of lives, emphasizing that the European Union did not wish to see anyone die, whether in the Mediterranean Sea or in the desert. It was doing its part in relation to the migration crisis, which it viewed as a human duty and political responsibility, yet one requiring collective action. “Let’s join forces,” she said, noting that lives were being lost each and every day, often out of the public eye. Underlining that the European Union was trying to manage the migration phenomenon, not to stop migration entirely, she said the crisis was not a “problem” that must be stopped, but a phenomenon that must be managed.

For information media. Not an official record.

Thailand: Prayut: Human trafficking cases to be sped up

6 June 2016 - 6:21am
Source: Bangkok Post Country: Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Thailand

Prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has pledged to speed up the investigation of human trafficking cases, most of which involve government officials.

"Although the number of cases has increased since 2014, the investigation needs to be sped up so the problem can be addressed. Authorities have to solve related cases soon," he said. According to the.

According to the prime minister, there are about 150 human-trafficking cases and 34 officials have been punished. "Some of them were prosecuted and later fired, while others were suspended from duty pending investigations.

Read the Full Article Here

Indonesia: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (31 May - 6 June 2016)

6 June 2016 - 4:05am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bangladesh, Fiji, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines

INDONESIA

On 2 June, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck 79 km off the southwestern coast of West Sumatra province at a depth of 72 km.
Authorities reported that the quake damaged a hospital and 912 houses in West Sumatra and Bengkulu provinces.
At least 30 people were injured including some during evacuation. Local governments, the Indonesian Red Cross and NGOs provided assistance to the affected communities.

912 houses damaged

BANGLADESH

On 1 June, the Bangladesh Humanitarian Coordination Task Team launched a Joint Response Plan seeking US$12 million to provide assistance to over 430,000 people affected by Tropical Storm Roanu.
Roanu made landfall on the southern coast of Bangladesh on 21 May bringing heavy rain, winds of over 100 km/h, and storm surges of up to 2.7 metres.

>430,000 people targeted for assistance

PHILIPPINES

Sporadic incidents of armed conflict and insecurity continue to displace hundreds of families in Mindanao. As of 3 June, at least 500 families (2,900 people) in Butig municipality, Lanao del Sur province fled their homes due to a military operation on a non-state armed group. In a separate incident, insecurity in Pagalungan municipality, Maguindanao province displaced 240 families (1,200 people) on 21 May. Local authorities and humanitarian partners distributed relief packs and medicines in Lanao del Sur.

FIJI

In western Fiji, many villages remain without electricity after Tropical Cyclone Winston struck in February affecting 40 per cent of the population. As a result of the power outages, many water pumps are not operational and there are renewed requests for emergency water deliveries.
Many of the same villages had already suffered water shortages as a result of El Niño-related dry weather last year and similar dry conditions have now returned.
From March to August, below average rainfall is forecast for Fiji.

MYANMAR

In May, an estimated 3,900 people fled their homes following heightened tensions and conflict between armed groups in northern Shan State. As of 3 June, some 3,400 people remain displaced. Authorities and local organizations have provided food and non-food items.

In Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Ponnagyun, and Kyauktaw townships, Rakhine State, about 1,880 people are still displaced following fighting between the Myanmar Military and Arakan Army. Immediate needs are being met by local authorities and civil society. International organizations also provided non-food items as well as water and sanitation support.

5,280 people displaced

Myanmar: Breaking the silence on Myanmar’s Rohingya

6 June 2016 - 2:40am
Source: International Peace Institute Country: Myanmar

By Sara E. Davies & Jacqui True

A recent diplomatic row over whether new United States Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel may call the self-identified Rohingya ethnic minority group by that name or use the government preferred “Bengali” shows that ethnic and religious tensions remain high in the Southeast Asian nation.

The situation today for the Rohingya remains largely the same as it did prior to Myanmar’s peaceful political transition last year, which included moving from a military junta-dominated parliament to one with a National League for Democracy majority, the appointment of a new president, and continued efforts to reach a peace agreement between the country’s many armed groups.

As well as being denied the right to self-identify, the Rohingya are still not recognized as citizens of Myanmar, and the 125,000 to 140,000 in Rakhine are denied the right to leave the state, while facing massive impositions on their lives. There is no sign that those still interned in displacement camps near the Rakhine capital Sittwe since June 2012 will be released. Women bear a particularly high brunt from the worrying levels of malnutrition and long-term health implications among their children, high rates of gender-based violence, and society-wide intimidation.

A fire within Rakhine’s Baw Du Pha 2 camp, which led to 2,000 losing their homes at the start of May, was the latest tragedy to befall this displaced population. In October last year, an eight-year-old girl who was already severely malnourished died from injuries allegedly resulting from a rape by a military officer. The daily persecution continues to drive many to attempt leaving Myanmar by sea, many of who drown, as with the 21 who died at sealast month, or face brutality at the hands of those who assist in their flight, as with those found dead in Malaysia last year.

The pattern of pervasive discrimination is one we personally comprehended when speaking to those responsible for delivering the limited humanitarian assistance permitted for the internally displaced population in Rakhine. All those who spoke to us insisted on anonymity, fearing that their access to the camps would be denied if their identities were revealed. Many spoke of fearing to even submit reports to their organizations, in case the governments of Rakhine or Myanmar expelled them.

While restricted in their ability to report on it, the humanitarian workers spoke of the severe forms of violence facing women and children and the limited rights for Rohingya both inside and outside the camps. They reported having witnessed few other situations approaching those in Sittwe, and many of these people had held postings in trouble spots such as Darfur, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and Afghanistan.

While the case of the Rohingya population may be the most notable, it is also among many examples of displacement and limited humanitarian access in Myanmar. Much more is at stake for ethnic minorities in the country’s ongoing political transition. The National Ceasefire Agreement, which is yet to attract the signature of all 15 ethnic armed groups concerned, contains provisions on the relocation of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons and refugees. These relocations are proposed for displaced populations that have endured persistent human rights violations and denial of access to humanitarian assistance. They will be high-risk movements in environments where there may be significant resource competition. A recurrence of the violence that followed displacements in 2012 is feared, and compensation offered by the government is seen as insufficient to overcome persistent deprivation of rights such as land ownership.

The culture of silence around the treatment of Rohingya and other ethnic groups in Myanmar poses some important questions. First, whose responsibility is it to report human rights violations in the country’s complex political situation? And do United Nations, international humanitarian, and civil society reports protect populations or further erode the protection they have, however minimal? While most humanitarian agencies must operate in conditions where they are expected to be impartial and neutral, this does not apply to the UN or embassies.

There are also concerns over the point at which securing humanitarian accessrequires complicity with denying rights and identity for vulnerable and displaced populations. Silence may be justified as a way to prevent further violence, but it also enables violations to continue with impunity.

Civil society groups operating in Myanmar are already concerned about the state’s failure to recognize and prosecute acts of violence committed by the country’s _Tatmadaw _armed forces. A climate of impunity, coupled with aggressive pro-Myanmar Buddhist nationalist sentiment and resource rivalry generate risks that cannot be overstated. In a political environment where official reporting about violence or discrimination against minority populations is already restricted, and where humanitarian workers are prone to self-censorship to protect these groups, the risk of violence is ever present. The international community must therefore closely watch Myanmar during this important and ongoing regime transition.

Sara E. Davies is Associate Professor in the Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University. Jacqui True is Professor of Politics & International Relations at Monash University.

World: REACH 2015 Activity Report

4 June 2016 - 8:18am
Source: REACH Initiative Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Croatia, Greece, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Philippines, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, Vanuatu, World

Foreword

In recent years, humanitarian actors have come under growing strain to provide an adequate response to populations affected by crisis. On the one hand, the frequency and intensity of climate-related disasters has increased, while conflict-related crises are becoming more protracted and characterised by shrinking humanitarian space and access. On the other, the rise in humanitarian need has not been accompanied by a corresponding increase in available resources, putting additional pressure on humanitarian actors. In this context, it is paramount for humanitarian action to be effective in its targeting and delivery mechanisms, requiring above all a capacity to develop a thorough and timely common understanding of crisis-affected populations. Despite a number of efforts made in this direction in the framework of the humanitarian reform and the transformative agenda, the timely availability of quality evidence to inform joint humanitarian planning and action remains a challenge.

REACH was created in 2010 as an independent initiative of IMPACT, ACTED and UNOSAT, with the aim of enhancing the availability of timely and quality information on crisis-affected populations, and to promote the effective use of evidence by humanitarian actors. In its first phase of development, between 2010 and 2014, REACH progressively acquired credibility through the design of innovative technical tools and the successful implementation of a number of assessments that enabled evidence-based planning and response by humanitarian actors, first in Kyrgyzstan, then in Libya, and by 2015 in 18 countries. This gradual growth was based on partnerships established primarily at country level with a variety of humanitarian stakeholders, and through a first global partnership with the Shelter Cluster.

By 2015, REACH has grown to become a leading international humanitarian assessment and information management initiative, repeatedly contributing to addressing humanitarian information gaps and to promoting evidence-based, and thereby more effective, humanitarian responses. In the course of 2015 REACH was able to consolidate the tools and products built over the years, while in parallel strengthening a number of flagship programs, notably on displacement and assessing hard-to-reach areas, and reinforcing and expanding its global and county level partnerships.

Going forward, we believe that REACH can play a catalytic role in promoting a systematic application of evidence-based planning by humanitarian actors, by further developing its actions, its global and country level partnerships and its advocacy at the policy level. In the context of the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, REACH intends to contribute to the evolution of a humanitarian architecture which not only is aware of the importance of evidence, but also has the capacity to effectively collect and use it in a systematic, predictable and shared manner.

Through this yearly report, we are happy to share some of REACH’s achievements and lessons learnt for 2015. We would also like to warmly thank all our staff members and our partners for their engagement and support over the past years. We look forward to your continued collaboration with REACH.

Myanmar: Solar pumps bring safe water to families in Myanmar

3 June 2016 - 10:26pm
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

By Emily Bamford

In a Myanmar community affected by drought, easy access to safe water is hard to come by. With support from UNICEF and the Government, the village purchased a solar powered water pump and now all households get water pumped straight to their homes.

MAGWAY REGION, Myanmar, 3 June 2016 – Mon Taw village is a community located in Pauk Township, north-western Myanmar. Most regions of the country receive large amounts of rainfall each year, but Magway regularly experiences droughts, which are being exacerbated by the impacts of climate change.

As a result, safe water is often only available 100 metres below the surface of the ground, making it very difficult to access.

“We used to rely on a hand pump which didn’t work properly in the summer because the water level would drop so low,” says Daw Khin, 60, who is both a headmistress at the local school and the Manager of the Village Water and Sanitation Committee. “It meant we’d have to travel really far to collect water. It was a real burden for us.”

Solar-powered water

In 2014, to help make safe water more accessible, UNICEF collaborated with the State Government to help the community secure a solar-powered water pump system. The village came together to contribute 40 per cent of the funds for the purchase and construction of the system.

The innovative solar pump system uses light energy to pull safe water up from deep below the earth’s surface. The water then flows into a large storage tank which stores enough water to ensure sufficient provision throughout the day. Gravity allows water to flow freely through a pipe system, directly to households.

Compared to hand-pumps or diesel powered pumps, solar pumps rarely break down. But just in case, the Village Water and Sanitation Committee collects a small fee from each household once per month, based on their water consumption (an average of US$1 per month per household). 

This means that the community is now completely self-reliant in terms of water supply. And because of the initial investment made by the community, they feel a strong sense of ownership and responsibility for the system. The piped connection (directly to the household) has also had a major impact in terms of convenience.

“We don’t mind paying for our water now as it’s so much more convenient than before,” says Daw Khin. “One dollar a month is affordable for everyone in the community, and because the pump hasn’t broken down yet – we have more than US$1,000 available in our reserve fund. We’re hoping to use some of the balance for health and education projects.”

Reaching more communities

One of the households benefiting from the improved water supply is the Khim family. “It’s so great now that we have water flowing directly to our home,” says Umar Khim and Daw Mya San. “It has made our day-to-day lives so much easier, giving us time to focus more on family and other things that make us happy!”

In 2015-2016, UNICEF Myanmar is supporting the installation of 15 new systems across the country which aim to reach around 20,000 people. This is helping to contribute towards the Government’s strategy to reach 70 per cent of the population with piped water by 2030 (only 8 per cent of the population in Myanmar currently have piped water access).

World: Polio this week as of 1 June 2016

2 June 2016 - 3:40pm
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Ukraine, World
Polio this week as of 1 June 2016
  • Last week, health ministers from around the world met in Geneva for the annual World Health Assembly (WHA). Among other public health topics, delegates reviewed and discussed the latest global polio epidemiology and reaffirmed commitment to ending transmission in the remaining polio reservoirs. Read more

  • At the 42nd G7 Summit on 26-27 May 2016 in Ise-Shima, Japan, G7 Leaders reaffirmed their continued commitment to polio eradication in the Ise-Shima leaders’ statement. Read more

  • The report of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization from their meeting in April 2016 has been published, including a discussion on progress made towards polio eradication.

Myanmar: Taking the EU-Myanmar partnership to the next level: an EU strategy in support of Myanmar's reforms

2 June 2016 - 12:40pm
Source: European Commission Country: Myanmar

European Commission - Press release

Brussels, 1 June 2016

The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission have today adopted a Joint Communication that sets out a vision for ambitious and forward-looking EU engagement with Myanmar as the country's transition enters its next phase.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, said: "Myanmar is at a turning point. The newly elected government has expressed its willingness to bring peace and development to its people, through a democratic path. As the European Union, we have constantly accompanied this path, and we are committed to cooperate even more with Myanmar to support the reform efforts of the government: to strengthen democracy, good governance, the rule of law, peace, national reconciliation and human rights, to tackle poverty and to boost trade and investment. With this Joint Communication, the EU renews its strong commitment to work with Myanmar’s authorities and civil society to reinforce our bilateral relations, to the benefit of our people.”

The Joint Communication looks at how best to work with all stakeholders towards consolidating democracy, creating lasting peace, bringing equitable development and social justice in alignment with the priorities of the government and the aspirations of the people.

Concrete proposals and commitments contained in the Joint Communication, entitled "Elements for an EU strategy vis-à-vis Myanmar/Burma: A Special Partnership for Democracy, Peace and Prosperity", include:

Supporting Myanmar's goal to become a sustainable democracy with full respect for the rule of law through building effective institutions, assisting the reform of the security sector, and increased and differentiated engagement with society as a whole, including local governments, the justice sector, parliaments and civil society.;

Cooperating with all concerned to implement an inclusive peace architecture including through a Joint Peace Fund. To help achieve lasting peace, the EU will share its experience, and work on building confidence and fostering reconciliation between the parties;

Working together with the Government of Myanmar on addressing human rights concerns, including the situation in Rakhine State and respect for minorities, combating hate speech and intolerance, and ensuring the full implementation of UN human rights resolutions;

Working directly with relevant institutions to increase the effectiveness of social services and to formulate sector policies as part of a state-building approach. Targeted technical cooperation will also be expanded to support the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development;

Stimulating European business interest through the conclusion of an Investment Protection Agreement, while also promoting corporate social responsibility and responsible investment; Enhancing cooperation with Myanmar as a member of ASEAN so as to strengthen the regional integration process as well as the EU's enhanced partnership with ASEAN.

The proposed actions will be discussed with the EU Member States and the European Parliament in the coming weeks.

Background

In recognition of Myanmar’s remarkable transition, the EU rapidly re-engaged with the country and provided significant support to encourage reforms. In July 2013, the EU defined its priorities in the so-called Comprehensive Framework, which was specifically aimed at guiding EU policy in the run-up to the elections in November 2015. The arrival in office of Myanmar’s democratically elected government on 1 April 2016 provided the opportunity for the EU to take a fresh look at its engagement with the country and align with the new priorities.

Myanmar is strategically located between India and China. It has abundant natural resources (land, water, forests, fossil fuels, minerals and gems) and a young labour force (55% of the population is under the age of 30). With a population of 51.5 million it constitutes a market of significant potential for EU exporters and investors. It is a member of ASEAN, home to over 600 million people, and will benefit from the ambitious regional economic integration process. The country is also the fastest growing tourism market in the region. In 2014/2015 the economy grew by 8.5%. Real GDP growth is forecast to average around 8-9% annually in 2016-20, underpinned by large projects funded by foreign investors.

Myanmar: Displaced villagers return home in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

2 June 2016 - 12:20pm
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office Country: Myanmar

In 2015, around 25 000 of the 145 000 people internally displaced during the 2012 inter-communal violence in Myanmar/Burma’s Rakhine State were able to return home or relocate voluntarily to new sites. The process is being monitored by the UN Refugee Agency, with support from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), helping efforts to ensure that the returns and relocations take place in a voluntary, safe and dignified manner.

Being able to sit once more in a bright and airy room – and in her own home – makes a welcome change for Amina*. She and her family were among 145 000 people displaced during inter-communal violence in Myanmar/Burma’s western Rakhine State four years ago. Around 20 000 homes were destroyed, Amina’s among them.

Last year she was among some 25 000 of the internally displaced people, or IDPs, who were able to leave their temporary shelters and rebuild their homes themselves – through a process led by the Myanmar Government. “I’m glad that we’re living here now – this is a good house, much better than the temporary shelter,” she said, sitting in her home on raised stilts near the sandy banks of one of the many rivers and waterways that weave their way through the coastal state, and flow on to the Bay of Bengal.

“I’m glad that we’re living here now – this is a good house, much better than the temporary shelter” – Amina.

During their displacement, Amina and her young family lived in a shared longhouse with seven other families. Cramped and often dark, the temporary shelters have a short lifespan and deteriorate over time, worsening conditions for its inhabitants. Most – like Amina, her husband Salim* and their four children – were able to return and rebuild in their places of origin, from where they had fled in 2012. Like other IDPs, the family had been supported with cash assistance to purchase the materials for the house.

These returns, and a smaller number of relocations, have taken place in Kyauktaw, Minbya, Mrauk-U, Pauktaw and Rathedaung townships of Rakhine State. The number of IDPs in Rakhine, the vast majority of whom self-identify as Rohingya, now stands at approximately 120 000.

As many parts of Rakhine State are prone to flooding, the new homeowners have incorporated resilient features into the design of their houses. “Even during the heavy flooding, we were able to remain in our home," explained Salim, pointing to the tall stilts that elevate their house several feet above the ground. "The waters came up quite high, but they did not reach us.”

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and partner organisations have been monitoring and assessing the ongoing process. These activities are part of UNHCR’s wider protection monitoring work in Rakhine, funded by the EU and other donors.

The agency has also been advocating with the Myanmar authorities to ensure that returns and any relocations are safe, dignified and voluntary. New sites should be viable and sustainable in terms of access to livelihoods and basic services. “We hope that these initial movements will be a first step towards ending displacement and enabling people to rebuild their lives and contribute once more to the social and economic life of their communities,” said Giuseppe de Vincentiis, UNHCR’s representative in Myanmar. “This would also enable the focus of assistance in these areas to shift towards early recovery, livelihoods and longer-term development support,” he added.

Aside from the continued displacement of some 120 000 people, there remain considerable challenges in Rakhine, where an estimated one million people are without citizenship. Rakhine is also one of the poorest states in Myanmar, where under-development affects all communities. This situation was exacerbated after the violence in 2012, which led to ruptures in inter-communal social and economic links.

Among the needs still to be addressed are those relating to lack of citizenship and associated restrictions such as that on freedom of movement, promoting peaceful co-existence and reconciliation between communities, and advancing socio-economic development and livelihood opportunities for all.

*Names have been changed for protection reasons

Myanmar: Taking the EU-Myanmar partnership to the next level: an EU strategy in support of Myanmar's reforms

2 June 2016 - 11:44am
Source: European Union Country: Myanmar

The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission have today adopted a Joint Communication that sets out a vision for ambitious and forward-looking EU engagement with Myanmar as the country's transition enters its next phase.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, said: "Myanmar is at a turning point. The newly elected government has expressed its willingness to bring peace and development to its people, through a democratic path. As the European Union, we have constantly accompanied this path, and we are committed to cooperate even more with Myanmar to support the reform efforts of the government: to strengthen democracy, good governance, the rule of law, peace, national reconciliation and human rights, to tackle poverty and to boost trade and investment. With this Joint Communication, the EU renews its strong commitment to work with Myanmar’s authorities and civil society to reinforce our bilateral relations, to the benefit of our people.”

The Joint Communication looks at how best to work with all stakeholders towards consolidating democracy, creating lasting peace, bringing equitable development and social justice in alignment with the priorities of the government and the aspirations of the people.

Concrete proposals and commitments contained in the Joint Communication, entitled "Elements for an EU strategy vis-à-vis Myanmar/Burma: A Special Partnership for Democracy, Peace and Prosperity", include:

  • Supporting Myanmar's goal to become a sustainable democracy with full respect for the rule of law through building effective institutions, assisting the reform of the security sector, and increased and differentiated engagement with society as a whole, including local governments, the justice sector, parliaments and civil society.;

  • Cooperating with all concerned to implement an inclusive peace architecture including through a Joint Peace Fund. To help achieve lasting peace, the EU will share its experience, and work on building confidence and fostering reconciliation between the parties;

  • Working together with the Government of Myanmar on addressing human rights concerns, including the situation in Rakhine State and respect for minorities, combating hate speech and intolerance, and ensuring the full implementation of UN human rights resolutions;

  • Working directly with relevant institutions to increase the effectiveness of social services and to formulate sector policies as part of a state-building approach. Targeted technical cooperation will also be expanded to support the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development;

  • Stimulating European business interest through the conclusion of an Investment Protection Agreement, while also promoting corporate social responsibility and responsible investment;

  • Enhancing cooperation with Myanmar as a member of ASEAN so as to strengthen the regional integration process as well as the EU's enhanced partnership with ASEAN.

The proposed actions will be discussed with the EU Member States and the European Parliament in the coming weeks.

Background

In recognition of Myanmar’s remarkable transition, the EU rapidly re-engaged with the country and provided significant support to encourage reforms. In July 2013, the EU defined its priorities in the so-called Comprehensive Framework, which was specifically aimed at guiding EU policy in the run-up to the elections in November 2015. The arrival in office of Myanmar’s democratically elected government on 1 April 2016 provided the opportunity for the EU to take a fresh look at its engagement with the country and align with the new priorities.

Myanmar is strategically located between India and China. It has abundant natural resources (land, water, forests, fossil fuels, minerals and gems) and a young labour force (55% of the population is under the age of 30). With a population of 51.5 million it constitutes a market of significant potential for EU exporters and investors. It is a member of ASEAN, home to over 600 million people, and will benefit from the ambitious regional economic integration process. The country is also the fastest growing tourism market in the region. In 2014/2015 the economy grew by 8.5%. Real GDP growth is forecast to average around 8-9% annually in 2016-20, underpinned by large projects funded by foreign investors.

For more information :

MEMO/16/2009: Q&A: The EU and Myanmar: A special partnership for peace, democracy and prosperity

MEMO/16/2010: The European Union and Myanmar: A special partnership for democracy, peace and prosperity

IP/16/2008

Press contacts:
Maja KOCIJANCIC (+32 2 298 65 70)
Adam KAZNOWSKI (+ 32 2 298 93 59)

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

World: Perspectives de récolte et situation alimentaire No. 1, mars 2016

2 June 2016 - 9:19am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, World, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Les premières prévisions de la FAO concernant la production mondiale de blé de 2016 font entrevoir une petite diminution, de moindres volumes étant attendus en Europe et aux États-Unis d’Amérique.

PAYS AYANT BESOIN D’UNE ASSISTANCE EXTÉRIEURE: selon les estimations de la FAO, 34 pays de par le monde, dont 27 en Afrique, ont besoin d’une aide alimentaire extérieure. Les troubles civils ont continué d’avoir des effets très négatifs sur la sécurité alimentaire d’un certain nombre de pays, tandis que les mauvaises conditions météorologiques, parfois liées au phénomène El Niño, ont réduit la production dans d’autres, limitant l’accès à la nourriture et faisant augmenter les prix à la consommation.

AFRIQUE: les mauvaises conditions météorologiques ont réduit la production céréalière de 2015, ce qui a provoqué une augmentation considérable du nombre de personnes en situation d’insécurité alimentaire dans plusieurs pays, tandis que les conflits ont aussi eu des effets néfastes sur la sécurité alimentaire et le secteur agricole en certains endroits. Les semis de 2016 ont commencé en Afrique centrale, en Afrique de l’Est et en Afrique de l’Ouest, tandis qu’en Afrique australe, où la récolte débutera en avril, le temps sec associé à El Niño a considérablement assombri les perspectives de production, ce qui a des implications très négatives pour la sécurité alimentaire de la sous-région. En ce qui concerne l’Afrique du Nord, la production de 2016 s’annonce mitigée, la sécheresse constatée actuellement au Maroc et en Algérie ayant conduit à abaisser les prévisions.

ASIE: les perspectives concernant la récolte des cultures d’hiver de 2016 sont en général bonnes, les premières prévisions laissant entrevoir des volumes de blé abondants dans la plupart des pays. En ce qui concerne le Proche-Orient, toutefois, la persistance des conflits en Iraq, en République arabe syrienne et au Yémen a continué d’éroder la capacité du secteur agricole, nuisant aux perspectives de production de 2016 et accentuant encore la crise humanitaire. Selon les estimations, la production céréalière de 2015 de la région est supérieure à celle de l’année précédente, essentiellement du fait des récoltes plus abondantes rentrées en Chine et en Turquie, qui ont largement compensé les moindres volumes enregistrés dans plusieurs pays de l’Extrême-Orient, en particulier en Inde.

AMÉRIQUE LATINE ET CARAÏBES: en au début 2016, la production céréalière s’annonce globalement bonne, les volumes récoltés devant rester importants, principalement du fait des meilleurs résultats attendus au Mexique et en Amérique du Sud. En ce qui concerne l’Amérique centrale et les Caraïbes, alors que le Mexique devrait enregistrer une augmentation de sa production, la persistance par ailleurs d’un temps sec lié à El Niño pourrait maintenir la production à un bas niveau en 2016. En Amérique du Sud, la production céréalière de 2016 devrait être en léger recul par rapport au niveau record de l’année précédente, ce qui tient pour l’essentiel à une contraction des semis, mais elle devrait rester bien supérieure à la moyenne

World: Crop Prospects and Food Situation No. 2, June 2016

2 June 2016 - 5:39am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Timor-Leste, Uganda, World, Yemen, Zimbabwe

Ongoing conflicts and droughts exacerbate food needs

Food insecurity spreads as El Niño casts its shadow over Pacific and Caribbean states

2 June 2016, Rome - Drought linked to El Niño and civil conflict have pushed the number of countries currently in need of external food assistance up to 37 from 34 in March, according to a new FAO report.

The new edition of the Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, released today, adds Papua New Guinea, Haiti and Nigeria to the list of countries requiring outside help to feed their own populations or communities of refugees they are hosting.

In Haiti, output of cereals and starchy roots in 2015 dropped to its lowest level in 12 years. Around 3.6 million people, more than one-third of the population, are food insecure, almost half of them "severely", while at least 200 000 are in an extreme food emergency situation, according to the report.

Haiti's woes are largely due to El Niño, which has also exacerbated the worst drought in decades in Central America's dry corridor.

In Southern Africa, El Niño impacts have significantly worsened food security and the 2016 cereal harvest currently underway is expected to drop by 26 percent from the already reduced level of the previous year, triggering a "substantial rise" in maize prices and import requirements in the coming marketing year.

Prolonged drought in Papua New Guinea last year has been followed by heavy rains and localized flooding in early 2016, affecting around 2.7 million people. Cereal output in the country's Highland region is expected to suffer a severe shortfall, while the harvest in neighboring Timor-Leste is expected to be reduced for the second year in a row.

While El Niño is now over, the World Meteorological Organization forecasts a 65 percent chance it will be followed by a La Niña episode, which typically triggers the opposite precipitation patterns -- potentially a boon for parched land but also posing the risk of flooding.

Conflicts are taking an increasing toll

Civil conflicts and their displacement of populations have worsened the food security situation in 12 of the 28 countries on the watch list.

About 13.5 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance, with caseloads increasing. This year' s harvest is forecast to drop by around 9 percent, due to irregular rainfall in parts of the country, combined with a lack of agricultural inputs and damage to farm infrastructure, according to FAO.

The new report adds Nigeria, home to Africa's largest economy and population, to the list of countries needing external help, due to large-scale internal displacement of people stemming from ongoing conflict in northern districts, which also led to increased number of refugees and food insecurity in neighboring Cameroun, Chad and Niger. About 3.4 million people, mostly in the states of Borno and Yobe, are estimated to be in need of food assistance.

In Yemen, where over14.4 million people are estimated to be food insecure - half of them severely so - there is a high risk that desert locust swarms will increase in hard-to-reach interior regions from early June onwards.

Global cereal output on the rise

FAO raised its forecast for global cereal production in 2016 to 2 539 million tonnes, up 17.3 million tonnes from its previous May projection and up 0.6 percent from last year's harvest.

Aggregate cereal production in Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) is also forecast to increase to 420 million tonnes in 2016, led by a recovery in rice and wheat production in India after last year reduction due to El Niño-related drought. That would be a 2.5 percent increase from last year's "sharply reduced" level.

In spite of the improved world production prospects in 2016, output would still fall slightly short of the projected demand in 2016/17, meaning global stocks would need to be drawn down from their near-record level.

The 37 countries currently in need of external food assistance are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya , Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Myanmar: Myanmar: New displacement in Northern Shan State (as of 31 May 2016)

2 June 2016 - 5:01am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

Approximately 3,900 people have fled their homes during the month of May 2016 following heightened tensions and outbreaks in conflict between armed groups in northern Shan State, bringing the cumulative total of people newly displaced in 2016 in Shan State to 11,100.

The authorities and local organizations have provided assistance including food and non-food items to displaced people sheltering in monasteries, host families, and existing IDP camps.

Displacement in northern Shan State is characterized by the return of people after fairly short periods of time. Displaced people risk facing increased food insecurity if they are not able to plant rice paddy at this critical time of the year.

Myanmar: Burma Army Accused of Torturing, Killing Civilians in Shan State

1 June 2016 - 11:26pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By NYEIN NYEIN / THE IRRAWADDY

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Burma Army soldiers have been torturing and killing civilians and using them as human shields in a recent offensive against the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N) in Kyaukme Township, displacing over 1,000 villagers, according to the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF).

The fighting erupted in May near the site of the Upper Yeywa dam, where local residents have voiced strong opposition to the project.

A report from the rights group on Wednesday indicated that at least 56 residents from some nine villages experienced human rights violations between May 11th and 21st of this year.

Sai Kheun Mai, the spokesperson for SHRF, said that eight of these nine villages had also endured bombing campaigns and that some villagers remain unable to return to their homes.

He told The Irrawaddy that of nine deaths which had occurred, three were of Shan villagers between 26 and 30 years old who were the victims of extrajudicial killings. Additionally, five villagers were reportedly beaten by the Burma Army’s Light Infantry Division 504; and 42 villagers from various villages were used as human shields.

SHRF, which regularly documents human rights violations in Shan State, said that the organization condemned the Burma Army for “these violations that meet the definition of war crimes” and that it “calls for an end to impunity for the perpetrators.”

Sai Khuen Mai said his group has urged the international community to “publicly denounce” the military’s ongoing offensives, which “make a mockery of the peace process,” referring to a recent European Union (EU) delegation’s failure to mention the continuing atrocities that coincided with an EU delegation’s recent visit to Burma.

SHRF’s report said that the rights organization “regrets that the EU diplomatic delegation, which visited Hispaw [east of Kyaukme] on May 16, placed no blame with the Burma Army for the fighting and made no mention of their [the Burma Army’s] ongoing atrocities.”

The Irrawaddy was unable to reach the military’s spokesperson for comment on Wednesday.

Myanmar: 2016 Myanmar Humanitarian Response Plan Monitoring Report: January - March 2016

1 June 2016 - 5:02pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

CHANGES IN CONTEXT

Rakhine

In Rakhine State, approximately 120,000 people remain displaced in 39 camps or camp-likesettings as a result of the inter-communal violence that broke out in 2012. Prolonged displacement compounded by ongoing movement restrictions that constrain access to essential services continue to cause increased vulnerability and a high level of dependency on humanitarian assistance. Most facilities and structures, including shelters, in camps have been subjected to a third rainy season and therefore require significant care and maintenance to ensure that minimum standards are met. A joint assessment conducted by the Rakhine State Government and humanitarian partners in March 2016 in 21 camps of Sittwe, Pauktaw and Myebon townships indicated an urgent need for major renovation of over 60 per cent of the long-houses in the Sittwe camps and full rehabilitation of more than 80 per cent of three of the four assessed camps in Pauktaw Township. Significant renovation work is needed in one large camp that contains 89 long-houses in Myebon Township. Similarly, water and sanitation facilities are in need of renovation in many IDP camps across the state, with an estimated 20,000 IDPs facing acute water shortages according to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Cluster. The water scarcity in Rakhine State is also compounded by the fact that many ponds were damaged during the 2015 floods. In view of the upcoming monsoon which will begin in June, urgent support is critically needed to carry out care and maintenance of shelters and other essential facilities in camps to ensure that thousands of the displaced people are protected from the elements and are able to live in dignified conditions.

Kachin/Shan

people remain displaced as a result of the armed conflict that started in 2011. The protracted nature of displacement has not only caused renewed need for protection and assistance but also strained the capacity of host communities, with a growing number of newly displaced people being forced to seek shelter in camps. In the first quarter of 2016, armed conflict erupted primarily in Kyaukme, Nahmkan and Kutkai townships in Shan State and led to the additional displacement of over 7,300 people. Over 4,700 of these people had reportedly returned to their places of origin by the end of March. While their immediate needs were catered for primarily by state authorities and local partners, the UN and its partners also provided assistance including shelter, non-food-items, psychological support, health care and water/sanitation/ hygiene services in support of the government-led response. While humanitarian assistance is generally meeting material needs in most areas, protection monitoring and services, which require more regular access by international organizations, is inadequate. Ongoing insecurity, damage to infrastructure, presence of landmines and scarcity of resources also undermine the ability of humanitarian partners to ensure sustained delivery of assistance, especially in areas of active conflict in northern Shan State as well as in non-government areas of Kachin State.

Floods

In floods affected areas, of the approximately 11,000 people who were staying in evacuation sites in Chin State and Sagaing Region at the end of October 2015, over 7,000 people had been relocated as of March 2016. People being relocated to new sites or returning to their villages of origin have received new housing or materials from the Government. However, according to latest reports, some relocation sites still require water and sanitation facilities, increased access to education and health care, and other essential services. In Chin State, over 3,000 people remain in evacuation sites in Hakha and Tongzan townships, where they continue to receive assistance from the Government, the UN and partners. Support to ensure decent living conditions, functional services and income generation opportunities remains crucial in the planned relocation areas. Findings of a joint assessment on food security and agriculture sectors by FAO and WFP also highlighted that poor rural communities, especially in the hardest-hit-areas of Chin and Rakhine states, continue to face food shortages in 2016, prompting a continued need for assistance and livelihoods opportunities to ensure long-term recovery.

World: CrisisWatch No. 154, 1 June 2016

1 June 2016 - 4:28pm
Source: International Crisis Group Country: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), World, Yemen, Zimbabwe

The month saw Venezuela’s political, economic and humanitarian crisis worsen amid heightened tensions between the government and opposition, a situation which could lead to state collapse and regional destabilisation. Another major setback in electing a new president in Haiti prompted fears of further civil unrest. In West Africa, deadly violence in central Mali and south-east Nigeria spiked, while a power struggle in Guinea-Bissau led to a dangerous standoff. In Libya, factions for and against the fledgling Government of National Accord (GNA) advanced on Sirte to expel the Islamic State (IS), risking clashes over oil facilities, while Turkey saw heightened political polarisation and an increase in violence in Kurdish areas. Ongoing peace talks, despite slow progress and ongoing violence, remain the best chance to end major combat in Yemen.

In Venezuela, political tensions between the government led by President Maduro and the opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance over attempts to trigger a presidential recall referendum intensified. Maduro’s decision on 16 May to issue a wide-ranging State of Exception and Economic Emergency decree suspending constitutional guarantees in order to combat what he called attempts by the opposition and foreign allies to overthrow the government was firmly condemned by the opposition. Senior opposition leader Henrique Capriles called on Venezuelans not to obey it, and told Maduro to “bring out the tanks” if he intended to enforce it. He warned the army to choose between allegiance to Maduro or the constitution. Public anger over the lack of food and other basic goods grew, with increased incidents of looting. Members of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) met on 1 June to discuss the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, after the OAS secretary general invoked the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Crisis Group has called on Latin American leaders to support international mediation if genuine political dialogue between the two sides is not in sight.

Elsewhere in the region, a commission finding that Haiti’s long-delayed presidential election last October was marred by massive irregularities and must be held again threw the country into further uncertainty and prompted fears of civil unrest in the weeks to come.

In West Africa, Mali’s central Mopti region saw a rise in clashes between ethnic Fulani and Bambara armed groups, while suspected jihadists launched several attacks on the army and international forces there, together leaving some 35 dead. Meanwhile, violence continued in the north in part as armed groups jostled to benefit from the promised disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration program – a critical component of the June 2015 Bamako peace accord. In Guinea-Bissau, the power struggle between President Vaz and the dominant faction of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) worsened. On 26 May, Vaz decided to create a “government of presidential initiative” and appointed PAIGC dissident Baciro Djá as the new Prime Minister. The mainstream PAIGC rejected the move as unconstitutional and called for protests which led to clashes between protestors and security forces.

In Nigeria, while ongoing army operations seem to have the Boko Haram jihadist insurgency on the back foot in the north east, security problems elsewhere have worsened. In the Niger Delta, the little-known militant group Niger Delta Avengers claimed six attacks on major oil and gas facilities, which significantly cut the country’s oil output and electricity supply. In the wider south east, security forces fought Biafran separatists in several cities on 30 May, leaving at least twenty dead, and in the centre, clashes between farmers and Fulani herdsmen killed at least 28. As Crisis Group has warned, unless the Buhari government explores existing political mechanisms to address discontent in the south east, Niger Delta and elsewhere, its gains against Boko Haram will be short-lived and the country could face even more deadly violence.

In Libya, west-based factions supporting the nascent Government of National Accord (GNA) and east-based factions opposing it mobilised troops, ostensibly to retake Sirte from the Islamic State (IS). Their advance could lead to worse fighting in the coming weeks over control of oil facilities in the Gulf of Sirte area. Despite international support for Prime Minister-designate Faez Serraj and the UN-backed Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), there is still much animosity in the east toward the LPA and Serraj and growing support for General Haftar’s rival Libyan National Army (LNA) after its recent military advances in Benghazi and Derna.

Meanwhile, in Turkey, the abrupt departure of Prime Minister Davutoğlu raised concerns about increasing political polarisation, amid signs that further moves are imminent to consolidate President Erdoğan’s de facto leading executive role. The lifting of immunities of parliamentarians facing criminal charges, which could lead to the expulsion of People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MPs from parliament, alongside an increase in civilian casualties from Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacks in the south east, make the return to negotiations between the Kurdish movement and Turkey’s political leadership even more remote.

In Yemen, repeated ceasefire violations by Huthi/Saleh forces and government troops backed by the Saudi-led coalition, and the coalition’s dangerous military build-up east of the capital, threatened the peace talks in Kuwait. Yet, slow progress aside, the UN-backed talks remain the best chance to end major combat and restart a meaningful political process.