Myanmar - ReliefWeb News
By Roseanne Gerin
Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday asked member states of a regional economic and security organization for “constructive support” in resolving the crisis in the country’s troubled western Rakhine state.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto national leader, is trying to drum up regional support for an advisory commission on Rakhine which she created in late August to review conflict resolution between majority Buddhists and minority Muslim Rohingya in the restive state. It will also look at humanitarian assistance, development issues, and strengthening local institutions.
Buddhist nationalists and political parties in Rakhine oppose the appointment of three foreigners to the commission, including former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who chairs the body, and have called for its disbandment.
“We are working to build understanding, harmony and trust between communities while standing firm against prejudice, intolerance, and extremism,” Aung San Suu Kyi told the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the body’s Inter-Parliamentary Assembly which is meeting on Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw. “In doing so, we ask for the constructive support of our regional neighbors.”
“Progress in every field will not be possible overnight, but we are determined to persevere to bring about positive change in Rakhine state as in other areas of our country affected by conflict,” she said.
Rakhine is home to roughly 1.1 million stateless Muslim Rohingya, considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, who face persecution and are denied basic rights, including those of citizenship and freedom of movement. Their plight has drawn condemnation from the international community.
About 120,000 Rohingya live in squalid refugee camps after being displaced by communal violence with Rakhine Buddhists in 2012 that left more than 200 people dead.
The Buddhists and the state’s dominant Arakan National Party (ANP) believe that the three foreign members of the advisory commission will side with the Rohingya and turn the issue into an international one. The commission’s six other members are Myanmar citizens.
Annan, who was heckled by protesters during the commission’s first visit to Rakhine in early September, later told reporters at a press conference in the commercial capital Yangon that the body’s mandate is to provide recommendations to the government on measures for finding solutions to the state’s complex problems in accordance with international standards, and that it will remain “rigorously impartial.”
The commission must submit a report on its findings to the Myanmar government in 12 months.
A previous investigative committee was formed just after the outbreak of communal violence in 2012, but the suggestions it provided in a subsequent report were not implemented.
RANGOON – The Burma Army, also known as the Tatmadaw, currently has a handful of peacekeepers serving in Africa on two peacekeeping missions. The deployments, which began last year, were the first time the Burma Army has contributed to a UN peacekeeping mission in half a century.
According to figures provided by the UN, Burma has had two troops deployed since September last year as part of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which is tasked with implementing a ceasefire agreement. The pair of Burmese troops are serving as what the UN describes as “experts on mission.” UNMIL has a total of 1,240 troops and 606 police personnel. The bulk of the troops on UNMIL come from Nigeria but several other countries such a Bhutan and Zimbabwe have also contributed personnel.
Burmese troops are also serving in South Sudan, as contingent troops, in a UN mission in the young country which has been plagued by conflict since it achieved independence in 2011. The Burmese deployment in South Sudan began in August of 2015. They have joined a mission of more than 12,500 troops from 61 countries.
In response to a request for comment, the UN Secretary General’s spokesperson’s office forwarded a statement from the UN Department of Peacekeeping. “Myanmar is a new contributor to UN peacekeeping. We are grateful for their contributions and look forward to their increasing participation in our peacekeeping operations in the years to come,” read the statement attributed to a UN peacekeeping official.
In early 2014 it was reported that secretary-general Ban Ki Moon’s special advisory on Burma, the veteran Indian diplomat, Vijay Nambiar, had, during a meeting with the head of Burma’s military Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, invited Burma to resume participation in the UN peacekeeping program. A number of rights group including the New York-based Human Rights Watch quickly denounced the offer.
“The Burmese military’s poor record on rights and civilian protection is profoundly at odds with the standards that UN peacekeepers are expected to defend around the world,” said HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth in a statement issued at the time “Any move by the UN to recruit Burmese forces risks grave damage to the UN’s reputation and is at odds with recent efforts to elevate human rights concerns within the UN system.”
The Burma Army continues to be engaged in ongoing operations against several armed groups in the north of the country including the Kachin Independence Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, the Shan State Army-North and the Kokang-based Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army. Recent clashes between the army and a splinter group from the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army have also taken place in Karen State. Rights groups allege that despite the recent change in government, the army continues in its operations to routinely commit serious abuses against civilians including summary executions and rape.
Andrew Selth, an Australian academic and author of several books and papers on Burma’s military believes that Burma’s armed forces would benefit from having their troops take part in UN missions. “If Burma’s security forces are to learn about international norms of behavior, devise better ways of doing things and be exposed to issues beyond their narrow experience, then participation in UN operations offers a way ahead. The alternative is to deny them such opportunities and perpetuate the blinkered thinking that has contributed to Burma’s current problems,” he wrote in a piece that appeared in May 2014 on the Lowy Interpreter, a website operated by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, an Australian think tank.
Burma’s involvement in UN peacekeeping missions comes at a time when the blue helmets are themselves under increased scrutiny following a serious of high profile scandals involving UN peacekeepers around the globe. The UN mission in South Sudan, which Burma is now participating in, was heavily criticized for its failure to come to the aid of a group of international aid workers who were raped by government troops in a compound located very close to the UN base in the capital Juba on July 11.
UN peacekeepers from Nepal, who were stationed in Haiti in 2010, have been identified as the source of a deadly outbreak of cholera in the country which killed more than 10,000 people. The UN only recently acknowledged that the Nepali troops, who were stationed upstream from the village where cholera first broke out, were the source of the lethal outbreak. The world body continues to fight a series of lawsuits filed in the US by lawyers representing victims of the outbreak, who argue that the UN was responsible for the substandard sanitation system at the Nepali troop base which helped trigger the massive health crisis.
Information available on the history of UN peacekeeping on the UN website shows that Burma sent troops to take part in a small number of UN missions during the early days of the global body. Burma contributed troops to a mission to the Congo in the early 1960s. The last deployment of Burmese troops to UN peacekeeping operations appears to have been for a mission created in response to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.
Under the mission, which lasted from Sept. 1965 to March 1966, Burmese troops participated as part of an observer force supervising the ceasefire between India and Pakistan, and the withdrawal of forces following the end of hostilities between the two sides.
Three ethnic Ta’ang organisations this week accused the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) of maintaining a campaign of closing schools, detaining civilians and monks, recruiting locals as soldiers, and looting households in Ta’ang areas.
Speaking at a press conference in Rangoon this week, the three groups – Ta-ang Students and Youth Association; Ta-ang Women’s Organization; and Ta-ang Party – said that the SSA-S had broken Chapter 3, Article 9 of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement – Protection of Civilians.
The SSA-S is one of eight signatories to the ceasefire accord – nine including the Burmese military – which it signed on 15 October last year under its official name: Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army, or RCSS.
Speaking to DVB after the press conference, group spokesperson Mai Se Ret said, “The RCSS has continued committing human rights abuses even after signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. They have closed down a total of 55 schools, and driven out the teachers. And when eight Buddhist monks went to oversee the re-opening of a school, they were arrested and detained by the Shan army.”
He said that the eight monks had later been released after pleas from local people and the township monkhood.
Mai Se Ret added: “Also, the RCSS has been threatening to arrest and forcibly conscript into their ranks anyone who tries to move out of the area.”
However, when contacted by DVB by telephone, RCSS/SSA spokesman Col. Sai Leik rejected the accusations and said that all ethnic Ta’ang people, also known as the Palaung, were welcome “to come and discuss their problems with RCSS representatives”.
The SSA-S spokesman said, “We have already spoken to the Ta’ang Party about the opening of schools. We will even help by providing materials. Education should be promoted. But, before re-opening schools, they should come and talk with us because the schools are in our area of control and we want to avoid misunderstandings.
“As for the accusations of arbitrary detention, we need a list of names, with details and evidence. We will review any cases, and clear them transparently, step by step.
“We are always ready to resolve issues by peaceful means,” said the RCSS spokesman.
Asked about the allegations it had contravened the NCA, Col. Sai La said the accord was signed between the RCSS and the government; therefore the terms only apply to issues between those two parties.
Ever since the RCSS/SSA signed the NCA last year, relations have been tense between the Shan army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, which has bases in overlapping areas to the SSA-S. Those tensions boiled over in recent months and the two ethnic militias, formerly allies, have engaged in a spate of clashes with the Burmese military said to be backing the RCSS/SSA.
The recent census results highlight the gap in access to education and family planning options for women living in rural areas, say human rights and non-governmental organisations.
Married women in Chin State give birth to nine children on average, compared to four in Rangoon, according to the 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census Thematic Report on Fertility and Nuptiality.
Chin human rights activist Cheery Zahau believes that the high fertility rate in Chin State is linked to the low high-school completion rate in her region.
She says that the government needs to invest in education to give more women opportunities. “I have been strongly advocating for a long time that the education system needs to be decentralised,” she said in a telephone interview with DVB on Thursday. “The central government says if you have 500 people you get a high school, but in Chin State there are so many small villages so they just need one or two teachers–not one teacher per subject.”
The adolescent fertility rate is 33 births annually per 1,000 women aged 15-19, with regional highs in Shan and Chin states. A lack of awareness and access to contraception are some of the factors contributing to the high fertility rate.
“Looking at the high adolescent rate–these are exactly the things we want to be avoiding. Girls have a right to complete their education,” said Janet E. Jackson, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative for Burma, noting that births by very young women are also of concern as they can often result in health problems for both mother and child.
Jackson advocates a multi-sectored approach with investments in education and health. “It’s about being able to complete education, and encourage and support girls in their secondary education and beyond to prepare them for adulthood and a career.”
The census data raises other issues that need to be addressed–such as options for unwanted pregnancies, and the country’s high maternal mortality rate.
Jackson points to the fertility surveys data — 24 percent of maternal mortality incidents in the year before the April 2014 census were among 15- 24 year olds. “All of these were preventable,” she said.
On a positive note, more information and choices for contraception are slowly being put on the table for women in Burma.
“One of the biggest barriers is access, and about presenting comprehensive information and services to young people so if they want counselling or certain situations they can do so and link to health providers,” explained the UNFPA representative.
UNFPA is working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sports to introduce sex education in schools. In addition, 70 health centres nationwide are promoting ‘youth corners’ where young people can have a quiet space to access information and talk together. They are also rolling out a new programme that will provide US$1 million worth of implant contraceptives, part of $2.6 million to be directed towards reproductive health-related supplies.
Although investment in healthcare is still lacking in isolated areas such as Chin State, a few small improvements have been noted since 2011. “There’s been some progress such as mini-clinics set up in each township but there they do not always have a regular doctor, only a nurse,” said Cheery Zahau.
Thang Khan Tuang of Chin Natural Resource Watch echoed the sentiment that coordinated development in the region is inadequate. “It’s not just a lack of services but also, in my opinion, because Chin people are still using agriculture systems from the 19th century,” she told DVB. “Young people have no technical support or new job opportunities—so this cycle of poverty just goes round again and again.”
A lack of knowledge about healthcare contributes to inadequate nutrition in women, which can in turn affect the well-being of young mothers. “In Chin State, they have enough vegetables but they don’t know how to utilise them with other supplements such as milk. This is resulting in high malnutrition rates,” said Cheery Zahau.
Another influence on the high birth rate is culture and religion. The majority of Chins are Christians; contraception is still frowned upon according to their faith, said Cheery Zahau.
Notwithstanding these crucial issues, other indicators gleaned from the 2014 census suggest a progressive trend in Burmese women’s sense of independence.
For example, the average age for a woman’s first marriage has risen from 21.3 years in 1973 to 23.6. Burma also has the second highest ratio in the Southeast Asian region of women who never marry. It is more than four times higher than in Laos, and more than double that of Vietnam and Cambodia.
“It may be linked to women becoming more independent at ages of 35 to 45, and not wanting to have a family,” suggested Nan Htwe, the programme co-ordinator of Akhaya Women, an organisation that provides support for women to challenge gender stereotypes.
In Myanmar, an earthquake measuring 6.8 occurred on August 24th in central Mandaly, which damaged one of the country’s most sacred regions of Bagan. According to local media reports, there were 449 Buddhist stupas damaged by the earthquake, along with four casualties deceased unfortunately. There were several schools forced to suspend classes due to the earthquakes suffer.
In order to provide humanitarian care for the victims in central Myanmar, volunteers of Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in Myanmar organized a team visited the damaged villages at early September for a two-day evaluation.
Because there were many pagodas in the sacred city of Bagan seriously damaged in this disaster, the Buddhists and Dharma Masters felt especially miserable. Some local volunteering groups initiated the reconstruction assignments, many residents including the group of Dharma Masters joined together to help. The government also sent teams to assist the reconstruction cooperating with these volunteering groups in cleaning up after the earthquake.
Besides the Buddhist stupas, Tzu Chi volunteers visited the other places to evaluate the damaged status. When Tzu Chi volunteers visited the family whose son was the victim sacrificed in this earthquake, and their daughter was also injured by the fallen wooden beam, they comforted this heartbroken family with love and offer consolation cash helping them to restrain their grief from this difficult time.
On the 2nd day, Tzu Chi volunteers continued to survey the disaster areas. They visited some villages located near the epicenter of Chauk. Luckily, the disaster situation was not serious there and children from affected households were still being able to go to school without impact. Despite the difficult situation, the residents in West PhwarSaw Village initiated a ochRice Savingoch Fundraising activity to prepare the funding of the auditorium rebuilding locally. Tzu Chi volunteers delivered the consoling with love to these Residents and blessed their reconstruction can be completed smoothly.
Yangon, Myanmar | AFP | Saturday 10/1/2016 - 11:05 GMT |
A two-year-old girl was killed and two children injured Saturday after their village was hit by heavy artillery in Myanmar's rebel-held north, an activist and local resident said, the latest violence to threaten the new government's peace bid.
The shots were reportedly fired in Pu Wang village in northern Shan state, an area bordering China where ethnic minority rebels are locked in a long-running battle with the Myanmar army.
Sporadic clashes in the region have displaced tens of thousands of people and dampened enthusiasm for a peace push driven by Myanmar's newly elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
"It happened in the morning today when these three children were playing. Six powerful shots were fired into the village," Ying Sau, a pastor in the ethnic Kachin village, told AFP.
His nephew's two-year-old daughter was killed, while two children, ages 5 and 6, were injured and taken across the border to a hospital in China, he said.
Khon Ja, an activist from the Kachin Peace Network, also reported the death and posted photos on Facebook of the injured children receiving treatment in China's Yunnan province.
Both blamed the heavy firing on the Myanmar army, which AFP could not reach for comment.
Myanmar's restive borderlands have been rocked by several outbreaks of violence in recent weeks, only a month after Suu Kyi launched a major peace dialogue aimed at ending the simmering insurgencies.
Her summit brought many key players to the table for early peace talks, though several powerful ethnic militias actively clashing with state troops did not attend.
The US Embassy in Yangon said in a statement Friday it was "deeply concerned" by ongoing fighting in Kachin, a state just north of the town where the children were hit Saturday.
"The increase in conflict in this area has led to suffering and dislocation of local populations. It also has the potential to undermine the progress and goodwill generated by the recent Union Peace Conference," the embassy said.
Around 100,000 people are currently displaced in Shan and Kachin states due to the violence, according to UN figures.
More than a dozen ethnic minority groups have waged insurgencies against the Myanmar army since the country won independence from Britain in 1948.
Suu Kyi, whose new civilian government ends five decades of military rule, is determined to end the fighting.
But the conflicts are complex and experts say the peace process will take years.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
Find the A4 version of the map here.
Find the A4 version of the map here.
The Humanitarian News Digest is a monthly compilation of links to reports, web stories, press releases, and other public products published online by organizations with humanitarian operations in Myanmar. The content and views expressed in these publications do not necessarily reflect the views of OCHA.
Jointly organized with the Bangladesh Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, an earthquake simulation brought together key emergency response agencies, including government officials, NGOs and United Nations agencies in Sylhet on 30 August. The simulation exercise is designed to improve logistical readiness in order to reduce the impact of a future urban disaster.
WFP Bangladesh participated in the first South Asia School Feeding Meeting held in Bhutan from 16 to 19 August, aimed to facilitate knowledge management and implementation of capacity development on school feeding. A draft roadmap was formulated in a Dhaka stakeholder consultation on 23 and 24 August using the System Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) framework facilitated by the Regional Bureau.
Following the effects of Cyclone Roanu, the first of two rounds of cash transfers was completed to 20,000 flood-affected people in Southern Bangladesh. A senior woman in each of the 4,000 participating households receives 4,000 taka per distribution round (totalling USD 100 over two rounds) to purchase food and replenish other necessities lost. The funding is provided by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
The WFP Bangladesh nutrition unit has been engaging with the formulation of the National Plan of Action for Nutrition, which is reaching finalisation. WFP led the work stream on nutrition-sensitive key action areas, with a special focus on social protection, ensuring this key action area is reflected in the multi-sectoral plan.
On 31 August 2016, the Honourable State Minister of Women and Children Affairs welcomed 6,000 women from six districts across the country into the Investment Component of the Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programme, as part of the Government’s efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.
Starting in 2015, the programme will have provided fortified rice, business development, life skills and nutrition training and cash for investment to more than 21,000 women and their families by 2018.
Including family members, nearly 100,000 people will benefit from the project.
A pioneer rice miller is ready to sell fortified rice under its own brand name “Good Health” in the local market.
WFP has been providing necessary technical assistance to the company in establishing its first blending unit. Initially, the fortified rice is expected to be sold in various retail stores of Sirajganj district followed by expansion to Dhaka district. To mark the initiation of commercial sale, an inauguration ceremony was held on 9 August with participation of the District Commissioner, partners and WFP.
Under the Enhancing Food Security and Nutrition programme (EFSN) and the PRRO, the SCOPE platform was fully rolled out by August, enabling food and cash transfers and monitoring of utilisation in Cox’s Bazar.
This Situation Update describes events occurring in Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District between June and October 2015, including killing, forced labour, forced recruitment, a religious issue and education.
• Three villagers who lived in C--- village were violently murdered by Commander Hpah Mee of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) in 2015. The victims’ relatives were left behind in mourning after the victims were killed.
• The villagers who live in Meh Pree village tract were forced to do labour during their harvest season by the Border Guard Force (BGF) Battalion #1013 and #1014, led by Bo La Kyel and Bo Maung Chit. The villagers had to pay 5000 kyat [US $4.08] per day if they did not go to labour for the BGF.
• The KNLA forcibly recruited soldiers in Bu Tho Township on August 15th 2015. The villagers fled to Myaing Gyi Ngu Town to escape from the forced recruitment. The teachers and 51 students from E--- School fled to Myaing Gyi Ngu Town due to the fear of the KNLA forced recruitment.
• Stupas were built by Sayadaw U Thuzana in five villagers’ house compounds in Htee Th’Daw Hta village tract. Villages complained about the religious conflict that this caused.
WFP has reached 95 percent of 188,340 people in need of food with emergency food assistance.
WFP has employed cash transfers in emergency flood response, targeting 19,426 affected people in Kangyidaung and Pathein Townships of Ayeyarwaddy Region.
In August, 474,490 people were affected by seasonal floods across Myanmar. Rapid assessments undertaken by WFP in coordination with relevant governmental departments and partners resulted in 188,340 people in need of WFP’s assistance. As of end-August, WFP assisted 179,520 people with food baskets (rice, pulses, oil and salt) and high-energy biscuits in 14 townships in Ayeyarwaddy, Bago,
Magway and Mandalay Regions, and in Rakhine State.
Meanwhile in Pathein Township of Ayeyarwaddy, 10,610 people received USD 48,200 due to reliable market access, which is a pre-condition for cash transfers. Relief assistance in cash transfers will be continued for another 8,800 flood victims in Kangyidaung and Pathein Townships.
In August, the new displacement of 400 civilians was reported in Kachin State, resulting from escalated skirmishes between government military forces and Kachin Independence Army. With stringent restrictions of access to areas hosting the new IDPs, only local NGOs and religious organizations managed to assess and assist as necessary. Since May, WFP’s access to areas beyond the Government’s control has been hampered despite its reiterated requests.
In late August, there were several reports of military offensives waged between government military forces and Ta`ang National Liberation Army, Shan State Army and other unidentified ethnic armed groups in northern and southern Shan States. Although initial information demonstrated no new displacements, it cannot be verified due to security threats. The security situation has become precarious with heavy deployment and fluid movement of armed forces in areas, culminated in humanitarian access being disrupted. As a result, WFP’s food deliveries to Kut Khai, Nam Kham, Man Tone Townships in northern Shan State have been halted by local authorities.
With an aim to ascertain the effectiveness of coordination mechanism when responding to emergencies, a state level simulation exercise (SIMEX) was held on 24-25 August in Rakhine State. WFP and UNOCHA led the exercise with 30 officials and staff members from relevant governmental departments, United Nations agencies and international NGOs. As Rakhine State is prone to natural disasters, the exercise focused on a tropical cyclone scenario.
Application of standard operation procedures, desk review, and collaboration and interactions between clusters were assessed through the exercise. The report is due to be published in September.
By LAWI WENG / THE IRRAWADDY| Thursday, September 29, 2016 |
RANGOON – Authorities in Putao Township, Kachin State, issued an order to an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp saying agencies and groups need permission to deliver aid.
Nang Ram, a camp leader from Lung Tsut IDP camp in Putao, said that the ward administrator came to the camp on Sept. 19 and presented the statement.
“He didn’t explain anything; he just gave the letter and left,” said Nang Ram. “He’s never done that before.” She added that no one has prevented aid being delivered to the camp.
The order statement declared that NGOs, international NGOs, religious groups, and civil society organizations (CSOs) who want to give donations to Lung Tsut IDP camp must first get “permission from the Kachin State government.”
The Irrawaddy asked an NLD-member and lawmaker from Putao, Moe Swe, about the statement. After speaking to the chief minister of Kachin State, Moe Swe said that the government did not issue the order.
However, the chief minister did tell Moe Swe that the government restricts foreign aid groups from traveling to conflict areas, and that international organizations should inform the state government if they want to travel to Putao for the purpose of delivering aid.
Dau Kha of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army, said the Burma Army had accused the KIO of using aid donated by international groups.
“They [Burma Army] view everyone with a different view point from theirs as an enemy. But international aid groups will not devalue their name by giving aid to the KIO,” Dau Kha said.
Dau Kha said his organization would not accept aid from civil society organizations, which, he added, is “only for IDPs.”
Restrictions on aid to IDP camps has occurred in other areas, according to Kachin rights groups. The Burma Army seized medicine from the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) in eastern Kachin State on Aug. 25 this year, they claim.
The medicine, which had a value of 10 million kyats (nearly US$8,000), was donated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and was supposed to be delivered to IDP camps in Pa Kahtawng, Zai Awng and Masat Shadaw, near the border with China. The Burma Army returned the medicine in early September.
“We need to get permission,” said Lama Yaw, communication officer of KBC. “Our aid was seized last month because they said that we did not have permission.”
In order to provide medical care for the survivors of floods in Myanmar, Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation have continued to partner with local hospitals to hold free clinics for cataract sufferers throughout the country. Over the past 6 years, we have served some 5,000 patients helping them regain their vision. Following an earlier humanitarian relief of rice distribution in Taikkyi Township, the medical team traveled to this location to host a free clinic and performed cataract surgeries for about 100 seniors.
Tzu Chi volunteers from Yangon, Myanmar headed to a temple in Taikkyi Township to hold a free medical clinic and check the eyes of the patients before they undergo a surgery. Some 100 patients suffered from cataract and need to receive an operation to regain their vision.
U Ba Sit, one of patients, said that: "When I was about 2 years old, I was naughty that I threw broken glass up in the air, causing one of my eyes to become blind. Now I have cataract in the other eye. Life has become difficult since I lost vision in both of my eyes."
Since 2011, Tzu Chi volunteers have continued to partner with local hospitals to offer free medical services for cataract sufferers throughout Myanmar, benefiting more than 5,400 patients.
Nay Lin, Yadarna Hospital superintendent, shared that: "I can collaborate with charity groups from abroad with my specialty to help patients. I feel thankful and will continue to work with Tzu Chi to host free clinics for cataract sufferers."
In the operating room, the doctors made every effort to help the patients regain their vision. After the successful surgery, patients were happily sharing the joyous news.
U Wee Mar Lar, one of patients, also said that: "As a missionary, I need my vision to read Buddhist sutras. I feel lucky to have received surgery from you free of charge. I am surprised that I can still regain my vision even though I am old."
U Kyaw Khin, one of Tzu Chi volunteers, shared that: "After Tzu Chi helped these cataract sufferers to regain their vision, they felt blessed and loved. They can spread the love they have received from Tzu Chi throughout their hometown to help the needy."
Tzu Chi volunteers not only accompanied the patients to receive medical treatment, but as well continued to care for them with post surgery checkups, allowing them creating a better future with a clear vision.
World: IASC Task Team on Accountability to Affected Populations, and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (AAP/PSEA) - Progress Report January 2016-Sept 2016
Foster a culture of accountability and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse at all levels of the humanitarian system.
Encourage institutionalization of AAP and PSEA within humanitarian organizations, including local and national NGOs, INGOs, Red Cross Red Crescent movement and UN Agencies.
Support operationalization of AAP and PSEA at collective level as well as individual agency level.
Support Humanitarian Country Teams operationalise accountability and PSEA, including provision of technical support (both remotely and on site), capturing and sharing good practice on AAP and PSEA, and dissemination of practical guidance for cluster and the intercluster coordination groups on strengthening AAP and Protection throughout the Humanitarian Program Cycle;
AAP/PSEA placement within humanitarian procedures and processes in the field: Mapping of current initiatives, interagency projects and key reports related to AAP and PSEA in 2016; Support the reinforcement of the responsibilities on AAP and PSEA for the Humanitarian Coordinator role
Ensure the PSEA workstream complements other PSEA-related initiatives and addresses gaps at the field and global levels, strengthen investigation and protection responses to SEA allegations, Support issues raised following the CBCM pilots and during the discussion on global SOPs
It is often people’s immediate community that provides the first, last and perhaps best tactical response for many people affected by or under threat of displacement. In the 23 feature theme articles in this issue of FMR, authors from around the world – including authors who are themselves displaced – explore the capacity of communities to organise themselves before, during and after displacement in ways that help protect the community.
FMR 53 also includes eight ‘general’ articles on other aspects of forced migration.
This situation analysis is the first ever study in Myanmar to provide a systematic understanding of the experiences of children with disabilities and their families, informed by robust, qualitative evidence.
Children with disabilities have the same rights as all children. Given the same opportunities to flourish as any other child, they have the potential to lead fulfilling, dignified lives and to contribute to the social, cultural, and economic vitality of their communities. Yet surviving and thriving can be especially difficult for children with disabilities. Across the world, they face challenges as a result of their impairments and the many barriers that society casts in their way.
According to the World Health Organization’s Report on Disability, approximately one billion people in the world are living with a disability, with at least 1 in 10 being children and 80% living in developing countries.
They are often likely to be among the poorest members of the population, to have limited access to education, and to be at greater risk of violence. Their disabilities also often exclude them from receiving proper humanitarian assistance in emergencies.
To address these disparities, a country needs relevant and high quality data to guide policy formulation and implementation Myanmar is no exception. To deliver on their commitments under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Myanmar signed in 2011, policy makers require solid evidence on which to base their decisions.
This Situation Analysis of Children with Disabilities in Myanmar aims to bridge this information gap. It analyses the current situation of children with disabilities in relation to realizing their rights and accessing basic services, as well as their life experiences in their communities. It focuses on identifying the barriers created by society that prevent children with disabilities from enjoying their human rights. This includes identifying negative attitudes; environmental and communication barriers; gaps in policies or their effective implementation. The report also reveals that children with disabilities in Myanmar are less likely to access services in health or education; rarely have their voices heard in society; and face daily discrimination as objects of pity. It also highlights how inadequate policies and legislation contribute to the challenges these children face.
This study is the result of a close collaboration between the Department of Social Welfare, Ministry of Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement and UNICEF. It also benefited from the generous financial support of Development Partners Australia, Denmark, EU, Norway and the UK under the Myanmar Quality Basic Education Programme (QBEP), for which we would like to express our deepest thanks.
UNICEF hopes that the information available in this publication will be used by policy makers, development partners and Disabled Persons Organisations to promote the realization of the rights of all children with disabilities. The document should also help guide mainstreaming of disability across all of our policies and programmes, both in development and humanitarian action, to improve the quality and inclusivity of social services provided.
This Situation Analysis is thus an attempt to make visible what is otherwise kept invisible – the plight of children living with disabilities. In this way, the analysis can inform positive responses to disability in Myanmar, and strengthen our joint commitment to the rights of these children, and their inclusion and participation in the lives of their communities,– as a matter of principle, equity, and for the benefit of all.
Bertrand Bainvel UNICEF Myanmar Representative
Nay Pyi Taw, 27 September 2016- The first ever situation analysis in Myanmar to provide a systematic understanding of the experiences of children with disabilities and their families was launched today by the Department of Social Welfare, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, in collaboration with UNICEF.
The study, which was supported by the Multi Donor Education Fund, comprising Australia, Denmark, the European Union, Norway and the United Kingdom, analyses the current situation of children with disabilities in relation to realizing their rights and accessing basic services, as well as their life experiences in their communities. It also focuses on identifying the barriers created by society that prevent children with disabilities from enjoying their human rights. This includes identifying negative attitudes; environmental and communication barriers; gaps in policies or their effective implementation.
“By providing analysis and information on the challenges and barriers faced by children with disabilities in their daily lives, and in accessing social services, this report sets out the key areas where action is urgently required to ensure their social inclusion and full participation in society”, explained Dr. U Win Myat Aye, Minister, Ministry of Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement. “Therefore, I encourage all stakeholders to study the report, consider its recommendations, and support national efforts to enhance the realisation of rights for children with disabilities”.
The report reveals that children with disabilities in Myanmar are less likely to access services in health or education; rarely have their voices heard in society; and face daily discrimination as objects of pity. It also highlights how inadequate policies and legislation contribute to the challenges these children face.
The information available in this publication should be useful for policy makers, development partners and Disabled Persons Organisations to promote the realization of the rights of all children with disabilities, as stated in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which the country signed in 2011. The situation analysis can also help guide mainstreaming of disability across all policies and programmes, both in development and humanitarian action, to improve the quality and inclusivity of social services provided.
“This situation analysis is thus an attempt to make visible what is otherwise kept invisible - the plight of children living with disabilities”, said Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar. “In this way, the analysis can inform positive responses to disability in Myanmar, and strengthen our joint commitment to the rights of these children, and their inclusion and participation in Myanmar society - as a matter of principle, equity, and for the benefit of all.”
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 and its work in Myanmar. Please visit: http://www.unicef.org/myanmar. Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unicefmyanmar
For more information please contact:
Mariana Palavra, Communication Specialist, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09795452618, firstname.lastname@example.org
Htet Htet Oo, Communication Officer, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09250075238, email@example.com