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Bangladesh: Bangladesh: Red Crescent provides relief for displaced communities in makeshift camps in Cox's Bazar as living conditions worsen

8 March 2017 - 3:50am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

By Khaleda Akhter Laboni, BDRCS and Talha, Yasif, IFRC

Dill Mohammad, one of the 69,000 Muslims from Rakhine, arrived in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in the last quarter of 2016, due to an upsurge of violence in the northern part of Rakhine State in Myanmar.

“We never imagined that life can bring us such uncertainty,” says Mohammad. “It is a time to survive and such a struggle to overcome our situation.”

Population movement is not a new event in this area. For the past three decades, the affected communities have migrated to the coastal upazilas or sub districts of Teknaf and Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar, where they live either as registered or unregistered refugees. 32,700 people are currently living in two official camps, Nayapara and Kutupalang. Apart from the registered refugees living in the official camps, there are between 300,000 to 500,000 others who have been living in makeshift camps or in host communities for the past 30 years.

With the new influx of displaced population arriving in Bangladesh, thousands of families like the Mohammads are being deprived of their basic needs. Without pre-planned measures to ensure good health and with poorly maintained latrines and tube wells, living in such vulnerable conditions could easily trigger the spread of diseases. The lack of food, safe drinking water, adequate shelter and clothing is exacerbating conditions, making life in the settlements a misery.

Most of the families end up queuing in both registered and unregistered camps in Cox’s Bazar with hopes of receiving support. The newly established makeshift shelters around the camps have little to no safe drinking water. The displaced communities were receiving only two pitchers of water each day prior to the influx. Now, there isn’t enough water to serve both camps.

In response to the situation, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society has been operating mobile medical camps in Teknaf and Ukhiya since January 2017, providing health services, restoring family links and distributing non-food items.

“To date, the Red Crescent has served more than 2,000 patients, and we will continue to look after families like the Mohammads to ensure their wellbeing,” explains Dr. Hasan, the Bangladesh Red Crescent’s focal person for the Health Project in Cox’s Bazar.

The Red Crescent, working together with IOM and local authorities, distributed relief items received from the Malaysian Government via its ship, the Malaysian Flotilla, to over 13,800 families. “Over 12,000 of these families have been identified in the Ukhiya and Teknaf sub-districts during an assessment conducted by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Youth volunteers,” says Salim Ahmed, the Myanmar Refugee Relief Operation Coordinator at the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, Cox’s Bazar Unit. “An additional 12,200 bags of food and non-food items like blankets have also been distributed.”

Shahadat Himel, a Red Crescent Youth volunteer at the Cox’s bazar unit, explains that updating the database about new arrivals to the camp is a constant challenge. “Not only are they moving from place to place in search of food or shelter,” says Himel. “Every day, different people are arriving and seeking to be registered for support. We have to work hard to make sure that their needs are met and that they are registered.”

Earlier in the year, the Red Crescent distributed jerrycans and blankets among 2,000 families living in the camps, with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) disaster relief emergency fund (DREF). As the scale of the disaster continues to grow, the IFRC will be launching an appeal to support the Bangladesh Red Crescent in delivering humanitarian assistance to the affected population.

Bangladesh: Bangladesh: Increased number of Muslims from Rakhine deteriorates humanitarian situation in Cox’s Bazar's makeshift camps

8 March 2017 - 3:50am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

By Khaleda Akhter Laboni, BDRCS and Talha, Yasif, IFRC

Dill Mohammad, one of the 69,000 Muslims from Rakhine, arrived in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in the last quarter of 2016, due to an upsurge of violence in the northern part of Rakhine State in Myanmar.

“We never imagined that life can bring us such uncertainty,” says Mohammad. “It is a time to survive and such a struggle to overcome our situation.”

Population movement is not a new event in this area. For the past three decades, the affected communities have migrated to the coastal upazilas or sub districts of Teknaf and Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar, where they live either as registered or unregistered refugees. 32,700 people are currently living in two official camps, Nayapara and Kutupalang. Apart from the registered refugees living in the official camps, there are between 300,000 to 500,000 others who have been living in makeshift camps or in host communities for the past 30 years.

With the new influx of displaced population arriving in Bangladesh, thousands of families like the Mohammads are being deprived of their basic needs. Without pre-planned measures to ensure good health and with poorly maintained latrines and tube wells, living in such vulnerable conditions could easily trigger the spread of diseases. The lack of food, safe drinking water, adequate shelter and clothing is exacerbating conditions, making life in the settlements a misery.

Most of the families end up queuing in both registered and unregistered camps in Cox’s Bazar with hopes of receiving support. The newly established makeshift shelters around the camps have little to no safe drinking water. The displaced communities were receiving only two pitchers of water each day prior to the influx. Now, there isn’t enough water to serve both camps.

In response to the situation, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society has been operating mobile medical camps in Teknaf and Ukhiya since January 2017, providing health services, restoring family links and distributing non-food items.

“To date, the Red Crescent has served more than 2,000 patients, and we will continue to look after families like the Mohammads to ensure their wellbeing,” explains Dr. Hasan, the Bangladesh Red Crescent’s focal person for the Health Project in Cox’s Bazar.

The Red Crescent, working together with IOM and local authorities, distributed relief items received from the Malaysian Government via its ship, the Malaysian Flotilla, to over 13,800 families. “Over 12,000 of these families have been identified in the Ukhiya and Teknaf sub-districts during an assessment conducted by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Youth volunteers,” says Salim Ahmed, the Myanmar Refugee Relief Operation Coordinator at the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, Cox’s Bazar Unit. “An additional 12,200 bags of food and non-food items like blankets have also been distributed.”

Shahadat Himel, a Red Crescent Youth volunteer at the Cox’s bazar unit, explains that updating the database about new arrivals to the camp is a constant challenge. “Not only are they moving from place to place in search of food or shelter,” says Himel. “Every day, different people are arriving and seeking to be registered for support. We have to work hard to make sure that their needs are met and that they are registered.”

Earlier in the year, the Red Crescent distributed jerrycans and blankets among 2,000 families living in the camps, with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) disaster relief emergency fund (DREF). As the scale of the disaster continues to grow, the IFRC will be launching an appeal to support the Bangladesh Red Crescent in delivering humanitarian assistance to the affected population.

Thailand: Suicide Attempts in Refugee Camp Linked to Drug and Alcohol Abuse

8 March 2017 - 2:18am
Source: The Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar, Thailand

By Saw Yan Naing

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — A growing number of suicide cases in a Burmese refugee camp in Mae La, Thailand has raised concerns with camp authorities.

Saw Honest, the chairman of Mae La camp which hosts around 40,000 refugees, told The Irrawaddy that there were 54 reported suicide attempts in 2016, in which the majority died.

“It is alarming, so we tried to find out what was behind it,” said Saw Honest.

Community leaders and camp authorities said alcohol and drug abuse were key factors in the rise, along with cases of domestic violence.

Saw Honest said between 20 and 30 of the cases were tied to domestic violence, brought on by drug and alcohol abuse.

Camp authorities said the most commonly abused substance was alcohol, but methamphetamines and marijuana were used as well, despite drug and alcohol use being banned in camps along the Thai-Burma border. Mae La is situated in Thailand’s Tak Province near the Thai town of Mae Sot, where authorities say drugs and alcohol are traded.

There are nine refugee camps along the border, with Mae La reporting the highest number of attempted suicides.

Naw Blooming Night Zar, a spokesperson for the Karen Refugee Committee (KRC), told The Irrawaddy that the victims are both men and women, old and young—and that most of the suicide attempts occur in the camp’s Zone B.

Naw Blooming Night Zar said depression and underage marriage were additional causes.

“We educate the refugees in hopes of preventing these attempts. We organize forums and show educational videos to raise awareness,” she said.

Camp leaders have said that in their opinion, resettlement is not a leading cause of suicide, but that drugs and alcohol are the pertinent issues.

The KRC along with other community-based organizations such as the Karen Women’s Organization (KWO) have provided education and awareness training.

Blooming Night Zar said two suicide cases have been reported thus far in 2017—one in Mae La camp and another in Mae Ra Ma Luang camp in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province.

Myanmar: Guest Column: They Call It a Crime: Being Born Non-Bamar in a Conflict Zone

8 March 2017 - 2:16am
Source: The Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By Stella Naw

On a winter night on the China-Burma border, I sat cramped in a small house with two dozen people, members of five Kachin families who had recently been displaced by fighting in Mong Ko, also on the border in northern Shan State. The purpose of my trip was to research and document the impact of conflict in the region; I stayed up late into the night listening to the stories of the displaced.

The following day I was taken to meet more members of the Kachin community in other internally displaced people’s (IDP) camps in the surrounding area. Even in the face of tragedy, the individuals I met were accommodating and kind, and invited me to visit them in Mong Ko someday, under better circumstances.

Kachin Baptist Convention Members Arrested

Weeks later, I was informed that two of the men who were staying in the house that night—65-year-old Dumdaw Nawng Lat and 35-year-old Langjaw Gam Seng, a pastor and youth leader, respectively, from the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC)—had been detained by the Burma Army.

They were charged under Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act, accused of providing support to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).

Community members speculated that the two men had been arrested on December 24 because they took a group of Burmese journalists to visit the site of a church recently destroyed by rockets fired from a Burma Army fighter jet. In doing so, they had revealed what the state-run media had tried to cover up in Mong Ko: that the Burma Army had attacked a religious compound.

Just as it has been documented that women from ethnic areas have been targeted by institutionalized sexual violence, with rape used as a weapon of war in conflict zones, Article 17(1) has often been used against male members of ethnic communities as a form of collective punishment. The law states that those who are found to be members or supporters of an organization deemed “unlawful” can be sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison.

Since the Burma Army broke its 17-year ceasefire with the KIA in June 2011, the number of Kachin people charged under 17(1) has been steadily increasing.

A Special Dossier distributed in 2013 by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and Asian Legal Resource Centre documented 36 cases in which Article 17(1) was used to charge Kachin men in Kachin State, during 2011 and 2012.

The Kachin Lawyers’ Network reported 50 such cases between 2011 and 2014.

In 2016, more than 50 people were arrested and charged under the statute, including 49 youths—six of whom were women—who were returning from attending an agricultural training in Mai Ja Yang, an education hub for civilians living in the KIO-administered area. In the November 2016 report A Far Cry From Peace, the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand said that 116 Kachin individuals had been arbitrarily detained and tortured by the Burma Army over previous year, suspected of having links to armed groups like the KIA. Given the isolation of the rural northern regions, one could argue that these numbers might, in fact, be even higher, as gathering information in a conflict zone is an ever-difficult task.

Recently, All-Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) member U Min Htay, whose group signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the government in 2015—an act though to have ended his own organization’s “unlawful” status—was detained for associating with the KIO.

The Unlawful Association Act originated in the India Act XIV of 1908. Drafted by the British, this colonial-era law is now benefitting the Burma Army in its effort to delegitimize and undermine political demands made by ethnic armed organizations by outlawing these entities as “enemies of the state.”

Once charged, a person’s sentence always is accompanied by the possibility of extension, due to a corrupt and nontransparent legal procedure still largely controlled by the institution of the military.

One of the most well known cases is that of Lahpai Gam, a Kachin man detained after being accused of being a KIA major responsible for several bomb blasts. Over a four-year detention period, before he was sentenced to 21 years in prison in 2016, he was subjected to degradation, which included severe beatings and sexual abuse. The elected National League for Democracy (NLD) government was not responsive to calls from rights groups and the United Nations to free him.

After calls from local and international rights organizations demanding the whereabouts of the two men from the KBC, Burma’s President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay responded on January 10 to media that it was the KIA who had taken them, and not the Burma Army. As the calls grew louder, on January 19 the military publicly acknowledged the arrest of the two men, under Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act.

Effects on the Kachin Community

In Kachin and northern Shan states, many of the men targeted by Article 17(1) have resided in rural areas and have had access only to primary school education, according to the AHRC’s Special Dossier report. These men have been displaced multiple times, and often their arrests occur at IDP camps or while performing menial jobs near these camps.

As the sole providers for their families, their detention puts a particular strain on their dependents. Many families of those arrested under 17(1) have exhausted their savings or accumulated debt fighting the charges through multiple court appointments. In their report, the AHRC describes how the wife of one accused man had attended nine court dates in less than two months while living in an IDP camp. She was forced into debt in order to pay for the legal process.

As we speak, the KBC’s Dumdaw Nawng Lat and Langjaw Gam Seng, as well as the 49 youths studying agriculture in Mai Ja Yang, are awaiting access to legal assistance to defend themselves against charges of “unlawful association” with the KIA. We must ensure that they receive reparations for the injustices that they continue to suffer.

Those of us who envision a peaceful Burma must put pressure on the authorities—both the government and Burma Army—to immediately repeal the Unlawful Association Act. The newly created “terrorist” label, which can be assigned through the statute, is a tool to exclude ethnic armed organizations from the country’s peace process, effectively undermining the building of trust with these groups. Furthermore, the Act victimizes individuals based on their ethnicity, gender or religious association—particularly those living in conflict zones. As long as Article 17(1) remains on the books, it will allow Burma Army troops to continue carrying out violations of fundamental human rights in ethnic states, and to do so with impunity.

Stella Naw is an advocate for democratic federalism in Burma, with a special interest in reconciliation and the rights of ethnic and indigenous peoples.

World: Sweden contributes $80 million to UNICEF’s work in 2017

8 March 2017 - 12:45am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, World

Quarter of funds will go towards humanitarian work, including famine response

STOCKHOLM, 7 March 2017 – The Government of Sweden has just announced an $80 million contribution to support UNICEF’s life-saving work around the world. A significant part of the new funds – $20 million– will be allocated to UNICEF’s humanitarian work in countries affected by wars and other emergencies.

“Wars and conflicts are hitting children the hardest. Today we hear alarming reports around the world, from South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen about severe malnutrition and from inside war-torn Syria. The world must act. Sweden works closely together with UNICEF and we call upon other countries to step forward,” said Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate.

Most of the new funds – $60 million – are non-earmarked, giving UNICEF flexibility to use them where the needs are highest. The remaining $20 million will cover humanitarian programmes in 13 countries including:

• $4.5 million to help provide nutrition and health support in Somalia and South Sudan where 185,000 and 270,000 children, respectively, will be suffering from severe acute malnutrition this year. A famine has been declared in parts of Unity State in the northern central part of South Sudan, home to 20,000 children.

• $3.3 million to support UNICEF’s response in Syria where the conflict is about to enter its seventh year.

• $2.8 million to support UNICEF’s efforts to provide health, water, sanitation and hygiene services to families affected by the Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria.

• Half a million dollars to provide 7,500 refugee children in Bangladesh with non-formal basic education in makeshift settlements for six months and help 50,000 Rohingya refugees access maternal, neonatal and child health services.

“Sweden is one of UNICEF’s strongest partners, helping us reach millions of vulnerable children with life-saving assistance,” said Justin Forsyth, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “As children around the world continue to flee conflicts, suffer from hunger and endure abuse, this support is more critical than ever.”

Sweden is among UNICEF’s Top 5 government donors, with a donation of nearly $220 million in 2016 for both humanitarian and development programmes. Last year, the country doubled its contribution to UNICEF’s core funding, offering more flexible, long-term resources to help UNICEF react more quickly in emergencies and plan more strategically.

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About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook

For more information, please contact: Najwa Mekki, UNICEF New York, +1917 209 1804, nmekki@unicef.org

Myanmar: Announcement regarding attacks in Laukkai, Shan State

8 March 2017 - 12:40am
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar
  1. At this time, it is important for the people of Myanmar to contribute their utmost effort with strong determination and unified spirit for the success of the peace process.

  2. As the Union Government has given top priority to the task of National Reconciliation and Peace, the Union Government held a coordination meeting with the Delegation for Political Negotiation of the United Nationalities Federal Council. The discussions were held in a frank and cordial manner. We obtained good results that strengthened our hopes that we would have agreement on the Nine Point proposal presented by the UNFC.

  3. Furthermore, agreement was reached between the Peace Commission – PC and the Delegation for Political Negotiation – DPN, for the two sides to work hard for the inclusion of organizations which should be included in the peace process, and to work in coordination for these organizations to be permitted to attend the Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong . The ethnic nationalities and Union citizens have welcomed with joy the progress achieved at the meeting as they perceive the red rays of hope for peace.

  4. At a time when we have achieved progress in the national reconciliation and peace process which has made us happy and while we are working for broader participation and for the consolidation and vibrancy of the process, the MNDAA armed groups conducted offensive attacks starting from about 2am today in Laukkai area, north-east Shan State. According to the preliminary reports, the armed MNDAA attacked the town proper and it was reported that some security forces and innocent local residents were killed. The fighting is still continuing till the time of this announcement. Such armed conflicts cannot bring any good benefits and are devoid of any meaning for all the ethnic nationalities and Union citizens residing in the Union. Furthermore, they bring about nothing but direct bad results and make the ethnic tribes and local ethnic nationalities and Union citizens living in the area drown in a sea of sorrow.

  5. Therefore, I would like to strongly urge all the armed groups to abandon the armed attacks that can bring about nothing but sorrows and sufferings on the innocent local tribes and races, and to join the dialogue table for national peace and march together with the people on the path of peace with unified strong spirit on the basis of equality.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Chairperson

N R P C

World: Rapport annuel de la Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général pour le sort des enfants en temps de conflit armé (A/HRC/34/44)

7 March 2017 - 7:25pm
Source: UN Human Rights Council Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

Note du secrétariat

Le Secrétariat a l’honneur de transmettre au Conseil des droits de l’homme le rapport de la Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général pour le sort des enfants en temps de conflit armé, Leïla Zerrougui. Dans le présent rapport, qui couvre la période allant de décembre 2015 à décembre 2016, la Représentante spéciale décrit les activités qu’elle a menées en application de son mandat et les progrès réalisés en matière de lutte contre les violations graves commises à l’égard d’enfants. Elle y étudie également les difficultés liées au renforcement de la protection des enfants touchés par les conflits armés, et traite notamment des effets des conflits armés sur les filles, des difficultés nouvelles ou récurrentes posées par la privation de liberté des enfants en temps de conflit, et des progrès réalisés s’agissant de mettre fin aux violations graves commises à l’égard d’enfants, en particulier au moyen d’une action directe auprès des parties aux conflits. En dernier lieu, elle formule des recommandations à l’intention du Conseil des droits de l’homme et des États Membres pour améliorer encore la protection des droits de l’enfant.

I. Introduction

  1. Le présent rapport, qui couvre la période allant de décembre 2015 à décembre 2016, est soumis en application de la résolution 70/137 de l’Assemblée générale, par laquelle l’Assemblée a prié la Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général pour le sort des enfants en temps de conflit armé de présenter au Conseil des droits de l’homme un rapport sur les activités entreprises en application de son mandat, notamment sur les visites qu’elle effectue sur le terrain et sur les progrès réalisés et les obstacles restant à surmonter dans le cadre de l’action menée en faveur des enfants touchés par les conflits armés.

II. Progrès réalisés et difficultés rencontrées dans la lutte contre les violations graves commises à l’égard d’enfants en temps de conflit armé

  1. Le présent rapport est soumis au Conseil des droits de l’homme vingt ans après que Graça Machel a présenté ses conclusions sur les effets des conflits armés sur les enfants (A/51/306) à l’Assemblée générale qui, par la suite, a créé, par sa résolution 51/77, le mandat du Représentant spécial. L’Assemblée a également demandé, dans sa résolution, qu’un rapport annuel contenant des informations pertinentes relatives à la situation des enfants touchés par les conflits armés soit transmis à l’ancienne Commission des droits de l’homme. Cet anniversaire est donc l’occasion de faire le point sur les progrès réalisés à plus long terme depuis le premier rapport, et d’attirer l’attention sur les domaines relevant de la compétence du Conseil des droits de l’homme dans lesquels des progrès sont encore nécessaires pour améliorer la protection des enfants et de leurs droits durant les conflits armés.

  2. Malgré les avancées de ces deux dernières décennies, les droits fondamentaux des enfants ont été régulièrement bafoués pendant la période couverte par le rapport. Au Moyen-Orient, s’ajoutant aux effets directs des conflits en cours sur les enfants − dont des milliers étant tués, mutilés, enrôlés ou utilisés −, avaient lieu au moment de la rédaction du présent rapport, en décembre 2016, des crises humanitaires extrêmement préoccupantes qui se développaient et évoluaient rapidement. En Iraq, selon les estimations du Fonds des Nations Unies pour l’enfance (UNICEF), plus d’un demi-million d’enfants, ainsi que leur famille, étaient piégés dans Mossoul, et leurs réserves de vivres, de médicaments et d’eau potable étaient presque épuisées. Dans un registre similaire, en République arabe syrienne, à la fin de la période à l’examen, on estimait à presque 500 000 le nombre d’enfants vivant dans des zones assiégées et n’ayant aucun accès à une aide humanitaire régulière. Au Yémen, un conflit intense a entraîné une pénurie d’eau et de nourriture, exposant un million et demi d’enfants à un risque de malnutrition aiguë.

  3. La situation de la République centrafricaine était aussi particulièrement préoccupante en 2016, et elle s’est considérablement détériorée à la fin de la période à l’examen. De nombreux civils, y compris des enfants, ont été tués ou blessés lors d’affrontements entre des factions ex-Séléka en novembre, à l’est du pays, et plus de 11 000 personnes auraient été déplacées. Ces affrontements ont ajouté à la tension et à la violence qui n’avaient pas cessé durant toute la période à l’examen. L’insécurité ambiante a entraîné la suspension des opérations humanitaires dans certaines zones du pays, ce qui a gravement compromis le droit des enfants à la santé et au bien-être.

  4. Les combats ont repris au Soudan du Sud entre l’Armée populaire de libération du Soudan (APLS) et l’Armée populaire de libération du Soudan dans l’opposition (APLS dans l’opposition), et les enfants sont toujours les plus durement touchés par ce conflit dévastateur. Au cours des trois années d’hostilités, les droits des enfants à la vie, à la survie et au développement ont été enfreints quotidiennement, et, au moment de la rédaction du présent rapport, la fin du conflit n’était pas en vue.

  5. Les opérations gouvernementales de sécurité ont eu des effets sur les droits des enfants à la liberté et à la sécurité de leur personne, et de nombreux enfants ont été détenus car leurs parents ou eux-mêmes étaient accusés d’avoir des liens avec les groupes armés. Si les activités de plaidoyer ont été efficaces et certains enfants ont été relâchés, beaucoup d’autres restent privés de liberté dans les situations de conflit armé. Durant la période à l’examen, dans un certain nombre de cas, le contrôle des civils pendant les opérations militaires a également été un sujet de préoccupation grandissante dans le domaine de la détention, du point de vue du sort des enfants en temps de conflit armé, ce que nous verrons plus en détail dans le présent rapport.

  6. En Afghanistan, en République arabe syrienne et au Yémen, les attaques contre des hôpitaux et des professionnels de santé ont gravement porté atteinte au droit des enfants à la santé. De nombreuses attaques très médiatisées ont eu lieu en 2016, et sont le reflet de l’augmentation du nombre d’attaques et de menaces visant les structures de santé ces dernières années. Le droit à l’éducation des filles a lui aussi continué de pâtir, puisque des attaques ou des menaces ont visé des écoles, des enseignants et des écolières en Iraq, au Nigéria, en République arabe syrienne, ou encore en Afghanistan et au Mali.

  7. Malgré ces problèmes urgents et leurs effets sur les enfants, des progrès, décrits en détail dans le présent rapport, ont été faits dans les douze derniers mois pour protéger les droits des enfants touchés par les conflits armés. On a notamment enregistré des améliorations du cadre normatif, la conclusion avec les belligérants de nouveaux accords visant à protéger les enfants, et l’adoption de mesures concrètes pour démobiliser et libérer les enfants qui auraient été associés à des parties au conflit.

World: Informe anual de la Representante Especial del Secretario General para la cuestión de los niños y los conflictos armados (A/HRC/34/44)

7 March 2017 - 7:19pm
Source: UN Human Rights Council Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

Nota de la Secretaría

La Secretaría tiene el honor de transmitir al Consejo de Derechos Humanos el informe de la Representante Especial del Secretario General para la cuestión de los niños y los conflictos armados, Leila Zerrougui. En el informe, que abarca el período comprendido entre diciembre de 2015 y diciembre de 2016, la Representante Especial resume las actividades emprendidas para cumplir su mandato y los avances realizados en la lucha contra las vulneraciones graves de los derechos del niño. La Representante Especial también examina las dificultades para reforzar la protección brindada a los niños afectados por los conflictos armados, entre otras cosas abordando la repercusión de los conflictos armados en las niñas, los problemas nuevos y recurrentes relativos a la privación de libertad de niños en situaciones de conflicto y los avances para poner fin a las violaciones graves de los derechos cometidas contra los niños, en particular mediante la comunicación directa con las partes en conflicto. Por último, la Representante Especial formula recomendaciones dirigidas al Consejo de Derechos Humanos y a los Estados Miembros a fin de reforzar la protección de los derechos del niño.

I. Introducción

  1. Este informe, que abarca el período comprendido entre diciembre de 2015 y diciembre de 2016, se presenta de conformidad con lo establecido en la resolución 70/137 de la Asamblea General, en la que se solicitaba a la Representante Especial del Secretario General para la cuestión de los niños y los conflictos armados que presentara un informe al Consejo de Derechos Humanos sobre las actividades emprendidas en cumplimiento de su mandato, con información de sus visitas sobre el terreno, y sobre los progresos realizados y los problemas que subsistían en relación con la cuestión de los niños y los conflictos armados.

II. Progresos y desafíos en la lucha contra las violaciones graves de los derechos del niño en los conflictos armados

  1. El presente informe se presenta al Consejo de Derechos Humanos 20 años después de que Graça Machel presentara sus conclusiones acerca de las repercusiones de los conflictos armados sobre los niños (A/51/306) a la Asamblea General, que, posteriormente, mediante su resolución 51/77, creó el mandato del Representante Especial. La Asamblea también pidió en su resolución que se transmitiese a la Comisión de Derechos Humanos un informe anual en que figurase información pertinente sobre la situación de los niños afectados por los conflictos armados. Así pues, el aniversario constituye una importante oportunidad para hacer balance de los logros a más largo plazo desde el primer informe y para destacar al Consejo de Derechos Humanos algunos aspectos en los que aún se requiere avanzar para mejorar la protección de los niños y de sus derechos durante los conflictos armados.

  2. A pesar de los avances que se han realizado en esos dos decenios, los derechos fundamentales de los niños se han vulnerado con frecuencia durante el período que abarca el informe. En el Oriente Medio, además de las consecuencias directas de los conflictos actuales sobre los niños, en los que miles de ellos han sido muertos, mutilados, reclutados y utilizados, se produjo rápidamente la aparición y evolución de varias crisis humanitarias que son motivo de grave preocupación en el momento de redactar el presente informe, en diciembre de 2016. En el Iraq, el Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia (UNICEF) estimaba que más de medio millón de niños y sus familias estaban atrapados en Mosul, donde los alimentos y medicamentos se estaban agotando y el agua potable escaseaba. En el mismo sentido, se estimaba que en la República Árabe Siria, al final del período sobre el que se informa, casi 500.000 niños vivían en zonas asediadas en las que el acceso a la ayuda humanitaria sostenida estaba completamente cortado. En el Yemen, la intensidad del conflicto ha dado lugar a una falta de alimentos y de agua, que ha puesto a un millón y medio de niños en riesgo de malnutrición aguda.

  3. La República Centroafricana fue también motivo de preocupación especial en 2016 y en la última parte del período sobre el que se informa la situación empeoró considerablemente. Como consecuencia de los enfrentamientos entre facciones ex-Seleka en noviembre en la parte oriental del país, muchos civiles, incluidos niños, han resultado muertos o heridos y, según se informa, más de 11.000 personas se han visto desplazadas. Esos enfrentamientos se han sumado a la tensión y los estallidos de violencia que se han producido de forma continuada durante el período que abarca el informe. La situación de inseguridad imperante dio lugar a la suspensión de las actividades humanitarias en determinadas zonas del país, lo que amenazó gravemente el derecho de los niños a la salud y el bienestar.

  4. Con la reanudación en julio de 2016 de los combates entre el Ejército de Liberación del Pueblo del Sudán y el Ejército de Liberación del Pueblo del Sudán en la Oposición, los niños en Sudán del Sur también han seguido soportando la peor parte de un devastador conflicto en curso. En los tres años transcurridos desde el inicio de las hostilidades, los niños han visto vulnerados a diario su derecho a la vida, a la supervivencia y al desarrollo, y en el momento de redactar el presente informe apenas puede vislumbrarse el final del conflicto.

  5. Los derechos de los niños a la libertad y a la seguridad personales se vieron afectados por las respuestas gubernamentales en materia de seguridad y muchos niños fueron privados de su libertad por su presunta vinculación o la de sus padres con grupos armados. Si bien la labor de promoción ha tenido resultados positivos y se ha puesto en libertad a algunos niños, muchos más siguen privados de libertad en situaciones de conflicto armado. En el período que se examina, los procesos de examen para la detección de civiles durante las operaciones militares también fueron un nuevo motivo de preocupación en relación con la privación de libertad en varias situaciones relativas a la cuestión de los niños y los conflictos armados, que se detallan en el presente informe.

  6. En el Afganistán, la República Árabe Siria y el Yemen, el derecho del niño a la salud se ha visto gravemente perjudicado por los ataques contra hospitales y profesionales de la salud. En 2016 se han producido varios ataques a los que se dio amplia difusión, que son indicativos de las tendencias de los últimos años de aumentar el número de ataques y las amenazas de ataques a la atención de la salud. El derecho de las niñas a la educación también ha seguido viéndose afectado, y se han producido ataques o amenazas de ataques contra escuelas, docentes y alumnas en situaciones como las del Iraq, Nigeria y la República Árabe Siria, así como en el Afganistán y Malí.

  7. A pesar de estas preocupaciones acuciantes y sus repercusiones en los niños, en los últimos 12 meses se ha avanzado en la protección de los derechos de los niños afectados por conflictos armados, lo que se describe ampliamente en el informe. Entre esos progresos figuran las mejoras en el marco normativo, los acuerdos adicionales con las partes en conflicto a fin de proteger a los niños y las medidas concretas adoptadas para separar y liberar a los niños que presuntamente tuviesen vínculos con las partes en conflicto.

World: Global Emergency Overview Weekly Picks, 7 March 2017

7 March 2017 - 10:51am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: China, Iraq, Myanmar, Somalia, World

SOMALIA

Cholera incidence has almost doubled since mid-February, to 194 per day. Case fatality rates are four times higher in areas that are inaccessible due to Al Shabaab activitiy, at 7% compared to 1.6%.

In Baidoa, Bay, livestock prices are a quarter of the five-year average, and staple food prices are double those of a year ago.

The prime minister says 110 people have died from cholera and hunger over just two days in early March in Bay region.

Read more about Somalia

IRAQ

4,000 people have recently been fleeing west Mosul daily, up from 10,000 weekly during the battle for control of east Mosul. Fresh displacement in the past two weeks has surpassed 50,000, including 15,000 children.

On 3 March, 15 people were hospitalised due to suspected chemical weapons fired from west to east Mosul. In Salah al Din governorate, Iraqi soldiers and Sunni tribal groups under the PMU forcibly displaced 125 families and demolished some of their houses over suspected ties with IS.

Read more about Irag

MYANMAR

Tens of thousands have fled to China following clashes on March 6 - the worst in the border region since 2015.

Fighting killed 30 in Kokang region, northeastern Shan state, including five civilians.

Humanitarian needs are likely to be high, particularly shelter and WASH.

Read more about Myanmar

Updated: 07/03/2017.

Next GEO updated on Tuesday 14 March 2017.

Myanmar: Japan Contributes US$ 5 Million For Food Assistance In Rakhine State

7 March 2017 - 7:30am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Japan, Myanmar

YANGON - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$ 5 million from the Government of Japan in support of WFP’s work in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

“We are very grateful for the contribution from the Government of Japan and their continued support,” said Country Director and Resident Representative, Dom Scalpelli. “In a time of increased needs in Rakhine State, the Government of Japan has once again shown great generosity.” This contribution will support food-insecure communities in the central and northern parts of Rakhine State, including people whose livelihoods have been disrupted by recent outbreaks of violence.

With this donation WFP will be able to provide food assistance to 291,000 vulnerable people from the various communities in the state. The funds will go towards relief assistance for internally displaced and other conflict-affected people and the treatment of malnourished women and young children, as well as nutritious snacks for children at school, and food rations for those working on community asset creation projects or participating in vocational skills training schemes.

The Government of Japan remains the largest donor to WFP in Myanmar, having contributed a total of US$ 63.5 million to WFP’s current operation in the country. Despite this generous support, WFP currently requires more than US$ 37 million to meet food assistance needs across the country for the remainder of 2017.

# # #

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in 80 countries.
Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media @wfp_Asia

For more information please contact:
Arsen Sahakyan, WFP/Myanmar Tel. +95 9 450061242, arsen.sahakyan@wfp.org

Myanmar: Deadly Clashes Hit Kokang Region in Myanmar's Northern Shan State

7 March 2017 - 2:29am
Source: Voice of America Country: Myanmar

YANGON, MYANMAR — At least 30 people died during fighting in Laukkai Monday between Myanmar army forces and armed fighters from ethnic groups.

Tension between the central government and ethnic militias in the northern region near China's Yunnan province erupted early Monday morning. Witnesses told VOA of hearing artillery and small arms fire in Laukkai, capital of the Kokang special region and an important trading town on the Salween River, which forms Myanmar's border with China.

Officials said the attack targeted three Laukkai locations including police and military posts. At least five traffic control police and five civilians were killed. Authorities also reported finding 20 burning bodies which could not be identified. Myanmar says there were no casualties among the security forces.

Worst violence since 2015

The latest attack comes amid efforts by Myanmar's de facto leader, Noble Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, to bring all ethnic armed groups into the government-sponsored peace process through the signing of a nationwide cease-fire agreement. Monday's violence is among the worst to hit the Kokang region, in the northern part of Shan state, since 2015.

Aung San Suu Kyi's office blamed the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) for the attack, saying in a statement, “According to initial information, many innocent civilians including a primary school teacher … were killed because of attacks by the MNDAA armed group.”

The statement added that four police officers were taken hostage and said there was a suspicion that groups other than the MNDAA were involved.

Ta Bone Kyaw, secretary general of the Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF) and a senior commander of its armed unit, the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) told VOA the attack was carried out primarily by the MNDAA after a decision by the Northern Alliance. The group includes the MNDAA, TNLA, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and the Arakan Army (AA). Aside from the KIA, “we were all in there,” he said.

“The fighting is along the border," he said, adding the fighting began around 1 a.m. Monday. "There was heavy fighting in two or three places."

Retaliation behind attack

An officer from the MNDAA's Division 211 told VOA the Laukkai attack was in retaliation for a recent government attack on the Moi Taik region.

Social media videos appeared to show areas of Laukkai on fire on Monday afternoon. An army source told the AFP news agency that the fighting was ongoing as darkness fell.

A Laukkai woman told VOA that artillery shelling and gunshots began around 1 a.m. The shooting continued until about 8 a.m., and the shelling until 11 a.m. or noon.

“I didn't dare move around,” she said. “I could not escape to China, because the border is closed,” she said, adding that fleeing to another location in Myanmar was just as impossible.

The Northern Alliance and government forces have clashed repeatedly in other northern areas of Shan State. Government authorities have blocked roads leaving Laukkai.

The Northern Alliance is led by the KIA, which includes the MNDAA. Members of the alliance have yet to join Myanmar's National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). Complicating matters, Myanmar's military officials refuse to speak with representatives of the MNDAA for reasons that are unclear.

Some groups missing from talks

Talks called by Aung San Suu Kyi at the end of August were attended by representatives of 17 of the 20 major ethnic groups, including the Karen, Kachin, Shan and Wa, who together make up 40 percent of the country's population. But groups involved in Monday's fighting — the Ta'ang, also known as the Palaung, the Kokang minority's MNDAA, and the AA — did not take part in those talks.

The ethnic Kokang group controlled Laukkai and the surrounding area until 2009, when the government ousted the group's leader, Phon Kyar Shin, who is also known by his Chinese name, Peng Jiasheng. In February 2015, he orchestrated attacks on Laukkai, which triggered several months of deadly clashes between government and rebel forces in the border area.

This report originated on VOA Burmese.

Myanmar: Twenty-Eight People Detained for Illegal Entry to Burma Say They Are IDPs

7 March 2017 - 12:59am
Source: The Irrawaddy Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

By MOE MYINT 6 March 2017

RANGOON – Border police patrol in Arakan State apprehended a vessel carrying 28 people in the Bay of Bengal on Sunday afternoon, who the authorities say had illegally entered Burmese territorial waters from St. Martin’s Island in Bangladesh, said official Kyaw Aye Hlaing of Maungdaw police station.

The distance between Sittwe, the Arakan State capital, and St. Martin Island is at least 70 kilometers.

Those arrested said that they were originally from Thae Chaung and Baw Du Ba internally displaced people’s (IDP) camps, located on the outskirts of Sittwe. They explained that some within the group had crossed into Bangladesh by boat for medical treatment, and others had been working there for almost four months.

According to police official Kyaw Aye Hlaing, and a statement released by the State Counselor’s Office Information Committee, the 28 people are being detained.

Five of them are reportedly children, and are believed to be aged between 13 and 15 years old.

Police Major Kyaw Mya Win, the head of the police in Maungdaw Township—the authorities which have reportedly held the individuals—said, “We occasionally apprehend some people who have come back from Bangladesh.”

The IDPs, who are Muslims, need official permission to travel from the authorities, particularly Arakan State’s immigration department and also the camp management committee.

U Kyaw Hla Aung, a man who self-identifies as a member of the Muslim Rohingya community, and who currently lives in Sittwe, told The Irrawaddy over the phone that obtaining a travel permit from the authorities is extremely tough. Applicants first need to get permission from the village administrator and the police, and then go to the immigration department downtown. An address for and recommendation from the host must be presented.

The application process can take three months, and if permission is granted, it is for a stay only of up to 45 days. To overstay is to face charges—by the IDP or by the host, U Kyaw Hla Aung said.

“No one wants to get involved in this complicated issue,” he said, of why few advocates—even among the Muslim community in Rangoon—have tried to address the restrictions on freedom of movement for Arakan State’s Muslim IDPs.

The only option left, he explained—particularly for those seeking medical treatment—is to drift out to sea, with the hope of reaching Bangladesh, but risking being fired upon by the Burmese navy, or drowning.

“They could not afford the money for the permit. So they opt to begin a voyage at sea, although they know it’s illegal,” U Kyaw Hla Aung said.

Over the past three years, 16 people have been caught by the border patrol and charged under Burma’s 1947 Immigration Act 13(1). They were imprisoned for one-and-a-half years—four were reportedly children, around 10 years old.

In April 2016, 18 IDPs were killed and 19 rescued after a boat capsized near Thae Chaung, where one IDP camp was located. It was coming from Pauktaw Township to purchase commodities in Sittwe. It was unclear if IDPs on the boat had received permission from the authorities to make the journey.

Myanmar: WFP Launches First Mobile Cash Transfers For Humanitarian Assistance In Myanmar

6 March 2017 - 7:16am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Myanmar

YANGON – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched the first pilot programme using mobile cash transfers for humanitarian assistance in Myanmar. Between 27 February and 1 March, 112 conflict-affected internally displaced families in three camps in Myitkyina Township of Kachin State received a monthly electronic credit allocation of MMK 9,000 (US$ 7) per person for vulnerable households and MMK 13,000 (US$ 10) per person for the most vulnerable households on their phone to be used at local shops. The recipients had previously received this amount in banknotes.

“When food is available in the markets, WFP provides cash assistance rather than disributing food,” explained WFP Country Director Dom Scalpelli. “Using mobile phones to transfer money can make the process faster, safer and more convenient for the recipients – especially in a context like Myanmar where the telecommunications industry is developing every day.”

A further 172 families – bringing the total to 284 households or 1,400 people – will receive mobile cash transfers under the “e-wallet” scheme in March. WFP works with Wave Money – a Myanmar-based joint venture between a local bank and a mobile phone company – to electronically credit the mobile money to the private account of each head of household. The recipients receive an SMS notification from WFP, and can then withdraw the cash at the nearest authorised “Wave Shop”. WFP provided mobile phones and SIM cards to recipients, as well as training in the new methodology.

WFP will continue with mobile cash transfers to 284 families in six camps until April, and will then evaluate – based on feedback from the displaced people as well as technical information collected – whether to continue and expand the system.

World: Humanitarian Funding Update February 2017- United Nations Coordinated Appeals

6 March 2017 - 5:48am
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, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

United Nations Coordinated Appeals

  • As of 28 February, United Nations Coordinated Appeals and Refugee Response Plans within the Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) require $22.6 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of 95.3 million crisis-affected people in 33 countries. Needs and financial requirements have increased due to finalization of the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) requesting around $2.1 billion and together the appeals are funded at $1.6 billion, leaving a shortfall of $21.0 billion.

  • Immediate funding is required to respond to the needs of more than 20 million people in North-East Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen facing famine or a credible risk of famine over the coming six months. An estimated 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition. With access to people in need and sufficient funding, the UN and partners will further scale up to respond to and avert famine. Humanitarian operations in the four countries require $5.6 billion in 2017. Of this sum, $4.4 billion is urgently required by end March to strengthen famine response and prevention in four key sectors: food security, nutrition, health and WASH.

  • On 24 February, the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region -- co-hosted by Norway, Germany, Nigeria and the United Nations – highlighted the $1.5 billion needed for urgent humanitarian response in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. Fourteen donors announced a total of $672 million of which $458 million is for humanitarian action in 2017 and $214 million in multi-year funding for 2018 and beyond.

  • Urgent funding is required for the health sector in Libya. In Iraq, principled humanitarian assistance must be maintained after the retake of Mosul, Tal Afar, Hawija, and Ba’aj, with millions of Iraqis returning home or still living in areas they moved to during the conflict. In Ukraine, escalating hostilities and severe winter temperatures are exacerbating the humanitarian situation. In Afghanistan, displacement continues with some 22,000 people newly internally displaced in the first six weeks of 2017. Please see icon overleaf for information on other urgent funding needs.

  • In February, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) approved $18.5 million to jumpstart time-critical assistance targeting 785,000 drought-affected people in Ethiopia, $3.5 million to address declining food security in Burundi, and $4.6 million for conflict-affected people in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. For 2017, 13 donors have contributed a total of $93.1 million to CERF, and approximately $245 million remain as pledges while a few key donors are undergoing internal budgetary processes before making any pledges. Due to an unusually low cash inflow in the first quarter of this year, CERF is actively reaching out to several donors to urgently request that pledges be converted into contributions to avoid delayed approval and disbursements due to lack of cash.

  • As of end February, Country-Based Pooled Funds (CBPFs) have received a total of $119 million for 2017 (including $56 million in pledges), from eight donors. Some $16 million have been allocated in Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen, with three quarters of that amount directed to NGOs. At the Oslo Conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region the Emergency Relief Coordinator launched a new CBPF for Nigeria, bringing the number of active CBPFs to 18. The Nigeria Humanitarian Fund will make funds directly available to a wide range of partners, and aims to attract between $50 million and $80 million in support of the HRP in 2017.

Sri Lanka: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (28 Feb - 6 Mar 2017)

6 March 2017 - 5:08am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka

SRI LANKA

As of 3 March, an estimated 1.2 million people are affected by prolonged drought in 16 districts across Sri Lanka’s nine provinces. Kalutara District (Western Province) has the most people affected due to salinisation of the water supply. Harvests due in the coming months are expected to be significantly reduced, exacerbating food insecurity. The Government continues to distribute water in districts with low water supplies and will disburse cash payments to affected families. WASH, food security and nutrition, agricultural livelihoods and cash-for-work programmes have been identified as priority response activities.

1.2 million people affected

PHILIPPINES

On 5 March, a 5.9 magnitude tremor struck at a depth of 13 km near San Francisco municipality (population 14,500 people), Surigao del Norte province. One death was reported and local authorities are assessing the situation. This was reported as an aftershock of the 6.7 magnitude earthquake which struck Surigao del Norte on 10 February. As of 3 March, more than 7,800 people remain displaced following the larger earthquake, with most staying in open areas near their homes or with relatives or friends.

INDONESIA

On 2 and 3 March, floods and landslides in Limapuluh Kota District of West Sumatra province caused six deaths and affected an estimated 1,200 people. The landslides cut the main road connecting West Sumatra and Riau provinces. Authorities declared a local emergency response phase until 9 March. In addition, at least 11,000 people in Riau were also affected by other floods between 1 and 5 March.
Local governments provided basic relief assistance.

MYANMAR

Approximately 10,500 people remain displaced as a result of continued fighting in Kachin and northern Shan since November 2016. Access to displaced people in Non-Government Controlled Areas is severely restricted for international organizations.

10,500 people remain displaced

In northern Rakhine State, it is estimated that up to 20,000 people remain internally displaced following the 9 October attacks and subsequent security operations, Some 2,000 people have returned to their villages since 18 February. WFP has completed its second round of emergency distributions reaching 55,000 people with food and/or nutrition support in the north of Maungdaw Township. Shelter is among the priority humanitarian needs in the area. Access restrictions, particularly for international staff, are impeding the provision of life-saving humanitarian services.

20,000 people internally displaced

BANGLADESH

An estimated 74,550 people have crossed into Bangladesh from northern Rakhine state, Myanmar since October 2016. While the number of new arrivals has decreased in recent weeks, movement across the border remains fluid and partners are continuing to monitor the situation. In addition to pre-existing registered and makeshift camps, the Government of Bangladesh has allocated additional land for the new arrivals in Balukhali. Food, WASH, health, shelter, NFIs, protection and education services continue to be provided to the new arrivals.

74,500people crossed from Myanmar since Oct. 2016

Myanmar: Rights Groups Call for UN to Form Inquiry Commission on Rakhine Violence

6 March 2017 - 1:24am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Thirteen international human rights groups on Friday issued a joint statement backing a United Nations call for an international inquiry commission to investigate rights abuses in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The statement, endorsed by organizations such as Amnesty International, Fortify Rights, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, and Burma Campaign UK, cited attacks on minority Rohingya Muslims in three townships in northern Rakhine state where security forces carried out a four-month “clearance operation” following deadly attacks on border guard posts on Oct. 9.

The security sweep displaced nearly 100,000 Rohingya, about 73,000 of whom fled to safety in neighboring Bangladesh where they accused the security forces of extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and arson.

The organizations said they support calls for the establishment of “a Commission of Inquiry or similar international mechanism to investigate, at a minimum, alleged and apparent serious human rights violations and abuses in Rakhine state, Myanmar.”

The rights groups also said that various commissions set up in Myanmar have failed to address and rectify the current crisis.

Panels set up by the Myanmar army and the Home Affairs Ministry lacked independence and impartiality because they are made up of military officers and high-ranking police, they said.

The groups also criticized the 11-member commission appointed by the Rakhine state parliament for not probing the human rights violations against the Rohingya, about 1.1 million of whom live in Rakhine where they are denied citizenship and other basic rights.

They also blasted the 13-member investigation commission set up by President Htin Kyaw to look into reports of abuse during the recent crackdown for dismissing claims of misconduct by Myanmar security forces.

A government-appointed advisory commission on Rakhine state, led by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, has not been tasked with investigating human rights abuses in Rakhine, and an earlier commission set up in August 2012 to look into communal violence between Muslims and Buddhists failed to hold anyone accountable, the groups said.

“Given the inability or unwillingness of these commissions to establish facts and hold perpetrators accountable, and the fact that national judicial and law enforcements lack both the independence and technical capacity to deal with such situations, we see no credible or effective alternative to a Commission of Inquiry, or similar international mechanism to address and begin the process of effectively finding and verifying the truth of what has happened, and ensuring justice and accountability for human rights violations and abuses committed,” the letter said.

The Myanmar government has not yet issued a response to the U.N. and the international rights groups.

On release of the joint statement, Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, which also signed the letter, said: “The U.N. and its member states need to stand up against the brutal scorched-earth tactics, and the killings and sexual violence that the Burma Army and police have inflicted on Rohingya villagers in northern Rakhine state.”

Lee calls for action

The letter came a day after Yanghee Lee, the U.N. rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, appealed to the U.N. Human Rights Council to form a commission of inquiry—the U.N.’s highest-level probe—to examine abuses in northern Rakhine state, Agence France-Presse reported.

In a report she submitted to the council, Lee urged the body to set up a COI “to investigate the systematic, structural, and institutional discrimination in policy, law and practice, as well long-standing persecution, against the Rohingya and other minorities in Rakhine state,” according to AFP.

Lee wants the commission to examine human rights violations in Rakhine from 2012 to the present.

In January, Lee completed a 12-day mission to Myanmar during which she stopped in villages in Rakhine’s Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, which were under security lockdown until mid-February, to talk with Muslim leaders and residents.

She was denied access to other areas of the state because for security reasons, she said.

Last month, Lee visited the Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka to discuss the crisis with government officials and visit Rohingya refugee camps in the southeastern part of the country where about 73,000 Rohingya who fled violence in northern Rakhine now live.

Meanwhile, fallout from the security operations continues to affect residents in northern Rakhine.

The State Counselor’s Office said Friday that an official named Marinnu from Kyikanpyin village in Maungdaw was found murdered—the latest in a series of killings of administrators and residents in Maungdaw, one of the locations of the border guard attacks of Oct. 9.

He was taken from his home at about 12 a.m. on Wednesday, and his corpse was found the next day, the announcement said. An investigation is under way.

In January, the bodies of three Muslim villagers were discovered in shallow graves about 500 meters west of Padakah village in Maungdaw after police received an anonymous phone call.

The corpses of another three men were discovered in one week alone in December.

The decapitated body of Shuna Mya, a Muslim from Ngakhura village, was found floating in a river last Dec. 22, a day after he had spoken with reporters on a government-guided visit to the area where some local residents alleged that atrocities had been committed by security forces.

A few days later, a 28-year-old Muslim named Rawphi, who was an administrator in Yedwingyun village and had been preforming administrative duties for security forces, was found dead with knife wounds.

On Dec. 29, the body of a third Muslim man identified as Sirazuhut from Wet Kyein village was found near a creek. The former ward administrator in Badakar village had been working with local authorities on regional development activities.

It is believed that the men were targeted because they were said to have collaborated with authorities as they continue to try to round up Rohingya militants involved in the border guard post attacks.

Reported by Min Thein Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Myanmar: Report: Myanmar Security Forces Remain 'Outside Civilian Control'

6 March 2017 - 1:20am
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

By Richard Finney

More than a year after Myanmar’s National League for Democracy swept national elections in the formerly military-ruled country, bringing an end to government by generals or by army-backed civilians, security forces remain outside effective civilian control, the U.S. State Department said in a report released on Friday.

Human rights abuses in China meanwhile continued unabated through last year, with a new law requiring the registration of foreign NGOs further limiting the space for civil society in the communist-ruled country, according to the Department’s Human Rights Report for 2016.

Despite improvements in the exercise of freedom of speech and assembly in Myanmar following the forming of an NLD government in March 2016, civilian authorities “did not maintain effective control over the security forces,” leading to the deaths of civilians in conflict zones, the State Department said.

Meanwhile, more than 120,000 Muslim Rohingya remain displaced in camps in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state, with a further 30,000 driven from their homes by security operations following armed attacks by Muslim militants on border guard posts in October.

Reports of torture also surfaced throughout the year, as security forces subjected both citizens and stateless persons to “harsh interrogation techniques designed to intimidate, including severe beatings and deprivation of food, water, and sleep.”

“As in previous years, authorities took little action to investigate incidents or punish alleged perpetrators,” the State Department said.

Human rights problems persisted in other areas, the State Department said, pointing to incidents of rape and forced labor, politically motivated arrests, conflicts over land, and harassment of journalists.

“Conditions in prisons and labor camps remained harsh,” according to the report.

Authorities across Myanmar meanwhile arrested and jailed citizens in some cases for openly criticizing the government, “generally under the charges of protesting without a permit or violating national security laws.”

“Many individuals in urban areas, however, reported far greater freedom of speech and expression than in previous years,” the State Department said.

Severe violations in China

Meanwhile in China, human rights violations “remained severe” throughout the year, the State Department said in its report.

“Citizens had limited forms of redress against official abuse,” including extrajudicial killings, torture, illegal detentions at unofficial “black jails,” and coerced confessions. Human rights lawyers, journalists, writers, and petitioners were also jailed and harassed, the State Department said.

Civil society organizations already watched closely by authorities have meanwhile been further restricted in their activities by a new law limiting contacts with foreign NGOs, according to the report.

The law places foreign NGOs operating in China under the supervision of China’s Ministry of Public Security, a move indicating that authorities consider such groups a “national security” threat, the State Department said.

“Although the law was not scheduled to go into effect until January 1, 2017, many foreign NGOs and their domestic partners began to curtail operations before the year’s end, citing concerns over the law’s vaguely worded provisions.”

“As a result, an already limited space for civil society was further constrained,” the State Department said.

Myanmar: QRCS Delegation Explores Potential for More Humanitarian Services in Myanmar [EN/AR]

4 March 2017 - 5:18am
Source: Qatar Red Crescent Society Country: Myanmar

March 4th, 2017 ― Doha: A delegation of Qatar Red Crescent (QRCS) has recently conducted a visit to Myanmar to oversee its programmes in Rakhine State and discuss a plan for possible future programs in consultation with other humanitarian actors.
In light of the recent developments in Myanmar, and in particular in Rakhine State, a field visit was conducted by QRCS staff. The visit was based on QRCS's commitment to reach those who are most in need regardless of their ethnic, religious, or social background. The visit also focused on assessing the current situation in Rakhine State and the available services and facilities, as well as identifying the existing needs, practices, perceptions, preferences, and drivers for provision of extra services. Moreover, the assessment included to what extent crucial health and WASH services are available and accessible to people in Rakhine State, both in and outside of the camps.
A resident in one of the camps in Rakhine State told the visiting delegation, "We live under a dire situation; we lack access to the most basic needs, and I feel trapped in my own country. I hope this agony will end one day".
During the weeklong visit, the QRCS delegation met with all involved actors in the humanitarian and development sector including, but not limited to, Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS), different UN agencies like the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and I/NGOs.
While in Sittwe, the capital city of Rakhine State, the delegation assessed the progress of the ongoing mobile health clinics, which has been supported by QRCS since 2013 and contributes to improving the IDPs' access to health facilities.
The current health programme comprises different projects, which include, besides the mobile health clinics, building health facilities and providing training for community health workers and traditional birth attendants.
The aim of the livelihood project is to allow families to generate income, to improve the lives of the affected people. The most recent report by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) indicated that the contribution of QRCS benefited 576 households. These families witnessed an improvement in their financial conditions as the project provides the families with income-generating skills.
The livelihood project and the health facilities supported by QRCS address the humanitarian needs and requirements of the affected people in Rakhine State, who are facing humanitarian challenges, and provide them with access to lifesaving services. The field assessment visit confirmed the growing humanitarian needs and the importance of a continuous engagement to ensure that the needy communities are provided with support and services for a dignified life.
QRCS's vision and mission in Myanmar combine both relief response and development services, which has been valued by the beneficiaries since the start of its operations back in 2012. The ongoing projects supported by QRCS address the needs of the displaced people in the health care, WASH, livelihood, and shelter sectors. In a year and a half, 80,000 people benefitted from the health projects, and 15,000 hygiene kits and 7,000 bed nets were distributed. In the WASH sector, QRCS established 1,800 toilets and drilled 120 water wells in 2013-2014. QRCS aims, where feasible, for more sustainable solutions to help the people in need through the implementation of its programmes in 2017 and beyond.

Myanmar: QRCS Delegation Explores Potential for More Humanitarian Services in Myanmar

3 March 2017 - 8:00pm
Source: Qatar Red Crescent Society Country: Myanmar

March 4th, 2017 ― Doha: A delegation of Qatar Red Crescent (QRCS) has recently conducted a visit to Myanmar to oversee its programmes in Rakhine State and discuss a plan for possible future programs in consultation with other humanitarian actors.
In light of the recent developments in Myanmar, and in particular in Rakhine State, a field visit was conducted by QRCS staff. The visit was based on QRCS's commitment to reach those who are most in need regardless of their ethnic, religious, or social background. The visit also focused on assessing the current situation in Rakhine State and the available services and facilities, as well as identifying the existing needs, practices, perceptions, preferences, and drivers for provision of extra services. Moreover, the assessment included to what extent crucial health and WASH services are available and accessible to people in Rakhine State, both in and outside of the camps.
A resident in one of the camps in Rakhine State told the visiting delegation, "We live under a dire situation; we lack access to the most basic needs, and I feel trapped in my own country. I hope this agony will end one day".
During the weeklong visit, the QRCS delegation met with all involved actors in the humanitarian and development sector including, but not limited to, Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS), different UN agencies like the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and I/NGOs.
While in Sittwe, the capital city of Rakhine State, the delegation assessed the progress of the ongoing mobile health clinics, which has been supported by QRCS since 2013 and contributes to improving the IDPs' access to health facilities.
The current health programme comprises different projects, which include, besides the mobile health clinics, building health facilities and providing training for community health workers and traditional birth attendants.
The aim of the livelihood project is to allow families to generate income, to improve the lives of the affected people. The most recent report by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) indicated that the contribution of QRCS benefited 576 households. These families witnessed an improvement in their financial conditions as the project provides the families with income-generating skills.
The livelihood project and the health facilities supported by QRCS address the humanitarian needs and requirements of the affected people in Rakhine State, who are facing humanitarian challenges, and provide them with access to lifesaving services. The field assessment visit confirmed the growing humanitarian needs and the importance of a continuous engagement to ensure that the needy communities are provided with support and services for a dignified life.
QRCS's vision and mission in Myanmar combine both relief response and development services, which has been valued by the beneficiaries since the start of its operations back in 2012. The ongoing projects supported by QRCS address the needs of the displaced people in the health care, WASH, livelihood, and shelter sectors. In a year and a half, 80,000 people benefitted from the health projects, and 15,000 hygiene kits and 7,000 bed nets were distributed. In the WASH sector, QRCS established 1,800 toilets and drilled 120 water wells in 2013-2014. QRCS aims, where feasible, for more sustainable solutions to help the people in need through the implementation of its programmes in 2017 and beyond.

World: Science Technology Plan For Disaster Risk Reduction: Asian Perspectives

3 March 2017 - 3:27pm
Source: Integrated Research on Disaster Risk Country: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, World

Introduction The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 shifts the focus from managing disasters to managing risks. Such a shift requires a better understanding of risk in all its dimensions of hazards, exposure and vulnerability; a disaster risk governance that ensures disaster risk is factored into planning and development at all levels across all sectors as well as in disaster preparedness, rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction; and cost-benefit analysis to support prioritization of investments in disaster risk reduction (DRR) for long-term resilience.

The Sendai Framework emphasizes the role of science and technology. It calls to prioritize the development and dissemination of science-based risk knowledge, methodologies and tools, science and technology work on DRR through existing networks and research institutions and strengthened interface between science and policy to support all four priority areas: understanding disaster risk; disaster risk governance; investing in DRR for resilience; and enhancing disaster preparedness for response and to build back better.

A ‘Science and Technology Roadmap to Support the Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030’ has been agreed as the result of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Science and Technology Conference in January 2016. The Roadmap includes expected outcomes, actions, and deliverables under each of the four priorities of the Sendai Framework.

Asia has been the world’s hotspot of economic development and innovation in terms of science and technology over recent decades. At the same time, the region continues to be highly exposed and vulnerable to disasters. Science and technology-based DRR was a priority in the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action in Asia. At the 6th Asia Ministerial Conference on DRR (AMCDRR) in 2014, the Science Technology Academia Stakeholder Group made a series of commitments to: promote a holistic, science-based approach towards community resilience; support the use of science and technology advancements through increased earth observation; develop course curriculum and promote higher education in DRR; and promote community- and problem-based implementation research.

The 1st Asian Science and Technology Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction was organized by the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute (HAII) of the Royal Thai Government Ministry of Science and Technology and UNISDR, in collaboration with UNISDR’s Asian Science Technology and Academia Advisory Group (ASTAAG), Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR), Future Earth and other scientific organizations and networks.

The Conference brought together more than 300 senior policy-makers, practitioners, researchers and academics, civil society and the private sector in the realm of disaster risk reduction from across Asia, and more widely, to discuss how to strengthen science based DRR policy development in support of the implementation of the Sendai Framework in Asia.