Myanmar - ReliefWeb News
Snapshot 17 December – 6 January
Nigeria: A series of suspected Boko Haram attacks in Borno and neighbouring states have resulted in more than 80 deaths, 225 kidnapped, hundreds of homes burneds and thousands displaced.
Central African Republic: Nearly 200,000 people need nutrition assistance. Over 36,000 people are trapped in seven enclaves across the country; a group of 474 Fulani who fled to Yaloke months ago and now cannot leave are in particular need.
Syria: 76,000 people were killed in conflict in 2014, the highest annual toll since the war began, and including 18,000 civilians. 4.8 million people are in hard-to-reach areas. Shortages of food and medicine caused the deaths of more than 300 civilians in areas under government siege in 2014.
Updated: 06/01/2014. Next update: 13/01/2015
Myanmar President Thein Sein urged leaders from a dozen of the country’s armed ethnic groups on Monday to strive hard to reach a nationwide cease-fire accord with the government in five weeks.
Thein Sein told the meeting in the capital Naypyidaw that he wants to sign a peace deal with the groups on Union Day on Feb. 12.
On that day in 1947, General Aung San, father of current opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and ethnic representatives forged a landmark agreement to share power to prevent the country from plunging into civil war.
But Aung San was assassinated the same year — ahead of independence from Britain in 1948 — and the agreement was not honored.
Khun Myint Tun, chairman of the Pa-oh National Liberation Organization (PNLO), one of the ethnic groups that attended the meeting with Thein Sein, said the president indicated that he wanted Myanmar to be a federal union—one of the goals of the ethnic groups.
“He (Thein Sein) said peace in the nation could be developed and nurtured more successfully by the coming administrations only if the foundations were laid down properly by the present government,” Khun Myint Tun said.
“He said he wanted the peace agreement to be signed on Union Day, Feb 12, and that it was not lip service, but that he was serious about building a federal union.”
Leaders from 12 of the country’s 16 ethnic groups, represented in the National Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), an alliance of armed ethnic organizations, exchanged views with the president at the meeting.
Among the groups who met with the president and later with military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing were the Karen National Union (KNU), United Wa State Army (UWSA), Rehabilitation Council of Shan State (RCSS), Arakan Liberation Army (ALP), and All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF).
But the leaders of groups that have had recent clashes with the Myanmar military did not attend the meetings, The Irrawaddy online journal reported.
The meetings were held a day after ethnic leaders had joined the president to attend Independence Day celebrations, which included a military parade.
The president is eager to sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement before the country’s next general elections late this year.
Fighting for decades
The government’s Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC) and the NCCT last met on Dec. 22 to discuss a cease-fire deal and negotiators had focused on a draft ceasefire accord.
Information Minister Ye Htut said Aung Min, who is in charge of the government ceasefire negotiations team, would meet with ethnic representatives soon to resume negotiations, according to The Irrawaddy report.
Most of Myanmar’s ethnic groups have been fighting for decades but have temporary, bilateral cease-fire agreements with the government, except for the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).
But sporadic attacks by armed ethnic groups and government forces in various hotspots around the country have prevented significant progress in the ongoing talks between government and rebel negotiators.
The armed ethnic rebel groups and the government failed to reach a nationwide cease-fire agreement in September after five days of talks following disagreements over military issues and a format for talks on providing greater power to ethnic states.
Myanmar’s ethnic groups have been seeking a federal system since the country gained independence after World War II, but the country’s former military rulers have resisted their efforts because they equate local autonomy with separatism.
Reported by San Maw Aung of RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.
December saw a significant deterioration of the security situation – compared to the previous month – in nine countries or conflict situations in the world, including in South Asia (Pakistan and India), and East Africa (South Sudan and Kenya). There is a risk of increased violence in the coming month in Sudan, where major offensives are anticipated on the heels of a failure in the peace talks; in Sri Lanka, in the context of the 8 January elections; and in Haiti, where the current president could rule by decree unless parliament's mandate, due to expire on 12 January, is extended. On a positive note, the Colombia peace talks emerged strengthened in December, and relations between Cuba and the U.S. dramatically improved.
In South Asia, both Pakistan and India experienced severe violent attacks. In Pakistan, the deadliest ever attack by the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) took place on 16 December on a military-run school in Peshawar, killing at least 148, including 132 children. The military retaliated by escalating operations against militants in the tribal belt. The government introduced a counter-terrorism “National Action Plan”, including the establishment of military-run courts, which would require a constitutional amendment undermining fundamental rights and due process. It also lifted a moratorium on the death penalty, leading to the execution of several non-TTP militants allegedly responsible for past attacks on the military. (See our recent report). In India’s north east, militant Bodo separatists killed over 70 people in several attacks across Assam state on 23 December. The attacks, which reportedly targeted Adivasi settlers and came in response to several Bodo deaths during the army’s ongoing counter-insurgency operation in the area, prompted retaliatory vigilante assaults on Bodos and an intensification of the military campaign. In Sri Lanka, as the race tightened ahead of the 8 January presidential election between joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena and President Rajapaksa, an increasingly volatile campaign environment, including numerous attacks on opposition activists and rallies, raised concerns about the possibility of serious election related violence. (See our new report on the January presidential election and blog post published today).
In the Horn of Africa, both Sudan and South Sudan saw serious armed clashes. In South Sudan, peace talks between warring parties ground to a halt. Both sides remain at odds over the details of a power-sharing deal, in particular the powers that SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar would have as premier of a transitional government. Clashes between the opposing forces continued despite the recommitment in November to a cessation of hostilities agreement, including in Nasir town where fighting between government and SPLA-IO forces is ongoing. There is a risk attacks will escalate into major offensives if no political agreement is reached. (See our new report). Peace negotiations in Sudan floundered as the government continued to reject a comprehensive approach to talks with rebel groups in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Violence is already on the rise, and major offensives are anticipated if the talks fail. The government has stepped up pressure on the UN presence, expelling two UN officials in late December. Somalia’s Al-Shabaab militants continued to step up attacks in Kenya. On 2 December 36 non-Muslim workers were killed at a quarry near Mandera, prompting hundreds to flee the town. Thirteen were injured and one killed in an attack by suspected Islamist militants on a club in Wajir. The government’s clampdown continued, as President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law an anti-terror bill that is widely contested and seen by many as draconian. (See our recent report)
Elsewhere in Africa, government rule was challenged in both Gambia and Gabon prompting a crackdown. In Gambia, the military foiled a coup attempt against President Yahya Jammeh. Three coup plotters were reportedly killed as the military repulsed the 30 December attack on the presidential palace in the capital Banjul. Dozens of military personnel and civilians were subsequently arrested and, according to Gambian official sources, a weapons cache found. President Jammeh, who was abroad at the time of the coup attempt, has accused dissidents based in the U.S., UK and Germany of masterminding the attack and alluded to suspected foreign support. The government in Gabon violently cracked down on protesters demanding the resignation of President Ali Bongo Ondimba. On 20 December, protesters clashed with security forces – officials reported one killed, but protesters suggested at least three. Several opposition leaders were detained by police in late December.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, political crisis deepened in both Venezuela and Haiti. In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro’s government pushed through a number of appointments to key institutions with a simple majority vote, installing government allies in the judiciary and other branches of state. In doing so it has violated a number of legal and constitutional requirements designed to ensure that nominees are impartial and of good repute. The opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance abstained in all the appointments in protest. (See our latest report and recent blog post). Haiti’s political crisis over its long-overdue elections intensified, with mass protests demanding the resignation of President Michel Martelly even after Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned, and calling for polls to take place. There were fears of further violence with parliament’s mandate set to expire on 12 January, leaving Haiti without a functioning government and meaning Martelly would rule by decree. On 30 December, Martelly reached a deal with the senate and the chamber of deputies to extend their mandate, however lawmakers still need to approve the deal and agree on an acceptable provisional electoral council.
In Russia’s North Caucasus region and in Libya the situation deteriorated in December. In the North Caucasus, fifteen police, two civilians and eleven militants were killed, and 36 police injured, in a shootout between rebel gunmen and police in the Chechen capital Grozny in the early hours of 4 December. An Islamist group claimed responsibility for the raid. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov announced that relatives of militants responsible would be punished; sixteen houses belonging to insurgents’ relatives were later destroyed. Meanwhile, the leader of the Caucasus Emirate's Dagestan network and several insurgency leaders from Dagestan and Chechnya pledged loyalty to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In Libya, multiple new frontlines emerged across the country, with heavy clashes in the south, west and east between the military allies of the country’s two rival parliaments. The fighting deepened the conflict between the two political bodies. A UN-sponsored political dialogue was again postponed due to disagreements over participants.
On a positive note, there was progress both in Colombia and Cuba. In Colombia, peace talks with FARC emerged strengthened from the crisis triggered by the kidnapping of an army general in November. The guerrillas declared an unprecedented, indefinite unilateral ceasefire, which entered into force on 20 December. President Santos welcomed the ceasefire but rejected demands for third party verification and said that security forces would continue operations. There are questions about sustainability, but if the ceasefire holds, it will help break the ground for ending decades of conflict. Expectations that exploratory talks with the ELN could finally develop into formal negotiations are rising, after the country’s second guerrilla group said it would make a “special announcement” in early January. (See our recent report on the challenges of ending the Colombian conflict). December saw a dramatic improvement in relations between Cuba and the U.S., with the U.S. announcement on 17 December that it would normalise ties with the island. The possibility of an end to the decades-long U.S. embargo of Cuba is set to transform political relations across the hemisphere (see our blog post on U.S.-Cuban relations).
Shelter Projects 2013-2014 is the fifth edition in the series which began in 2008. This book adds 27 new shelter case studies and overviews, bringing the total number of project articles to over 150. This valuable repository of project examples and response overviews represents a significant body of experience offering unique reference material for shelter and settlement practitioners worldwide.
To quote Albert Einstein, “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”, and the objective of this publication has always been to encourage the sharing of lessons learned, both good and bad, and to advocate the following of best practices. Such knowledge sharing helps practitioners to be more accountable to crisis affected communities by implementing effective shelter responses and to show impact to donors by ensuring adequacy in our settlement and shelter interventions.
Shelter programming should operate in accordance with recognized shelter best practice while enabling those displaced to return to their homes or equivalent living space in a timely manner encouraging community recovery and building resilience to possible future shocks. Participation and promoting a sense of ownership is the key to achieving successful projects.
The introduction section of this publication provides and overview of the emergencies which have continued to require large-scale settlement and shelter responses since the last edition. The on-going and widening conflict in Syria, vast destruction left in the wake of tropical storms Sandy in the Americas and Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines and recurring flooding in Pakistan prompted this edition to include four overview pieces to complement the geographic spread of the selected case studies.
The international humanitarian community is dealing with unprecedented levels of displacement and scale of natural disaster. This implies a requirement for increased shelter needs, larger mobilization of resources and projects requiring improved models of delivery as well as innovative, cost-effective solutions which incorporate best practice as well as positioning the persons of concern at the forefront of response interventions.
The topics of the opinion pieces in Section B were decided on through discussion with a technical advisory group. The pieces are written by experts with specific interests and experiences and we are extremely grateful for their invaluable contribution. The topics include the importance of assessment in shelter, evaluating cash-for-rent subsidies, security of tenure and humanitarian shelter, supporting host families as shelter options and urban settings, all of significant current relevance and interest in the settlement and shelter domain.
These new case studies remind us of the similarities yet uniqueness every crisis presents. It is important not to ‘re-invent the wheel’ with every emergency and this publication acts as a tool for building on and improving on the successes of completed shelter projects. The case studies address common issues emerging in shelter response, outline different approaches to addressing shelter needs and assist in evaluating the impact on affected communities. They provide an excellent resource against which to gauge proposed shelter interventions and possible outcomes.
The Shelter Projects website - www.sheltercasestudies.org - has been updated with the latest edition and provides an easy way to search the repository of case studies, overviews and project updates.
We are once again indebted to everyone who contributed case studies and to the technical advisory group for their valuable time and expert input.
We trust that the reader will find this edition of ‘Shelter projects’ relevant and thought-provoking, leading to improved settlement and shelter solutions for affected communities.
Bangkok, Thailand | Monday 1/5/2015 - 12:31 GMT
More than 50 migrants, mostly Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar, have been held in southern Thailand after authorities acting on a tip-off stopped trucks smuggling them through the country, a local official said Monday.
Of the 53 people held, 37 are believed to be from the Rohingya minority, with the remainder from Bangladesh -- a source of increasing numbers of migrants arriving on Thai shores.
Twenty-one of the group are aged under 18 and some are as young as five, according to the chief of Takua Pa district in Phang Nga province.
"The group were from Myanmar and Bangladesh," Manit Pianthong told AFP. "They arrived on boats and were taken in three trucks into Takua Pa before dawn on Monday" for transit through to Malaysia.
"We had already set up checkpoints as we had information they would come," he added, explaining the trucks were forced onto a side road where the drivers fled, leaving the migrants behind.
The migrants have been taken to be interviewed by social workers to determine if they are victims of trafficking.
"If they are found to be victims, they will be witnesses in a human trafficking case and will be put in shelters... but if not, they will be charged with illegal entry," Manit said.
Thousands of Rohingya -- a Muslim minority group not recognised as citizens in Myanmar -- have fled deadly communal unrest in Myanmar's Rakhine state since 2012. Most have headed for mainly Muslim Malaysia.
Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya -- described by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities -- as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and denies them citizenship.
Rights groups say the stateless migrants often fall into the hands of people-traffickers.
They have also criticised Thailand in the past for pushing boatloads of Rohingya entering Thai waters back out to sea and for holding migrants in overcrowded facilities.
Thailand said last year it was investigating allegations that some army officials in the kingdom were involved in the trafficking of Rohingya.
© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse
GENEVA (5 January 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, will undertake her second official visit to the country from 7-16 January 2014. Ms. Lee will gather first-hand information on the current human rights situation in the Rakhine and Northern Shan States, among other issues. “I will review the situation in the camps for internally displaced persons and in isolated locations in the Rakhine State, to assess if there has been improvement in the critical conditions I came across on my first visit to Myanmar in July 2014,” she said.
The human rights expert will meet the Chief Minister of the Rakhine State to discuss current developments toward peace, stability and the rule of law, including the Rakhine Action Plan. She will meet as well with community leaders in the context of intercommunal tensions and efforts towards reconciliation. “In the Northern Shan State, I will look at the human rights situation of religious and ethnic minorities,” Ms. Lee noted. “I will also speak with various parties about the situation of sexual and gender based violence in the context of the ongoing conflict in this region”.
The independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on the situation of human rights in Myanmar will also assess progress on the authorities’ commitments towards democratic reform. She will also review issues related to freedom of association and the media, as well as land disputes and protests against development projects.
“I will pay special attention to the significant human rights concerns raised by the package of four bills on protection of race and religion, which contain provisions that do not meet international human rights standards,” Ms. Lee stressed. “I am deeply concerned that if passed, these four bills will legitimize discrimination, in particular against religious and ethnic minorities, and against women”.
With Myanmar now in an electoral year, the Special Rapporteur will also discuss progress in the democratic process with authorities and civil society to encourage these forthcoming national elections to be transparent, inclusive, participatory, free and fair.
During her ten-day visit, the expert will meet with Government officials, members of Parliament and the judiciary, the National Human Rights commission and civil society in Naypyitaw and Yangon. She also intends to visit political prisoners that remain in detention.
The Special Rapporteur, who visits the country at the invitation of the Government, expressed her appreciation of the open engagement and cooperation that has been offered in the preparation of this mission. Ms. Lee will submit a report to the Human Rights Council in April 2015 A press conference will be held at the end of the Special Rapporteur’s visit on Friday 16 January from 5-6pm at the Sedona Hotel, Yankin Ballroom in Yangon.
By YEN SNAING & NANG SENG NOM / THE IRRAWADDY
RANGOON — A camp for internally displaced persons in Kachin State suffered a devastating fire on Monday that has gutted at least 100 households, according to local reports.
About 1000 IDPs live in the Sin Kyaing camp, located in Wine Maw Township, about 65 kilometres (40 miles) east of the state capital Myitkyina on the China-Burma border. While there were no casualties from the blaze, which started from an electrical fire, the Kachin Baptist Church says that the camp’s residents are now in dire need of warm clothes, food and accommodation to see through the winter months.
“There is no place for refugees to sleep now,” said Lamang Yaw, a communications officer from the church said of those Sin Kyaing camp residents who lost their homes in the fire. “The neighbors are helping with food… [but] it’s important to build huts for them to live, urgently.”
Doi Be Za, the head of the Kachin Independence Organization’s IDPs and Refugees Relief Committee, told The Irrawaddy that the camp fell outside of his organization’s jurisdiction.
“It’s not at in our area of control. But we are compiling a list on the loss of property lost in the fire. Then, we will continue to do what we need to for the refugees.”
The nearby village of Kambaiti is reportedly under the control of Border Guard Force unit led by Zahkung Ting Ying, a parliamentarian representing a territory previously controlled by the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK). The NDAK’s predecessor organization split from the KIO in 1968 and merged into the Border Guard Force in 2009, two years before the outbreak of renewed hostilities between the KIO and the Burma Army.
Another Kachin IDP camp on the Chinese border suffered a fire in March last year, which claimed the life of a 13-year-old girl after a tarpaulin tent provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees burnt to the ground.
Written by Kay Zue
More than 10,000 people want to participate in the citizenship verification process by agreeing to be listed as “Bengali,”according to U Khin Soe, the official in charge of the Rakhine State Immigration and Population Department.
Currently the citizenship verification process in Rakhine State based on the 1982 Citizenship Law is suspended due to objections.
Disagreement occurred over the verification process because some people identifying themselves as “Rohingya” are not allowed by law to be listed as such but must accept the designation, “Bengali.”
On the other hand, there have been complaints from ethnic Rakhine people against the verification process, claiming it will allow illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh currently in the State to be accepted as citizens.
Against this backdrop, the Rakhine State Immigration and Population Department has prepared to resume the citizenship verification process.
The people who want to apply for citizenship, by agreeing to be listed as “Bengali,” are from Ponna Kyun, Kyauk Phyu, Mrauk-U and Minbya Townships, according to figures compiled by the immigration department.
U Khin Soe said on December 30 that his staff members are ready.
“When the Union government [central government] orders us to resume the process, we will resume it. But we will carry out the citizenship verification process only if the people who want to apply for citizenship agree to be identified as Bengali,” he said.
The citizenship verification process for people who identify themselves as Rohingya but the government refers to as Bengali began in June, 2014, but was suspended after five months due to various objections. The Rakhine State Immigration and Population Department hopes to resume the process in January.
According to U Khin Soe, the people identifying themselves as Rohingya in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships have not applied for citizenship because they are still pondering whether they should agree to be listed as Bengali or not.
U Hla Thein, a Rohingya leader in Maungdaw Township, said, “We are still negotiating whether the label [for the race] or applying for citizenship should be given a higher priority.”
During the citizenship verification process in Rakhine State in 2014, 40 people were granted citizenship and 165 people became naturalized citizens, according to figures compiled by the Rakhine State immigration department.
Rakhine State has population of more than 3 million. Among them, more than 1 million people do not have the right to citizenship, according an estimate by the Rakhine State government.
Communal rights broke out in the State in 2012 between Buddhists and Rohingya left up to 140 people dead. Today, tens of thousands of internally displaced people remain in camps.
By SALAI THANT ZIN
Local residents in the Chin State capital Hakha are facing a potable water shortage amid a partial suspension of the township’s water supply that has lasted more than three months.
“It is about three months now that the municipality has stopped supplying water, which has caused a lot of trouble for people. I have to buy water for my shop, for which I have to spend around 20,000 [US$20] or 30,000 kyats monthly from my profits,” the owner of an eatery in Hakha told The Irrawaddy.
The municipality stopped providing water after underground water pipes were damaged during the expansion of roads in Hakha, the administrative seat of the Chin State government.
More than half of Hakha’s 15,000 residents have been affected by the water crisis and have had to rely on private water sellers, according to locals.
The majority of the town’s pain has been gain for some entrepreneurial spirits, however, who have taken to fetching water from the nearby Thee River and selling it to needy residents. A bucket of water is sold for 200 kyats and an entire car’s load worth of water goes for 12,000 kyats, locals said.
The head of Hakha township municipality, Aung Tun Lin, told The Irrawaddy that efforts were underway to restore the town’s piped water system.
“Pipelines in certain areas were damaged as roads in downtown Hakha were broadened. Therefore, we cannot supply water to those areas. We plan to repair the pipes and resume water supply by January 15 [of 2015].”
While some locals have relied on buying water from private sellers, others drive to the Thee River, some seven miles from Hakha.
“Those who can afford it buy water. Those who can’t afford it go to Thee River by motorbike and fetch water. They take their clothes and wash them there. I have to buy water, 200 kyats per bucket, when I don’t have time to go to the Thee River,” said a departmental staffer.
The system used by the Hakha municipality sees piped water supplied from eight watersheds in areas surrounding the town, and the late 2014 water woes likely will not be the town’s last.
The surrounding watersheds have been decreasingly productive since 2000, due to deforestation and hillside cultivation, making water shortages in the months of March through May an annual occurrence, said Aung Tun Lin.
“The watersheds produce less water and creeks are drying up year by year, mainly because of cutting down trees for fuel or crop cultivation,” he said.
“Now, we only get 65 percent of water from those sources. Therefore, Hakha is always confronted with a water shortage in March, April and May every year,” he added.
In an effort to resolve Hakha’s water scarcity, the Chin State government started building a dam on the Thee River in April of this year. The project comes at an estimated cost of 8 billion kyats.
By NOBEL ZAW /
RANGOON —Burma has the third-highest landmine-related casualty rates in the entire world, has edged away from international forums focused to eradicate the munitions, and is one of the only countries in the world still actively deploying mines in conflict areas, according to the latest report from the research arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
The 2014 Landmine Monitor report documents 3,450 casualties between 1999 and the end of 2013, resulting in at least 348 deaths. The recorded landmine casualty rate in the six years from 2006 is surpassed only by Colombia, a nation that has spent five decades fighting a Marxist insurgency financed by drug trafficking, and Afghanistan, a country ravaged by seemingly interminable war for most of the last 35 years.
Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, the Landmine Monitor researcher for Burma, told a press conference yesterday that the country’s refusal to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty and allow direct inspection of conflict flashpoints made it difficult to compile an accurate number of casualties, but the ICBL’s official estimates over the period were almost certainly understated.
He added that despite a request from President Thein Sein for European Union assistance in establishing clearance programs in 2012, international organizations had been prevented from traveling to areas contaminated with landmines, with the military and the government blaming each other for the refusal of access. According to Landmine Monitor, there has been no mine clearance by accredited organizations in the last two years, although some ethnic armed groups and organizations such as the Free Burma Rangers have engaged in some local demining programs.
The Landmine Monitor report found “credible allegations” of anti-personnel mine use by the Burma Army over the last two years in Kachin and Arakan States, including a stretch of land less than 100 meters from the country’s border with Bangladesh. While the report was unable to corroborate any accounts of landmines being used over the same period by ethnic armed groups, it noted that none of these groups had renounced the use of landmines since negotiations toward a nationwide ceasefire agreement began in 2011.
162 countries are signatories to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the world’s governments. Burma has repeatedly abstained on United Nations General Assembly resolutions to prohibit the use, stockpiling and production of anti-personnel mines, and President Thein Sein told an audience at the 2012 Asean Summit in Phnom Penh that the country’s continued use of landmines was necessary “in order to safeguard the life and property of people.” While Burma has participated in several recent international forums established by the Mine Ban Treaty, the government declined to field representatives for the most recent review conference, held in Mozambique in June.
Myo Myint Aung, a former military doctor who lost his eyesight and sustained 86 separate shrapnel wounds in a landmine injury at the age of 25, told The Irrawaddy that all landmines in Burma should be eliminated.
“I want to say solemnly that landmines should not available,” he said. “When people fire guns, you are aware of the danger in front of you, but with landmines you can never know when you will be hurt.”
Tectonic Plates and Fault Lines
The region is home to extremes in elevation and the world's most active seismic and volcanic activity. Southwest of India, the Maldives has a maximum height of just 230cm, while far to the north, the Tibetan Plateau averages over 4,500m across its 2.5 million square kilometres and is home to all 14 of the world's peaks above 8,000 metres. The Himalaya were born 70 million years ago when the Arabian Plate collided with the Eurasian plate.
The Pacific Ring of Fire is a belt of oceanic trenches, island arcs, volcanic mountain ranges and plate movements that encircles the basin of the Pacific Ocean. The ring is home to 90% of the world's earthquakes - 95% if the Alpide belt is included, which runs through Java and Sumatra. The Ring of Fire is a direct consequence of plate tectonics and the movement and collisions of crustal plates, with the northwestward moving Pacific plate subducted beneath the Aleutian Islands arc in the north, along the Kamchatka peninsula and Japan in the west. To the south a number of smaller tectonic plates are in collision with the Pacific plate from the Mariana Islands, the Philippines, Bougainville, Tonga, and New Zealand.
Volcanic Explosivity in Asia-Pacific
This map shows the density of volcanic eruptions based on the explosivity index for each eruption and the time period of the eruption. Eruption information is spread to 100km beyond point source to indicate areas that could be affected by volcanic emissions or ground shaking.
The original source of the data is a point dataset of worldwide historical volcanic eruptions occurring within approximately the last 11,500 years (to 2002). Adapted from Simkin and Siebert, 1994 "Volcanoes of the World: an Illustrated Catalog of Holocene Volcanoes and their Eruptions" and produced digitally by the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program.
The volcanic eruptions were rated using the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI). The VEI is a simple 0-to-8 index of increasing explosivity, with each successive integer representing about an order of magnitude increase.
Tropical Storm Risk Zones
This map was derived from the Munich Reinsurance Company's World Map of Natural Hazards and shows tropical storm intensity based on the five wind speeds of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed. This scale estimates potential property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage.
Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous, however, and require preventative measures. In the western North Pacific, the term "super typhoon" is used for tropical cyclones with sustained winds exceeding 240km/h.
The zones indicate where there is a 10% probability of a storm of this intensity striking in the next 10 years.
Earthquake Intensity Risk Zones
This map shows earthquake intensity zones in accordance with the 1956 version of the Modified Mercalli Scale (MM), describing the effects of an earthquake on the surface of the earth and integrating numerous parameters such as ground acceleration, duration of an earthquake, and subsoil effects. It also includes historical earthquake reports.
The Zones indicate where there is a probability of 20 percent that degrees of intensity shown on the map will be exceeded in 50 years.This probability figure varies with time; i.e., it is lower for shorter periods and higher for longer periods.
Pacific islands and countries too small to be easily visible are represented by boxes giving an approximate level of equivalent risk based on data from Munich Reinsurance Company's NATHAN system.
Earthquake Intensity Risk Zones
V. Rather Strong
VII. Very Strong
XI. Very Disastrous
Sixteen years of wildfires in Asia-Pacific
Wild land fires and other biomass fires annually burn a total land area of between 3.5 and 4.5 million km2, equivalent to the surface area of India and Pakistan together, or more than half of Australia. This makes it one of the most spatially prevalent hazards after drought.
Emissions from biomass burning inject pollutants into the atmosphere, as well as greenhouse gases (GHG). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change attributes 17.3% of total anthropogenic emissions to biomass burning, making it the second largest source of GHG from human activities after the burning of fossil fuel.
This dataset includes an average of fires density over the period 1997-2010. It is based on the modified algorithm 1 product of World Fire Atlas dataset. The data was compiled monthly. The unit is expected average number of event per 0.1 decimal degree.
This product was designed by UNEP/GRID Europe for the Global Assessment Report on Risk Reduction (GAR). It was modeled using global data.
Credit: GIS processing UNEP/GRID Europe. http://preview.grid.unep.ch;
World Fire atlas (ESA-ESRIN), GIS processing UNEP/GRID-Europe.
Disaster risks can increase or decrease over time according to a country’s ability to reduce its vulnerability and strengthen response capacities. In recent decades, countries in the Asia-Pacific region have strengthened their capacities to reduce mortality risks associated with major weather-related hazards such as floods.
Flooding can happen anywhere, however certain areas are especially prone to serious flooding. This map shows a subset of the global estimated risk index for flood hazard. The unit is estimated risk index from 1 (low) to 5 (extreme).
This product was designed by UNEP/GRID Europe for the Global Assessment Report on Risk Reduction (GAR). It was modeled using global data.
Credit: GIS processing UNEP/GRID Europe. http://preview.grid.unep.ch
Risk assessment for an area exposed to multiple hazards requires solutions to compare the risks. This map was generated by adding the value of mortality to the cumulated risk of cyclones, earthquakes, floods and landslides. Categories of risk based on expected annual losses.
This product was designed by UNEP/GRID Europe for the Global Assessment Report on Risk Reduction (GAR). It was modeled using global data.
Credit: GIS processing UNEP/GRID-Europe. http://preview.grid.unep.ch
Physical Exposure to Drought
Drought is a phenomenon that affects more people globally than any other natural hazard. Unlike aridity, which refers to a semi-permanent condition of low precipitation (desert regions), drought results from the accumulated effect of deficient precipitation over a prolonged period of time.
The units used in this product refer to the expected average annual population (2010 as the year of reference) exposed (inhabitants). The dataset includes an estimate of the annual physical exposure to drought. It is based on three sources:
1) A global monthly gridded precipitation dataset obtained from the Climatic
Research Unit (University of East Anglia).
2) A GIS modelling of global Standardized Precipitation Index based on Brad Lyon (IRI, Columbia University).
3) A population grid for the year 2010, provided by LandScanTM Global Population Database (Oak Ridge National Laboratory).
Credit: GIS processing UNEP/GRID Europe. http://preview.grid.unep.ch