Myanmar - ReliefWeb News
Beginning on 4 April, heavy rain from two tropical disturbances continues to fall on communities affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston where thousands of people are still reliant on transitional shelter. Low-lying villages were evacuated. In the north and west of the country, roads were cut and schools closed. The Cyclone Winston response is moving into the early recovery phase. Priorities include providing permanent shelter and water and sanitation for 350,000 people. Some 800,000 planting materials were distributed
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
According to a recent WFP assessment, drought and frost has impacted the food security of nearly 1.5 million people. About 200,000 people are facing extreme food shortages in Western, Southern Highland, Enga, Chimbu and Milne provinces. Key needs include food and nutrition. Logistics remain a key challenge. The Disaster Management Team has submitted a request for funding to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund.
On 1 April, WFP and FAO presented the results of the Government-led assessments on the impact of El Nino. Water shortage, food insecurity, health and livelihood are key concerns. According to WFP, the most severely-affected areas are Lautem, Viqueque, Covalima, Oecusse. About 400,000 people are affected by El Niño across the country. The Humanitarian Country Team is developing a comprehensive response plan to mitigate the negative impact of El Niño.
On 3 April, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Vanuatu generating a tsunami alert for Vanuatu as well as Fiji. No damages were reported and the tsunami alert was lifted.
An estimated 12,000 to 50,000 people (nearly the entire population of the country) are severely affected by drought. A revised nine-month Drought Response Plan was developed seeking US$9 million to provide assistance to the affected communities - to date 14 per cent of needs under the plan was met. In addition, 32 portable reverse osmosis water purification units were deployed to 19 islands and atolls.
On 31 March, a 4.7 magnitude earthquake struck with a depth of 13 kilometres in West Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara province). While there were no casualties, a community health centre and 44 houses were damaged.
Between 30 March and 1 April, five localized whirlwinds were reported across Java Island. The whirlwinds caused two casualties and damaged 146 houses in Yogyakarta. Whirlwinds typically occur during the transition period between the rainy and dry season. Local authorities provided relief assistance.6
Following fighting around Kutkai Township (Shan State) on 6 March, more than 1,400 people remain displaced. As of 1 April, 955 people remain displaced in Namhkan Township due to fighting between various armed groups in February. Local civil society organizations, national and international NGOs and the UN continue to closely liaise with authorities on the provision of humanitarian assistance.
On 28 March, the President’s Office issued an ordinance ending the state of emergency in Rakhine State imposed in 2012. According to the Rakhine State Government, the state of emergency was lifted as there were no longer immediate threats to the lives and property of communities.
The month saw violent extremist movements, including the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda-linked groups, carry out major deadly attacks in Turkey, Pakistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia and Belgium. In Libya, the arrival of Prime Minister Serraj in Tripoli despite warnings from multiple factions could lead to further destabilisation. Meanwhile in Central Africa, political violence rose in Burundi and could break out in Chad around the 10 April presidential election. Yemen, South Sudan and even Syria saw progress, of varying degrees, toward peace talks or implementation of agreements, and in Colombia the start of talks between the state and the National Liberation Army (ELN) could lead to the end of the 52-year-old conflict.
In Libya, international recognition of the new UN-backed Government of National Accord without support from military factions or the Tobruk-based House of Representatives worsened tensions in an already fragmented security landscape, and Prime Minister Serraj’s arrival in Tripoli on 30 March could trigger worse violence in April. Meanwhile, an IS branch is reportedly gaining strength. To prevent further splintering of Libya’s armed groups and ensure that political and security developments support a negotiated peace, Crisis Group has called for a nationwide security track dialogue in parallel with the UN-guided political track. In Tunisia, at least 50 IS militants stormed Ben Guerdane, 30km from the Libyan border on 7 March, attempting to overwhelm key security installations.
In Turkey, a car bomb attack on 13 March in Ankara saw 38 killed including two assailants. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), an ultra-radical Kurdish nationalist offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), claimed responsibility, saying it was an act of revenge for ongoing security operations against the PKK in south-eastern urban centres. As Crisis Group has long argued, the only way toward a durable solution is peace talks with the PKK alongside ensuring further democratic rights for Turkey’s Kurdish population.
Elsewhere, violent extremist movements carried out major deadly attacks. In Pakistan, over 70 people were killed in a suicide bombing claimed by the Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JA) in Lahore on 27 March. In Belgium 32 people were killed by two IS-linked suicide bomb attacks at the main airport and on the Brussels metro on 22 March, while in Côte d’Ivoire on 13 March gunmen shot dead sixteen civilians in Grand-Bassam, 40km east of Abidjan, in an unprecedented terrorist attack claimed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Crisis Group’s Special Report Exploiting Disorder: al-Qaeda and the Islamic State examines how such extremist movements benefit from today’s deadliest crises and complicate efforts to end them.
In Burundi, political violence worsened while international pressure on President Nkurunziza failed to stop government repression. There were deadly attacks on three officials including two from the ruling party and the assassination of two high-ranking army officers on the same day, pointing to dangerous divisions in the military. According to the UN, 474 people have been killed in political violence since April 2015, and over 250,000 Burundians have fled to neighbouring states. In Chad, mounting protests against President Déby’s regime and government repression could lead to serious political violence around the presidential election, scheduled for 10 April. Meanwhile, tensions between Morocco and the UN spiked after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon referred to the “occupation” of Western Sahara during a visit to the region in early March.
In Syria, Russia’s announcement that it would withdraw the “main part” of its assets that have conducted operations in the country since September 2015 strengthened the ongoing UN-brokered talks, which resumed on 14 March in Geneva. Since the “cessation of hostilities” that began on 27 February violence has decreased considerably, according to local sources, with the lowest monthly civilian death toll in four years. Meanwhile, in Yemen, the agreement between Saudi Arabia and the Huthis to halt hostilities along the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border in early March paved the way for commitments to a wider ceasefire and peace talks to start in April. Fighting continued, nevertheless, including between government forces and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Aden and IS-linked attacks in the south.
In South Sudan, amid a decline in fighting, April could see significant progress toward the formation of a transitional government of national unity, bringing the country a step closer toward implementation of the August 2015 peace deal. In Colombia, in a welcome step, the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) announced on 30 March the opening of formal peace talks which, together with those nearing completion with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Havana, are the greatest opportunity to end 52 years of armed conflict.