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World: CrisisWatch August 2016

2 September 2016 - 7:30am
Source: International Crisis Group Country: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Western Sahara, World, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

CrisisWatch is a monthly early warning bulletin designed to provide a regular update on the state of the most significant situations of conflict around the world.

Global Overview, August 2016

The month saw Yemen’s peace talks collapse with violence there intensifying, and the Syrian conflict escalate following Ankara’s launch of a cross-border ground offensive against Islamic State (IS) and Kurdish forces, days after a major terror attack in Turkey’s south east. Troop deployments in Western Sahara threatened to bring about clashes, and violence flared in the Central African Republic. In Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, security forces brutally suppressed anti-government protests, while in Gabon, the president’s disputed re-election triggered violent clashes. In Asia, a suicide bombing killed over 70 people in Pakistan, while suspected militants in Thailand’s southern insurgency launched attacks on targets outside the traditional conflict zone. In positive news, peace talks between the Philippines government and communist rebel groups resumed after a four-year hiatus. On 24 August, Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) declared that they had reached a final peace accord, paving the way for an end to 52 years of armed conflict.

World: Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER), 2 September 2016, vol. 91, 35 (pp. 405–420) [EN/FR]

2 September 2016 - 4:05am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Bangladesh, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka, United Republic of Tanzania, World

Contents

405 Global leprosy update, 2015: time for action, accountability and inclusion

Sommaire

405 Situation de la lèpre dans le monde, 2015: l’heure est à l’action, à la responsabilisation et à l’inclusion

Myanmar: Mixed Movements Update for South-East Asia: January - June 2016

1 September 2016 - 8:26pm
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Australia, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand

Maritime Movements

In the first half of 2016, mixed maritime movements of refugees and migrants through South-East Asia were limited to isolated attempts by several hundred people trying to reach Malaysia and Australia, fewer than during the first six months of any year since 2011. By comparison, over 31,000 people were estimated to have attempted such movements in the first half of 2015.

There have now been no large-scale mixed maritime movements in South-East Asia since the events of May 2015, when over 5,000 refugees and migrants were abandoned by smugglers in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. Roughly 10 percent of those abandoned in May 2015 remain detained or in confined shelters, but the vast majority are either residing in refugee communities or have returned home. Of the two-thirds who were migrants, almost all have been repatriated. More than 600 of the refugees have been or are in the process of being resettled, including 47 particularly vulnerable individuals who departed for resettlement countries in the first half of 2016.

As the root causes of refugee flows out of Myanmar have not been resolved, the absence of maritime movements by refugees in 2016 is attributable to intensified interdiction efforts (particularly in Bangladesh and Thailand), greater awareness of the risks of the journey, and lack of legal status in traditional destination countries. At the same time, the costs for viable air and land routes are prohibitive. Legal pathways remain scarce.

The few isolated attempts to depart by sea were said to involve small groups of around a dozen people either organizing their own vessels or essentially stowing away for a fee on boats carrying ordinary cargo, such as timber. Although a small number of smugglers were alleged to be preparing boats with capacities for several hundred passengers, departure costs are believed to have increased significantly. The amount previously charged per adult—only a small proportion of which was required up front—has risen as smugglers pass on the higher costs now required to circumvent authorities and demand full payment, or a guarantor who can provide full payment, prior to departure.

Meanwhile, lack of legal status in Malaysia—where between 7,000 and 9,000 Rohingya are detained annually—has made it difficult for refugees there to sustain livelihoods. In past years, a young man leaving Bangladesh or Myanmar by boat could effectively embark with little or no upfront payment, find steady enough work in Malaysia to pay off his debt to smugglers within a year, then begin sending remittances home. Now, his family must arrange the funds predeparture, entering a cycle of debt and interest they can no longer pay off because they lack any steady source of income. Many Rohingya families in both Bangladesh and Myanmar have said that remittances from relatives in Malaysia or Saudi Arabia comprised the majority of their income.

Other Modes of Movement

Overland, hundreds of Rohingya are believed to have crossed by foot, bus, and train from Myanmar and Bangladesh to India in 2016, and UNHCR continues to register new Rohingya arrivals in India.

The rate of registration in India, however, has remained steady since the beginning of 2015—before maritime routes through the Bay of Bengal dissipated—suggesting that recent overland movements are a continuation of previous movements along the same overland route, rather than a new alternative to maritime movements. A limited number of Rohingya, possibly in the hundreds, have also reportedly found means to fly to Malaysia for between USD 4,500 and USD 6,600 or to Saudi Arabia for up to USD 8,300.

Myanmar: Statement by EU High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini on the 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference in Myanmar

1 September 2016 - 1:38pm
Source: European Union Country: Myanmar

The opening of the 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference marks an important milestone in the advancement of peace and national reconciliation in Myanmar.

The European Union welcomes the progress made in recent months towards increasing the inclusive nature of the peace process, as well as the ownership of the process by Myanmar. The Conference should build upon the shared commitment of the attendees – government actors, the army and leaders of ethnic armed groups alike – to resolving grievances through dialogue rather than armed conflict. It should open a new path towards sustainable peace, equitable development and the wider consolidation of the democratic reform process, as is the demand of the people of Myanmar.

The success of Myanmar's transition depends on putting an end to conflict. Though much has been achieved over the past few years, challenges still lie ahead. Ongoing clashes, especially in the north of the country, result in continued human suffering and undermine confidence in the peace process. Fighting must cease and disputes resolved through negotiation.

All stakeholders, including signatories and non-signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, must work together for a peaceful future, in a constructive and forward-looking spirit. The European Union, as a supporter of Myanmar's journey towards peace and democracy from its very beginnings and a formal witness to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, will continue to support all efforts towards peace and national reconciliation in Myanmar, and stands ready to help both politically and through our contribution to the Joint Peace Fund. Only in a peaceful, stable Myanmar can socio-economic development initiatives be successful and lift people out of poverty by creating new opportunities for all.

World: Humanitarian Funding Update August 2016 - United Nations Coordinated Appeals

1 September 2016 - 10:46am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ecuador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen, Zimbabwe

As of 31 August 2016, UN-coordinated appeals and refugee response plans as covered by the Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) require US$21.7 billion to meet the needs of 95.4 million people affected by humanitarian crises in 40 countries. Global requirements are adjusted throughout the year as response plans are revised, both upwards and downwards, to reflect up-to-date needs.
The current decrease has resulted from revisions of plans for Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Yemen.

The Ethiopia Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) now requests $1.6 billion to respond to the needs of 9.7 million people affected by El Niño. In Afghanistan, there is a $54 million reduction in the overall ask from $393 to $339 million.

The reductions reflect funding constraints impacting the ability to implement programmes, realistic absorption capacity and capability to deliver in the coming six months. Humanitarian actors have reached 2.1 million people with aid. The HRP for Yemen now requires $1.6 billion to respond to the needs of 12.6 million people. Some 6.9 million people have received assistance in 22 Governorates.
Funding for the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and the Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) is at 34 per cent and 47 per cent respectively.

Although the London conference saw record-level pledges, disbursements are urgently required to allow organizations to scale up or sustain operations in Syria and the region. With the highly prioritised Iraq 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan only 53 per cent funded, operational partners have urgently appealed for additional $284 million to prepare for the humanitarian impact of the operation to retake Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The 2016 humanitarian response plans (HRPs) for Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon contain components to respond to the Lake Chad Basin crisis and have appealed for $559 million to scale up their operations. The Cadre Harmonisé report for August notes that 65,000 people in North-East Nigeria are experiencing famine, more than 1 million people are in emergency, while about 3.3 million are in crisis. Please see icon overleaf for information on other urgent funding needs.

Additionally, El Niño's impact on people’s food security and agricultural livelihoods, will continue through the next growing season, with the impact on health, nutrition, water and sanitation likely to grow throughout the year.
Eastern and Southern Africa are the most affected regions with the effects likely to last well into 2017. Some 23 countries have presented costed response plans with total requirements of $5 billion.

On 16 August, the Emergency Relief Coordinator released $50 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for severely underfunded aid operations in Yemen, the Democratic Republic Congo, Chad, Central African Republic, Rwanda and Eritrea [link]. The latest rapid response allocations include aid for Syrian refugees in Jordan and an allocation to Niger. CERF has allocated a total of $291 million in 2016 thus far. The Fund has received $345 million for 2016 as of the end of August, and continues to anticipate a funding gap of $50 million on the $450 million annual funding target.

Meanwhile, 18 Member States have contributed $465 million in 2016. OCHA manages 18 CBPFs in the world’s worst crises, where these funds have allocated $339 million to aid agencies: 19 per cent to national NGOs; 47 per cent to international NGOs; 34 per cent to UN agencies. CBPFs continue to be one of the largest direct sources of funding to local and national frontline responders.

Myanmar: Powerful militia storms out of Myanmar peace talks

1 September 2016 - 7:17am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar
Naypyidaw, Myanmar | AFP | Thursday 9/1/2016 - 13:10 GMT

by Hla-Hla HTAY

Delegates from one of Myanmar's most heavily armed ethnic groups stormed out of peace talks on Thursday in an early blow to a landmark gathering aimed at ushering in a new era of peace.

The five-day conference in the capital Naypyidaw has been hailed as the best chance in a generation for Myanmar to end wars that have raged for up to 70-years, claiming thousands of lives and keeping the country mired in poverty.

Among the militias attending is the powerful 20,000-strong United Wa State Army.

They stopped fighting the government years back in exchange for control of a remote portion of territory bordering China which is now a notorious drug manufacturing hub.

They had originally refused to make this week's talks, arguing they signed their own ceasefire with the previous military government back in 1989.

But they eventually agreed to attend following discussions last month with de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and after pressure was applied by China, which retains significant influence over the group.

Yet on day two of the talks four UWSA delegates walked out, officials said, reportedly after being told they could not address the gathering.

Government peace negotiator Khin Zaw Oo said the Wa had been given observer badges, instead of ones allowing them to speak, angering their delegation.

But he played down their departure, saying it was a "misunderstanding" that could be solved.

Discrimination

A spokesman for the Wa militia told the Democratic Voice of Burma the group left after being told they were only accredited as observers, calling it discrimination.

But Lian Hmung Sahkong, from the Chin National Front, another ethnic group at the talks, denied the Wa were treated unfairly.

"We give equal rights to them and gave them a front row seat. I would like to confirm again that we did what they demanded," he said.

Suu Kyi has been informed of the episode and "gave instructions that the peace process not be harmed because of this case", government spokesman Zaw Htay told reporters, without elaborating.

The veteran democracy activist has devoted her first few months in power to planning the summit, where she hopes to thrash out the precepts of a federal state in exchange for peace.

Several complex ethic conflicts are rumbling across Myanmar's borderlands, hampering efforts to build the country's economy after the end of junta rule.

While the Wa have not fought against the military for years, they are accused of producing and trafficking huge amounts of methamphetamine and heroin from their secretive holdout and buying weapons with the proceeds.

A leaked version of a speech they prepared seen by an AFP reporter expressed scepticism that a singular agreement could address the diverse political aspirations of each ethnic group.

The speech also called for a "high degree of autonomy" in minority regions and demanded the army withdraw from politics altogether.

While Myanmar's military stepped down from junta rule in 2011, soldiers are still gifted a quarter of parliament seats -- an effective veto over any efforts to amend the nation's charter.

hla-cah/ssm/aph

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Income-generating livestock distribution enables rural families to recover after devastating floods

1 September 2016 - 7:14am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Country: Myanmar

Like so many communities in rural Myanmar, the 114 families in Tha Koar village depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. The village is in central Rakhine state, one of the six states or regions worst affected by the floods that swept through Myanmar between July and October 2015.

In this village alone, nearly one-third of the houses were destroyed in the floods, 45 buffalo and cows were killed and 90 percent of the paddy crop was wiped out. The paddy was replanted after the disaster, but by then it was late in the season and the ground was covered in mud, so the staple crop will be smaller than hoped. Many stored seeds were damaged in the floods and farmers now lack draught power because so many animals were lost. As a result, families also fear their winter vegetable crop might be reduced by two-thirds, compared to a normal year.

Six months after the floods, nearly one-fifth of the community's farmland can still not be cultivated because it is covered with logs left by the floodwaters. Farmers have been steadily cutting up the logs by hand for use as firewood, but progress is slow. The village's drinking water supply was also damaged. Before the floods, FAO had given either chickens, goats or pigs to a total of 50 vulnerable households in the village, thanks to the generous support of the French Government under a year-long project to improve food security and livelihoods for conflict-affected communities.

However, the pigs and goats were lost in the floods and only a few chickens survived. In response, with the on-going support of the French Government, FAO returned to Tha Koar village after the floods to again provide 32 affected households with five chickens each. Village chairman Maung Phyu Chay, 36, said the chickens would help poorer families with income generation.

"We were very happy to receive the replacement chickens for flood-affected farmers," he said. "We are grateful to FAO and to the French Government." Daw Mah Taung Sein, 60, lives with her two daughters, aged 39 and 42 years, and her two-year-old grandson. She received five chickens from FAO, with the support of the French Government, after the floods. "We have two acres (0.8 hectares), for paddy rice production but more than half of that was destroyed in the floods and now can't be used because it's covered in soil and rocks," she said.

"The floods caused problems for food security. For the first couple of weeks after the floods, we were only eating half the normal amount of food."Daw Taung Sein described her plans for generating income from the chickens funded by the French Government. "I will take care of the chickens and rear them for income generation," she said."First I will try to breed more chickens and then I will sell them in the local market. I could get 10 000 kyat (around USD 7.70) for a large chicken.

"From the money I receive for the FAO chickens and other chickens I breed from them, I could purchase enough paddy seed to replant my two acres (0.8 hectares) during next year's monsoon season.That would produce enough rice to feed my household for six months."

Myanmar: Myanmar: Why a UNGA resolution is still needed

1 September 2016 - 4:11am
Source: Article 19, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Amnesty International, Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de I'Homme Country: Myanmar

ALTSEAN-Burma, Amnesty International, Article 19, Civil Rights Defenders (CRD), Forum-Asia, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) are concerned that the European Union (EU) may not introduce a new resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar at the upcoming 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). This is despite the fact that many human rights concerns raised in previous resolutions remain. Our organizations believe that ending the resolution at this time would be premature, and that strong human rights monitoring mechanisms must remain in place to ensure Myanmar continues to press forward with much needed reforms. We therefore call on the EU and its member states to maintain a resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar at the upcoming UNGA.

The new National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government, which took power at the end of March 2016, has inherited a legacy of human rights violations and abuses and faces a range of serious and protracted human rights challenges. Its capacity to address these challenges is also constrained by the broad political and economic power the Myanmar Army retains. While we note there have been initial efforts to address some of these challenges, the reality is that grave human rights violations continue to occur on the ground.

Below, our organizations assess to what extent some of the key recommendations made in last year’s resolution (Resolution 70/233) have been implemented. Our analysis highlights that insufficient progress has been achieved in many key human rights areas, underscoring the need for sustained international monitoring and consistent engagement with the Myanmar government to address these concerns.

Has there been an end to violence and have violations of human rights and international humanitarian law ceased in conflict areas?

Last year’s resolution urged all parties to the conflict to end violence and to protect individuals against ongoing violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law. Our organizations welcome the fact that the new administration has made achieving peace and national reconciliation a top priority and note the holding of a major peace conference in August. However, fighting continues in Kachin, Shan, and Rakhine States with reports of renewed military offensives and air strikes conducted by the Myanmar Army. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 12,000 people have been newly displaced in Kachin and Shan States since the beginning of 2016. Another 1,900 people are now living in camps in Rakhine State after fighting broke out in April between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army. In addition, our organizations continue to receive reports of abuses committed by both government and ethnic armed groups, including extra-judicial killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence, forced labour and portering, indiscriminate use of landmines, and recruitment of child soldiers.

Has the situation of the Rohingya improved?

In recent years, the UNGA resolution has increasingly highlighted the deteriorating situation of the Rohingya, with last year’s resolution expressing “serious concern.” The resolution called on the Myanmar government to undertake a number of measures to improve the situation, including allowing the Rohingya to self-identify, ensuring equal access to full citizenship and related rights, ensuring freedom of movement, and providing for the safe and voluntary return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their communities of origin.

Our organizations note the establishment of two different committees to work on improving the situation in Rakhine State, including one headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. However, to date the detailed mandate and activities of these committees remain unclear. 120,000 people remain in IDP camps in Rakhine State, and restrictions on the Rohingya persist. These include restrictions on freedom of movement, the right to marry, and the right to freely practice their religion. These seriously impact Rohingya communities’ access to healthcare, livelihood, and education. We also continue to receive reports of human rights violations by security forces in Rakhine State, including unlawful killings, acts of torture and other ill-treatment, and arbitrary arrests, in addition to widespread extortion of the Rohingya population. These abuses take place with almost total impunity. While we also note the announcement in May that a citizenship verification process had resumed in Rakhine State, we regret that it is based on Myanmar’s discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Act, which prevents the Rohingya and other minorities from accessing full citizenship.

Do all people displaced by conflict have unhindered access to humanitarian aid?

The UNGA has repeatedly called on the Myanmar government to grant safe, timely, full, and unhindered access to all areas of the country. Timely access to all areas affected by conflict is vital to ensure the needs of all displaced people are met. However, 220,000 people remain displaced throughout Myanmar and barriers to unhindered delivery of aid remain in place. According to OCHA, in 2016, access to populations in need has become increasingly challenging for international aid organizations in Kachin and Shan States.

In a statement released in July 2016, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar noted that in Kachin State “humanitarian access is shrinking particularly to non-government controlled areas.” She also mentioned that in Rakhine State, international organizations continue to require travel authorization through cumbersome procedures.

Are human rights violators held to account?

Last year the UNGA repeated its call for the government to “take necessary measures to ensure accountability and end impunity” and to “undertake full, transparent and independent investigations into all reports of human rights violations and abuses in order to ensure accountability and bring about reconciliation.” While we note the significance of the Myanmar Army’s recent admission that some of its soldiers were responsible for the killing of five people in Shan State and note that a court martial is underway, to date we are unaware of how many soldiers have been charged and what specifically they have been charged with. The case also highlights long-standing concerns about the administration of military justice, which is not subject to independent civilian oversight. In addition, impunity for human rights violations by state officials – both past and present – remains endemic with the vast majority of reported cases of human rights abuses committed by Myanmar Army soldiers going unpunished.

Have all prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners been released?

Myanmar’s government was previously asked by the UNGA “to fulfil its commitment to the unconditional release of all political prisoners.” We note that this is the one area in which concrete progress has been made. We welcome the early steps taken by the new government to free scores of prisoners of conscience and to have charges against many activists dropped. Unfortunately, despite these releases, prisoners of conscience remain behind bars. Myanmar’s repressive legal framework also means that human rights defenders and activists continue to risk arrest and imprisonment for peacefully exercising their rights. While we welcome recent efforts to begin repealing and amending repressive laws, in some cases the process has regrettably been marred by a lack of transparency and consultation.

Human rights defenders and activists also continue to live under tight surveillance by the Special Branch police and local authorities. During her visit to Myanmar in June, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar noted that her civil society interlocutors were photographed and questioned before and after their meetings. In a worrying echo of previous regime tactics, the Special Rapporteur also found a government-placed recording device in one of her meeting locations.
In addition, despite the UNGA’s calls to “resume working with the political prisoner review committee” and “to provide for the full rehabilitation of former prisoners of conscience,” the government of Myanmar has given no indication that it will reconstitute such a committee or design plans to provide for the rehabilitation of freed prisoners of conscience.

Is the government effectively tackling hatred and hate speech?

Myanmar has seen a worrying rise in religious intolerance in recent years, particularly anti-Muslim sentiment. Last year, the UNGA resolution urged the Myanmar government “to counter incitement to hatred and hate speech leading to violence.” Religious tensions remain high in the country. In June, two separate incidents led to the destruction of mosques in Bago Region and Kachin State by violent mobs. We are concerned by the announcement made by the Bago Region Chief Minister, following the incident, that no investigation or arrest would be made against the perpetrators. If the government is serious about countering hate speech and incitement to hatred, it must bring those responsible to justice and offer reparations to victims to show that such incidents will no longer be tolerated. Following these incidents, the government also established a new Emergency Management Central Committee, heavily dominated by the military, tasked with providing a rapid response in cases of religious violence. Our organizations are however, concerned that the Committee’s terms of reference are vague and as such could open the door for potential illegal restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly.

Has an OHCHR office with a full mandate been established?

Previous UNGA resolutions called on the government of Myanmar to fulfil its commitment to establish – “without further delay” – a country office of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) with a full mandate. To date, and despite the promise made by former President Thein Sein four years ago to establish an office, not only is there no OHCHR office in Myanmar, the new government has yet to make an official commitment that an office will be established. The EU must seek specific guarantees from the Myanmar government on the establishment of an OHCHR office with a full protection and promotion mandate. Furthermore, the international community must specifically commit to extending the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights under item 4 of the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017.

In light of the above, should the EU introduce a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar at the 71st session of the UNGA?

Our organizations strongly believe that any decision not to introduce a new UNGA resolution must be based on an objective assessment of the human rights situation in the country, rather than on political considerations. Based on the factors outlined above, it is clear that none of the key recommendations in last year’s resolution have been fully implemented, and major human rights concerns raised in past resolutions continue. While we recognize progress has been made in some areas, the Myanmar government’s efforts to address long-standing human rights concerns have not gone nearly far enough. More action is needed to reform the legal and structural frameworks that allow human rights violations to occur.

The EU has shown its commitment to maintaining the spotlight on the human rights situation in Myanmar including by previously introducing resolutions at the UNGA. While the EU engages Myanmar on human rights at the country level, through diplomatic efforts and the annual human rights dialogue, the UNGA resolution forms a key opportunity for the whole international community to engage effectively on all human rights violations in the country. Maintaining a UNGA resolution would contribute to cementing recent political gains and provide the Myanmar government with clear benchmarks for human rights progress. Failure to do so risks undermining past, current, and future efforts to improve the human rights situation in the country.

Myanmar: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon engages with young people in Myanmar on peace and reconciliation

1 September 2016 - 3:36am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, 31 August 2016 - Ahead of his attendance at the 21st Century Panglong Conference and high level meetings, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reached out to young people from Myanmar through U-Report, a recently launched youth engagement tool that provides a platform for young people to raise their voices on issues that matter to them.

More than 1200 U-Reporters, aged 13 to 25, responded to an invitation to share their views on what matters most in their lives and how they can contribute to peace and reconciliation. The results of the poll were presented to the UNSG by Bertrand Bainvel, the UNICEF Representative to Myanmar, at a meeting on 31 August.

In a Facebook message to U-Reporters, Ban Ki-moon said: “Thank you for sharing with me what matters most to you - education and employment, peace and reconciliation, and youth empowerment and participation. I will give them all the importance they deserve in all my meetings during my visit in Myanmar. Keep using U-Report and ask your friends to join. Your views matters to all of us.”

Adolescents and young people were asked via Facebook, a series of questions relating to peace and development in Myanmar. Asked what would most contribute to peace in Myanmar, U-Reporters put at the top of the list: ‘unity’, ‘trust’, and ‘understanding each other’. They placed high hopes on the 21st Century Panglong Conference. It was clear to them that politicians alone cannot make peace happen, but that young people also have an important role to play by ending hate speech, fighting discrimination, and campaigning for peace, including through social media.

U-Report was launched in Myanmar on 18 August 2016. Already almost 2,000 Myanmar U-Reporters have registered through Facebook and the numbers are growing every day. It is expected to reach 100,000 by the end of 2017.

In Myanmar, U-Report is currently available through Facebook, however discussions are ongoing with telecom operators to join the platform.

“It is essential that we expand the platform to make it available to the most vulnerable, particularly young people living in conflict-affected and remote areas without access to internet, so that they too have the opportunity to contribute to polls, debates and to report on the conditions faced in their communities” said UNICEF Representative to Myanmar Bertrand Bainvel.

“SMS is the only means of communication in some parts of Myanmar - we call on the social responsibility of all three major telecom operators to join us and support the platform. Without their support millions of young people will remain invisible and ignored” he concluded.

About U Report
To join U-Report, visit:https://www.facebook.com/UReportMyanmar/
To access and utilize U-Report poll results, visit:https://myanmar.ureport.in/

UNICEF in Myanmar
UNICEF has been working with the Government and the people of Myanmar since 1950. In partnership with the Government and the civil society, UNICEF’s current focus of work aims at reducing child mortality, improving access and quality of education and protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation. For more information about UNICEF Myanmar, please visit:http://www.unicef.org/myanmar/

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unicefmyanmar

For more information please contact:
Htet Htet Oo, Communication Officer, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09250075238,hoo@unicef.org

Myanmar: Flood relief in Myanmar includes family planning supplies

31 August 2016 - 1:40pm
Source: UN Population Fund Country: Myanmar

OHN PIN SU VILLAGE, Myanmar – Monsoon floods are an annual hazard for Phoo Ngun’s family. Although their bamboo home stands on tall stilts, the kitchen is submerged in rainwater. Ms. Phoo Ngun, 31, has had to set up a makeshift cooking area in their small living space.

Still, she counts herself lucky. More than half a million people in the Ayayawady Region have been affected by this year’s floods, according to the government. Damage has been widespread and several have been killed.

This time last year, the country saw some of the most devastating floods in its history. Ms. Phoo Ngun was six months pregnant at the time. She spent the monsoon and its aftermath anxious about recovering in time for the arrival of her baby.

This year, as the floodwaters recede, she has a different – but still critical – reproductive health concern: family planning.

Destruction, pregnancy and a hospital bill

Last year’s flooding unleashed massive destruction.

Youth volunteers reached Ms. Phoo Ngun, her husband Zaw Moe and their 10-year-old daughter by boat, delivering hygiene supplies and other assistance.
Large parts of their home required repairs, and Ms. Phoo Ngun needed access to antenatal care. Fortunately, there was a midwife in the village who was able to continue offering monthly check-ups.

The flood waters gradually receded, and Ms. Phoo Ngun’s due date came and went. Eventually, the midwife advised her to go to the Nyaungdon Hospital. Staff there tried to induce labour, but Ms. Phoo Ngun ultimately required a Caesarean section. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

Although they had saved up for nearly a year, the $400 hospital fee was an enormous burden for the family, whose only income is Mr. Zaw Moe’s earnings as a day labourer.

Today, as the waters again overflow in the Irrawaddy River Delta Region, Ms. Phoo Ngun’s focus is keeping her family of four secure. This means making sure she is able to keep using family planning.

Ensuring access to contraceptives

“We have decided that two children are enough,” she said. “Every three months, I receive a contraceptive injection from the village midwife. It costs $1 each time, and this is affordable for us.”

Through its reproductive health supplies programme, UNFPA has supported the improvement of the contraceptive supply chain in much of Myanmar. As a result, the contraceptive shot has always been in stock when Ms. Phoo Ngun has needed it.

But with the monsoon rains cutting off access to her village, additional measures are needed to ensure women can plan their families.

As part of its humanitarian response, UNFPA is providing mobile clinics in flood-affected areas. UNFPA is also deploying reproductive health supplies, including safe delivery kits to assist with childbirth and contraceptives to help women avoid unplanned pregnancies.

Ms. Phoo Ngun knows that family planning will help her family meet its goals – especially their desire for economic stability. “I hope for secure employment for my husband and the financial security it would bring us,” she told UNFPA.

Youth volunteers ensure safe drinking water Ms. Phoo Ngun is naturally cheerful and, despite the damage around her, she is optimistic about the future.

She has been heartened to see members of the next generation playing a key role in the humanitarian response.

Volunteers from the UNFPA-supported Youth Information Corner in Sarmalauk arrived in her village by boat to assist health staff. They are also inspecting the hygiene of latrines and testing wells to ensure drinking water has not been contaminated.

Like last year, they are also distributing UNFPA-supplied dignity kits, which contain essential hygiene supplies such as soap and sanitary napkins.

Ms. Phoo Ngun hopes her daughter will one day pitch in to help the country, too.

“My aspiration for my oldest daughter is that she will become a schoolteacher," she said, adding with a laugh, "my little one is only nine months old – I have to get to know her better before I can tell what she will be suited for."

Myanmar: Ethnic peace talks seek to pave new path for Myanmar

31 August 2016 - 7:20am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

Naypyidaw, Myanmar | AFP | Wednesday 8/31/2016 - 10:18 GMT

by Caroline HENSHAW Hla-Hla HTAY

Peace talks between Myanmar's government and warring ethnic minorities kicked off Wednesday in a bid to end decades of conflict that have claimed thousands of lives and kept the country mired in poverty.

A sea of colour filled the vast conference hall in the capital Naypyidaw as delegations from Myanmar's myriad ethnic groups mingled with stony-faced military officers decked out in full regalia.

The summit is veteran democracy activist Suu Kyi's much-trumpeted effort to reshape Myanmar as a federal democracy following decades of oppressive military rule.

The Nobel laureate has made bridging the ethnic fault lines that have fractured the nation since its mid-century independence a priority of her new government, which took power in March.

"So long as we are unable to achieve national reconciliation and national unity, we will never be able to establish a sustainable and durable peaceful union," she told delegates.

"Only if we are all united will our country be at peace. Only if our country is at peace will we be able to stand on an equal footing with the other countries in our region and across the world."

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is attending the talks, described the gathering as a "historic" moment for the country following its transition towards democracy.

"The long civil war has cost numerous lives and robbed successive generations of their dignity, tranquillity and normalcy," he said during a speech to delegates.

"It is now clear that there can be no military solution to your differences."

Few expect a concrete deal to emerge from the five-day talks, which are seen as the start of a peace process that could take years.

Seventeen rebel groups have joined the talks in the capital, but others have not laid down their arms and some remain locked in combat with the military.

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini urged negotiators to seek a "new path towards sustainable peace, equitable development and the wider consolidation of the democratic reform process".

The US also backed the talks, calling it an "important process towards a lasting peace" in a statement from its Yangon embassy.

  • 'Tragic drift' -

Any hope of a nationwide ceasefire has been snuffed out by fresh flare-ups of violence in some northern states ahead of the summit.

Khua Uk Lian of the Chin National Front, which has its own ceasefire with the military, said he was optimistic but warned fighting would be hard to stop on the ground.

"You have local commanders fighting about local problems," he told AFP. "It's been like this since we have been fighting."

Communities in the conflict zones live in stark poverty despite the rich jade, tin and teak wood forests that dot their lands and lie at the heart of many of the battles.

Bringing peace could rejuvenate economies in the war-ravaged regions, and open up investment to foreign powers who are keen to scoop up its vast resources.

But distrust of the Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is known, runs deep among minorities after decades of oppression, marked by torture, rape and mass killings.

Negotiators from Suu Kyi's government have said privately they are hamstrung by working with the army, which still controls borders, defence and a quarter of parliament seats.

Commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing urged ethnic groups to join the ceasefire the previous military-backed government signed with eight groups last year.

"We need to end this tragic drift," he told the conference, according to an English transcript.

But he also warned against drawn out peace talks.

"If the peace process takes longer than the appropriate time, there may be more outside instigations, interferences and manipulations disturbing the process," he said.

Wednesday's meeting comes almost 70 years after Suu Kyi's father, independence hero Aung San, signed a landmark agreement to devolve powers to some ethnic groups after independence.

The deal collapsed after he was assassinated, before Myanmar broke from Britain in 1948, triggering the civil wars that have rumbled across the country's borders ever since.

Suu Kyi has dubbed her summit the '21st Century Panglong' in reference to the agreement brokered by her father, who remains a deeply revered figure.

bur-cah/jta/aph

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Secretary-General’s remarks at the 21st Century Panglong Conference in Myanmar [as delivered]

31 August 2016 - 4:24am
Source: UN Secretary-General Country: Myanmar

I give you my full respect and greetings from the United Nations. It is a great honour for me as Secretary-General of the United Nations to address the great opening of the 21st Century Panglong Conference. Thank you for your invitation.

This is a historic occasion for the further democratization of this country.

The symbolism of this Conference is clear from its title, which recalls the spirit of the original Panglong Conference convened in 1947 by General Aung San, the Father of Modern Burma.

But today, we also look to the future.

This conference is bringing together Myanmar’s different ethnic groups in a joint commitment to a federal union based on equality, democracy and self-determination.

I congratulate all sides for the patience, endurance, determination and spirit of compromise you have demonstrated in support of national reconciliation.

There is a long road ahead, but the path is very promising.

This is the first time that such a peace process has been initiated in the seventy-year history of conflict and division between the Union Government and armed ethnic groups.

Today’s meeting marks a historic transition since former President U Thein Sein opened the doors to democratic reforms six years ago.

Around the world, we have seen the tragedies that can ensue when leaders deny the need for democratic change.

Myanmar shows what is possible, when leaders listen to their people’s genuine aspirations, genuine concerns of the people and genuine dreams of where this country should proceed.

The United Nations has been a steady partner in support of Myanmar’s reforms, in particular the national reconciliation process.&nbsp

We will continue our efforts to smooth differences, lower tensions and move parties towards better understanding and dialogue in line with the goals and values of the United Nations Charter.

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

The long civil war has cost numerous lives and robbed successive generations of their dignity, tranquility and normalcy. It is now clear that there can be no military solution to your differences.

I urge you to accept that no party involved in this reconciliation process can expect to achieve all its aims. Conversely, every side must win something if the process is to succeed.

This will require goodwill on all sides, and a recognition that success is in the vital interest of all the people of Myanmar, regardless of ethnicity, religion, political affiliation or socio-economic status.

It is encouraging that the different ethnic armed organizations with divergent interests and aspirations came together to form a single team to negotiate the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement last year.

This agreement was crucially important, and the new Government has undertaken efforts to make it more inclusive. The 21st Century Panglong Conference represents the result of those efforts.

I urge all of you, as you walk along this path with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, to demonstrate the wisdom needed to address complex and unresolved issues, and to pave the way for a unified negotiation track that is inclusive of all interests and constituencies.

This will require sensitivity and flexibility, and respect for both signatories and non-signatories. You will need to be truly consultative if you are to reach sustainable solutions. In this connection, I urge you again to ensure that women make up at least 30 per cent of the representatives at all levels of dialogue.

Distinguished delegates,

Every transition [carries] risks.

But refusing to embark on transition may carry the greatest risk of all. We see tragic evidence of this around the world.

I urge you all to continue to face up to your responsibilities, particularly to the youth and children of Myanmar – the future of this wonderful country.

You owe it to them to work for a better tomorrow, in which they can fulfil their dreams and aspirations in peace and prosperity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is my fifth visit to Myanmar as Secretary-General.&nbsp From Cyclone Nargis in 2008 to the winds of change gripping the country today, I have worked to mobilize the full support of the United Nations system for Myanmar.

In my meetings with the authorities and with representatives of the wonderfully diverse people of this country, I have always found inspiration in your determination to advance towards reform, peace and stability.

The United Nations will remain your respectful partner as this process deepens.

I wish you every success.

Let’s work together for peace.

Thank you.

Myanmar: Secretary-General’s joint press stakeout with Myanmar’s State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi [with Q&A]

30 August 2016 - 10:14pm
Source: UN Secretary-General Country: Myanmar

I am pleased to be here with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her capacity as State Counsellor and new Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Before I say a few words, let me express my deepest condolences for the earthquake which struck your country on August 24 with losses of lives, injured people and destruction of infrastructures, particularly the destruction of many valuable historical monuments, including many pagodas.

I hope that under the leadership of President U Htin Kyaw and the State Counsellor, your people will be able to reconstruct as soon as possible from this.

As you remember, we have been in close contact, I have been in close contact with the people and Government of Myanmar during my tenure as Secretary-General, almost ten years now – I am completing my mandate as Secretary-General.

It has been a great honour to work with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, particularly now, even for a limited time. But it is a great honour and pleasure to work with her in her official capacity in the Government.

The United Nations has consistently supported Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s struggle for democracy, through successive resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly; through the appointment of my Special Adviser, Mr. Vijay Nambiar; and also through the appointment of Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council, and through my own visits and engagement with Myanmar authorties.

This is the fifth opportunity I have had to spend [time] in your wonderful country.

I first visited, as you may remember, Myanmar immediately following the devastation left by Cyclone Nargis in 2008 to mobilize international assistance. In 2009, I encouraged the military leadership to open its doors to democratic change.

On my third visit, 2012, one year into the reform process, I had the honour of being the first global leader invited to address your parliament at a time when the dramatic changes sweeping Myanmar were inspiring the world.

In 2014, I was here to participate in the very successful ASEAN Summit under Myanmar’s successful Chairmanship.

Today, I am very pleased and honoured to be back to witness the latest phase in your transition, marked by the peaceful, dignified and enthusiastic participation in the elections last November.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to acknowledge personally the leadership of former President U Thein Sein in helping the country move steadily on this path of reform towards a harmonious, multi-ethnic, multi-religious and prosperous democracy.

I commend the new Government for its emphasis on dialogue, cooperation and reconciliation between military and civil society leaders and political and economic stakeholders.

However, the Government also faces great challenges. The steps you have taken towards peace and national reconciliation will need to be further strengthened, broadened and consolidated. This is the real expectation of the international community.

In that regard, the Twenty-first Century Panglong Conference is a promising first step. I congratulate all participants for their patience, determination and spirit of compromise.

Today, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and I agreed that the people of Myanmar, whatever their ethnicity, religion or economic status, want better social and economic opportunities, in an environment where everyone is free, equal and secure.

We also discussed the latest developments in Rakhine state. The situation is complex, and the Government has assured me of [its] commitment to addressing the roots of the problem. I conveyed the concern of the international community about the tens of thousands of people who have been living in very poor conditions in IDP camps for over four years. Like all people everywhere, they need and deserve a future of hope and dignity.

This is not just a question of the Rohingya community’s right to self-identify. The broader issue is that all of Myanmar’s people, of every ethnicity and background, should be able to live in equality and harmony, side by side with their neighbours.

People who have been living for generations in this country should enjoy the same legal status and citizenship as everyone else.

As the new Government addresses these challenges, its friends across the world fully understand the need for patience and respect for national ownership.

We are happy to see the encouraging steps you have taken, including the establishment of a Commission chaired by my distinguished predecessor, Mr. Kofi Annan, to look at the overall issues in Rakhine. He telephoned me in fact before he assumed his post and I assured him that the United Nations will provide full support and I strongly advised him to work very closely with the State Counsellor and also meet as many stakeholders as possible.

For my part, as Secretary-General, I assure you that the United Nations will continue to work constructively with you.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to the people of Myanmar for their commitment over many decades to bring their country on to this new path.

My Special Adviser, Mr. Vijay Nambiar, the UN Country Team, led by Resident Coordinator Renata Lok-Dessallien and I are all proud to stand with you as you move towards peace, prosperity and human rights for all.

Thank you.

Question on the assessment of the situation in Rakhine State.

SG: There are many complex issues of many different dimensions. First of all, the people are living in a backward situation, economically and socially. There are many thousands, tens of thousands IDPs who have been living there a long time and who need humanitarian assistance. And there is some sort of terminology [issue], on how to call them.

On all this, the State Counsellor, as a new leader in this new Government, has stated her positions and the United Nations first of all to mobilize all necessary humanitarian assistance and also to help this peace process. At the same time, we engage all other actors to be able to arrive to some good solutions on all other matters.

Question on the United Nations’ role for peace in Myanmar.

SG: I agree with your point that the United Nations, together with many other supporters, friends of Myanmar, have been working very closely. Sometimes, we express our serious concerns, sometimes frustration, and sometimes we really pushed hard for further democratization so that all the people of Myanmar could enjoy their freedom of expression, freedom of assembly. That means human rights and human dignity.

I appreciate that the new Governments, since the beginning of the previous Government under President U Thein Sein, have been taking progressively some measures, by releasing political prisoners and by allowing more freedom of assembly and speech – and with the new Government, they also released many political prisoners and also students who had been participating in demonstrations.

I know that there is a lot to be done – the expectations of the international community are so huge. Therefore, I told the State Counsellor that since she assumed this post as State Counsellor, there is much stronger and heightened expectations that this Government will make much much faster and further progress.

That may be a challenge, that may be a challenge... You have still many complex issues, many complex issues which have to be solved through patience, endurance, with a strong support from the international community.

I think both the international community, led by the United Nations, and Myanmar’s Government should work together to address all these pending issues.

In that regard, I highly commend and congratulate this 21st Century Panglong Conference which will be held from tomorrow.

That is why I am here: to strongly support and to express the United Nations’ visions. My message is simple and clear: the United Nations will always be with the people of Myanmar to help their democratization process and also socio-economic development, where nobody will be left behind.

It involves many issues, like human rights issues, humanitarian issues, freedom of speech and development and good governance. I am sure that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and His Excellency President U Htin Kyaw will really make great leadership.

Myanmar: In Myanmar, UN chief spotlights country’s challenging path towards multi-ethnic democracy

30 August 2016 - 4:25pm
Source: UN News Service Country: Myanmar

30 August 2016 – Following a meeting with Myanmar’s foreign minister, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today highlighted the great challenges her country faces on its path of reform towards a harmonious, multi-ethnic, multi-religious and prosperous democracy.

“Today, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and I agreed that the people of Myanmar, whatever their ethnicity, religion or economic status, want better social and economic opportunities, in an environment where everyone is free, equal and secure,” the UN chief told reporters in a joint press stakeout with Ms. Suu Kyi in the capital city, Nay Pyi Taw.

With the coming into effect of the 2008 Constitution and the country’s opening of its doors to democratic reforms, the role of the Secretary-General’s good offices in Myanmar has evolved into one of engagement, encouragement and support for reform, reconciliation and democratization, according to the UN Department of Political Affairs. Furthermore, the landmark elections of November 2015 have transformed the country’s political landscape by bringing Ms. Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, into power.

“The United Nations has consistently supported Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s struggle for democracy,” Mr. Ban said, noting that the UN’s support took the form of successive resolutions of the General Assembly, the appointment of his own Special Adviser on the country and the Human Rights Council’s appointment of a Special Rapporteur of the country’s human rights, as well as his own visits and engagement with Myanmar authorities.

Mr. Ban noted that he had visited Myanmar four times since becoming the UN Secretary-General. In 2008, he visited the country to mobilize international assistance in the wake of the devastation left by Cyclone Nargis. In 2009, he encouraged the military leadership to open its doors to democratic change. In 2012, he addressed the parliament at a time when the dramatic changes sweeping Myanmar were inspiring the world. And, in 2014, he participated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit chaired by Myanmar.

“Today,” Mr. Ban said, “I am very pleased and honoured to be back to witness the latest phase in your transition, marked by the peaceful, dignified and enthusiastic participation in the elections last November.”

The UN chief went on to acknowledge the leadership of former President U Thein Sein in helping the country move steadily on this path of reform, and commended the new Government led by President U Htin Kyaw for its emphasis on dialogue, cooperation and reconciliation between military and civil society leaders and political and economic stakeholders.

“However, the Government also faces great challenges,” Mr. Ban said, stressing that the steps taken so far towards peace and national reconciliation will need to be further strengthened, broadened and consolidated.

“This is the real expectation of the international community,” he added.

On developments in Rakhine state

Mr. Ban said he also discussed with Ms. Suu Kyi, who is also the country’s State Counsellor, the latest developments in the northern state of Rakhine, where tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been living in poorly conditioned camps as a result of their communal conflict with a Buddhist sect.

“I conveyed the concern of the international community about the tens of thousands of people who have been living in very poor conditions in IDP [internally displaced persons] camps for over four years,” he said.

“This is not just a question of the Rohingya community’s right to self-identify. The broader issue is that all of Myanmar’s people, of every ethnicity and background, should be able to live in equality and harmony, side by side with their neighbours,” the UN chief continued. “People who have been living for generations in this country should enjoy the same legal status and citizenship as everyone else.”

In Singapore earlier today, the Secretary-General received an honorary Doctor of Letters from the National University of Singapore, and met with the country’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan.

According to a readout of the meeting issued by his spokesman’s office, the Secretary-General expressed hope that Singapore will ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change before the end of the year, and discussed regional issues, including strengthening the ASEAN-UN partnership, the situation in Myanmar, the issue of the South China Sea, and his efforts on the prevention of violent extremism and on responsibility-sharing in the refugees and migrants crisis.

Malaysia: Denied work, Rohingya trapped in limbo in Malaysia

30 August 2016 - 1:10pm
Source: AlertNet Country: Malaysia, Myanmar

by Beh Lih Yi | @BehLihYi | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 30 August 2016 03:00 GMT

Having escaped poverty and persecution in Myanmar, Rohingya end up in limbo in Malaysia, where it is illegal for them to work and they wait years for resettlement to another country

By Beh Lih Yi

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The first time he tried to escape a tough existence in his village in western Myanmar in 2004, Junaid Zafar was thrown in jail for five years.

Read the story on the Thompson Reuters Foundation

Myanmar: WHO Emergency Situation Report No. 1: Earthquake in Myanmar, 25 August 2016

30 August 2016 - 12:17pm
Source: World Health Organization Country: Myanmar

HIGHLIGHTS

  • A powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake shook central Myanmar on 24 August 2016, killing at least four people and damaging famous pagodas in Bagan and other regions.

  • The earthquake, with its epicenter about 12 miles west of Chauk and about 123 miles southwest of the Mandalay seismological observatory, was recorded at 5.04 pm, according to the Meteorology and Hydrology Department.

  • There are no confirmed casualties, one man and one woman were killed in Pakokku when a tobacco processing factory collapsed and two young girls at Yenanchaung were killed after a landslide and house collapsed.

  • Currently, the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has not been activated and the Union Government is closely monitoring the situation.

Situation Analysis

  • Some buildings, including offices, schools, pagodas and houses, have been damaged in Naypyitaw, Mandalay and Magway regions. Parliament in Naypyitaw has registered minor damages.

  • About 185 pagodas in Bagan were damaged by the earthquake. Localized power cuts have been experienced in historical city of Bagan and Nyaung-U.

  • Houses have reportedly been destroyed in Pwint Phyu and one building has collapsed in downtown Magway. One pagoda in Kyauk Pan Daung and several more in Nyaung-Oo have also reportedly been damaged or collapsed. Another pagoda in Myauk U Township in Rakhine has also collapsed. In Yangon, the quake was also strongly felt, with no reports of damage to date. The quake was not felt in Kachin and Shan States.

Myanmar: Fresh violence overshadows Myanmar peace talks

30 August 2016 - 5:50am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

Naypyidaw, Myanmar | AFP | Tuesday 8/30/2016 - 09:32 GMT

Fresh fighting between ethnic minority rebels and Myanmar's military is overshadowing an upcoming peace conference led by Aung San Suu Kyi's new civilian government, people involved in the talks said Tuesday.

The five-day gathering, which officially opens on Wednesday, is Suu Kyi's first big drive to end multiple insurgencies that have raged in Myanmar's borderlands since independence in 1948.

Organisers have been pushing for a unilateral ceasefire before the UN-backed talks.

But those hopes have been shattered by renewed outbreaks of fighting, negotiators from both the rebels and the government told AFP.

Several rebel groups have failed to down their weapons -- a precondition demanded by the military for them to attend.

Troops also remain locked in combat with ethnic fighters hours before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who will attend the conference, is due to give a press conference later Tuesday.

Representatives from the insurgents said the military had launched new attacks on rebel positions in the northern states of Shan and Kachin on Tuesday morning. They said the move threatened to scupper progress at the peace talks.

"For the moment it is hard for any group to believe or trust the army," said one negotiator for the armed rebels, who asked not to be named as the talks are sensitive.

"Here (in the national capital Naypyidaw) they are talking about peace, there they are fighting," the negotiator added.

Rebels from some of the worst-hit states want the military to declare a unilateral ceasefire and appoint an international figure to oversee its observance on the ground, the negotiator said.

Some 220,000 people are currently displaced by ongoing fighting in Kachin and Shan states and by sectarian tensions in the western state of Rakhine, according to UN figures released this week.

Since taking power earlier this year, Suu Kyi's government has pushed to expand a shaky ceasefire signed between the previous military-backed administration and eight armed groups.

But under the junta-era constitution the military retains control of key centres of power including the border and defence ministries.

"The government faces pressure dealing with the military in this case, as well," said one civilian government negotiator.

Suu Kyi hopes the peace talks will pave the way towards a federal system for Myanmar.

That would give ethnic groups -- who have complained of decades of oppression and neglect by the central ethnic Bamar majority -- some autonomy over their government, land and resources.

hla-cah/jta/sm

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: World Food Programme Myanmar August 2016 Operational Report

30 August 2016 - 4:43am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Myanmar

Emergency response to floods: Since early August, 474,490 people in 10 regions/ states across Myanmar were affected by torrential floods. In cooperation with the government counterparts and partners, WFP launched emergency flood response with rapid needs assessments and subsequent food distributions in the worst affected areas of Ayeyarwaddy, Bago, Mandalay and Magway Regions as well as Rakhine State. The assessment results indicated that 189,000 people were in need of immediate food assistance. By the second week of August, 155,000 people with limited market access received monthly food baskets, consisting of rice, pulses, cooking oil and salt and/or three-day ration of nutritious high energy biscuit snacks in ten townships of the affected areas. In Pathein Township of Ayeyarwaddy, 6,000 people were reached with cash transfers due to reliable access to functioning markets. In-kind food distributions would continue for additional 17,820 people in Pantanaw and Tharbaung Townships while 13,260 people in Pathein Township would be supported with cash-based transfers. Local authorities rendered warehousing facility and delivery service for WFP food in the affected areas. Funding requirements for the flood response, currently planned till endDecember, are anticipated at US$ 10 million with immediate shortfall of US$4 million. If funds are timely secured, WFP will continue uninterrupted provision of life-saving food and cash assistance as well as phase in community asset rehabilitation activities, targeting 3,000 people.

Small-scale flood response in Rakhine and Kachin: WFP accommodated food gaps for 45,000 people from 57 villages in Minbya Township affected by seasonal floods in Rakhine State in June. Information so far demonstrated a total of 93 villages were affected in Minbya and the remaining villages have been provided food by the government department and a local NGO.
Although preliminary findings suggested affected households had sufficient food supply and all displaced families have reportedly returned to their places of origin, WFP may assist flood-affected people in Kyauk Taw and Mrauk-U Townships through cash or food for asset rehabilitation activities, considering impact of damaged paddy farms. In Kachin State, WFP has received an official letter from the State Government to coordinate in providing food assistance to 119 school children, who have been displaced by the flood from La Chin Village of Tsawlaw Township to Myitkyina Town since May. WFP will assess food needs of school children. Previously, WFP provided one week provision of HEBs for 1,167 people from TsawLaw affected by floods in May.

Impeded humanitarian access: Since May, WFP’s food deliveries to areas of Kachin beyond Government control were halted by the government due to security concerns triggered by intensified fighting. The rations distributed in the five camps were sufficient for twothree months only; therefore a fresh delivery is urgent now in August. However, despite persistently reiterated requests by the UN senior leadership and other humanitarian partners in Myanmar, no access was granted by the government, putting at risk IDPs’ food and nutrition security. In northern Shan State, WFP’s regular food delivery from Lashio Township to Mansi Township was briefly hampered at military check points, after security controls had been tighten in the wake of isolated military skirmishes between ethnic armed groups in Man Tone Township during July. Since June WFP’s food delivery from Lashio Township of northern Shan to Wa Self-Administered Division was once again deterred due to heavy deployment of military forces in northern Shan State.

New displacement in northern Shan: In late July, 440 people from nine villages of Man Tone Township were displaced, fleeing from isolated skirmishes between the ethnic armed groups. Displaced families found refuge in two camps in Nam Tu Township. There were protection concerns among the newly displaced, including arbitrary arrest and insufficient shelter facilities. Initial information suggested food stocks were sufficient till the end of August. Nevertheless, the affected areas had agriculture-based economy with tea leaves and forestry production and in spite of July-August being the growing season, local communities could not access to agricultural farms. Moreover, agricultural assets, crops, food stocks and livestock were reported to be destroyed or killed. In light of these circumstances, next harvest season is expected to incur latent effects, and the communities may face resultant food insecurity.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Humanitarian Overview (29 August 2016) [EN/MY]

29 August 2016 - 11:41pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Myanmar: Humanitarian Overview (29 August 2016)

29 August 2016 - 11:41pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar