Myanmar - ReliefWeb News

Syndicate content
ReliefWeb - Updates
Updated: 5 hours 45 min ago

Bangladesh: WFP Bangladesh | Brief Reporting period: 01 October – 31 December 2014

30 March 2015 - 9:21am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

COUNTRY STRATEGY

WFP aims to achieve significant gains in reducing hunger and undernutrition in the coming years by implementing and developing—through effective partnerships—innovative nutrition and hunger solutions and responding to emergencies.

To underpin the ambitious development agenda of the Government of Bangladesh, WFP focuses on enhancing the Government’s safety net programmes and on mainstreaming nutrition. WFP’s interventions are geographically directed to areas of greatest food insecurity and vulnerability, increasingly to urban slum areas.

WFP has been present in Bangladesh since 1974.

Myanmar: GIEWS Country Brief: Myanmar 10-March-2015

30 March 2015 - 1:06am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Myanmar

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  • Rice production in 2014 forecast at good level

  • Cereal exports forecast to increase in 2014/15 marketing year (July/June)

  • Prices of rice rose slightly in February and were marginally above their levels of a year earlier

  • Food insecurity remains a concern in some areas

Rice production in 2014 forecast at good level

Harvesting of the 2014/15 secondary season paddy and main maize crops is currently ongoing. Near-average rains over large parts of the country from October to the end of February, including the main cereal producing regions of Ayeyarwady, Bago and Yangon, benefited crop development. FAO’s latest forecast puts the aggregate 2014 rice production at 28.9 million tonnes, 2 percent up from the previous year, but below the estimated five-year average. The estimated increase is mainly attributed to a small expansion in the planted area from 2013’s low level and an expected small improvement in yields. The 2014 maize crop, harvested by mid-April, is estimated by FAO at 1.75 million tonnes, some 3 percent above the record level in 2013.

Cereal exports forecast to increase in 2014/15 marketing year

Cereal exports for the 2014/15 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at 1.4 million tonnes (comprising about 800 000 tonnes of rice and about 610 000 tonnes of maize), 13 percent up from the previous year’s high level. Total cereal imports (mainly wheat) for 2014/15 are projected to decrease slightly to 285 000 tonnes.

Prices of rice increased slightly in February and were marginally above their year-earlier levels

Wholesale prices of Emata rice, the most commonly consumed variety, increased slightly in February supported by strong import demand from China. Overall, prices were marginally above their levels of a year earlier.

Food insecurity remains a concern in some areas

Despite an overall stable food security situation, recurrent inter-communal tensions since June 2012 have negatively impacted on the food security situation of affected populations. According to the latest information from UNHCR fresh displacements were witnessed in 2014, particularly after clashes in Kachin (north) and northern Shan (east) states. UNHCR estimates that as of July 2014, nearly half a million people remained displaced in Rakhine (southwest), Kachin (north), Shan (east) and southeast areas of Myanmar.

Myanmar: World Food Programme Myanmar March 2015 Operational Report

28 March 2015 - 12:18am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Japan, Myanmar

WFP Executive Director’s visit: Executive Director Ms. Ertharin Cousin visited Myanmar from 10 to 12 March with UNDP Administrator Ms. Helen Clark. On 11 March, Ms. Cousin and Ms. Clark visited Sittwe town, Rakhine State where they met with State Chief Minister H.E. U Maung Maung Ohn and discussed priorities for continued humanitarian assistance and scaled-up development support by UN agencies in Rakhine State. Ms. Cousin and Ms. Clark visited a WFP assisted Muslim IDP camp and a UNDP assisted Rakhine village. The village visit involved meetings with communities and beneficiaries of income generation activities at a shrimp paste making shop as well as a bridge construction, which enables better access to services and markets. The following day in Nay Pyi Taw, Ms. Cousin and Ms. Clark paid joint visits to Vice Presidents H.E. Dr. Sai Mauk Kham and H.E. U Nyan Htun, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. U Thant Kyaw, the Parliamentary Speaker H.E. Thura Shwe Mann and Member of Parliament Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Ms. Cousin also held bilateral meetings with Minister of Border Affairs H.E. Lt. General Thet Naing Win, Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development H.E. U Ohn Myint and Deputy Minister of Education H.E. Dr. Zaw Min Aung.

Upon conclusion of the visit, a joint media statement* was released mentioning WFP and UNDP’s commitment to supporting the Government’s goal of reaching the Middle Income Country status by 2030 and attaining higher levels of human development in Myanmar. Ms. Cousin commended the Government for the adoption of “National Zero Hunger Challenge” initiative in 2014 and assured to continue to be part of addressing the underlying causes of hunger while providing food assistance to the most vulnerable people in Myanmar.

Syrian Arab Republic: Human Rights Council adopts ten texts, extends mandates on Syria, Iran, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Myanmar

27 March 2015 - 11:24am
Source: UN Human Rights Council Country: Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Myanmar, Syrian Arab Republic

MORNING

27 March 2015

Council to Hold a Special Session on 1 April in Light of the Terrorist Attacks and Human Rights Abuses Committed by the Terrorist Group Boko Haram

The Human Rights Council this morning adopted 10 resolutions, in which it extended the mandate of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, and the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and Myanmar.

The Council also adopted texts on freedom of religion or belief, investments in the rights of the child, human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in the occupied Syrian Golan, and on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

At the beginning of the meeting, Joachim Rücker, President of the Human Rights Council, said that he had received a request by the African Group to convene a special session of the Human Rights Council on Wednesday, 1 April, in light of the terrorist attacks and human rights abuses and violations committed by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The President encouraged Member States to do their utmost to reach a consensus on the draft resolution.

In a resolution on the continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in Syria, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, 6 against and 12 abstentions, the Council strongly condemned the practices including abductions, hostage-taking, incommunicado detention, torture, sexual violence, the brutal killing of civilians and summary executions carried out by regime forces and affiliated militias, non-State armed groups, as well as terrorist groups, and underlined that such acts may amount to crimes against humanity. The Council extended for one year the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and requested it to provide an oral update at the twenty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council and written updated reports at the thirtieth and thirty-first sessions.

In the text on the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Council restated its grave concern about the Commission of Inquiry finding that there were reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity had been committed, pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the State for decades. By a vote of 27 in favour, 6 against and 14 abstentions, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for a period of one year, and to convene, at its thirtieth session, a panel discussion on the situation of human rights in this country, including the issue of international abductions, enforced disappearances and related matters.

The Council extended for one year the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, and by a vote of 20 in favour, 11 against and 16 abstentions, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for a further period of one year.

The Council expressed deep concern at emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief and at increasing violence against persons belonging to religious minorities, and urged States to step up the efforts to promote and protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief.

The Council decided to focus its next full-day meeting on the rights of the child on the theme of “Information and communications technology and child sexual exploitation” and requested the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on that issue.

The Council also adopted texts on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, by a vote of 29 in favour, 1 against and 17 abstentions; on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, by a vote of 45 in favour, 1 against and 1 abstentions; on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 45 in favour, 1 against and 1 abstentions; and on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of 43 in favour, 1 against and 3 abstentions.

Latvia on behalf of the European Union, Uruguay on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Japan, and Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation introduced texts.

Lebanon introduced oral amendments.

Syria, Iran, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Myanmar, and the State of Palestine spoke as concerned countries. Israel, also a concerned country, did not take the floor.

India, Qatar on behalf of the Arab Group, Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United States, Latvia on behalf of the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Indonesia, and India spoke in general comments.

Speaking in explanations of the vote before or after the vote were Russia, Pakistan also on behalf of Bangladesh, United States, South Africa, China, Venezuela, Cuba, Algeria, Brazil, Argentina, Pakistan, Japan, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Paraguay, and Ghana.

The next meeting of the Council will be at 1 p.m. today, 27 March, when it will continue to take action on remaining draft resolutions and decisions before it closes its twenty-eighth session.

Statement by the President on a Special Session of the Human Rights Council

JOACHIM RÜCKER, President of the Human Rights Council, said that he had received a request by the African Group to convene a Special Session of the Human Rights Council at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 1 April, in light of the terrorist attacks and human rights abuses and violations committed by the terrorist group Boko Haram. A consultation meeting on the Special Session would be held at 3 p.m. on Monday, 30 March and an open-ended consultation on the resolution would take place on Tuesday, 31 March. The President encouraged Member States to do their utmost to reach a consensus on the draft resolution.

Action on Resolutions under Agenda Item 3 on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights

Action on Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.12) on freedom of religion or belief, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council expresses deep concern at emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief, as well as instances of religious intolerance, discrimination and violence; at the increasing number of acts of violence directed against individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities in various parts of the world; at incidents of religious hatred, discrimination, intolerance and violence and at attacks on religious places, sites and shrines. The Council emphasizes that no religion should be equated with terrorism, as this may have adverse consequences on the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief of all members of the religious community concerned; urges States to step up their efforts to promote and protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief; calls upon States to make use of the potential of education for the eradication of prejudices against and stereotypes of individuals on the basis of their religion or belief; and requests the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to report annually to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly.

Latvia, introducing the draft resolution L.12 as orally revised on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union attached great attention to freedom of religion or belief and urged States to step up efforts in the protection of that right. The draft resolution encouraged all leaders to speak out when the right to freedom of religion or belief was violated, and stressed the importance of that right in addressing all forms of violence. The European Union attached great importance to the work of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and hoped that the resolution would be adopted by consensus.

Action on Resolution on the Rights of the Child: Towards Better Investment in the Rights of the Child

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.28) on the rights of the child: towards better investment in the rights of the child, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to focus its next full-day meeting on the rights of the child on the theme of “Information and communications technology and child sexual exploitation”; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on that issue, in close collaboration with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, as well as other relevant stakeholders; and to present it to the Council at its thirty-first session. The Council strongly condemns all acts of violence against children, and calls upon States to take effective and appropriate legislative and other measures, including sufficient resource allocation, to prevent, prohibit and eliminate all forms of violence against children in all settings; calls upon States to consider, as appropriate, promoting, facilitating and funding the meaningful participation and active consultation of children in all the issues affecting them; emphasizes the duty of all States to allocate and spend sufficient and equitable public resources for the promotion, protection and realization of all human rights; calls upon all States to take all necessary measures to establish holistic child protection systems; calls upon States to make primary education available, free and compulsory for all children; also calls upon States to recognize for every child the right to benefit from social security; and encourages States to develop or enhance early childhood programmes targeted at assisting families facing especially difficult circumstances. The Council also encourages States to give due consideration to children’s rights in the discussions on the post-2015 development agenda and financing for development.

Latvia, speaking on behalf of the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, introducing draft resolution L.28, said 72 countries from all regions had co-sponsored the draft resolution which called on States to promote investment in children. Protection of the rights of children was crucial, as was achieving equitable development for their future. This could be realized through funding the areas of health, education and social protection. The text was drawn from the Convention of the Rights of Child, and in particular from Article 4, and was based on wide discussions. Latvia hoped States would adopt the draft resolution by consensus.

Uruguay, also introducing the draft resolution on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said there were 78 co-sponsors to the draft. The resolution listed measures that States should adopt, resources permitting, to realize the rights of child. It appealed for international cooperation to bolster national cooperation where necessary. The text aimed to ensure that a minimum of economic, social and cultural rights were provided to children, even in the poorest countries. The negotiating process had been very inclusive and transparent, and many informal and bilateral amendments had been made, including the introduction of recommendations included in the draft. Uruguay invited Members of the Council to adopt the draft through consensus.

India, in a general comment, said it attached great importance to the welfare of children in its budgetary policies, and considered it a national priority. India appreciated the aim of the main sponsors to reflect those goals in the draft resolution. The rights of the child could only be achieved through sustainable and equitable development. Investments in the rights of the child could not be disassociated from negative economic trends. India said it was willing to join the consensus if sufficient attention was given to different venues for investment in the rights of the child.

Qatar, in a general comment on behalf of the Arab Group, said it attached great importance to the rights of the child, which had priority in national policies. The Arab Group had participated in all discussions on the draft text. However, it felt that some concepts discussed by certain countries should not be propagated in resolutions and taken as general, especially those that ran contrary to religious views. Thus, the Arab Group disassociated itself from the consensus.

Russia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said investing in family and children was one of its current policies and priorities. However the approach in the draft text was one-sided, unbalanced and slightly intrusive in nature. Many of the provisions intruded upon the exclusive competencies of the State, for example, drafting of the national budget. Russia said the international community should assist in investment in the rights of the child. Despite Russia’s request for certain paragraphs not to be included, they remained in place, for example paragraph 30 on human sexuality. Russia said it would not break the consensus but disassociated itself, particularly from paragraph 30.

Pakistan, in a joint statement with Bangladesh in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the two countries had joint consensus on the resolution. However, it provided a very narrow interpretation of investment in the rights of child. Budgeting was a primary focus. Given the financial constraints of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, there was no need to have two separate reports. Pakistan and Bangladesh regretted the contentious elements in the draft resolution, which included: data collection by other stakeholders, seeking investment from the private sector, outlining national priorities, monitoring by other stakeholders, accountability and resource mobilization; all those may undermine State sovereignty. Furthermore, the use of the language on sexual education was not appropriate. Pakistan and Bangladesh disassociated themselves from several paragraphs of the draft resolution.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was pleased to join the consensus on the resolution, noting that it was a consistent donor to United Nations Children’s Fund programmes. The United States was currently investing in an initiative to promote education for girls. It supported the resolution under the condition that States which were not parties to certain human rights instruments would not be required to join them.

South Africa, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, recalled that it had ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. South Africa said while it supported the spirit of the resolution, it could not support certain prescribed formulas. The decision to ratify an international treaty was the prerogative of a State. For example, the resolution suggested that there was only one formula to promote primary education, said South Africa.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on Human Rights Situations that Require the Council’s Attention

Action on Resolution on the continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.6) on the continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, 6 against and 12 abstentions, the Council decides to extend for one year the mandate of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic and demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with it, including by granting it immediate, full and unfettered access throughout the Syrian Arab Republic; requests the Commission of Inquiry to provide an oral update at the twenty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council and to present written updated reports at the thirtieth and thirty-first sessions. The Council strongly condemns the continuing escalation of violence in the Syrian Arab Republic, which has caused more than 200,000 fatalities; deplores the suffering and torture in prisons and detention facilities; and strongly condemns practices including abductions, hostage-taking, incommunicado detention, torture, sexual violence, the brutal killing of civilians and summary executions carried out by regime forces and affiliated militias, non-State armed groups, as well as terrorist groups, and underlines that such acts may amount to crimes against humanity.

The Council condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist acts and violence committed against civilians by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh); strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic; and strongly condemns the intervention in the Syrian Arab Republic of all foreign terrorist fighters and those foreign organizations fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime, and expresses deep concern that their involvement further exacerbates the deteriorating situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, including the human rights and humanitarian situation, which has a serious negative impact on the region. The Council deplores the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and demands that the Syrian authorities and all other parties to the conflict comply with their obligations under Security Council resolutions 2139, 2165 and 2191 to enable the immediate and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance; reiterates that a genuine political transition based on the Geneva communiqué is needed to end the conflict; decides to transmit all reports and oral updates of the Commission of Inquiry to all relevant bodies of the United Nations, recommends that the Commission brief the General Assembly during its sixty-ninth session and also recommends that the Assembly submit the reports to the Security Council for appropriate action.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (29): Albania, Argentina, Brazil, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United States of America.

Against (6): Bolivia, China, Cuba, Russian Federation, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.

Abstentions (12): Algeria, Bangladesh, Congo, Gabon, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa.

Before the resolution was adopted, the Council voted on L.36, an amendment to draft resolution L.6. It rejected the L.36 amendment by a vote of 10 in favour, 23 against and 14 abstentions.

United Kingdom, introducing draft resolution L.6, said the crisis in Syria was highly alarming and the Human Rights Council could not remain silent. The bloodshed perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant must stop. The main aim of the resolution was the renewal of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry, to enable it to continue to document human rights violations committed by all parties. There had been extensive consultations during the drafting of the text and the resolution represented a balanced view. The United Kingdom stressed that the draft resolution aimed to investigate violations by all parties. The United Kingdom hoped it would be adopted by consensus.

Lebanon, introducing an amendment to operative paragraph 13 to draft resolution L.6, said that the mandate of the Human Rights Council was to address situations of human rights violations while applying the principles of impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, the pillars on which the Council was based. Operative paragraph 13 was not in line with those principles. The approach was unbalanced and politically motivated. The Lebanese component was specifically mentioned in operational paragraph 13. Lebanon called on States to delete the selectivity in operational paragraph 13, which listed the names of organizations, as submitted to the Secretariat.

United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the sponsors of the resolution, said the main sponsors could not support the amendment. The hospitality that Lebanon had shown to refugees from Syria was commendable. However the intervention of Hezbollah had caused a devastating impact on civilians and prolonged the conflict. The resolution was a balanced text. The resolution also condemned violations committed by ISIL and called on all parties to fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights. It condemned all human rights and abuses, but where there were specific concerns about actions of individual groups, the United Kingdom believed it was important that the Human Rights Council support them.

Russia, in a general comment, said it held a general negative position on the resolution, noting that it was subjective and politically motivated. The qualification of Hezbollah and another two Iraqi groups as terrorists did not have a legal foundation, and did not correspond to the wording of the United Nations Security Council. The resolution would impede efforts to foster dialogue. Russia said it therefore supported the proposed amendment and urged other States to support it as well.

Qatar, in a general comment, said it supported the United Kingdom’s position that the current text of the resolution was balanced. Qatar rejected the amendment because it would delete what had previously been agreed in relevant United Nations resolutions. There were documented references to the groups and militia working with the regime in Syria, and they had committed crimes. Qatar called on all Member States to vote against the amendment to resolution L.6.

Saudi Arabia, in a general comment, expressed its support for the position of the United Kingdom. Saudi Arabia said the findings of the Commission of Inquiry reiterated the continuing grave human rights violations being committed in Syria; it stressed that the main responsibility was shouldered by the Syrian regime and the militias it supported. The Commission of Inquiry had also stated that the regime was responsible for providing support to terrorist groups such as Al-Nusra and ISIS. The Assad regime must not enjoy impunity and must be held accountable for the crimes it had committed. Saudi Arabia called on Members of the Council to refuse the oral amendments and vote in favour of the balanced text, in order to put an end to the suffering in Syria.

United States, in a general comment, said with draft resolution L.6 the Council continued to fulfil its important role of drawing international attention to the atrocities committed in Syria and collecting evidence for future accountability. The Commission of Inquiry had revealed evidence of crimes committed in Syria by the regime and by extremist groups. The Commission had assessed that the Assad regime and the militias committed crimes that amounted to war crimes and crime against humanity. The United States deplored the acts of torture and ill treatment committed in detention centres throughout Syria and called for the immediate release of human rights activists abducted by the regime or the militias. The United States supported the text as it was presented and urged all Member States to vote no to the proposed amendment.

Latvia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said it was the civilians who continued to suffer in Syria, including women and children. Violations continued to unabated. The European Union remained concerned that the crimes committed amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Syrian regime remained responsible for violations of international humanitarian law. There could be no impunity. The European Union called on the Human Rights Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. The European Union reiterated that only an urgent political solution could end the terrible bloodshed. The resolution had the support of the European Union, which urged all parties to vote for the resolution and against the amendment.

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said the main sponsors of the resolution continued to falsely claim that they respected Syrian sovereignty while at the same time sponsoring terrorism and instability in Syria and the region. The obvious purpose of the resolution was to provide political cover for the violations of the United Nations Charter and international law by certain countries, as well as the support they provided to terrorist and armed groups through financing and provision of weapons, shelter, training and infiltration of terrorists to the Syrian territory. Syria rejected the proposed resolution because it lacked balance and credibility, and because it clearly served to tarnish the image of the Syrian Government. The credibility of the Human Rights Council was at stake, and Syria called on it to reject the politicized and selective approach, and to vote against the resolution.

Russia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that there had been two reports, one on the crimes of ISIL and the other a draft report on human rights. While the evidence gathered by experts focused on the fact that the vast majority of crimes were committed by other groups, the draft report repeated the fact that the violations lay with the country. To bolster these, the report referred to the unfounded 2014 Syrian detainee report, as well as unfounded reported use of chlorine by the State. This report removed the attention from the real threat in Syria and Iraq. Instead of sending to the Government a strong signal that the international community would continue its efforts to fight terrorism, the text continued to blame the country. Russian views had not been taken into account. Russia would vote against the draft resolution.

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said China always stood for dialogue and opposed pressure in public. The Human Rights Council in discussing human rights in Syria should uphold an objective and impartial position, calling for a ceasefire by all parties. It should also work towards a political solution to the conflict. The resolution was lopsided as it exerted pressure on one party and was not conducive to stability. Therefore, China would vote against the resolution.

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that draft resolution L.6 lacked any sort of balance, adding that it was an instrument of illegitimate policies of interfering in the sovereign affairs of a State. It was striking that no similar initiatives had been taken in some other countries that committed grave violations of human rights. A diplomatic and political outcome for the Syrian conflict should be sought, and thus Venezuela energetically opposed the resolution.

Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, firmly condemned the death of people and all forms of terrorism. However, it also rejected selective attribution for crimes to only one of the parties in the Syrian conflict. It reiterated that foreign interference only contributed to further destruction and instability. Cuba repeated its conviction that the Syrian people could resolve their problems without external interference, and would thus vote against the draft resolution.

Algeria, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, regretted the continuing violence in Syria and said that Algeria had attempted to introduce some amendments that were consistent with the realities on the ground. Regrettably, this was rejected by the sponsors and the draft resolution was not objective and balanced. Algeria would vote against the text.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would abstain in the vote on draft resolution L.6. Brazil was fully aware of the grave human rights situation in the field which needed to be duly addressed by the Council. The resolution still failed to recognize the responsibility of armed groups other than ISIS in violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Brazil stressed the primary responsibility of the Syrian authorities to secure the rights of the Syrian population and the responsibility of the international community to prevent further militarization of the conflict. All parties to the conflict should comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, provide unhindered access to humanitarian agencies and refrain from any actions that could protract the conflict. Brazil was ready to contribute to the search for a political solution to the crisis.

Argentina, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it was horrified by the situation in Syria, and called on all parties to cease all violence and violations. Argentina condemned the terrorist acts of ISIL. The use of chemical weapons under any circumstances was unacceptable. Argentina appealed to all countries providing weapons to any of the parties in the conflict to cease to do so. It restated that the only way to resolve the conflict was through participation and dialogue with all sectors involved in Syria.

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.17) on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, adopted by a vote of 20 in favour, 11 against and 16 abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran for a further period of one year, and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the implementation of his mandate to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-first session and to the General Assembly at its seventieth session. The Council calls upon the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit access to visit the country as well as all information necessary to allow the fulfilment of the mandate; and requests the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with the resources necessary to fulfil the mandate.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (20): Albania, Argentina, Botswana, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, Paraguay, Portugal, Republic of Korea, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, and United States of America.

Against (11): Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.

Abstentions (16): Algeria, Brazil, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and United Arab Emirates.

Sweden, introducing resolution L.17, said the resolution was a short procedural text aimed at extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. Apart from technical updates, the text remained the same as the one adopted last year. Sweden thanked the Special Rapporteur for the work carried out, which helped the international community to stay informed and engaged on the issue. However, deep concerns remained about the fact that the requests of the Special Rapporteur for visits to the country remained unaddressed. Cooperation with the mandate holders offered an opportunity for the Government of Iran to engage with the Human Rights Council on the grave concerns that persisted about the human rights situation.

Latvia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in a general comment, said it continued to be concerned about the human rights situation in Iran. The high level of prisoners of conscience, executions and death sentences, and laws violating women’s rights were serious. It was therefore important to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. The European Union welcomed the attempt by the Special Rapporteur to establish a dialogue with the Government of Iran, and urged the country to make constructive use of the mandate. Draft resolution L.17 aimed to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran.

United States, in a general comment, said it would co-sponsor the resolution, and urged all members to support it. As the Special Rapporteur’s report indicated, there had been no advancement on the human rights situation in Iran. Therefore, it was important to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. Iran continued to violate human rights, including by imposing the death penalty on crimes that did not constitute most serious crimes. It also continued to deny access to the Special Rapporteur to visit the country.

Iran, speaking as the concerned country, said this mandate provided evidence that the concept of human rights was used by some countries to advance their own political agendas. The Council should engage in constructive cooperation on human rights. Iran was committed to protecting human rights and engaged constructively within international forums. Introducing this draft resolution was an attempt by those who sought to politicize human rights mechanisms. Those behind this were responsible for the most horrific human rights violations in the world. The universality of human rights did not seek the elimination of cultural particularities of countries. Human rights forums should be guided by dialogue, cooperation, non-selectivity and transparency, rather than by confrontation. Iran would continue cooperation with human rights mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review.

Pakistan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it strongly believed that States had the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights of their citizens in accordance with their international human rights obligations. Any external interference through country-specific resolutions was counter-productive and against the spirit of constructive engagement and dialogue, and Pakistan opposed them. The Universal Periodic Review was the right cooperative mechanism for the review of countries’ human rights situations because it was based on interactive dialogue and full involvement of the country concerned.

Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the mandate on Iran was a clear example of double standards. Cuba restated its opposition to country-specific mandates because they did not contribute to a constructive dialogue among nations. Only through cooperation and dialogue could the Council be effective in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Universal Periodic Review was the ideal mechanism to assess human rights situations in countries. Mandates imposed without consent were doomed to failure. Cuba encouraged Iran to keep working towards the protection of human rights.

Venezuela, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that draft resolution L.17 undermined the credibility of the Human Rights Council. It promoted political interests, and was not objective. The draft resolution was illegitimate and inconsistent and was manipulated by some powers who used multilateral fora to violate the principles of sovereignty of States. Venezuela was against this draft resolution and would vote against it.

China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that China had always voted for constructive dialogue and was against countries that used human rights issues as a geopolitical tool to promote their own agenda. These States had to stop pressurizing Iran and should play a more constructive role. Draft resolution L.17 was not constructive at all. Therefore China would vote against it.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said Iran’s cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review and its invitation of the High Commissioner and Special Procedures should be acknowledged. Brazil underlined the important work by the Special Rapporteur on raising concerns about human rights in Iran, including regarding discrimination against women, harassment of human rights defenders and the use of the death penalty. Brazil hoped Iran would strengthen its cooperation with the Council and its mechanisms.

Japan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, welcomed that Iran had accepted many recommendations during its last Universal Periodic Review. Japan remained concerned about the human rights situation, and said not enough progress had been made. Japan would continue to engage in dialogue and cooperate with Iran on human rights matters. Japan would vote in favour of this resolution.

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.18) on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, adopted by a vote of 27 in favour, 6 against and 14 abstentions, the Council condemns in the strongest terms the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations and other human rights abuses committed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and expresses its grave concern at the detailed findings made by the Commission of Inquiry in its report; urges the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to acknowledge the human rights violations in the country and to take immediate steps to end all such violations and abuses; and reiterates its deep concern at the Commission’s findings concerning the situation of refugees and asylum seekers returned to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and other citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who have been repatriated from abroad and made subject to sanctions. The Council stresses and restates its grave concern about the Commission’s finding that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the State for decades.

The Council decides to convene a panel discussion on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including the issue of international abductions, enforced disappearances and related matters, at its thirtieth session; decides to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for a period of one year; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to report on its follow-up efforts in the regular annual report of the Secretary-General submitted to the General Assembly on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; and requests the Special Rapporteur to submit regular reports to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly on the implementation of his mandate.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (27): Albania, Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Paraguay, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United States of America.

Against (6): Bolivia, China, Cuba, Russian Federation, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.

Abstentions (14): Algeria, Bangladesh, Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa.

Latvia, introducing resolution L.18 on behalf of the European Union, noted that Japan and the European Union had been at the forefront of efforts to address the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It was regretted that there was no cooperation by the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with United Nations human rights mechanisms, and deep concerns remained about the ongoing systematic and grave human rights violations. The resolution aimed to address the most pertinent issues, including accountability. The Council decided to firmly place the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on its agenda, especially enforced disappearances and abductions. The European Union urged all States to adopt the resolution.

Japan, also introducing resolution L.18, said it remained deeply concerned about the longstanding and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which were documented in detail in the report of the Commission of Inquiry submitted to the Council last year. Japan firmly believed that it was the duty of the international community, including the United Nations, to respond to the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Japan urged that country to engage in constructive dialogue with the international community, and to take concrete steps to improve the human rights situation on the ground.

United States, in a general comment, urged all Member States to support the resolution and expressed deep concern about the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which according to the Commission of Inquiry constituted crimes against humanity. The United States looked forward to the establishment of a local Office of the High Commissioner in Seoul. The United States welcomed that the resolution would convene a panel on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking as the concerned country, strongly rejected this resolution which only turned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea into a venue for politicization and had nothing to do with human rights in the country. The core testimonies in the Commission of Inquiry’s report had been proven false by the testifiers themselves. Members of this Commission had never been to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and collected information by defectors. The resolution was intended to bring down the system and ideology of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and overthrow the political system by force. If the European Union and Japan were really concerned about the situation of human rights, one wondered why they remained silent about other subjects and violations occurring in the European Union, past war crimes by Japan and large-scale torture atrocities by the United States.

Cuba, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the Council was again considering a draft resolution that was politically motivated. Cuba rejected the selective imposition of politically motivated mandates, which ran contrary to the spirit of the Council. The Council’s work should be based on mutual cooperation and dialogue. Cuba thus required that the resolution be submitted to the vote and would vote against it. Cuba supported a just and honourable resolution of problems with the consent of all parties.

Venezuela, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted that the resolution was far removed from constructive dialogue and cooperation. On the contrary it promoted a policy of stigmatization. Dealing with the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should involve the said country in order to build peace and stability in the region. The resolution was selective, which was contrary to the spirit of the Council. Venezuela would therefore vote against the resolution.

Argentina, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, expressed concern about the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and had for this reason always supported resolutions on the issue within the Council and the Third Committee. Argentine urged the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to re-establish dialogue with United Nations human rights mechanisms and protect its civilians. The Council was the right forum to address this issue.

Viet Nam, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said confrontation was not a good method to address human rights concerns, no matter how concerning the situation was. Viet Nam encouraged all endeavours in addressing matters of priority such as the right to food, healthcare, humanitarian issues and abductions. Viet Nam said a comprehensive and inclusive approach of genuine and inclusive cooperation would be better than this approach. Viet Nam regretted that the draft resolution needed to be approved, as it did not address outstanding issues. Viet Nam was therefore not in a position to favour this resolution.

Brazil, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it would vote in favour of the resolution. Brazil recognized the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s engagement with the United Nations human rights mechanisms; however, there was still room for improvement. Progress had been made, but Brazil would appreciate if the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued the started dialogue. Brazil agreed that a multi-task strategy was necessary to address international abductions and enforced disappearances, and it expected the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abide by its international obligations in that respect.

China, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it always maintained that human rights issues should be addressed through the Universal Periodic Review, whereas naming and shaming should be avoided. A practical and constructive approach should be taken up with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, paying attention to the economic and social development in the country, including the provision of humanitarian aid. China would vote against the resolution.

Pakistan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said the content of this draft resolution was contrary to the spirit of cooperation and dialogue of this Council. There was no tangible outcome for this resolution, and mechanisms were only for the purpose of naming and shaming rather than of improving human rights. An impartial and cooperative approach was essential, rather than hypocrisy and double standards. Any country having genuine desire for the improvement of human rights should make constructive recommendations to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea within the Universal Periodic Review Process.

Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.21/Rev.1) on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, adopted without a vote, the Council decides to extend for one year the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. The Council invites the Special Rapporteur to include in his or her next report, inter alia, further recommendations on the needs of Myanmar, including with regard to technical assistance and capacity-building, and information on the progress in the electoral process and reform in the run-up to the 2015 elections as well as in the post-electoral period. The Council expresses concern at the increase in nationalist-based intolerance of religious and ethnic minorities, as well as of the United Nations and other international organizations; reiterates its serious concern about the situation of persons belonging to the Rohingya minority and other minorities in Rakhine State; expresses concern at the declaration of the Government of Myanmar that all white card identity documents would expire on 31 March 2015, which will deny persons belonging to the Rohingya minority any form of identification and the right to vote; and encourages continued efforts towards a durable nationwide ceasefire with ethnic armed groups and towards an all-inclusive political dialogue leading to comprehensive political solutions, emphasizing the importance of the full, equal and effective participation of women. The Council welcomes the positive developments in Myanmar and the commitment of the Government of Myanmar to continue on its path of political, economic and democratic reform, and encourages its continued efforts towards national reconciliation and the promotion and protection of human rights.

Latvia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, introduced resolution L.21/Rev. 1 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, which encouraged Myanmar for its efforts to protect human rights and work towards national reconciliation. However, it still had to address the serious situation of minorities. The European Union shared the Special Rapporteur’s concern about religious laws and called upon Myanmar to continue constitutional reform and to ensure that elections were transparent and free. Student protests which demanded education reforms were closely followed, and the European Union called on the Government to respect freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. It also urged Myanmar to make efforts to deal with the crises in certain regions of the country and effect a durable ceasefire. The draft resolution called for the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for another year.

Pakistan, in a general comment on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said it had constructively engaged with the European Union and Myanmar during the negotiations. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation welcomed that the European Union had taken its views into account with regards to the situation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Indonesia, in a general comment, welcomed significant achievements and progress in Myanmar over the past few years. This progress had to continue and be strengthened. Myanmar’s commitment to human rights and democracy had to be acknowledged and encouraged in view of this year’s elections. Indonesia stood ready to continue its support to Myanmar.

Cuba, in a general comment, stressed that it had always objected to pressure and blackmail against developing countries, and opposed the content of this resolution. The Universal Periodic Review was the ideal forum to address the situation in Myanmar through dialogue and cooperation.

Venezuela, in a general comment, said that resolution L.21 was yet another example of politicized mandates. This mandate did not serve to improve the situation in the country in any way, but it simply represented interference in domestic affairs. Poverty reduction and economic development were key to improving human rights situations.

Viet Nam, in a general comment, said that any effective addressing of human rights situations should involve all the parties concerned. It commended Myanmar’s efforts in national consolidation and reconciliation. Many challenges remained on the ground, but Viet Nam believed that the Government would address them. It recognized Myanmar’s positive steps to ensure better enjoyment of fundamental freedoms, and it urged the Council to continue to engage closely with Myanmar in a constructive way.

China, in a general comment, said that the work of the Council should strictly follow the United Nations Charter, namely the principles of universality, objectivity and non-selectivity, noting that it should avoid double standards. The international community should look at specific challenges to human rights promotion in Myanmar. China would therefore disassociate itself from the consensus and the resolution.

Russian Federation, in a general comment, noted the willingness of the co-sponsors to take the concerns by all into account. This resolution could have been submitted under agenda item 10. The Russian Federation would dissociate itself from the consensus.

India, in a general comment, called on the international community to continue to engage constructively and assist Myanmar. The opening of an office of the Office of the High Commissioner should be based on acceptable terms and focus on technical assistance. The draft resolution was not helpful, and India would therefore disassociate itself from the consensus.

Myanmar, speaking as the concerned country, said it rejected country-specific mandates and was disappointed that the European Union had once again tabled a resolution targeting Myanmar under the pretext of human rights. There was no one-size-fits-all constitution in the world and prejudging the outcome of general elections was unwarranted on any grounds. Myanmar rejected the intrusive elements contained in the operative paragraphs 2 and 7, and strongly rejected operative paragraphs 6 and 8 which contained sweeping and unverifiable accusations. There had been no recurrence of inter-communal violence in Rakhine State since 2012. Myanmar strongly rejected the use of terminology “Rohingya” since it had never existed in the ethnic history of the country. Continued use of that invented false term did not help addressing the issue but further undermined the efforts to resolve the situation. The reforms in the country had contributed greatly to the better enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people, significantly in the areas of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

Japan, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said it expected further cooperation with the Special Rapporteur, adding that the resolution should be simplified in accordance with the situation in Myanmar. It also expected the continuation of positive steps, especially concerning freedom of the press and the treatment of journalists. Japan was concerned about increased tension in the north of Myanmar, and expressed hope that the situation would be resolved. Myanmar needed further support from the international community, and Japan would endeavour to support its reform efforts.

Indonesia, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that Iran’s efforts to promote human rights should be recognized, but added that it had to redouble its efforts. It strongly believed in the Universal Periodic Review process. The international community should be more supportive and constructive in its approach to Iran, and thus Indonesia would not go along with the resolution. It encouraged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage constructively with the international community. However, while acknowledging human rights challenges there, it did not support the resolution.

Action on Resolutions under the Agenda Item on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

Action on Resolution on Human Rights in the Occupied Syrian Golan

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.3) on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, 1 against and 17 abstentions, the Council calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, in particular Security Council resolution 497 (1981), in which the Council decided, inter alia, that the decision of Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan was null and void and without international legal effect, and demanded that Israel rescind forthwith its decision; calls upon Israel to desist from its continuous building of settlements; calls upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan, and to desist from its repressive measures against them; calls upon Israel to release immediately the Syrian detainees in Israeli prisons, some of whom have been detained for more than 28 years, and to treat them in conformity with international humanitarian law; and requests the Secretary-General to disseminate the present resolution as widely as possible and to report on this matter to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-first session.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (29): Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.

Against (1): United States of America

Abstentions (17): Albania, Botswana, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Paraguay, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and United Kingdom.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.3 on human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, said human rights violations continued by Israel against Syrian civilians living under illegal occupation. In light of the prolonged occupation of the Golan Heights and of continued human rights violations by Israel, Pakistan hoped the resolution would be adopted by consensus.

Syria, speaking as the concerned country, said the situation continued to justify this appeal to Israel to end its occupation of the Syrian Golan, and end measures which worsened the human rights situation of civilians. Israel continued to undergo arbitrary detention of Syrian civilians and impose its nationality on Syrian citizens. It continued to deny the right to food and development of the people living under occupation, and stole their resources in violation of its international obligations. Countries needed to reaffirm the non-selectivity of the Council and support this draft resolution.

United States, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the only way to solve the conflict between Palestine and Israel was to create two States. It was thus troubling that one-sided resolutions were put forth in the Council. The two-State solution was the surest way to protect and promote the human rights of both Palestinians and Israelis. The United States was the largest single donor of humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees. Standalone resolutions on Israel were worrying as only Israel received such treatment. Since the Council continuously singled out Israel, United States requested that the resolution on the human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan be put to vote.

Action on Resolution on the Right of the Palestinian People to Self-determination

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.32) on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, adopted by a vote of 45 in favour, 1 against and 1 abstention, the Council reaffirms the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to live in freedom, justice and dignity and the right to their independent State of Palestine; also reaffirms its support for the solution of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security; notes that the fragmentation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory undermines the possibility of the Palestinian people realizing their right to self-determination and is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and stresses in this regard the need for respect for and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; confirms that the right of the Palestinian people to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources must be used in the interest of their national development, the well-being of the Palestinian people and as part of the realization of their right to self-determination; and urges all Member States and relevant bodies of the United Nations system to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self- determination.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (45): Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.

Against (1): United States of America

Abstentions (1): Ghana

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.32 on the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, said the draft recalled the inalienable, permanent and unqualified right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, and expressed support for a two-State solution. It contained facts recognized and acknowledged by the international community.

Saudi Arabia, in a general comment, said that it supported the Palestinian cause and Palestinians’ right to self-determination. Saudi Arabia thus encouraged the international community, and in particular those countries that supported Israel, to convince Israel to stop human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, to evacuate them, and to recognize Palestinians’ right to self-determination. Those States should not remain locked in their current positions, and should consider other options and vote in favour of the draft resolution.

State of Palestine, speaking as the concerned country, said self-determination was a precept that was part of international law, including the United Nations Charter, the two Covenants and the Vienna Declaration. The State of Palestine was committed to cooperate with Israel to work on a joint draft resolution on the right to self-determination of Palestinians. The State of Palestine expressed concern about the Israeli Prime Minister’s recent declaration that he would not support the creation of a State of Palestine. Israel had to cease its activities and colonization of the occupied territories. Palestinians had made mistakes, the State of Palestine acknowledged, and these mistakes needed to be addressed. But Israel also had to be held accountable for grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Foreign occupation was the first and foremost of the violations by Israel. The recent aggression of Gaza led to the death of more than 500 children. Israel had detained a 14 year-old child because he threw stones at Israel. The State of Palestine urged all members of the Council to vote in favour of resolutions under this agenda item.

Action on Resolution on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the Occupied Syrian Golan

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.33) on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, adopted by a vote of 45 in favour, 1 against and 1 abstentions, the Council reaffirms that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan are illegal and an obstacle to peace and economic and social development; and demands that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately cease all settlement activities in all the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan. The Council expresses its grave concern at, and calls for the cessation of the operation by Israel of a tramway linking the settlements with West Jerusalem; and the expropriation of Palestinian land, the demolition of Palestinian homes, demolition orders, forced evictions and “relocation” plans by Israel in areas identified for the expansion and construction of settlements, and other practices aimed at the forcible transfer of the Palestinian civilian population, including Bedouin communities and herders. The Council requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to present a report detailing the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the independent fact-finding mission on the implications of Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian People throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-first session.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (45): Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

Against (1): United States of America

Abstentions (1): Paraguay

Pakistan, introducing resolution L.33 on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that Israel continued the construction of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which violated the Geneva Conventions and the decisions of the International Court of Justice, which had ruled that the separation wall was illegal. The resolution reaffirmed that the settlements were illegal and an obstacle to economic and social development, and it demanded that Israel immediately withdraw from the occupied territories, stop the construction of settlements, and provide effective remedy to victims.

Saudi Arabia, in a general comment, condemned the continuation of Israel’s occupation and construction of illegal settlements. Israel expelled the local population in order to build colonies, which violated the Geneva Conventions and the decision of the International Court of Justice. The occupying power continued with its policies, which was a serious violation of human rights. In order to establish just peace, Israel had to withdraw from all the occupied territories, including the Syrian Golan.

Paraguay, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that Paraguay firmly believed that dialogue and direct negotiation between the two parties was the only way to reach sustainable peace. It called upon the parties to undertake the peace negotiations followed up by the international community. The solution had to be in conformity with international law, with the two States living side by side in peace and with security of their borders. This draft resolution did not contribute to a peaceful solution to the conflict and Paraguay would therefore oppose it.

Latvia, speaking on behalf of the European Union in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the European Union thanked Palestine for its efforts. However the European Union did not agree with some of the legal terms used in the draft resolution, including forced displacement, forced transfer, and pre-emptory norms. The European Union’s position regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including on the violence in 2014 in and around Gaza Strip, was set out in the January 15 United Nations Security Council statement by the European Union. Therefore a separate resolution on the human rights situation should not be seen as judging the ongoing negotiations. The European Union urged all parties to participate in the commission of inquiry activities on the Gaza strip. The European Union supported L.33 and the Member States of the European Union would vote in favour of this draft resolution.

Action on Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

In a resolution (A/HRC/28/L.34) on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of 43 in favour, 1 against and 3 abstentions, the Council stresses the need for Israel, the occupying Power, to withdraw from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, so as to enable the Palestinian people to exercise its universally recognized right to self-determination; demands that Israel, the occupying Power, comply fully with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949; demands that Israel, the occupying Power, cease immediately its imposition of prolonged closures and economic and movement restrictions, including those amounting to a blockade on the Gaza Strip, which severely restricts the freedom of movement of Palestinians within, into and out of Gaza and their access to basic utilities; stresses the need for the unhindered passage of ambulances at checkpoints, especially in times of conflict; expresses grave concern at the confiscation and damage by Israel of fishing nets in the Gaza Strip for which there is no discernible security justification.

The Council condemns all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction, especially the excessive use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians, particularly in the Gaza Strip; it also condemns the firing of rockets against Israeli civilian areas resulting in loss of life and injury. The Council further expresses deep concern at the conditions of the Palestinian prisoners and detainees, including minors, in Israeli jails and detention centres; demands that Israel cease its policy of transferring prisoners from the Occupied Palestinian Territory into the territory of Israel; and deplores Israel’s resumption of the policy of punitive home demolitions and the ongoing policy of revoking the residency permits of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem through various discriminatory laws. The Council deplores the persistent non-cooperation of Israel with special procedures mandate holders and other United Nations mechanisms; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to further strengthen the presence of its office in the Occupied Palestinian Territory by, inter alia, deploying the necessary personnel and expertise; and requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the present resolution to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-first session.

The result of the vote was as follows:

In favour (43): Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.

Against (1): United States of America.

Abstentions (3): Botswana, Paraguay, and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Pakistan, introducing draft resolution L.34 on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, said the draft urged Israel to cease human rights violations against Palestinians, including in the Gaza Strip, and to comply with its international obligations. Pakistan expressed concern about the dire humanitarian and human rights situations in the occupied territories, and hoped this would lead all Member States to vote in favour of this resolution.

Saudi Arabia, in a general comment, said that Israeli crimes had not spared civilians in Gaza, including children, women and the elderly. The hands of Israeli leaders were covered with the blood of innocent people, and the international community should force Israel to respect the rights of the Palestinian people. Peace could only be achieved with the withdrawal of Israel from occupied territories. Saudi Arabia urged all peace-loving countries to vote in favour of this resolution.

Paraguay, in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that direct negotiations between parties was the only way to reach sustainable peace, and called on the parties and the international community to renew efforts for negotiations. Paraguay supported the two-State solution and it condemned every abuse of international human rights law, noting that it was indispensable for all parties to respect that law. The proposed resolution would not help in finding a sustainable peace solution and Paraguay would thus abstain from voting.

Argentina, in an explanation of the vote after the vote, reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and to an independent Palestinian State within the 1967 borders and in accordance with the peace negotiations. Argentina recognized Palestine. It was in favour of Israel’s right to live in security within its borders, but also of peoples’ right to self-determination. If a people was subjected to a foreign occupation then they had no right to self-determination. Argentina supported this resolution and hoped it would lead to an independent Palestinian State.

Ghana, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, said that a mistake had been made in its voting decisions on two items, namely L.32 and L.34. The President of the Human Rights Council said that this would be reflected in the records of the meeting.

For use of the information media; not an official record

Afghanistan: Government of Japan gives USD 51 million for UN-Habitat executed projects in Asia, Arab States and Africa

27 March 2015 - 10:22am
Source: UN Human Settlements Program Country: Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sri Lanka

Nairobi, 27 March 2015—With the contribution of USD50.93 million from the Government of Japan, UN-Habitat will implement projects in Asia, Arab States and Africa.

The projects set to benefit from the generous contribution are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and South Sudan. They will touch on many aspects of the beneficiaries’ livelihoods ranging from addressing the urgent needs of the most vulnerable households to the establishment of IDPs prefab shelter sites. Some of those targeted will also benefit from the provision of shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance as well as flood protection, water and sanitation and livelihoods for returnees and IDPs.

On his part, UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos, hailed the landmark grant saying it came at the most opportune time. “At UN-Habitat we are always seeking development partners to help us execute our mandate. Japan has been one of strongest development partners to UN-Habitat over years, and I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest appreciation towards Japan’s continued contribution.”

The Community-led Urban Infrastructure Programme (CLUIP) in Afghanistan will benefit from a total budget of USD 20 million. This project is informed by the position of the new Unity Government which is that cities are key economic drivers for development and improving living conditions and service delivery to meet the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.

“UN-Habitat will address the urgent needs of the most vulnerable households such as recently demobilized combatants, IDPs, rural-urban migrants, returnees and low-income urban households, through the establishment of Community Development Councils to upgrade underserviced areas,” the Project Summary states. Some 236,000 people will benefit from this Programme. (Note: This Project is drawn up as a part of “Urban Solidarity Programme”.

The humanitarian support to IDPs in the Republic of Iraq including the Kurdistan Region of Iraq through provision of durable shelter in Baghdad, Dohuk and Kerballa will receive USD 15 million.

“The severe humanitarian crisis encountered in Iraq is characterized with more than 2 million internally displaced people added to the previous post 2006 caseload of IDPs (1.1 million) and the 250,000 Syrian refugees, the situation which exacerbated in 2014 by prevailing violence and ongoing war in 5 governorates against the terrorists group that calls itself Islamic State,” the Project Summary says.

Intense armed encounters in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Pakistan, took place over the last decade, with internal displacements and returns occurring in parallel in different agencies of FATA, in the vicinity of the border with Afghanistan.

Towards the end of March 2013, approximately 84,000 people fled from Tirrah Valley, Khyber Agency, due to an escalation in fighting between armed and non-state actors. On 15 June 2014, the Government announced another full-scale military operation, this time in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), which again resulted in the internal displacement of a much larger number of people – close to 1 million were registered.

Displaced households sought refuge in neighboring districts of Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Karak, Dera Ismail Khan and Kohat. Their living conditions are very challenging especially in terms of access to shelter, WASH, food and health facilities. The USD4.03 million contribution will go towards the provision of shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance for up to 3,846 displaced beneficiary households from North Waziristan Agency and 1,800 households returning to Tirrah Valley, Khyber Agency.

Continuing its’ support for Sri Lanka’s post-conflict reconstruction efforts, the Government of Japan will be providing an additional USD 4.2 million in March 2015 to improve the learning environment in Mannar district. This new project will address the needs of 15 schools, including construction of primary and secondary school buildings, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities for school children and teachers’ quarters. It will benefit over 10,000 returnees including 5,500 school children.

In Myanmar, actions are framed within the overall objective of helping the country’s poor and vulnerable communities affected by conflicts and natural disasters to address the emergency needs to restore their normal life and to sustainably improve quality of life. The project’s specific objective of assisting women and children is to respond to unexpected disaster conditions through all project activities to be implemented, promoting active participation of women, immediate recovery of their economic and social actions and providing safer and healthy environment for children. The project aims to benefit approximately 65,000 people.

In South Sudan, the conflict that began in December 2013 continues to affect the lives of millions of people. It has been marked by brutal violence against civilians and deepening suffering across the country. Insecurity and active hostilities constrain civilians’ freedom of movement.

The Summary reveals that the people in need in the coming year include an anticipated 1.95 million internally displaced people and a projected 293,000 refugees. In addition, around 270,000 more people will likely have sought refuge in neighboring countries by the end of 2015, including those who left in 2014.

The USD 2.4 million will go towards flood protection, water and sanitation and livelihoods for returnees and IDPs. “With the contribution from the Government of Japan, UN-Habitat supports population of 17,160 internally displaced and returnee families in Katigiri boma, Juba County (Central Equatoria State) and Alel Chok boma, Jur River County (Western Bahr El Ghazal State), the Summary states.

From the People of JapanDr. Clos gave his assurance that the funds would be put to good use. “As UN-Habitat we strive to ensure a prudent utilization of all the funds immediately, appropriately and exclusively for the execution of the Projects to alleviate the suffering of the intended beneficiaries.”

Iraq: Government of Japan gives USD 51 million for UN-Habitat executed projects in Asia, Arab States and Africa

27 March 2015 - 10:22am
Source: UN Human Settlements Program Country: Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sri Lanka

Nairobi, 27 March 2015—With the contribution of USD50.93 million from the Government of Japan, UN-Habitat will implement projects in Asia, Arab States and Africa.

The projects set to benefit from the generous contribution are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and South Sudan. They will touch on many aspects of the beneficiaries’ livelihoods ranging from addressing the urgent needs of the most vulnerable households to the establishment of IDPs prefab shelter sites. Some of those targeted will also benefit from the provision of shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance as well as flood protection, water and sanitation and livelihoods for returnees and IDPs.

On his part, UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos, hailed the landmark grant saying it came at the most opportune time. “At UN-Habitat we are always seeking development partners to help us execute our mandate. Japan has been one of strongest development partners to UN-Habitat over years, and I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest appreciation towards Japan’s continued contribution.”

The Community-led Urban Infrastructure Programme (CLUIP) in Afghanistan will benefit from a total budget of USD 20 million. This project is informed by the position of the new Unity Government which is that cities are key economic drivers for development and improving living conditions and service delivery to meet the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.

“UN-Habitat will address the urgent needs of the most vulnerable households such as recently demobilized combatants, IDPs, rural-urban migrants, returnees and low-income urban households, through the establishment of Community Development Councils to upgrade underserviced areas,” the Project Summary states. Some 236,000 people will benefit from this Programme. (Note: This Project is drawn up as a part of “Urban Solidarity Programme”.

The humanitarian support to IDPs in the Republic of Iraq including the Kurdistan Region of Iraq through provision of durable shelter in Baghdad, Dohuk and Kerballa will receive USD 15 million.

“The severe humanitarian crisis encountered in Iraq is characterized with more than 2 million internally displaced people added to the previous post 2006 caseload of IDPs (1.1 million) and the 250,000 Syrian refugees, the situation which exacerbated in 2014 by prevailing violence and ongoing war in 5 governorates against the terrorists group that calls itself Islamic State,” the Project Summary says.

Intense armed encounters in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Pakistan, took place over the last decade, with internal displacements and returns occurring in parallel in different agencies of FATA, in the vicinity of the border with Afghanistan.

Towards the end of March 2013, approximately 84,000 people fled from Tirrah Valley, Khyber Agency, due to an escalation in fighting between armed and non-state actors. On 15 June 2014, the Government announced another full-scale military operation, this time in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), which again resulted in the internal displacement of a much larger number of people – close to 1 million were registered.

Displaced households sought refuge in neighboring districts of Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Karak, Dera Ismail Khan and Kohat. Their living conditions are very challenging especially in terms of access to shelter, WASH, food and health facilities. The USD4.03 million contribution will go towards the provision of shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance for up to 3,846 displaced beneficiary households from North Waziristan Agency and 1,800 households returning to Tirrah Valley, Khyber Agency.

Continuing its’ support for Sri Lanka’s post-conflict reconstruction efforts, the Government of Japan will be providing an additional USD 4.2 million in March 2015 to improve the learning environment in Mannar district. This new project will address the needs of 15 schools, including construction of primary and secondary school buildings, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities for school children and teachers’ quarters. It will benefit over 10,000 returnees including 5,500 school children.

In Myanmar, actions are framed within the overall objective of helping the country’s poor and vulnerable communities affected by conflicts and natural disasters to address the emergency needs to restore their normal life and to sustainably improve quality of life. The project’s specific objective of assisting women and children is to respond to unexpected disaster conditions through all project activities to be implemented, promoting active participation of women, immediate recovery of their economic and social actions and providing safer and healthy environment for children. The project aims to benefit approximately 65,000 people.

In South Sudan, the conflict that began in December 2013 continues to affect the lives of millions of people. It has been marked by brutal violence against civilians and deepening suffering across the country. Insecurity and active hostilities constrain civilians’ freedom of movement.

The Summary reveals that the people in need in the coming year include an anticipated 1.95 million internally displaced people and a projected 293,000 refugees. In addition, around 270,000 more people will likely have sought refuge in neighboring countries by the end of 2015, including those who left in 2014.

The USD 2.4 million will go towards flood protection, water and sanitation and livelihoods for returnees and IDPs. “With the contribution from the Government of Japan, UN-Habitat supports population of 17,160 internally displaced and returnee families in Katigiri boma, Juba County (Central Equatoria State) and Alel Chok boma, Jur River County (Western Bahr El Ghazal State), the Summary states.

From the People of JapanDr. Clos gave his assurance that the funds would be put to good use. “As UN-Habitat we strive to ensure a prudent utilization of all the funds immediately, appropriately and exclusively for the execution of the Projects to alleviate the suffering of the intended beneficiaries.”

Myanmar: Military Chief Warns Against Strong-Arming Voters in National Elections

27 March 2015 - 2:36am
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By KYAW PHYO THA / THE IRRAWAADY

RANGOON — The Burmese military’s commander-in-chief warned on Friday that the army will not tolerate the strong-arming of voters in national elections slated for later this year.

“I want to say that any disturbances to the stability of the state and the prevalence of law [and] any armed pressure or threats to voters won’t be allowed in the General Election,” Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing said during a military parade in Naypyidaw to mark the 70th anniversary of Burma’s Armed Forces Day.

Though he didn’t elaborate on this remark, it was a possible warning to armed rebel groups to refrain from forcing voters in areas under their control to support certain political parties.

During the nearly 30-minute speech given to military columns participating in the morning parade, the military chief also said that ethnic armed groups currently in peace talks with the government should uphold their promises and utilize political means to solve political issues.

“In the implementation of a cease fire and peace process, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration [of ethnic armed groups] is essential,” Min Aung Hlaing said.

“National solidarity [and] national reconciliation… will be carried out without fail as the Tatmadaw is the Union Defence Services formed by ethnic people of the Union.”

His remarks on the peace process came as the latest round of negotiations for a nationwide ceasefire agreement are paused for a recess, with stakeholders and observers split on whether the long-awaited pact will be signed soon. Talks will resume in Rangoon on Mar. 30.

Friday’s parade was attended by senior military officials, lawmakers and international military attachés.

Although Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi attended the event in 2013 and 2014, she was absent on Friday, reportedly due to ill health.

The country’s “Navy Seals” joined Burma Army soldiers for the first time, marching in formation across a parade ground where tanks, armored personnel carriers, mobile radar systems and truck-mounted rockets were also on display.

Myanmar: ‘Signing the Ceasefire Does Not Mean Achieving Peace’

26 March 2015 - 11:28pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By AUNG ZAW / THE IRRAWADDY

Just as the latest round of peace talks paused for a recess and participants emerged optimistic about reaching a long awaited nationwide ceasefire agreement, news emerged that clashes had again broken out between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the country’s far north. While many stakeholders maintain that an agreement is just around the corner, so many deadlines have come and gone that peace seems a distant mirage to many observers.

As conflict continues and several parts of the country, and as negotiators continue trying to forge a path toward a peaceful Burma, The Irrawaddy’s Editor in Chief Aung Zaw sits down with Gen. Gun Maw, Deputy Chief of Staff to the KIA, for a frank and thorough discussion about recent conflicts in Kachin and Shan states, and the country’s prospects for peace.

KIA delegates recently met with President U Thein Sein for the first time in Naypyidaw, raising hopes that a peace agreement could be reached soon. Could you tell us about the meeting and its outcomes?

We stopped in Naypyidaw on our way to attend the seventh round of peace talks [in Rangoon from March 17 to 22] between the Union Peace-making Work Committee [UPWC] and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team [NCCT]. We had long negotiated to meet with the commander in chief, since December. We made a two-day stop in Naypyidaw and eight of our central committee members met with the president. We delivered a letter from the KIO [Kachin Independence Organization, the political wing of the KIA] chairman to the president. [KIO] General Secretary La Jar had a frank discussion [with the president] about the KIO’s position. We expected to achieve good results at the meeting between the UPWC and the NCCT after meeting with the president, and that is what happened.

What is your assessment of the discussion? Do you think it was a further step toward peace?

I think the meeting could have dispelled some doubts that the president had about us, as we were able to express the KIO’s position in person. I hope that if we could reach an understanding it would benefit the nationwide ceasefire process, but we can’t say what the outcomes of the meeting will be at this time.

Many viewed the fact that Commander in Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing received KIO delegates as significant. As the Burma Army is taking a leading role in negotiations with ethnic armed groups, what was the result of this meeting?

When we met with the commander in chief, we talked about solving political problems through political means, and avoiding military means. The second point we discussed was the future of the army. We accept the principle that there must be only one army and only one commander in chief, but we said we would like to discuss during the political dialogue exactly what the army should look like in the future.

What was his response?

I felt like he was satisfied. We mainly talked about two topics. Firstly, one military and one commander in chief. Secondly, we must accomplish a nationwide ceasefire agreement. When we said that we hoped to see a time when there would be no need for military preparations after the NCA is signed, he replied that he was quite happy to hear such words from us.

Was he really happy or was he pretending to be happy?

We have yet to wait and see how he acts. But he said so.

Did you discuss what the future army would look like?

We have not yet discussed it, because the ethnic armed groups themselves do not have a specific principle about it. But the ideal army, in our minds, is an army made up of all ethnicities on equal standing and without discrimination, and it must practice meritocracy with regard to promotion. It must be an army which carries out the main responsibilities of a professional army. I don’t want to blame the existing army. I don’t mean the existing army must be disbanded, I mean we would like to discuss how we can improve it.

Burma is in terrible need of trust, and trust must be built. Do you feel that mutual trust has increased after you met with the country’s leadership?

It takes two to build trust. As we could talk face-to-face with the president and the commander in chief, we have trust in them. But follow-up procedures are important to strengthen this trust. I think it will depend on the extent to which we keep promises and make compromises.

The Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) and peace negotiators told the media that a further step could be made toward the NCA after the talks. Does this reflect the nature of the discussions?

The United Nations and Chinese delegates attended the peace talks as observers, and Mong La, Naga and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) were also present this time. Both the UWPC and the NCCT expressed stronger enthusiasm about finding a solution, compared to previous talks. But regarding the result of the meeting, much remains to be done.

But some newspapers reported that the NCA could be signed within a few days.

The NCA may be signed by both parties soon, but signing it does not mean peace. As I have said earlier, the matters we have to discuss after signing the NCA are much more difficult, so signing the NCA does not mean achieving peace.

I suppose troop deployment is also a key issue.

Yes, it is quite an important issue. This is a topic that is yet to be discussed.

So it could take a long time to reach agreement on that topic?

Yes, we need to discuss some points before signing the NCA and much more remains to be done after signing it. That’s why I say peace can’t be achieved right after the NCA is signed.

MPC told the media that there are only four remaining topics to discuss. People took that to mean that peace is just a few days away. They had false hopes. What would you like to say to them?

Those four topics could be big issues, and there may be sub-topics. So rather than talking about the number, I would like to ask the UWPC to make public the fact that we have yet to discuss important principle issues.

The Myanmar army attacked the KIA while the seventh round of talks was going on, even using air strikes. Isn’t this a step backward?

I was about to report to our central committee about some deadlock issues when the government’s warplanes attacked our Brigade No. 3. The clashes were ordered by the upper levels of power, but the unexpected engagement will not have a serious impact on the talks.

The clashes occurred shortly after you met with Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing. Many have a very pessimistic view about this fight. Do you share this view?

We are systematically studying their intentions now. We are checking if the government army’s attack was meant to put pressure on us to sign the NCA quickly.

Are ongoing conflicts, including clashes with Kokang at the China-Myanmar border, related to the coming election?

As we understand it, the government has officially said that it wants to hold elections, but given the circumstances, it is doubtful that elections can be held nationwide. For example, no preparations have been made so far in conflict regions. We have told the president and the commander in chief that we understand they have difficulties and their time is limited for achieving nationwide peace because of the election.

Was the Kokang fighting on the agenda at the talks?

Yes, it was. We called on the government to discuss the Kokang issue with magnanimity and patience. We have accepted the Kokang as an ethnic group in Myanmar. We proposed settling the issue through negotiation and not militarily.

Don’t you think they are keener on solving the issue by military means, as they are even using warplanes?

Around 60 battalions have been deployed in Kokang and more reinforcements are being sent there. We have proposed both to the commander in chief and to the UPWC not to solve the issue militarily, but to find a solution through political means. Personally, I think it should not be settled by military means.

Do ethnic leaders have a single, united desire for peace?

Genuine political dialogue is the aspiration of all ethnic armed groups. Even if there are flaws in the NCA, if there were true political dialogue we would have no reason not to sign it. We have explicitly told the government that we would sign the NCA if we believe it could lead to true political dialogue. But we won’t sign it if it would force [ethnic minorities] to accept the [military drafted] 2008 Constitution.

You mean ethnic minority groups do not accept the 2008 Constitution?

Yes. We, the KIO, have officially said that the 2008 Constitution is incomplete and does not meet an acceptable standard for all ethnicities. But we are not discussing charter amendment at the talks. We understand that it needs to be discussed by all at some time in the future.

You mean during political dialogue?

Yes.

Ethnic armed groups, including the KIA/KIO, reached ceasefire agreements during the time of U Ne Win, the State Law and Order Restoration Council, the State Peace and Development Council, but none of them were permanent. Compared to previous discussions and truces, do you think the current discussions are more convincing?

Yes, we have hope. Looking back at previous ceasefire agreements, we find two flaws. One is that we could not adopt a future plan. Secondly, we failed to inform the public. This time, we have to correct these mistakes. The NCA must have a future plan and it must be made public. If there is public participation, I believe the NCA will have a guarantee.

Some say that the NCA will be signed during the Myanmar New Year Festival. Is this true?

It is unlikely that it will be signed before the [New Year] Water Festival. If we get the draft agreement we need to inform our leaders first, so it won’t be signed before the water festival.

What about during or after the Water Festival?

We would be able to sign it after the Water Festival if we reach an agreement.

Pakistan: Conflict Trends (No. 1): Real-Time Analysis of Asian Political Violence, March 2015

26 March 2015 - 12:48pm
Source: Armed Conflict Location and Events Dataset Country: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam

Welcome to the first trend report for ACLED Asia. In these periodic publications, the ACLED Asia team will discuss and analyze the real-time conflict event trends that are occurring throughout South and South-East Asia. ACLED Asia will release real-time data for eleven states with various conflict profiles. These states include India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam,
Thailand and Myanmar. See Figure 1. Data for January and February 2015 are now available from the CEPSA website and the ACLED website.

Real-time data will be released by month, while the ACLED Asia team continues to collect back dated information for all states. A schedule for available backdated information will be released in the coming month. Several states will have coverage from 1997-present, while others will have conflict events coded from 2010-present for the initial round of backdating. See Figure 2.

World: Communicating with Communities Newsletter, March 2015 (Vanuatu in Focus)

25 March 2015 - 11:50pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bangladesh, Japan, Myanmar, Philippines, Vanuatu, World

This update seeks to support growth in innovative policy, practice and partnerships in humanitarian action to better communicate with disaster-affected communities. Readers are encouraged to forward this email through their own networks.

What's inside

  • Vanuatu – Are we communicating with cyclone affected communities?

  • Myanmar – Rakhine State community focus group discussions.

  • Philippines - Facebook goes free-of-charge with Smart Communications.

  • Bangladesh – Communications on the preparedness agenda.

  • Japan – Remembering the Great East Japan Earthquake two years on.

  • Global – Mobile operators sign Humanitarian Connectivity Charter.

  • CDAC Network – New members, Members Forum and more.

Myanmar: Myanmar Army Commits Rapes, Beatings, Killings of Kokang People: Refugees

25 March 2015 - 6:46pm
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: China, Myanmar

Refugees in the conflict-torn Kokang region of Shan State have accused Myanmar government troops of gang rape, beatings and shootings of unarmed civilians, in a bid to terrorize the local population since fighting with rebel forces began on Feb. 9.

Kokang refugee Liu Zhengxiang, who frequently returns from China's neighboring province of Yunnan to take care of animals at her home in Shiyuanzi on the Myanmar side of the border, said groups of Myanmar government soldiers are roaming around, using rape, beatings and shootings as a weapon of war against local people.

"The Myanmar army...comes at night, when you can't see them, because they think that the local people are working for [rebel commander] Peng Jiasheng," Liu said.

"If they see a woman, they will rape her," she said. "They tie her hands up with wire, twisted tight with pliers, so that it tears into her flesh. When they are done raping her, they let her go."

Liu said the groups of soldiers are attacking civilians in the belief that they are Peng's soldiers, even if they are unarmed.

"Some of Peng's troops don't wear uniform, so when the Myanmar army sees them, especially if they are young, they assume they are Peng's people."

Photos obtained by RFA from the region in recent weeks have shown young women fighting in Peng's Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) forces. However, the women in the photos wore green military uniforms.

The MNDAA is trying to retake the Kokang self-administered zone in northeastern Myanmar's Shan that it had controlled until 2009.

Raping women, beating men

Liu said men were also being targeted by Myanmar government forces for violent attacks.

"If they see a man, they tie them up and beat them with a wooden stick," she said.

She said she had witnessed the shooting of a 70-year-old civilian by Myanmar soldiers on a recent trip home.

"They shot two of his toes off as he was getting into a vehicle, but he hadn't managed to shut the door yet," Liu said.

Xu Yong, a refugee who escaped to Yunnan from Yanjiaozhai village on the Myanmar side of the border, said he had witnessed an attack by government troops in the village on March 19.

"They smashed in doors and beat up anyone they saw," Xu told RFA in a recent interview. "They pointed their guns at the local people, and pushed them into a huddle in an open space in the village."

"Four people were killed and 13 people were wounded, and two people are missing," he said.

Massacres in Kokang

Kokang high school teacher Qiu Yongbin, currently based in Yunnan's Nansan township and helping teach refugee children at the Border Marker No. 125 refugee camp, said the army is 'massacring' local people.

"Wherever they go, they massacre whole villages, massacre them," Qiu said.

"If you give me a sniper rifle, I'll go and join in the war."

Qiu said the ethnic Chinese of Kokang aren't treated as Myanmar citizens in their own country, and carry ID cards identifying them as "not citizens of this country."

Fellow Kokang refugee Liu Xiaowen said local residents who hadn't been attacked by government troops had had their homes ransacked and their belongings stolen by them.

"They've been in charge of this country for several decades now, but they have never treated Kokang people as their own people," Liu Xiaowen said. "They treat us like the enemy, and they steal our stuff."

Liu said hunger is becoming a widespread problem among the estimated 100,000 cilivians displaced from the border region by the conflict.

"If they are hungry, they'll steal," he said. "The elderly and the children are starving, and they don't want to watch them die."

"So they have to steal. The only alternative is to go and get food from Kokang, and risk getting beaten to death by the Myanmar army."

Refugee Fang Yongwen, who ran a prosperous supermarket in the once-bustling regional capital Laukkai, said local people now fear for their lives on the Myanmar side of the border.

"Things are tough here, but it's better to stay alive," Fang said. "Over there, there's no guarantee that you'll live."

"When Peng Jiasheng was in charge, Laukkai ruled its own affairs... and excluded the Myanmar army, who act without reason."

Tensions in the region are running high amid a relative lull in fighting between government and rebel forces, as a major government assault is widely expected in the next few days, sources said.

A Kokang resident on the Myanmar side of the border said sporadic shelling and gunfire bursts had been heard, but that another government attack is expected soon.

"The Myanmar army is going to launch an attack, but we're still only talking about surrounding and taking rebel positions," he said. "There's no way they can wage all-out war."

In Nansan, China's armed police and People's Liberation Army (PLA) have stepped up patrols, a resident surnamed Zhang told RFA.

"The PLA is all in position here now, an they have anti-missile missiles," Zhang said. "The guesthouse next door to our house has been totally taken over by PLA soldiers."

"There are helicopters filling up the sports field at the school," Zhang said, adding: "China is prepared, and we are pretty safe here."

Reported by Xin Lin and Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Myanmar: Recent Developments at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: March 2015

25 March 2015 - 4:26pm
Source: Open Society Foundations Country: Myanmar

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has been remarkably active in the first quarter of 2015, but its progress is being undermined by mounting evidence of political interference in two cases currently under investigation.

This report reviews significant recent developments in Case 002/02, including witness testimony, shortcomings in outreach, additions to the case file, and the need to plan for reparations.

It then examines Cases 003 and 004, including ongoing political interference, the failure of the judicial police to execute arrest warrants, and the refusal of the UN and international officials to oppose this interference. It concludes with recommendations for action by the court, the United Nations, the government of Cambodia, and the court’s donors.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Refugee and IDP Camp Populations: February 2015

25 March 2015 - 5:10am
Source: The Border Consortium Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Myanmar: Myanmar: Humanitarian Bulletin, Issue 2 | 1 – 28 February 2015

25 March 2015 - 4:29am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Outbreak of fighting in Kokang displaces tens of thousands into China and other parts of Myanmar

  • Urgent need for measures to ensure safety of people in IDP camps in Rakhine that are at high risk of flooding in the monsoon season

  • New measures to strengthen the emergency medical referral system in Rakhine

  • MSF Holland has restarted health activities in some parts of Rakhine State

Key FIGURES

People displaced in Rakhine State 139,000

People displaced in Kachin and northern Shan states 100,000

People displaced in Meiktila, Mandalay region 3,300 People displaced from Kokang who transited through Lashio >13,000

  • Total numbers displaced by the Kokang conflict remain unconfirmed

Myanmar: Reaching the hard to reach - Fighting measles and rubella in Rakhine State

25 March 2015 - 12:00am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

By Virginia Henderson

Rakhine State, February 2015: Wading barefoot through streams, climbing over steep narrow hill paths, crossing wobbly log bridges and walking hours over parched dusty plains- teams from Myanmar’s Ministry of Health, UNICEF and WHO went to great lengths to reach children in out-of-the-way places around the country.

In tiny villages and large towns around the country, 12,000 vaccination teams were part of Myanmar’s largest ever public health intervention. The National Measles and Rubella (MR) vaccination campaign, aiming to reach more than 17 million children aged nine months to 15 years, covered nearly 65,000 villages and 45,000 schools over two-phases.

Mya My Thein, has been a Township Health Nurse for 23 years in Rakhine State. It is only her second time in Upper Timma village, where she came to support the campaign’s second phase, primarily community-based. “Things went smoothly here, though some could not come because of transportation issues, which is the biggest challenge, for both health staff and the local people”, she explained. Indeed, to reach that village it takes three hours driving across vast unfenced flats, past tiny villages of bamboo and rattan, followed by a one hour walk through rice paddies dotted with haystacks, oxen and goats.

A labyrinth of arms of rivers and islands, Rakhine State poses logistical challenges for the outreach effort. Transport is an issue. Propellers, wheels and feet are needed to get the dedicated health workers to far out isolated villages. Such outreach could only be undertaken in the dry season.

“I’m used to working in hard to reach places”, said Aye Win, a very pregnant midwife in charge of administering the vaccinations in Kant Kaw Kyang village. “This village is doing well because the IEC [Information, Education and Communication] materials were distributed effectively so people knew about it.”

Community mobilisation is key to overcoming the difficult challenge of inaccessibility, especially in the country’s northern townships. The widespread campaign using leaflets, TV, radio, posters, vinyl banners, and mobile broadcast units announced details and encouraged people to participate. The Ministry of Health and UNICEF trained people to spread the word.

The vaccination campaign began in January 2015 with school-based children from 5 to 15 years old. At the end of February, phase two of the campaign focused on reaching all the children not covered in phase one, including out-of-school children and pre-schoolers.

Proud of the 92 percent coverage of school children, Deputy State Health Director, Dr Aung Thurein, explained that nearly 32,000 children were immunised in Sittwe area. “The school phase was comparatively easy. The next stage was the IDP camps, then the community mobilisation phase aiming to reach isolated villages,” he summarised.

In fact, Rakhine authorities have reasons to be proud. The information about the campaign reached almost every corner of the State.

Mae Lon Gyi, 30, brought to Upper Timma Village her two children Sandar Moe, 3, and Moe Ee Zan 18 months to be vaccinated. “The health staff came to my house to give me some information and told me to come to the vaccination centre”, she explained. “Now, I know that measles can cause small blisters on the skin and fever, and understand that this vaccine can prevent measles”, she said.

At Zaw Ma Tet village, thirty minutes by speedboat up the river from Sittwe, village headman U Lu Gyi, explains how traditional healers are crucial. “For common illnesses, people here usually consult local traditional healers”, he said. “When the basic health staff, nurses and midwives came to discuss the vaccination programme, they included some of these village traditional healers, making them part of the campaign. It’s all part of community mobilisation”, U Lu Gyi concluded.

In internal-communal violence-affected areas, populations can have limited access to healthcare services. As Yosi Echeverry Burckhardt, Chief of UNICEF Sittwe field office explains: “In order to break the disease transmission chain, when introducing a new vaccine such as against rubella, we have to do a major push to ensure all children up to 15 years of age are vaccinated, especially girls, as the disease is particularly dangerous during pregnancy”.

UNICEF has supported the Ministry of Health and its partners to ensure the success of Myanmar’s largest ever vaccination campaign, namely by procuring vaccines, reinforcing the cold chain infrastructures, and monitoring to ensure micro-plans were followed.

Country-wide, the exceptional mobilisation of nurses, teachers and countless community leaders has resulted in an excellent coverage that is currently estimated at approximately 95%. Even in areas of conflict and intercommunal tensions such as Rakhine and Kachin States, the unprecedented commitment of health and education workers and community leaders has helped reach levels comparable to the national average.

Nevertheless, the recent violence in Kokang Self-Administered Zone, which has forced thousands of people from their homes, forced schools and health centres to close down, and put children at additional risks of separation from their families, has also impeded the movement of supplies and health personnel essential to the immunisation campaign. UNICEF calls for a resumption of immunisation activities, to make sure the remaining 35% of children aged between nine months and 15 years in Kokang Self-Administered Zone are protected from the risk of contracting measles or rubella.

World: March 2015 Special Update – Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

24 March 2015 - 10:13pm
Source: Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

On Wednesday 25th March, the UN Security Council (UNSC) will hold an Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, which will take place under the presidency of France. The theme of the Open Debate will focus on child victims of non-state armed actors (ANSAs). This will be the first Open Debate to focus on actions and tools Member States may constructively use to end and prevent grave violations against children by ANSAs.

Bearing in mind the variety of ANSAs, the Security Council must use the appropriate actions and tools for ending and preventing violations of children’s rights by armed groups. Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict recommends the UNSC and Member States to call for the following:

1 Facilitate the opportunity for ANSAs to sign and implement action plans and/or other protective measures;

2 Consider children and armed conflict in the peacemaking process;

3 Expand the Security Council Resolution 1612 listing criteria to include abductions;

4 Promote safe schools and end the military use of schools;

5 Consider children and armed conflict in UN-mandated peace and political missions; and

6 Increase effectiveness of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict is a network of local, national and international non-governmental organizations striving to end violations against children in armed conflicts and to guarantee their rights. This special update is based on the experience of Watchlist and its member organizations in over a decade of engagement with the Security Council’s children and armed conflict agenda.

Download Special Update PDF

Link to Special Update Background

Myanmar: Vocational Training in Myanmar: Building a Brighter Future

24 March 2015 - 8:52pm
Source: Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development Country: Myanmar

On the one hand the demand for skilled labour is high in Myanmar, however there are not enough trained workers to meet the needs of the job market. On the other, youth and young adults want to learn new skills that will lead them to more employment opportunities.

To address this gap, ACTED, with support from the Swiss Development Cooperation, organized short vocational courses and training on skills that are in line with what the labor market needs. ACTED worked closely with local teachers in Loikaw, Kayah State, located in the East of Myanmar along the border with Thailand. Trainings were held in masonry and construction, motorbike repair, electronics, and electronic wiring. A total of 82 students registered for the first batch of courses and completed 200 hours (over 6 weeks) of practical and theoretical classroom training.

Before participating in a course, 27 year old Aung Kyaw, worked with his uncle in a small plastic factory in Loikaw. Without any proper training, one of his responsibilities was the electrical maintenance of the factory. His lack of proper skills and knowledge on electrical maintenance led him to register for the electrical wiring course.

After the classroom training, students are required to do a six-week internship in the private sector. Aung Kyaw, along with 16 other students, took the opportunity to complete his internship with a large international construction firm in Yangon, Myanmar’s economic capital. After four weeks of doing the internship, Aung Kyaw is already convinced he would like to continue working for the international construction firm, as he is gaining invaluable practical experience through the use of new technology and equipment, and especially safety procedures. In the future, Aung Kyaw sees himself returning to Loikaw and sharing his knowledge to develop Loikaw’s construction sector.

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 18–24 March 2015

24 March 2015 - 10:00am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, Vanuatu, World, Yemen

Snapshot 18-24 March 2015

Syria: The Government carried out over 10,000 airstrikes between October and March, dropping more than 5,300 barrel bombs and killing almost 2,200 civilians. A chlorine attack on 16 March in Idleb killed six people.

Yemen: Conflict is escalating as Houthi forces seized part of Taizz city and its military airbase, and have sent further reinforcements south. Eleven people were killed and at least 63 wounded when special forces loyal to the Houthis tried to seize control of Aden's airport.Troops loyal to President Hadi have reportedly deployed in Lahj in anticipation of a possible Houthi advance. Islamic State claimed responsibility for attacks on mosques in Sanaa that killed 142 and injured more than 350.

Updated: 24/03/2015. Next update: 31/03/2015

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

World: World TB Day 2015: Reach, Treat, Cure Everyone, including Migrants and Displaced Persons

24 March 2015 - 8:50am
Source: International Organization for Migration Country: Iraq, Jordan, Myanmar, Nepal, World

Switzerland - March 24 marks World TB Day with the theme “Reach the 3 Million: Reach, Treat, Cure Everyone.”

Tuberculosis is one of the world’s top health challenges with 9 million new cases and the deaths of nearly 1.5 million people each year. Approximately one third of these 9 million cases of TB are missed by the health system. Among those missed are those most vulnerable to TB: people living with HIV/AIDS, migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons, miners, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations.

In 2014, the World Health Assembly adopted WHO’s “Global strategy and targets for tuberculosis prevention, care and control after 2015” which requests WHO and partners to promote cross-border collaboration to address the needs of vulnerable communities, including migrant populations.

Access to “continuity of care” and prevention of communicable diseases such as TB, including Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR), as well as TB/HIV co-infection, commonly occur in states suffering from political turmoil and armed conflict. Crisis situations often result in disrupted capacity of the public health system to meet the health care needs of affected populations.

Therefore, on World TB Day, IOM aims to raise awareness of the importance of addressing TB among migrants, displaced persons and other crisis affected populations in humanitarian emergencies, whether as a result of natural disasters or conflicts. In crisis or emergency settings, displaced persons and affected communities often live in overcrowded and confined spaces and lack access to TB services.

“Promoting the use of primary health care and early treatment for TB among crisis affected populations and including them in TB-control programmes will reduce the need for costly emergency care and related high costs for the health system,” stated IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.

IOM works, amongst others, with Ministries of Health, especially National TB Programmes (NTP), WHO, the Stop TB Partnership, and the Global Fund to improve the quality and capacity of TB prevention, care and treatment services for crisis affected populations.

Examples of IOM’s work to reduce TB in humanitarian emergencies include:

· In January 2015, IOM received USD 3.25 million from the Global Fund’s Emergency Fund to support the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TB among Syrian refugees and Lebanese returnees in Lebanon and Syrian refugees in Jordan, in close collaboration with the National TB Programme, WHO and UNHCR. With the civil war in Syria entering its fourth year, Lebanon now hosts 1.3 million Syrian refugees and Jordan, 620,000. This has severely overstretched the capacity of both countries’ health systems and has resulted in an increase of TB cases in both countries.

· In Nepal, IOM works with the National TB Programme to reduce TB among Bhutanese refugees living in camps, who have escaped political unrest and violence in Bhutan. In 2014, IOM Nepal was awarded the Rana Samundra Trophy by the National Tuberculosis Center for outstanding work in TB. IOM introduced the TB diagnostic tool “GeneXpert” in nine strategically located microscopy centres in Nepal to increase TB detection among refugees, immigrants and Nepalese host populations. The project has tested over 20,000 suspect TB cases with GeneXpert technology detecting nearly 4,000 additional TB cases with around 300 drug resistant TB.

· In Iraq, as of January 2015, there are 235,563 Syrian refugees and 2,045,700 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq. IOM Iraq, in collaboration with the National TB Programme, WHO, UNHCR, and UNDP, supports the provision of critical primary health care services to approximately 400,000 beneficiaries, including TB detection and treatment support services in IDP and refugee camps. This is done, among others, by training community health workers on TB in the four governorates of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. These health workers learn the proper procedures for TB detection, screening, and referral for more complicated strains of TB in a humanitarian setting.

· IOM Yemen, in coordination with the national TB programme and WHO, has been responding to the health needs of irregular migrants, mainly from the Horn of Africa, and internally displaced persons from Yemen. IOM ensures that all migrants have access to health care services including TB screening, diagnosis and treatment in different areas including coastal areas and borders with Saudi Arabia as well as conflict affected areas in Sana'a, Aden, Hajjah and Abyan governorates. IOM provides a range of services, including physical examinations, radiological investigation, tuberculin skin test, sputum smear and culture, Drug Susceptibility Testing (DST) and Directly Observed Treatment (DOT). During 2014, 96 TB cases were detected and treated through IOM supported centers. Furthermore, 2,360 people have benefitted from TB awareness-raising sessions organized by IOM during 2014. Also, IOM conducts regular pre-departure health screening for those migrants who are returning to their countries of origin to assess if they are fit to travel, and to coordinate with these countries for further treatment and follow up of the TB cases.

· With support from the Global Fund, and in close collaboration with the National TB programme, IOM Myanmar is currently implementing community-based TB awareness, detection, diagnosis and treatment amongst migrants and mobility impacted communities in seven townships in South Eastern Myanmar, including Myawaddy Township in Kayin State, on the Myanmar-Thai border. Outreach health workers (OHWs) trained and supervised by IOM provide health education to the community, encourage people to present for testing if they have TB symptoms and provide DOT for TB patients in close collaboration with local TB services. OHWs also do active case finding and contact tracing to identify TB cases that might be missed otherwise. In 2014, 7,427 TB suspected patients were referred through IOM’s community-based approach for testing, of which 2,153 were positive and put on TB treatment. IOM provides transportation and meal support for hospitals to further enable successful patient outcomes, and has achieved treatment success rates of over 80 per cent amongst new smear positive patients in some areas. Integral to this approach are the OHWs, who provide continuous support to patients to ensure treatment adherence. “We need to find all the hidden TB cases we can, to reach them with health care services and treat them properly until they are cured. As a staff member of a humanitarian organization, I pledge to implement TB control activities as much as I can so my community will be free of TB,” said Shine Win Htut, an OHW in Myawaddy.

To learn more about IOM’s health programmes, please go to http://health.iom.int