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World: Internal Displacement Update, Issue 13: 9 - 22 March

31 March 2017 - 5:19am
Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Madagascar, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Peru, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, World

FEATURE

Iraq

AFFECTED AREAS Mosul

CAUSE OF DISPLACEMENT Conflict

FIGURES About 172,000 new displacements between 19 February and 23 March

CONTEXT

About 172,000 people fled western neighbourhoods of Mosul for camps and emergency sites between 19 February and 23 March as military operations to retake the western part of Mosul from ISIL moved into more heavily populated areas of the old city. This brings to almost 274,000 the total number of people displaced from eastern and western Mosul as of 23 March. More than 350,000 people were displaced between 17 October and 23 March, of whom 76,000 returned home to eastern Mosul and surrounding areas.

Displaced people report fear of being caught in the crossfire during the journey to safety.

Across Iraq, returnees and people who remain in their homes face severe shortages of necessities, life-threatening risks from explosive hazards and restrictions to freedom of movement (OCHA, 23 March 2017).

Myanmar: Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township and Noh T’Kaw Township, April to May 2016

31 March 2017 - 4:45am
Source: Karen Human Rights Group Country: Myanmar

This Situation Update describes events occurring in Kawkareik Township and Noh T’Kaw Township, Dooplaya District, during the period between April and May 2016, including education, healthcare, business activities, and armed groups' activities.

  • On April 4th 2016, Tatmadaw soldiers went to A--- village, Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District, which is a Karen National Union (KNU) controlled area, without getting permission from KNU. The Tatmadaw were worried that the KNU soldiers were going to shoot them, so they used the villagers as human shields.

  • In some schools in Kawkareik Township, local Karen teachers had problems with the Burma/Myanmar government teachers. This is because the Burma/Myanmar government teachers were often absent for training and the Karen teachers did not get paid as much as the Burmese teachers

Myanmar: Republic of the Union of Myanmar Ministry of the Office of the State Counsellor Press Release

31 March 2017 - 2:35am
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Ministry of the Office of the State Counsellor
Press Release
(3rd Waxing of Tagu 1378 ME)
(30th March 2017)

  1. The Union Government has been implementing the national reconciliation and peace process with special focus. And, it has been making concerted efforts for national ethnic armed groups which have not yet signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement—NCA to take part in Union Peace Conference—21st Century Panlong, after building up mutual trust and understanding. According to the nature of peace dialogues, one year has already passed with high points and low points.

  2. The main point of the dialogues for peace is trust. Here mutual trust is of great importance, as is self-confidence. As a result of the strenuous efforts and negotiations for one year, 5 member groups of United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC)— Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), New Mon State Party (NMSP), Arakan National Council (ANC), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) and Wa National Organization (WNO) disclosed this evening that they would sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

  3. National Reconciliation and Peace which the national ethnic races and union citizens have been yearning for successive eras is now seeing red rays of hope spraying forth with brilliant colours. At such a time of great importance, undesirable destructive elements and instigations intended to harm peace might emerge. Therefore, this press release is being issued to urge our brothers who are leaders of the ethnic national races and Union citizens to be extremely careful.

Myanmar: A year on, Myanmar's Suu Kyi acknowledges reforms have been slow

30 March 2017 - 7:44pm
Source: Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation Country: Myanmar

"Nothing is for sure yet. We have to keep trying."

By Antoni Slodkowski

YANGON, March 30 (Reuters) - A year after sweeping to power in a historic vote, Myanmar's first de-facto civilian leader in about half a century, Aung San Suu Kyi, acknowledged on Thursday the public's frustration with the slow pace of reforms and development.

Read more on the Thomson Reuters Foundation

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

30 March 2017 - 4:50am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Shelter Cluster Country: Myanmar

KEY DATES & RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Activation of the CCCM Cluster: January 2013 - Leadership: UNHCR - UNHCR also leads shelter & NFI Cluster and Protection Sector

CONTEXT

Breakdown of a ceasefire agreement in KACHIN State in 2011 caused waves of displacement with over 90,000 IDPs dispersed across 150+ camps or camp-like settings, including areas of Northern Shan State (Shan). An additional 7,000 IDPs are staying with host families. About 50% of camps are located in non-government controlled areas (NGCA) with very limited access.

In RAKHINE State, displacement occurred in 2012 due to inter-communal clashes and burning of houses. From an initial caseload of 140,000+ IDPs in 2013. 2015 20,000+ persons were able to vacate their temporary shelter and assisted to build their own individual houses through a process of owner-driven construction. 60% in their place of origin, 40% in new locations. This resulted in the number of camps (or camp-like settings) decreasing from 67 to now being 36. Still, 120,000 IDPs reside in camps where overcrowding and lack of privacy remain huge problems and in structures that were originally designed and built in 2013 to be temporary and last two years. During the rainy season conditions worsen as there are inadequate drainage systems. Significant restrictions on freedom of movement limit access to livelihoods, healthcare, food, education and other basic services. This also affects parts of the non-displaced population.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Rakhine CCCM Dashboard (1-Feb-2017)

30 March 2017 - 2:20am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Myanmar Information Management Unit, CCCM Cluster, Shelter Cluster Country: Myanmar

Number of IDP Locations 36
Number of IDPs 120,607

In Myanmar, the Shelter/NFI/CCCM Cluster was activated in January 2013. By March 2013, the CCCM Cluster became operational in Rakhine State. Currently 3 Camp Management Agencies undertake substantial work for the CCCM Cluster: data collection, coordination, monitoring of services, community mobilization and capacity building across camps that house over 92,000 IDPs. In addition, one agency serves as a CCCM Focal Point, which ensures communication between the camp population and the UNHCR co-led CCCM Cluster. The objective of the CCCM Cluster remains to ensure all of the priority camps, camps that contain the majority of IDPs, have a dedicated Camp Management Agency, delivering coordinated assistance in line with the rights and needs of the displaced and where possible preparing them for life after displacement.

Myanmar: Interview: 'The Messages Aung San Suu Kyi Got Are Wrong'

30 March 2017 - 1:45am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Northeastern Myanmar’s Kachin state has been rocked by ongoing clashes between the government military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), since 2011, when a cease-fire deal collapsed. The KIA, which controls large sections of the state, joined forces with three other ethnic armed groups last November to form the Northern Alliance. The alliance has engaged in hostilities in neighboring northern Shan state in retaliation for government army offensives against its soldiers, and hostilities in both states have driven thousands of civilians into internally displaced persons camps as well as across the border into China.

The fighting has complicated national de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s efforts to end decades of hostilities between the government armed forces and numerous ethnic militias via the current series of nationwide peace negotiations known as the 21st-Century Panglong Conference.

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), one of the state’s major parties and the KIA’s political wing, has not yet signed a nationwide cease-fire agreement with the government. And the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC), headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, has not allowed the KIO to hold talk regional discussions in advance of the next round of peace talks.

During a visit to a refugee camp in Kachin state’s Waingmaw township on Tuesday, Aung San Suu Kyi said that the internally displaced persons living there will be able to return to their homes only when all stakeholders work together in pursuit of ethnic peace.

On Wednesday, Aung Moe Myint, a reporter with RFA’s Myanmar Service, spoke with General Gun Maw, vice chairman of the KIO, about Aung San Suu Kyi's visit to Kachin state. What follows is an edited version of their conversation.

RFA: Were you satisfied with the meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and the Kachin people?

Gun Maw: I was satisfied to see the way they were talking in the meeting. They were talking in a friendly, warm, and open manner.

RFA: You posted on Facebook that you are dissatisfied with the NCA. Why?

Gun Maw: I feel that the messages Aung San Suu Kyi got have been wrong. Actually, what we said is that UNFC [United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an alliance of nine ethnic armed groups that did not sign the government’s NCA], including the KIO are still discussing singing the NCA, and we will sign it only if we agree upon its points after both sides talk about it. But what Aung San Suu Kyi said today is that the KIO has already agreed to sign the NCA. It is a question of why and how she got that wrong message. Who sent this message to her? What I meant when I said I was dissatisfied refers to that point.

RFA: What is the KIA’s opinion of Aung San Suu Kyi’s peace process?

Gun Maw: Although there are some points that we still need to discuss, we understand that she is doing her best for the peace process. The government is doing what it needs to achieve peace as well.

RFA: What are your thoughts about the original Panglong Agreement? (Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, General Aung San, signed a pact in February 1947 known as the Panglong Agreement to grant autonomy to the Shan, Kachin and Chin ethnic minorities. But his assassination five months later prevented the agreement from reaching fruition, and many ethnic groups took up arms against the central government in wars that then went on for decades.)

Gun Maw: All the leaders from the ethnic armed groups who signed the Panglong Agreement greatly value its points and promises. Although some ethnic groups [that did not attend the Panglong Conference] did not sign the agreement, we accept that every group at the conference discussed issues concerning the entire country. If someone said the agreements made at the conference can’t be accepted because not every ethnic armed group was there, that would create some differences between our understanding and others' understanding of the essence of the Panglong Agreement. That’s what we feel frustrated about.

Myanmar: State Counsellor discusses concerns in Kachin State

30 March 2017 - 1:31am
Source: Mizzima News Country: Myanmar

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday visited Myitkyina in Kachin State, one of the most war-torn regions in the country.

During her discussions with Kachin elders, she asked the Kachin people to unite for peace, according to state media. Kachin State has endured ethnic conflicts for decades. The main ethnic armed group in the region, the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), has not yet signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

According to the report, Those present at the meeting disclosed their concerns — armed conflicts between the Myanmar Army and the KIO, the increasing amount of displaced people as a result, urgent needs for food and humanitarian aid, amending the Constitution that will help to build a genuine federal union in accord with 1947 Panglong Agreement, an effective anti-drug campaign, the evil effect of armed conflict, freedom of worship and eradication of religious discrimination, and the peace process.

World: Evaluation of Multi-year Planning, February 2017

30 March 2017 - 1:13am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Haiti, Myanmar, Somalia, World

Executive Summary

Introduction

1 . In advance of the recent World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), the report of the SecretaryGeneral: “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility” laid out a view of key challenges facing humanitarian assistance. The report noted that the need for emergency aid continues to rise; the forecast for 2017 is that 93 million people in 33 affected countries will require humanitarian assistance. Funding levels fall increasingly short of requirements; in 2015, UN appeals were funded to approximately 56 per cent of total requirements. The report recommends a paradigm shift in order to begin to address the shortfall. The three key elements are as follows:

  • reinforce, do not replace, national and local systems;

  • anticipate, do not wait, for crises; and

  • transcend the humanitarian-development divide by working towards collective outcomes, based on comparative advantage and over multi-year time frames.

2 . The rationale for multi-year Planning (MYP) is clear. The average duration of a humanitarian appeal is 7 years, and 90 percent of appeals last longer than three years.
There is also a realisation that protracted crises cannot be addressed through humanitarian action alone, and that a fundamental shift is needed to break the cycle of humanitarian dependence and generate more sustainable outcomes. Moving from an annual planning cycle to MYP intuitively presents a number of advantages, which include improvement in collective humanitarian response and stronger coherence between humanitarian and other response elements.

3 . A number of inter-agency commitments have been developed post-Summit and MYP is a central component of the proposals therein, with a proposal that the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can act as a common framework for humanitarian and development actors to work towards the overall goal of meeting needs while contributing to a reduction in people’s risks and vulnerabilities and an increase in their resilience. Agencies are already meeting and working together on MYP-related issues1. Thus the evaluation is timely and there is great scope to build on the post-WHS appetite for change.

4 . The WHS, of course, did not start the process of the development of multi-year time frames.
There has been much work on this issue over a number of years. Indeed, the Terms of Reference (ToR) for this evaluation state that, by 2015, there were fifteen multi-year humanitarian plans, including a transitional plan.

5 . The evaluation is formative, with an emphasis on building understanding and learning in order to allow for correcting mistakes, adapting approaches and building on the successes of current experiences with MYP. The findings are based on triangulated evidence collected through visits to three country case-studies (Haiti, Somalia, and a counter factual, Myanmar), visits to OCHA HQ (New York and Geneva), remote interviews for Sahel, oPt, South Sudan and Iraq and as well as post-WHS interviews to assess changes in the system. The focus of the evaluation is multi-year planning rather than multi-year financing or multi-year programming, although it is recognised that the three are mutually supportive and brought together explicitly in the HRP model.

Myanmar: Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi Township, June to August 2016

30 March 2017 - 12:29am
Source: Karen Human Rights Group Country: Myanmar

This Situation Update describes issues and events occurring in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District during the period between June and August 2016, including education, healthcare, livelihood, development, Tatmadaw military activities and Karen National Union activities.

•On July 25th 2016, commander-in-chief of Myanmar armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing made a trip to Bu Yin Naung camp Town in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District. There, he called some leaders to discuss about military activities. The road was full of soldiers in Thandaunggyi Township for his security. After his trip, Tatmadaw army troops rotated their troops in the army camps in the east of Thandaunggyi Township.

•On August 11th 2016, Tatmadaw soldiers from Bu Yin Naung camp Town, Thandaunggyi Township set up signposts on villagers’ land in A--- village, B--- village and C--- village in Thandaunggyi Township. According to the signpost, those lands are now the property of Tatmadaw and are to be used as a Tatmadaw target practice area so none of the local villagers should trespass on those lands. The villagers who lost their lands now face many concerns and many problems.

•Villagers in Thandaung Myo Thit Town reported that they have to pay many fees with regard to education. These fees include school materials, teachers’ travel costs, hiring teachers and paying for student certificates. For example, each student has to pay 1,000 kyat (US $0.74) to one teacher per month to be employed. It causes a problem for some students’ parents regarding their livelihood because they do not have a good enough income to pay for their children to study.

•Villagers reported additional challenges with education which included one teacher who was abusive to a male student from A-- Standard at the high school in Thandaung Town. Regarding this case, the students commented that, “This teacher, U B---, is totally different from other teachers. The way he teaches [treats] the students is not suitable with the purpose [job role] of Burma/Myanmar government staff [teachers]”.

•Lands belonging to villagers in Sa Pin Gyi village tract in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District were confiscated by local Burma/Myanmar government forestry department and those lands were made into Si Phyu Daw protected area. The villagers tried to report the case to the forest administrator from the Burma/Myanmar government forestry department in order to have their lands returned. However, the forest administrator has not returned those confiscated lands to local villagers until now. Therefore, the villagers who are seeking to reclaim their lands are facing livelihood issues.

Situation Update | Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District (June to August 2016)

The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in August 2016. It was written by a community member in Toungoo District who has been trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. It is presented below translated exactly as originally written, save for minor edits for clarity and security.[1] This report was received along with other information from Toungoo District, including one incident report, eight interviews and 192 photographs.[2]

I [KHRG community member] have collected the information about human rights abuses [events] happening in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District during the period between June 2016 and August 2016, including education, healthcare, livelihoods, development projects and military activities.

Education

While the previous before the preliminary ceasefire agreement[[3]] Burma/Myanmar government military [Tatmadaw] was operating [controlling] in the east of Thout Yay Ket village, Thandaunggyi Township, about 30 villages were ruined [because of forced relocation]. Now the villagers are trying to rebuild their villages to live. The villagers wanted to send their children to school. Therefore, they have tried to construct self-funded schools. Among 18 villages, the villagers have been able to build three schools for the local children. The villagers also had to hire teachers to teach children at the school. One teacher received 300,000 Kyat [per year] [US $222.41][4] funded by the villagers. Karen Education Department [KED] also supported the teachers with 200,000 Kyat [US $148.27]. Although KED contributed text books and some class materials and support materials to the school, the students did not have enough note books and pencils.

These villages are migrant villages [villages which were forcibly relocated] which are now controlled by Karen National Union [KNU]. There is a middle school at the Township level which was established by KNU government in their controlled area but there are some difficulties for children to attend this middle school. The [local] education department of Burma/Myanmar government has never donated any books or pencils to the schools in KNU controlled area. Many children in those migrant villages could not go to the school. Some children are getting old enough to go to school but they are unable to attend the school because of many different reasons. In some villages, there is still no primary school.[5] The local villagers in these villages wanted to build self-funded primary schools for children but they could not afford to hire school teachers to teach their children. Therefore, they have not constructed those schools.

Some parents in the village sent their children to the Burma/Myanmar government’s primary school in Section (1), Thandaunggyi Town. [During the reporting period] Naw[6] A---, the headmistress, called students’ parents to attend a meeting. Then, she requested the parents to donate one or two zinc sheets for each student in order to rebuild the roof of the school. In addition to this, if the school teachers have to travel or move [to another school], the headmistress tries to collect 500 or 1,000 kyat [$0.32 or $0.74] from each student to support those school teachers. Additionally, the local villagers in some villages could not send their children to the school because they do not have any schools in their villages. Some parents want their children to stay at their relatives’ houses [in other villages/towns] in order to attend a school. There is also the situation that some parents had to make their children leave the school because of their livelihood challenges.

The students do not need to pay school fees at the Burma/Myanmar government schools. At middle school or high school, the students have to pay for text books. The parents have to buy note books for their children. For the primary school, the students could have text books and note books for free but they do not receive adequate note books; their parents have to buy [additional] note books for them if necessary. Moreover, the school contributes one school uniform set per student per year at the primary school. The school teachers often called students’ parents for a school meeting and they told the parents about what the school needs. Then, they asked and collected money from the parents for a school fund. The teachers also collected money from the parents in order to get funds when they celebrated their prize-giving ceremony at the school. Each parent had to pay 5,000 kyat [US $3.70] to the primary school (#2) in Thandaung Myo Thit Town in order to provide food for everyone who attend the prize-giving ceremony.

The school in the village also often collects money from the parents in the same way in order to get a school fund. If the teacher has to move from the village to another place, the school teachers collect 500 kyat or 1,000 kyat [$0.32 to $0.72] from each student to support that teacher. Some teachers are not willing to go and teach the children at the school which is situated in the remote area because it is too far for them to travel to the school. It causes a problem for the students [as they do not have enough teachers]. Some [Burma/Myanmar government] teachers submitted a letter to their education administrator in order [to gain permission] to leave the school in the [remote] village. That is why the school in the village does not have enough teachers. Two female high school teachers from the high school in Thandaung Myo Thit Town, Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District, have also moved on to another place. Therefore, the headmaster in that high school in Thandaung Myo Thit Town called students’ parents for a meeting and he told the parents that they have to hire two other high school teachers. He also said that each student has to pay 1,000 kyat [$0.72] to hire the new teachers.

There are more than 150 students who are studying in Standard 10[7] at the high school in Thanduang Myo Thit Town. However, the students had to employ their own teachers to teach them. Each student had to pay 1,000 kyat [$0.74] for one teacher [per month]. For two teachers, they had to pay 2,000 kyat [$1.48] per month. [These additional fees] caused a problem to some students’ parents. There are some schools in the Burma/Myanmar government’s controlled area but the Burma/Myanmar government did not hire enough teachers for the school. It became difficult for students to study in the school. The Burma/Myanmar government said that they have given an opportunity to learn Karen language at the schools in Karen State. In reality, they have not prioritised Karen literature in the school. The teachers just have to teach Karen language in their free time but not during school time.

The [Karen language] school teachers do not get salaries so therefore there will be no teacher who teaches Karen language during this [school] time. Some teachers in some villages try to teach the children Karen language one hour per day although they do not get any salary. They teach [for free] because they want the children in the village to be able read and write Karen language. It is expected that the children at nursery school [from Standard 1 to Standard 4] should learn Karen language. The primary school must be opened officially [by the Burma/Myanmar government] in the village but the school teachers do not receive their salaries officially [by the Burma/Myanmar government because villagers must pay them]. Therefore, the local villagers have to hire school teachers. In some villages, the villagers could hire school teachers but they could not build the school. So they have to build the school according to the village head’s plan. [Hiring the teachers] causes problem to the villagers regarding their [economic] livelihoods.

Regarding the situation of education and the building of the school in Thay Ywar You village which is located in the east of Thauk Yay Hkat Chaung village, Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District, the Burma/Myanmar government controlled-area, the school teachers are not allowed to teach students for private tuition but some teachers do teach students for private tuition and they ask 35,000 Kyat [US $25.95] per month from each student for the [private] tuition fee. Some teachers ask 7,000 Kyat [US $5.19] for only one subject from one student [per month]. Due to this private tuition, the school teachers seem to care about the students who are learning in their private tuition but they just ignore the rest of the students [during school time].

There is a teacher, U[8] B---, who teaches students at the high school in Thanduang Town. U B--- also teacesh students who want to learn in his private tuition classes. He asks 300,000 Kyat [US $222.41] per year from students who study in 8th Standard, 400,000 Kyat [US $296.55] per year from students who study in 9th Standard, and 600,000 Kyat [US $444.83] per year from students who study in 10th Standard. There are many students who could not learn in those private tuition classes because they could not pay the tuition fees. The teaching in the school is not very effective and it is beneficial to learn in the private tuition classes because teachers teach well in private tuition.

The subject U B--- is teaching in the school is Mathematics which is very difficult for students. Thus, students [who study in his private tuition] understand very well but the rest of the students [who do not study in his private tuition] do not understand Mathematics subject very well. Moreover, U B--- cruelly scolds the students when he is teaching in the class. In one incident, on August 11th 2016, U B--- challenged a male student from A--- Standard as his enemy. Regarding this case, the students commented that, “This teacher is totally different from other teachers. The way he teaches [treats] the students is not suitable with the purpose [job role] of Burma/Myanmar government staff [teachers]”.

The Burma/Myanmar government said that they are trying to support students who are poor. So they collected a list of the students [who are poor]. Although a small number of really poor students have been on the list, most of the students on the list are the children of Burma/Myanmar government staff. In reality, some parents who could not buy any shoes for their children are not on the list.

Also, when the students go to the school in the town, they have to cross the street in the town. So they face some danger because there are many cars and motorbikes in the street. That is why they need to have a traffic policeman to take care of those children. Motorbike accidents often happened in Pyar Sa Khen village, Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District. In some cases, students have died because of these motorbike accidents. Therefore, it is dangerous for students when they go to their school.

Healthcare

Regarding the healthcare situation within Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District, the villagers in the rural area which is controlled by the Burma/Myanmar government do not receive full and adequate medical treatment. Women and their children have to get vaccinations every month. However, the Burma/Myanmar government’s health workers just come to the rural area to give vaccination in the summer. They do not come to give any medical treatment in the rainy season because they complain that they cannot go there because of the rain and transportation problems. If the villagers get sick, they just go to buy medicine from the outside [pharmacy shops] as usual. When they give vaccinations to the villagers, the Burma/Myanmar government’s health workers do not give a lot of time to the villagers so that some villagers cannot get vaccinated. Also, if the villagers go to the hospital when they are sick, they do not get medical treatment for free.

Moreover, there is no adequate medicine in the hospital so the villagers have to buy medicine from outside [at a pharmacy shop]. Mostly, the villagers are suffering from illnesses such as dengue haemorrhagic fever and general illness when the seasons change. When the patients go to some hospitals for medical treatment, some doctors do not get along with each other. They [doctors] argue with each other because they want to give medical treatment to different patients whom they favour. That is why the patients [villagers] face difficulties. There are two doctors in the Thandaung Myo Thit hospital. One of them has his own clinic so the patients have to pay money if they go to that clinic for medical treatment. The other one [doctor] is trying to help the patients for free. Therefore, they do not get along with each other because of the way they treat the patients. They only want to give medical treatment to the patients whom they favour.

Some pregnant women’s babies have died when they were delivered. Actually, their babies should not die. A doctor who has goodwill is willing to help the patients who want to go to him. A doctor who has a private clinic only wants to give medical treatment to the patients who he accepts and he does not treat all the patients equally who want medical treatment [because some cannot pay him so they do not receive treatment]. Thus, many patients have lost their opportunities to get medical treatment. That is why some patients go to other clinics but it costs a lot of money for medical treatment. There is a [Tatmadaw] military hospital in Bu Yin Naung camp Town in Thandaunggyi Township. This military hospital has full medical supplies. Only the people who are related to and familiar with Tatmadaw soldiers go to this military hospital for medical treatment. Most of the villagers do not go to the military hospital for medical treatment because they are still afraid of Tatmadaw soldiers, as usual. The ordinary [government] hospital does not have enough medicine so the people [patients] have to go to buy medicine at the pharmacy [outside]. Some people also buy medicine from some Burma/Myanmar government health staff.

There are four towns in Thandaunggyi Township. Each town has a hospital but the hospitals do not have enough medicine. There are many local clinics in the rural areas but those clinics also do not have enough medicine. Therefore, the Burma/Myanmar local government health workers at those clinics have to invest their money and they buy medicine from outside in order to give medical treatment to the patients [and sell the patients the medicine]. However, they ask for more money from the patients than the cost of the medicine. There are some health workers who are hired by the Burma/Myanmar government in some local clinics but they do not fulfil their duties. That is why more and more villagers chose to buy and use traditional medicine. Some villagers like to ask help from local medics [who do not have formal training] in order to [know which] medicine to buy that can cure their illnesses.

Especially in the KNU [Karen National Union] and Burma/Myanmar government, mixed-control rural area, Burma/Myanmar government health workers do not go to give medical treatment and vaccinations to the villagers. Therefore, many mothers and babies in these villages do not get the necessary vaccinations although the babies are getting old enough to get vaccinated.

In the KNU controlled-area, KNU [KNLA]’s medical unit provides medicine to the local villagers as much as they can. Also, Back Pack Health Workers [BPHWT] sometimes come to the village and they try to give medical treatment and vaccinations to the villagers. The villagers who live near to KNU [KNLA] army camp go to get medical treatment from the [KNLA] medial unit but the villagers who live far away from the KNU [KNLA] army camp do not come. KNU [KNLA]’s medical unit just gives limited medical treatment to the villagers depending on what kind of symptoms and diseases [they have] because it does not have enough medicine; they try to help the villagers as much as they can. There are military health workers in the KNU [KNLA]’s medical team in their army. The villagers who live near to KNU [KNLA] army camp often go to see military health workers when they are sick and these military health workers give medical treatment to the villagers for free. However, they [KNU/KNLA military health workers] do not have enough medicine so the villagers have to go and buy medicine that they need from outside [pharmacy].

Religious readers from KBC [Karen Baptist Convention] selected some people from the village who can read and write in order to give them medical training [once a month]. Then, they go back and help other villagers in their village. They [religious leaders from KBC] only chose one person from each village to give medical training to. After they attend the medical training, the chosen villagers could go back to their village to help people who get sick. However, they can only give oral medicine to the villagers [not injections]. In order to be able to give medicine to the villagers, KBC contributes the medicine to the chosen people who attend the medical training once every month. Then, the chosen people have to report to KBC after one month regarding the list of medicine [that they distributed]. However, the chosen people do not get any salary. They are just volunteers to provide healthcare services.

In order to treat or cure people who have serious diseases and illnesses, they [KBC volunteers] just send the patients to KNU’s hospital for medical treatment if they cannot handle the case themselves. KBC only gives medical training to the chosen people for one month so therefore the chosen people face difficulties when they are giving medical treatment. The basic education they have learned and the diseases that their patients have experienced are different so there are [medical] situations that they cannot not provide medical treatment for. In their villages, they just use their small bamboo house as a clinic. However, the medicine they keep in their houses gets spoiled because of the rain; the roofs of their houses are not very good and also their houses are not very strong.

If the people in their villages get a serious illness, they have to send the patients to the Burma/Myanmar government hospital. When they send the patients to the hospital, they have to face a problem of carrying the patients a long way to go to the hospital. Then, when the patients arrive at the hospital they have language problems because they cannot speak Burmese to communicate with the doctor and also they do not have enough money to pay for the medical fee. That is why they prefer to go to traditional [herbal] doctors for their medical treatment. Although the villagers face money issues with supporting their livelihoods and medical fees, they just go to see traditional medical doctors in the village for medical treatment when they are sick. Finally, some of the villagers died because they could not pay to go to hospital. The pregnant women in the village have to give their birth with the help of the local [not formally trained] midwife. They just take traditional medicines. They do not take modern English medicine. They use roots as medicine. The common diseases in the rural village are flu, malaria and general illness when the seasons change.

Livelihood

The villagers in the rural area in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District are working in their gardens and most of them are low-skilled workers but a few people are working as Burma/Myanmar government staff. The villagers mainly grow betel nut,[9] cardamom, dog fruit[10] and rubber trees. They also grow crops in their garden to support their livelihood. In 2016, the villagers could not produce durian fruits and mangosteen fruits because the weather was too hot. Also, they could not grow betel nut very well. Therefore, the villagers could not make a good income. Their cardamom plants collapsed because of very hot weather and storms. As a result, the fruit did not grow properly. They [villagers] have to sell one big tin (eight bowls) of dog fruits for only 3,500 kyat [US $2.59] because of these problems in the village.

The price of the fruits is not good [when villagers sell them] but the price of commodities [when villagers buy them] has increased. Their fruit costs and food costs do not match. The daily wage [as a labourer] is from 3,500 kyat to 4,000 kyat [US $2.59 to $2.96] so they struggle to support themselves with their livelihood. The price of meat has also increased. Their incomes are not sufficient for their expenses. They also face some other difficulties regarding their education, healthcare and social activities. In some places in the jungle around Leik Tho Town, some villagers currently have to forage for bamboo shoots in order to support their livelihood. KNU forestry department also set up the rule that people cannot cut bamboo or trees in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District in order to keep the forest ever-green. However, the villagers are stealing by cutting bamboo shoots. They sell it to support their livelihood.

Some people who [already] have money try to work with the local Burma/Myanmar government in order to make [more] money as pawnbrokers or money lenders. Some villagers have to show and give their land grants or land tax vouchers to business people [pawnbrokers or money lenders] when they go to borrow money [as collateral for their loan]. The villagers have concerns that they will lose their lands one day [if they cannot repay the loan]. Despite their concerns, the villagers have to borrow money from pawnbrokers because of the different [financial] problems they have. When the villagers try to borrow money, they do not get the full amount of money that they want to borrow [because middle men take part of the money]. The money they borrow has been reduced because of [corruption within] the money-borrowing process.

The Burma/Myanmar government started to build Pa Thit dam in 1996 in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District. Due to this dam, many of their villagers’ lands in Ywar Gyi Khoe Kwin village, Nat Thar Khone village and Ngwe Toung Gyi village in Ywar Gyi village tract when they were covered with water. The villagers are now confronted with livelihood problems because they have lost their lands. Therefore, they have to catch fish in the water which now covers their land in order to earn their livelihood. Some people have to leave their village and they go to look for jobs such as tree-cutting and gold-digging as daily labourers. Sometimes their face the problem when they are doing their jobs that they do not get paid their daily wage. Moreover, their chainsaws are confiscated [if they are caught cutting trees].

Some of the villagers’ lands in Sa Pin Gyi village tract in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District were confiscated by local Burma/Myanmar government forestry department and those lands were re-claimed as Si Phyu Daw forest protection area. The villagers tried to report the case to the forestry administrator from Burma/Myanmar government forestry department in order to get back their grandparents’ lands. However, in 2014, I [KHRG community member] often researched the case in that area. Until now, the forestry administrator has not returned those confiscated lands. Therefore, the villagers who lost their lands are facing livelihood issues.

The villagers just depend on the fruits from their gardens in order to support their livelihoods. They send their children to the school with the money they earn from the garden. They also pay their medical fees if they are sick with the money they earn from the garden. However, they cannot solve all the problems they have in their family. They are just getting by [they just survive without extra food and money]. The villagers on the mountain also have to confront livelihood issues because the price of the fruits from their gardens is not very good. They cannot not produce good fruits because of the bad weather so they could not get a good price. The villagers who grow seasonal fruits are also not able to grow good seasonal fruits. The price is not good. Therefore, they have to take [borrow] rice, salt and fish paste from the traders as a debt [on credit] in order to support their livelihoods. Later on, they will have to give back money [to pay off the credit] to the traders when they have sold their cardamom, betel nut and coffee in another season. The traders demand more money unfairly [add interest to the loan] than the villagers have to pay back.

Some villagers have to work as daily labourers to earn their livelihood. They also send their children to the school with the money they earn from their daily wages but they do not let their children go to study in the private tuition because they cannot pay the tuition fee. Some villagers who have shops cannot sell their products because the people buy their products on credit [promising to pay in the future]. Therefore, their incomes are not rotating well and they cannot make enough to invest in buying products to sell again so it is difficult for them to earn a regular income. The price of commodities is increasing year by year so the money that the breadwinners make and the expenses that they have are not equal. So this causes some family issues [arguments] between wives and their husbands.

For the people who earn their livelihood from rubber plantations, they can sell one pound of rubber for 500 kyat [US $0.32] so it is not easy to support their families [because this price is low]. For the people who make raw rubber from the rubber trees as daily labourers, they cannot get a good daily wage. The rubber plantation owner also cannot hire them anymore so they became unemployed. Because of being unemployed, some people try to drink alcohol and it causes conflict within their families. They try to look for jobs but no one hires them to get a job. In the past, there were the people who are porters/carriers and they had to carry fruits such as dog fruits, cardamom and betel nuts so they got paid but now people only use vehicles such as motorbikes to carry this food. That is why it is not easy to get that kind of job anymore for the people who were porters/carriers.

People who are from the construction department [from Burma/Myanmar government] call the villagers to be their labourers in order to construct roads. The villagers have to do it without choice even though they get only 3,500 Kyat [US $2.59] per day. It is not easy for them to support their livelihood with the money they get. The majority of the local residents in Thandaunggyi Township are daily labourers.

Burma/Myanmar government forestry department tried to measure and set up more than 300,000 acres of lands in Thandaunggyi Township for Si Phyu Daw forest reserve. The land that they have designated for forest reserve is land that local villagers are farming and gardening on. The villagers therefore wonder what will happen to their lands in the future. In 2000, Major General Win Myint confiscated villagers’ lands in Section (1) and Section (2) in Thandaunggyi Township in order to keep those lands for [Tatmadaw] army. Those lands are the villagers’ gardens. However, the villagers have to pay the seasonal fruit tax to Ya Ka Tha [Warrant Officer and Sergeant Training School] group which is under Bu Yin Naung camp Town [Tatmadaw].

The villagers who live in Tan Mon village tract and Kyauk Phyar village tract, Leik Tho Town, Thandaunggyi Township are mostly working on hill farming but it is not enough [food/income] to support their livelihood because they could not grow plants on their hill farms very well as a result of poor plant fertility and bad weather. Because of livelihood needs, other villagers who live in Auak Kyin Auak Ywar village come to cut down wood although the local villagers try to protect the forest. That is why it becomes deforestation. Because of that [cutting down trees], the villagers come to have a conflict with each other.

Many years ago, U Khin Maung Aye who is the chairperson of CB Bank [Co-Operative Bank LTD] from Kaung Myanmar Aung [Company][11] confiscated local villagers’ lands in Toh Boh village, Na Gar Mauk village and Yay Ao Sin village in Toungoo Township. Moreover, he has sued the villagers for trespassing on these confiscated lands.[12] This case has not finished yet. The [accused] villagers are called to go to court once every two weeks. Therefore, the villagers have to confront livelihood issues because they cannot do their jobs very well [because they have to travel frequently to court].

Development

Regarding development in Thandaunggyi Township, Chan Mya Wai Si Company, Ngwe Win Phyo Company and an [unknown] construction company have arrived in Thandaunggyi Township and they have constructed roads and bridges. Also, Shwe Pyin Daw Company has constructed a telecommunication tower. There is also Wai Yan Kyaw Company. Chan Mya Wai Si Company constructed the road in Thandaunggyi Township without negotiating with the local villagers. The local villagers did not know that they were constructing the road but only the village head knew about that. Chan Mya Wai Si Company just reported to the Burma/Myanmar government when the road was finished. However, Chan Mya Wai Si Company did not finish constructing the distance that the Burma/Myanmar government asked them to do. Besides, the villagers could travel only in hot season but they could not travel on that constructed road in rainy season because the dirt around the road collapsed due to rain. As a result, the road was destroyed. So it is difficult to travel by motorbike and car [in rainy season]. Also, the companies did not construct every bridge that they were asked to do but they signed in the agreement paper that all the bridges were successfully constructed. The distance of the road between Shwe Nyaung Pin village and Maung Nwe Gyi village is just 7 miles but they [company] only put the stone on that road for 6 miles. The rest of the road has not been finished but they [company] said all the road was finished.

Because of heavy rain this year, the road was almost destroyed. The road between Thanduanggyi Township and Late Phyar Gyi Town was constructed in the hot season but it is difficult to use this road in the rainy season. They [company] did not do their best when they constructed the road in the rural area. They did not discuss or work together with the Burma/Myanmar government engineers and road constructors so they could not construct a road of good quality.

In order to construct schools, they [company] just followed the plan which was made by former members of parliament from the Burma/Myanmar government. Regarding school construction which takes place in Thay Ywar You village, Meh K’doe village and other villages in Thandaunggyi Township, former members of parliament took responsibility for school construction so they only gave people [who are close with them] employment opportunities to manage the school construction project. However, the villagers did not know about school construction project. They [people who are responsible for school construction project] just discussed [the construction] with the village administrator [and not the rest of the community].

The football ground in Thandaunggyi Township was lost and destroyed due to road construction because it was used for the road, but they [road constructors] did not replace any land for the football ground. This football ground is owned by community. Therefore, students and local people are not able to play any sport on the football ground because it was destroyed.

Community [infrastructure] development in local villages is needed in order to improve transportation. Thus, people who are responsible for development projects told local villagers about what they were going to do. Representatives of companies persuaded local villagers that they [villagers] would take the lead for community development. In fact, they [companies] did not discuss with every villager in [every] village about these community development projects but they just discussed with the village heads and elder people in these villages. They also did not tell everyone about the [positive/negative] impact of community development project.

The Burma/Myanmar government collaborated with a [unnamed] Japanese Company to build a telecommunication tower in A’lel Chaung A’Tet Ywar village, Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District. Shwe Pyin Daw Company is responsible for constructing the telecommunication tower. However, they [Shwe Pyin Daw Company] did not inform local villagers [about the construction]. Besides, they did not discuss with local KNU authorities, they just negotiated with U Win Myint, the parliament representative for the Karen People’s Party.[13] They constructed a telecommunication tower on local villagers’ land. Because of that, there was a disagreement between local villagers and Shwe Pyin Daw Company.

[In another incident,] Burma/Myanmar Communication Department wanted to construct a telecommunication tower in Baw K’lee Town, Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District. On June 30th 2016 KNU officials from Toungoo District went to meet with the Community Development Committee in order to negotiate about compensation for villagers who lost their land [due to the telecommunication tower]. According to the manager of Burma/Myanmar Communication Department,

“Our department is the Burma/Myanmar government’s department so the Burma/Myanmar government will not give money [compensation for lost land]. In the past, we had constructed other telecommunication towers on the villagers’ land without giving money [compensation]. For the current telecommunication tower that we constructed, we will report to the Burma/Myanmar government’s leaders to arrange money [compensation] for villagers. Our Burma/Myanmar Communication Department is funded by the Japanese Company”.

Major Saw[14] Del Poe from KNU said,

“If you want to construct a telecommunication tower in the area under our [KNU] control, you have to first discuss with local villagers and you have to get a permission from them. Also, you have to abide by our KNU policies”.

However, the manager of Burma/Myanmar Communication Department replied,

“We will report your demands to the Burma/Myanmar government’s leaders. We ourselves cannot not make a decision about that”.

Local villagers do not know anything about the location where the telecommunication tower would be constructed.

In 2016 and 2017, the Burma/Myanmar government will provide financial support to 50 local schools in remote areas in Thandaunggyi Township. Therefore, 35,000,000 kyat [US $25,948.30] will be shared [allocated] between the local schools. The schools must be constructed with concrete. It is difficult to go to those villages in remote areas because of the [bad] roads. They [villagers] do not have a vehicle road. Therefore, it is difficult for them to transport school materials for construction. It concerns the villagers that their local schools will be relocated [to a place that is easier to access].

Zaykabar Company[15] constructed the road in Thandaung Myo Thit Town, Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District in order to go easily to the beautiful buildings [that are nearby] such as hotels. They [Zaykabar Company] discussed about constructing the road with the town administrator and other townspeople with responsibility. Due to their road construction, the bank of the local stream was destroyed and the dirt fell into the stream making the water in the stream dirty. This stream is called Pa’thi Chaung. Local villagers in that area use this stream water as drinking water. Therefore, it caused a problem for local villagers to get drinking water. Besides, there are beautiful buildings for visiting nearby the road construction. So a lot of people go there and they travel there by motorbikes and cars. That’s why they [Zaykabar Company] made a gate [checkpoint] and they collect road fees from the people.

There are a lot of places to go for a picnic. Many young people bring alcohol and food when they go for a picnic but they throw their alcohol bottles and waste on the ground unwisely. Therefore, it creates a hazard for local villagers.

The road was constructed roughly in Kywe Phyu Taung village, Thandaunggyi Township. So people could not use cars and motorbikes to travel on that road. Also, the road was constructed in Taw Phya Gyi village, Thandaunggyi Township [and] it damaged local villagers’ lands. However, local villagers did not get any compensation. Besides, only half of the road was finished and people could not travel by car on that road because the road is very steep.

Military activity

The Burma/Myanmar government’s army camps in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District are not like before. They [Tatmadaw] have rebuilt the fence of their army camps to be stronger and stronger. They also clean the area around their army camps. They rotate their army troops every two or three months. They do not only transport rations regularly, they also transport ammunition to their army camps.

On May 5th 2016 Tatmadaw from Southern Command Headquarters transported rations by military trucks to Tatmadaw army camps in Thandaunggyi Township and the temporary camps at the frontline [in the east of Thandaunggyi Township]. When they came across Thandaunggyi Township, they accidently [collided with and] crushed one motorbike and two villagers died straightaway. Then, they [Tatmadaw] drove away. Later on, the other villagers found out that Tatmadaw truck crushed the villagers’ motorbike [and killed the two villagers]. Tatmadaw first tried to argue that they did not crush the motorbike but villagers found the evidence that there was blood and a piece of motorbike material on the wheel of the Tatmadaw truck. The truck driver, Ko Ye, ran away at night but he came back to face arrest the same night. Tatmadaw soldiers took him [Ko Ye] to the military court but villagers still do not know how he was punished and what punishment was given to him. Tatmadaw did not give any compensation to [the families of] two villagers who were killed and they also did not inform the relatives of those two villagers [about the incident].[16]

There was a military training in Bu Yin Naung camp Town. Every four months military training was given to Tatmadaw soldiers. On August 8th 2016 Major General Aung Myo Thant, Military Operations Commander, from Military Operations Command[17] (20) travelled from Baw K’lee Town to Maung Nwe Gyi army camp in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District. He secretly came to check on the Tatmadaw soldiers and [check on] the army camp at the frontline. However, local villagers heard the news that he came to check Tatmadaw soldiers. [After local villagers heard this news,] Tatmadaw informed local villagers that a Tatmadaw medical unit was coming to help villagers [when really it was Major General Aung Myo Thant traveling to conduct the check]. However, no-one from Tatmadaw’s medical unit came to give medical treatment to local villagers. It was obvious that Tatmadaw lied to local villagers [about the purpose of the Tatmadaw transport] in order to be able do their activities. It showed that Tatmadaw did not trust local villagers.

On July 25th 2016 commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing went to Bu Yin Naung camp Town in Thandaunggyi Township. Then, he called some leaders to discuss about military activities. He also went to check on Tatmadaw’s tea plantation factory in Thandaunggyi Township. He travelled by helicopter. The road was full of soldiers in Thandaunggyi Township for his security. After his trip, Tatmadaw army troops rotated their army camps at the frontline in the east of Thandaunggyi Township.

On August 10th 2016 Ya Ka Tha [Warrant Officer and Sergeant Training Activity] from Bu Yin Naung camp Town went to check on lands that they had confiscated in Thandaunggyi Township together along with Land Measurement Department and responsible people from Thandaunggyi Township. However, _Ya Ka Th_a has not yet returned the confiscated lands to local villagers.

On August 11th 2016, 17 military trucks which were full of Tatmadaw soldiers from Toungoo were sent to the army camps in the east of Thandaunggyi Township. They also transported military weapons to the army camps in the east of Toungoo. It concerned local villagers as [they saw the transportation of military weapons] a threat.

On August 11th 2016 Tatmadaw soldiers from Bu Yin Naung camp Town, Thandaunggyi Township set up signposts on villagers’ land in A--- village, B--- village and C--- village in Thanduanggyi Township. According to the signposts those lands, which have been confiscated by Tatmadaw, are now Tatmadaw’s target practice area so no local villagers should trespass on them. The villagers who lost their lands now face many concerns and many problems.

KNU activity

KNU tried to eliminate drugs in their controlled-area. On June 30th 2016 KNU arrested drug dealers and confiscated drugs. The value of the drugs that they confiscated is 400,000,000 kyat [US $296,552.00]. Then, KNU and local villagers destroyed all of drugs that they confiscated. On July 20

th 2016 KNU arrested drug dealers again in Thout Yay Ket village, Leik Tho Town, Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District.

Currently, KNU is trying to explain to local villagers who do not know clearly about their rules and policies in the area under their [KNU] control in order to rebuild community. KNU also try to talk with villagers in order to help them to get back villagers’ lands which were confiscated.

Researcher’s opinion

Regarding education in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District, the Education Department of the Burma/Myanmar government need to make sure that Burma/Myanmar government’s teachers should follow the rules and policies. Regarding villagers’ livelihoods, the Burma/Myanmar government needs to control the commodity price in order to help villagers to support [the cost of] their livelihoods. Tatmadaw and local villagers are not in the same boat [in agreement]. The local villagers could not trust Tatmadaw. To be able to trust Tatmadaw, Tatmadaw should try their best for villagers. In conclusion, the Burma/Myanmar government needs to observe the situation of local villagers in order to fulfil their needs.

Footnotes

[1] KHRG trains community members in southeast Burma/Myanmar to document individual human rights abuses using a standardised reporting format; conduct interviews with other villagers; and write general updates on the situation in areas with which they are familiar. When writing situation updates, community members are encouraged to summarise recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important, and present their opinions or perspective on abuse and other local dynamics in their area.

[2] In order to increase the transparency of KHRG methodology and more directly

[3] On January 12th 2012, a preliminary ceasefire agreement was signed between the KNU and Burma/Myanmar government in Hpa-an. Negotiations for a longer-term peace plan are still under way. For updates on the peace process, see the KNU Stakeholder webpage on the Myanmar Peace Monitor website. For KHRG's analysis of changes in human rights conditions since the ceasefire, see Truce or Transition? Trends in human rights abuse and local response since the 2012 ceasefire, KHRG, May 2014. In March 2015, the seventh round of the negotiations for a national ceasefire between the Burma/Myanmar government and various ethnic armed actors began in Yangon, see “Seventh Round of Nationwide Ceasefire Negotiations,” Karen National Union Headquarters, March 18th 2015. Following the negotiations, the KNU held a central standing committee emergency, see “KNU: Emergency Meeting Called To Discuss Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement And Ethnic Leaders’ Summit,” Karen News, April 22nd 2015.

[4] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the February 1st 2017 official market rate of 1349 kyat to US $1.

[5] The 2008 Myanmar Constitution mandates that the Union of Myanmar implement a free and compulsory education system for all. For a detailed assessment of the barriers for children, particularly females in rural areas, to receive education see, Chapter IV: Health and Education, “Hidden Strengths, Hidden Struggles: Women’s testimonies from southeast Myanmar,” 2016.

[6] Naw is a S’gaw Karen female honorific title used before a person’s name.

[7] A standard refers to a school year in the education system of Burma/Myanmar. The basic education system has a 5-4-2 structure. Primary school runs from Standard 1 to Standard 5, lower secondary school is Standard 6 to Standard 9, and upper secondary school is Standard 10 to Standard 11.

[8] U is a Burmese title used for elder men, used before their name.

[9] In Burmese, ‘betel nut’ and ‘betel leaf’ are referred to as konywet and konthih, respectively, as if they are from the same plant. The Burmese names are also commonly used by Karen language speakers. Betel nut is the seed from an areca palm tree, Areca catechu; "betel leaf" is the leaf of the piper betel vine, belonging to the Piperaceae family.

[10] Dog fruit, also known as jengkol, is a bean containing sulphur and a mildly toxic amino acid. It is native to Southeast Asia and is commonly eaten with rice and fish paste.

[11] Kaung Myanmar Aung Company (KMAC) or Kaung Myanmar Aung Group of Companies is a Myanmar-owned business group with investments in teak plantations in Toungoo District, and mining, agriculture, shipping, construction and real estate development within Myanmar. Their chairman is Mr Khin Maung Aye. KMAC have been implicated in land confiscation cases in southeast Burma/Myanmar which have included threats to villagers who were customary owners of the lands, see “Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi and Htantabin townships, November 2014 to February 2015,” July 2015. Affected villagers held protests against the company in 2015 and early 2016 in order to demand the return of their lands, see “Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi and Htantabin townships, November 2015 to January 2016,” July 2016. For information on a similar case with KMAC in Pyin Oo Lwin Township, Mandalay Division, see “Presidential adviser sues 13 farmers for trespassing,” Myanmar Times, September 2nd, 2013.

[12] For more information on this case, see, “Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi Township, November 2015 to February 2016,” (published November 2016).

[13] The Karen (or Kayin) People’s Party is one of four ethnic Karen political parties represented in the Burmese government, currently holding single legislative seat. Traditionally the KPP represents those Karen communities living outside of Karen State: Rangoon, Irrawaddy, and Bago regions, as well as Mon State where there is a Karen population. Saw Htun Aung Myint, the party's chairman, once served as a colonel in the Burmese Navy.

[14] Saw is a S’gaw Karen male honorific title used before a person’s name.

[15] Zaykabar (Zay Kabar) Company is one of the largest construction companies in Myanmar. The chairman of Zaykabar Company, Dr Khin Shwe, is also a member of the Amyottha Hluttaw, the upper house of the Myanmar parliament. The company was listed on the Burma Sanctions list by the United States government due to its close ties to the former military government, until the list was terminated in October 2016, see “Issuance of Executive Order Terminating Burma-related Sanctions Program; Burma-related Designations Removals,” October 2016, U.S. Department of the Treasury. Zaykabar Company construction and development projects have caused land confiscation and livelihood impacts, see for example “Land confiscations in Kyaikmayaw Township, Mon State,” August 2013, Human Rights Foundation of Monland.

[16] For more information on this case, see “News Bulletin: Thandaunggyi Township, May 2016,” published September 2016.

[17] Military Operations Command (MOC) is comprised of ten battalions for offensive operations. Most MOCs have three Tactical Operations Commands (TOCs) made up of three battalions each

Myanmar: IDPs, civil society meet state counsellor on Kachin trip

30 March 2017 - 12:23am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

During a brief trip to conflict-wracked Kachin State on Tuesday, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi visited displacement camps and, in a lighter moment, posed for photos with a pair of nonagenarians who similarly smiled for the camera with Suu Kyi’s father more than a half-century ago.

Myitkyina-based civil society activist Kyaw Kyaw Oo said Suu Kyi met with displaced locals at shelters in Waingmaw Township’s Hkat Cho and Maina to ask about their situations. The internally displaced persons (IDPs) reportedly told the state counsellor about livelihood woes at the camps and expressed a desire to return to their home villages.

In response, Suu Kyi is said to have told the IDPs that they must also strive for self-sufficiency.

“Mainly, the [state counsellor] told them to not just rely on the government but also on themselves and try to stand on their own feet, and she also urged regional government officials to try and create job opportunities to tackle unemployment,” said Kyaw Kyaw Oo.

He said following her trip the Waingmaw displacement camps, the state counsellor visited a Buddhist monastery that runs an orphanage in Myitkyina. She also planned to visit a displacement camp in the state capital before heading back to Rangoon later in the day.

The state counsellor arrived in Myitkyina on a flight from Rangoon on Tuesday morning and met with more than 30 representatives from local CSOs, religious organisations and the Kachin Advisory Committee, which facilitates talks between the government and the Kachin Independence Army, the state’s predominant ethnic armed group.

Tang Gon, one of the meeting’s attendees and secretary of the anti-narcotics vigilante group Patjasan, said the situation of locals displaced by armed conflict, political issues and setbacks to ceasefire talks with the KIA were raised by representatives of his group.

“We discussed with the [state counsellor] regarding the issue of IDPs — an increase in the number of displaced locals and difficulties and obstructions in providing them humanitarian aid, and we stressed the need to immediately tackle these issues,” said Tang Gon.

“We also pointed out that the [Burmese military] offensive in the region must stop in order to make way for the peace effort.”

The Patjasan secretary said Suu Kyi, in response, reiterated her call to the KIA to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) as a step toward joining her government’s high-level peace dialogue, known alternatively as the 21st Century Panglong Conference and Union Peace Conference.

“She repeated her call [for the KIA] to sign the NCA and join the peace conference. She also assured that there would be no disadvantage for the group in doing so and that she will personally help tackle any shortcomings if things turn out otherwise,” said Tang Gon.

“Whether to trust her or not, we have to make a judgement based on past experience — the promise in the [1947 Panglong] Agreement to build a federal Union has not yet been fulfilled after seven decades and now the government is again making that same promise while, at the same time, the [military] is waging offensives against ethnic armed groups,” he said.

“Moreover, the 2008 Constitution looks the opposite direction of the principle of a federal Union, so this verbal promise from the [state counsellor] is something we will have to consider cautiously.”

On his Facebook page on Tuesday, the KIA’s vice chief-of-staff, General Gun Maw, said he viewed the meeting between Suu Kyi and Kachin representatives in Myitkyina as “encouraging,” but disagreed with a remark by the state counsellor during one event suggesting that the KIA’s political wing had agreed to sign the NCA.

“The state counsellor stated that the Kachin Independence Organisation has agreed to sign the NCA, but in reality, we have only said that we are open to continue negotiations on terms and conditions in the accord and then will sign it when these terms and conditions are agreeable to us,” Gun Maw wrote.

“We have not yet agreed to sign the NCA and have also pointed out that the Panglong Agreement cannot be used as a fixed formula to resolve the [ethnic] issues as not every ethnic group signed the agreement in 1947.”

Upon arrival in Myitkyina, Suu Kyi was greeted by two elderly women who had appeared in a photo with her father, General Aung San, prior to his assassination in 1947.

Gong Hkaw Raw and Roi Nwang, both in their 90s, said they were delighted to meet with the state counsellor, who was greeted by large crowds on the campaign trail in Kachin State as a parliamentary candidate in 2015.

“I am happy and grateful that I got to meet with Daw Suu. I wish her good health,” said Gong Hkaw Raw.

Roi Nawng said, “I pray to God every day for the physical and mental well-being of Daw Suu.”

Reporting by Thin Thin Nwe and Naw Noreen

Myanmar: Restitution in Myanmar: Building Lasting Peace, National Reconciliation and Economic Prosperity Through a Comprehensive Housing, Land and Property Restitution Programme

29 March 2017 - 7:10pm
Source: Norwegian Refugee Council, Displacement Solutions Country: Myanmar

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  1. The question of housing, land and property (HLP) restitution has received increased attention over the past several years throughout Myanmar as the country continues to consolidate recent democratic gains and political reforms. This paper has been prepared in the spirit of paragraph 80 of the 2016 National Land Use Policy which asserts that: “The following priorities shall be carried out when implementing research initiatives, capacity building activities, educational programs and pilot projects: ...(n) Conduct research on best procedures for restitution of rights to land and housing of individuals, households and communities that had to abandon the area where they previously resided due to illegal land confiscation, civil war, natural disasters or other causes.” Both Displacement Solutions and the Norwegian Refugee Council are hopeful that the research contained in the present report is useful to the government in developing further initiatives on restitution for everyone in the country with an outstanding restitution claim. Several governmental bodies have been established since the outset of the political reform process to address some of the outstanding restitution claims based on land confiscation, various ethnic actors have adopted policies noting the central importance of restitution within land policies and the ongoing peace process, and increasingly sophisticated views have been put forth by various civil society organisations and displaced populations themselves on this complex question, both within the context of conflict-induced, as well as other forms of forced displacement and land acquisition. Significantly, as many as 400,000 acres of formerly confiscated land has been restituted to legitimate rights-holders over the past several years, and there is a general sense in many quarters that now is the time to make the principle of restitution a reality for everyone with a valid claim, but who have not yet been able to return to and reclaim their homes and lands.

  2. Restitution - which for the purposes of this report refers to returning a situation to what it once was, through restoring rights over a certain piece of land or a home (immovable properties) to those with recognized formal and/or customary rights over it – is now a common feature of the political fabric of countries emerging from conflict, undemocratic periods of governance and shifts in the political paradigm. As valued and central as the restitution process is, however, to the construction of societies grounded in the rule of law and equal protection under the law, the path leading towards restitution can also be a highly complex, sensitive, and challenging process notwithstanding how such land dispossession originally took place and the circumstances in which this occurred. Given the large number of people in Myanmar who are seeking or who will seek to exercise their restitution rights in the context of eventual return to their places of habitual residence and the highly complicated nature of many potential restitution claims, it will be vital to generate an improved understanding of the basic principles of restitution; what form a potential restitution law and procedure could foreseeably take in Myanmar; precisely who may have valid restitution claims over which parcels of land; which entities will review such claims and how any such decisions will ultimately be enforced.

  3. All State entities and public officials in Myanmar (including the military) and its various ethnic negotiating partners engaged in the peace process – just as with all countries that have undergone deep political changes in recent decades, including those emerging from lengthy conflicts – need to fully appreciate and comprehend the nature and scale of the restitution issues that have emerged due to practices widely carried out during past decades, how these continue to affect the rights and perspectives of justice of those affected, and the measures that will be required to remedy land-related concerns in a fair and equitable manner that strengthens the foundations for democracy and peace. Resolving displacement, acts of unfair/arbitrary acquisition and occupation of land, addressing the HLP and other human rights of returning refugees and IDPs in areas of return, ensuring livelihood and other economic opportunities and a range of other measures will be required if return and recovery of lost lands is to be sustainable and imbued with a sense of justice. Work towards developing an eventual nationwide restitution programme covering the entire physical territory of Myanmar and involving peace agreements with all ethnic groups should be premised on the basic contention that embracing restitution will ultimately make the whole of Myanmar a better, kinder, wealthier country and an ever improving place for all who dwell there. Pursuing restitution for all is as sure a sign as there could be that all parties are truly interested in securing a lasting and mutually beneficial peace.

  4. Though not always widely understood by the public, Myanmar already has in place some of the key foundational components needed to develop more comprehensive and refined restitution mechanisms. Developing better restitution mechanisms would ensure that every person and community with a restitution claim can have an effective opportunity to have such claims independently and impartially reviewed and verified. The coming period will be vital in generating the political and social support needed for a more effective all-inclusive nationwide restitution process; a process which is a fundamental step towards ever greater democracy, ever greater justice, and ever greater respect for human rights. A society-wide embrace of an improved restitution process can provide an institutional, procedural and legal basis for building bridges between those with legitimate restitution claims, those who may have acquired such homes and lands in the past, and the new government. Indeed, the new government was brought to power on a platform solidly recognizing the rights of all people in Myanmar to live in a country that abides by the rule of law, including international law, and where acts such as land grabbing and the arbitrary expropriation of land without due process are confined to the past. Achieving such an embrace, however, will certainly be challenging, for the stakes are high, the numbers of people involved considerable and the political and social risks very significant.

  5. There may be views in Myanmar that posit the contention that as ideal as the principle of restitution may be, the actual approval of a new restitution law and programme to augment the important but incomplete mechanisms currently in place would simply not be politically possible due to potential opposition by a range of political actors in the country. These actors are most notably private companies, the military (which continues to be guaranteed some 25% seats in the national Parliament) and various ethnic armed groups. However, there are indications of major changes within each of these sectors, many of which are highly amenable to and supportive of the principles associated with restitution. For instance, an important Presidential Directive in 2015 addresses the role of the military in terms of land, outlining the following instructions concerning the Ministry of Defense: (a) Army shall neither lease confiscated land, meant for construction of military posts, for Theesaa farming nor other purpose to gain profits; (b) Army shall take only the area required for security of the military post, office and training activities; and (c) Army shall return the extra lands to the original owners who are demanding their lands through every possible means for which their complaint letters are submitted to all the Regional/State parliaments. These instructions build on evolving sentiments within the military itself exemplified in, for instance, remarks made by the Minister of Defense in 2013 on the important links between the role of the military and its vital role in the process of restitution: “In conclusion, the fundamental duty of Tatmadaw, the military is to protect the nation with the arms. To protect the nation means protecting the lives, homes and properties of our people. Just like protecting with the arms, returning the lands to support the lives of people to be stable and those of farmers to have something to live on is a way of protecting the lives, homes and properties of our people. I would like to express that we will solve the remaining cases, prioritizing the welfare of the people”. Expanding sentiments such as this will greatly enhance the prospects of comprehensive restitution throughout the country. Ethnic Armed Groups have also started exploring the need and viability of restitution processes, with the Karen National Union, for instance, issuing a land policy in 2015 which explicitly does just that. Similarly, many companies currently possessing or controlling land which is potentially subject to valid restitution claims, should note that one of the world’s largest companies, CocaCola, which now operates in Myanmar, has adopted a ‘Zero Tolerance for Land Grabbing Policy’ that sets a standard for other companies to be aware of their responsibilities within the land sector and the vital importance of having clarity about all questions concerning land and HLP rights over it throughout the country.

  6. Should Myanmar expand its already important, albeit nascent and partial, embrace of restitution principles and commit to a comprehensive and nationwide restitution programme enabling everyone with a restitution claim to make one, it will join numerous other countries throughout the world that have undertaken formal restitution programmes over the past 25 years. Countries ranging from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Colombia, Germany to Estonia, Kosovo to El Salvador, Iraq to Georgia, Poland to Hungary, the Czech Republic and many others have all decided that redressing past acts relating to land confiscation was not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do to build peace, reconciliation and to create better conditions for economic development.6 Many major peace agreements concluded over recent decades have also made explicit reference to HLP issues, including restitution, as areas vital for sustainable peace. Where these programmes have been successfully implemented they have formed fundamental steps in the larger quest for political stability and building the foundations of democracy. Indeed, the attributes of a modern, vibrant and prosperous society are all well served by courageous decisions to secure restitution rights to those with valid claims.

  7. Arguably, thus, the restitution journey has commenced in Myanmar, but as far as this process has traversed, there remains a plethora of issues that require clarity and resolution, improvements that need to be made in existing mechanisms, and a strong need for new legislative and procedural tools to be put in place to ensure that everyone in Myanmar with an outstanding restitution claim will have the free, unimpeded and guaranteed right to have such claims considered and resolved. Whatever restitution decisions are ultimately made by the people and authorities in Myanmar, it will be vital that a single, consolidated and legally consistent approach to restitution is taken that applies as much to those who were past victims of land grabbing as it does to those displaced because of conflict, the presence of land mines, ill-conceived development projects and other causes. To be consistent with international standards, the best practice of other States that have engaged in restitution and in the best interests of Myanmar, any restitution process must ensure, at a minimum, that everyone deserves, in accordance with the basic legal principle, an effective remedy for any acts of land confiscation determined by an independent, impartial and fair remedial body and commitments that such confiscation will not be repeated in the future.

  8. This report explores those instances of displacement where those affected are forced to move from their homes and lands due to circumstances beyond their control, in particular cases of armed conflict, massive violence or gross violations of human rights such as arbitrary land confiscation, where legal procedures are not followed, where compensation is not provided and where those forced to flee from their homes assert their claim to repossess them once they feel it is safe and secure enough for them to return. The people of Myanmar have endured many decades of forced displacement and land confiscation. It is through the process of restitution that at least some of the injustices associated with these processes can be reversed and redressed. There is a growing conviction in the country - from the level of communities all the way up to the national government and military - that Myanmar will be a better, more peaceful, unified and compassionate country if restitution demands are met in the near term. Through this report Displacement Solutions and the Norwegian Refugee Council aim to assist this process and provide constructive and informed guidance on how to reach this goal in the best possible manner.

Thailand: Cáritas Española pone en marcha en Tailandia un proyecto cofinanciado por EuropeAid para promover el desarrollo de medios de vida para refugiados de Myanmar acogidos en la frontera

29 March 2017 - 9:52am
Source: Caritas Country: Myanmar, Spain, Thailand

Madrid, 29 de marzo de 2017.- Cáritas Española y la agencia EuropeAid de la Comisión Europea han sumado esfuerzos para poner en marcha en Tailandia un ambicioso proyecto de ayuda humanitaria para los refugiados birmanos acogidos desde hace más de tres décadas en 9 campos de refugio temporales repartidos a lo largo de la frontera con Myanmar. El proyecto se ha presentado esta mañana en el Foreign Correspondent’s Club Thailand (FCCT) de Bangkok, durante el acto de inauguración de los proyectos financiados este año por la Unión Europea en Tailandia.

Las acciones contempladas en este proyecto, que comenzó a ejecutarse el pasado 1 de enero y se prolongará hasta diciembre de 2018, se centran en el fortalecimiento de las capacidades y desarrollo de medios de vida de estos refugiados de cara a un eventual retorno.

De manera concreta, el objetivo es dar respuesta a dos necesidades prioritarias de esta comunidad: impulsar la producción agropecuaria por parte de los propios refugiados y garantizar la generación de ingresos que complementen la canasta básica que se entrega a los desplazados externos de Myanmar de larga duración en la frontera tailandesa. Además, se pretende fortalecer aquellas capacidades y conocimientos que puedan serle útiles para reconstruir sus vidas una vez que retornen a la vida fuera de los actuales campos de refugio temporal.

El proyecto cuenta con un presupuesto total de 1.807.288 euros, de los cuales 1.445.830 euros han sido aportados por la Comisión Europea, mientras los 361.457 euros restantes proceden de fondos propios de Cáritas Española.

Las diócesis tailandesas de Chiang Mai, Nakhon Sawan y Ratchaburi son el escenario donde ya se están llevando a cabo las acciones previstas, de las que se beneficiarán de manera directa más de 4.000 refugiados y otros 16.000 de forma indirecta.

Cáritas Española tiene una larga trayectoria de trabajo de cooperación fraterna en ese país con Cáritas Tailandia. Para la puesta en marcha de este proyecto se cuenta con la colaboración directa, como socio local y entidad ejecutante en el terreno, de COERR (Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees), un departamento de Cáritas Tailandia especializado en la acogida y acompañamiento a los refugiados.

Esta iniciativa, ejecutada en un contexto de ayuda humanitaria pero con un enfoque de desarrollo, se alinea con las principales agendas internacionales, como son el “Marco Estratégico para Soluciones Duraderas” de ACNUR (Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados) y CCSDPT (Comité para el Servicio a las Personas Desplazadas en Tailandia), la política de la Unión Europea sobre desplazamientos forzados y desarrollo, y los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible 1 y 2.

105.000 desplazados

En 1984 se produjo la primera llegada de desplazados externos a Tailandia desde Myanmar, expulsados por los conflictos armados entre el Gobierno birmano y varios grupos étnicos. Actualmente, la población total acogida, que reside en 9 refugios temporales a lo largo de la frontera tailandesa, es de unas 105.000 personas. Aunque ninguna de ellas tiene el estatus de refugiado porque Tailandia no es firmante de la Convención Internacional para los Refugiados, aproximadamente la mitad está registrada por ACNUR, lo que significa que puede tener derecho a ser reasentada en un tercer país.

El Gobierno de Tailandia mantiene el acogimiento a esta población desplazada en refugios temporales y garantiza la seguridad de los mismos, mientras que la asistencia humanitaria ha sido asumida por la comunidad internacional. Ante una situación tan prolongada en el tiempo, el reto no es únicamente seguir suministrando a estas personas ayuda en cantidad y calidad suficientes, sino promover la reducción de la dependencia de la ayuda y el incremento de sus capacidades y oportunidades para desarrollar estrategias que les permitan vivir con dignidad, tanto dentro como, en un futuro, fuera de los campos.

En paralelo, el cambio político en Myanmar y la firma del alto el fuego con algunos grupos armados étnicos hace pensar que el momento de la repatriación puede estar más cercano, una perspectiva que se incorpora a las acciones que se desarrollen en el marco del proyecto liderado por Cáritas.

El proyecto presentado se basa en una experiencia de trabajo de 15 años en la frontera con Myamnar, donde la red Cáritas en el terreno ha impulsado la producción agrícola y la puesta en marcha de micro-proyectos entre la población desplazada, una actividad siempre orientada a la construcción de capacidades, el desarrollo comunitario y la inclusión social de las personas más vulnerables.

Myanmar: Myanmar: IDP Sites in Rakhine State (Feb 2016)

29 March 2017 - 8:08am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

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

29 March 2017 - 2:30am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bangladesh, China, Myanmar

Changes in context:

Kachin/Shan

In Kachin and Shan states, fighting between the government army and ethnic armed groups has escalated during the last quarter of 2016, resulting in civilian casualties, additional displacement and evacuation of hundreds of already displaced people from camps close to ongoing hostilities. It is estimated that over 4,000 people were newly displaced or re-displaced in various locations in Kachin State in December. This number has since increased into the new year. In the northern part of Shan State, intense fighting since 20 November between the Myanmar military and a coalition of ethnic armed groups temporarily displaced thousands of people to neighbouring towns and villages, or across the border into China. Numbers are difficult to verify due to access constraints and the temporary nature of displacement in this area. Approximately 6,000 people were estimated to be newly displaced or re-displaced in Shan at the end of December. Approximately 15,000 people who were thought to have fled to China, had mostly returned by the end of the quarter.

In addition to those who were newly displaced in the last two months of 2016, close to 100,000 people remained displaced in 188 camps/sites across Kachin and Shan states.

While humanitarian assistance has been regularly delivered to displaced people in all accessible locations, there has been a significant deterioration in access for international humanitarian organizations in 2016, especially to areas of active conflict in northern Shan State, as well as in nongovernment areas of Kachin State, where the UN and INGOs have not been able to deliver relief supplies to more than 40,000 displaced people since May 2016. This has led to increased pressure on national humanitarian and community-based organizations to deliver assistance, while they also started experiencing greater restrictions and oversight of their operations. In 2016, the Government also issued an instruction requiring displaced in areas beyond Government control to travel to designated distribution points in Government-controlled areas in order to collect any necessary relief supplies. Limited access continues to undermine the quantity, quality and sustainability of assistance provided to displaced people, further exhausting their coping mechanisms after five years of displacement.

Rakhine

In Rakhine State, some 120,000 people remain displaced in 36 camps or camp-like settings in eight townships following inter-communal violence in 2012. The protracted nature of their displacement has led to increased pressure on families as they suffer from overcrowded conditions and a lack of privacy in camps/shelters, limited access to livelihoods and essential services (including formal education and health care), and increased anxiety and hopelessness for the future. This continues to cause increased vulnerability and a high level of dependency on humanitarian assistance, and leads to an increase in the incidence and severity of various forms of gender-based violence towards women and children.

Adolescents are an under-served population with limited access to youth services, leading to negative coping mechanisms, child marriage, child labour and risky migration.

A series of attacks on Border Guard Police posts on 9 October 2016 which killed nine police personnel, as well as subsequent security operations have triggered a new humanitarian crisis in the northern part of Rakhine State.

While figures were not available at the end of the quarter, it has since been estimated that at least 93,000 people were forced out of their homes to either other parts of northern Rakhine (24,000 people) or across the border into Bangladesh (69,000 people). Hundreds of houses and buildings were burned, many people were killed and allegations of serious and wisespread human rights violations have been reported. A lack of acces has prevented the UN from investigating these reports within Myanmar.

Prior to 9 October, the UN and other humanitarian organizations had been supporting more than 150,000 people with regular food and nutrition assistance in northern Rakhine. Access restrictions following the attacks saw humanitarian services suspended and many of these people missed out on their seasonal food assistance, school feeding and regular nutrition support for three months. This included more than 3,000 children who were previously being treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition. Even before the current crisis, malnutrition rates in Buthedaung and Maungdaw townships were above WHO emergency thresholds and the suspension of normal services for several months is likely to have had a significant impact.

Since the end of 2016, the Government has allowed an incremental resumption of some services however, the operating environment remains challenging and heavily restricted. International humanitarian workers are still unable to leave the main centres to assist affected people.

Natural disasters

Myanmar’s vulnerability to extreme weather was visible again in 2016. Strong winds, heavy rains and hail storms in April affected around 40 townships across Chin, Kachin, Mandalay, Rakhine, Sagaing and Shan. From February to June 2016, Myanmar also experienced the effects of El Niño. Water shortages were compounded by damage to many ponds during the 2015 floods, leading to an overall reduction in available pond water.

Myanmar experienced heavy monsoon flooding again in 11 states and regions in June and July 2016. Over half a million people were temporarily displaced and 133,000 were assessed to be in need of livelihoods support. In the floodaffected areas, immediate needs were covered by the Government, the Myanmar Red Cross Society, local organizations and private donors with support from international organizations, including a grant of US$3.6 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund.

Myanmar: No Resettlement of IDPs Without Ethnic Peace in Myanmar’s Kachin State: Aung San Suu Kyi

29 March 2017 - 2:19am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Myanmar’s Kachin state will only be able to return to their homes when all stakeholders work together in pursuit of ethnic peace, the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Tuesday during a fact-finding visit to an area refugee camp.

During her first trip to Kachin state since assuming the role of Myanmar’s state counselor, Aung San Suu Kyi traveled to Khatcho village in Waingmaw township and spoke at an IDP camp housing some of the 200 people displaced by hostilities in the area between ethnic rebels and the government army since 2012.

“We can close these IDP (internally displaced person) camps and people can live at their homes only if we attain peace [between ethnic Kachins and majority Burmese],” she told residents of the camp.

“To achieve peace for all ethnic groups, everyone must work to understand and respect one another. The important thing is not to consider others as enemies simply because they don’t share the same ideas with you.”

Aung San Suu Kyi said she visited the camp “to help improve things after observing the situation,” and also oversaw donations of food and clothing to the facility.

The Nobel laureate is leading the country’s efforts to end decades of hostilities between the government armed forces and numerous ethnic armed groups via the 21st-century Panglong Conference held roughly every six months.

Khin Yu Zin, an official at the Khatcho camp, told Aung San Suu Kyi that ethnic Kachin IDPs also want peace in the region and asked the government to help with the resettlement process when hostilities cease and people can return to their homes.

“We want peace, just as much as [ethnic] Burmese want it,” she said.

Khin Yu Zu also praised investments from local nongovernmental organizations and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement that had allowed some residents of the camp to find work raising livestock and producing amber goods for sale.

Myanmar’s Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Win Mya Aye, who accompanied Aung San Suu Kyi on the trip to Kachin, told RFA’s Myanmar Service that meeting with the Khatcho camp officials had been informative.

“We have been helping this camp and [this time] we discussed how to provide additional support, as well as how to resettle [IDPs],” he said.

“We also discussed on how draw lessons from this experience to support camps we were unable to support before.”

Ahead of her trip to Khatcho village, Aung San Suu Kyi met with representatives of civil society organizations, religious groups and advisors at the Palm Spring Hotel in the state capital Myitkyina and also visited an IDP camp run by the Kachin Baptist Church.

In addition to Myanmar’s Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister, she was also accompanied by an entourage that included the country’s Border Affairs and Security Minister, Home Affairs Minister, and the chairman of the National Reconciliation and Peace Center in Yangon.

Earlier this month, sources told RFA that a local militia in Waingmaw had forced more than half of 70 refugee households staying on its land since 2012 to move elsewhere because it needed the acreage for planting crops, deploying bulldozers to destroy their homes and other buildings.

The Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which controls large swathes of northeastern Kachin state, has regularly engaged in hostilities with the Myanmar army since a cease-fire deal collapsed in 2011.

Last November, the KIA teamed up with three other ethnic armed groups—the Arakan Army (AA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)—to form the Northern Alliance.

The alliance then launched coordinated attacks on 10 government and military targets in three townships in neighboring Shan state and along the105-mile border trade zone between Myanmar and China in retaliation for government army offensives against its soldiers.

Border clash

Also on Tuesday, AA spokesperson Khine Thukha told RFA that his insurgent group’s 301st Battalion clashed with the government’s 34th Infantry over the weekend in the Chin state town of Paletwa, leaving at least two Myanmar soldiers dead.

“The fight began at around noon on March 26 and lasted for 40 minutes,” he said.

“During the fighting, two government soldiers were killed and some were injured. We confiscated some weapons as well.”

Khine Thukha said the clash, which took place near Chin’s border with the AA’s ome state of Rakhine and around 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh, could be a prelude to additional fighting if the government does not pursue political dialogue with his group.

“The AA is still in support of an all-inclusive peace deal [between the government and other ethnic armies in Myanmar], and we feel that political dialogue is extremely important, as the problems we have are based on politics,” the spokesperson said.

“Only when we come to an agreement on politics will the fighting stop,” he said, adding that the signing of a nationwide cease-fire agreement between the government and eight ethnic armies in October 2015 was not enough to secure peace in the country.

Fighting between the AA and Myanmar’s army last year displaced more than 300 people from their homes.

Peace process

Myanmar’s government under Aung San Suu Kyi is trying to end decades of civil war between various ethnic armed groups and the military and forge peace in the fragmented country.

The government had planned to hold a second round of peace negotiations, known as the 21st-century Panglong Conference, this month. The timetable for the talks has been postponed several times since the meetings began last year.

During a speech in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw on Monday, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the country’s defense forces, said the armed forces will continue to follow the government’s lead in its efforts to forge nationwide peace, while maintaining its six-point principles for peace. The policy requires all ethnic militias that have signed a NCA with the government to abide by Myanmar’s military-drafted 2008 constitution.

The constitution, which was enacted when a military junta ruled the country, guarantees that military officers receive a quarter of the seats in parliament and gives the commander-in-chief control over appointees in the defense, home affairs, and border affairs ministries.

Reported by Kyaw Myo Min, Min Thein Aung and Kyaw Thu for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

World: Humanitarian Funding in Asia-Pacific in 2016

29 March 2017 - 1:20am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste, United States of America, Viet Nam, World

Myanmar: The Socio-Economic Impact of HIV at the Household Level in Myanmar

29 March 2017 - 12:53am
Source: UN Development Programme Country: Myanmar

The Socio-Economic Impact of People Living with HIV at the Household Level in Myanmar study conducted by the Ministry of Health and UNDP assesses the socio-economic impact of HIV-related diseases at the household level across all States and Regions in Myanmar. It collected data on the impact of HIV-related diseases on income, revenues, economic dependency, consumption, education, health, food security, stigma, discrimination, quality of life, and migration. The study also assessed people living with chronic diseases in order to compare the impact of living with HIV/AIDS with the impact of living with a chronic disease.

Stigma, discrimination, and socio-economic exclusion continue to affect the rights and socio-economic opportunities of people living with HIV in Myanmar. Households with a family member who has HIV, have lower incomes, fewer assets and lower home-ownership, compared to households that are not affected by HIV. They also have more household debt, and their families pay a higher rate of interest compared to families not affected by HIV. There is a high proportion of HIV-affected households led by a single parent; they are particularly economically vulnerable. Children from families affected by HIV are more than twice as likely to have missed school to help their family with household chores or to carry out paid work.

Around a quarter of the households sampled for this report have at least one person who has a chronic disease. Compared to people with HIV, more people with a chronic disease cited bad health. Furthermore, more people with a chronic disease seek outpatient care and fewer are satisfied with their access to health services. In rural areas, the distance to the facility is an important reason why people with chronic illnesses do not seek care. Families with a member who has a chronic disease have higher levels of unemployment and are over two and a half times more likely to have medical bills that they cannot pay for, than families where no one has a chronic illness.

Bangladesh: Bangladesh: Humanitarian Response to Undocumented Myanmar Nationals in Cox’s Bazar - 5 January - 28 February 2017

28 March 2017 - 11:40pm
Source: International Organization for Migration Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

Highlights

  • Approximately 74,000 Rohingya s/ Undocumented Myanmar Nationals (UMNs) from Rakhine State have crossed the border into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh as of 23 February, 2017.

  • New families were spotted in Balukhali, Teknaf and Ukiya host villages. The new arrivals are highly mobile and were reported to be moving between makeshift settlements, upazila and district centres.

  • No official decision from the GOB to grant new land for establishing makeshift settlements (MS) has created a concern. Hundreds of unplanned huts are being built around the MS.

Situation Overview

Within the framework of the ‘National Strategy on Myanmar Refugees and Undocumented Myanmar Nationals in Bangladesh’, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been tasked by the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) to coordinate the humanitarian services to the Undocumented Myanmar Nationals (UMNs) and vulnerable host communities in Bangladesh's southeastern district of Cox's Bazar. It is estimated that over 60,000 UMNs are residing in the Makeshift Settlements (MS) in Kutupalong and Leda.

Following an outbreak of violence on the October 9, 2016 in the Rakhine State of Myanmar, thousands of the Rohingyas¹ have fled to Bangladesh. As of 23 February 2017, it is estimated that approximately over 74,000 Rohingyas from Rakhine State have crossed the border and are residing in the registered camps, makeshift settlements, Cox’s Bazar city and in the host villages of Teknaf and Ukhiya districts. Some new families were spotted in Balukhali, Teknaf and Ukhiya host villages. This newly arrived population is highly mobile and moving from the host villages to the makeshift settlements to have access to basic humanitarian services provided by the actors on the ground, which is already creating pressure on resources and other humanitarian needs.

The influx has resulted in construction of new temporary shelters in the Kutupalong Makeshift Settlement (KMS) and in Balukhali village, including on top and at the base of hills in these areas. The new arrivals are in need of basic humanitarian assistance, such as health, water, food, sanitation, shelter and protection against violence in the expanded areas of Kutupalong Makeshift Settlement (KMS), Leda Makeshift Settlement (LMS) and the newly built temporary settlements in Balukhali. The agencies are unable to make a site plan for shelter construction as the decision from the Government of Bangladesh has not formally allocated new land, which has resulted in construction of unplanned huts.

The Government of Bangladesh published and made public statements concerning relocation of the Royingya to Thenga Char, which has raised concerns among the UMNs and the refugees. However, the UN country team has agreed to continue the humanitarian assistance as before while monitoring further developments in the Government assessment and planning.

Myanmar: UNHCR Bay Of Bengal Situation 2017 Funding Update as of 21 March 2017

28 March 2017 - 11:29pm
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand
  • 6.8 M required for 2017

  • 0 contributions received

  • 6.8 M funding gap for the Bay Of Bengal Situation

All figures are displayed in USD