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Myanmar: Myanmar: UN expert to assess human rights situation in Rakhine and Northern Shan States

5 January 2015 - 6:46am
Source: UN Human Rights Council Country: Myanmar

GENEVA (5 January 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, will undertake her second official visit to the country from 7-16 January 2014. Ms. Lee will gather first-hand information on the current human rights situation in the Rakhine and Northern Shan States, among other issues. “I will review the situation in the camps for internally displaced persons and in isolated locations in the Rakhine State, to assess if there has been improvement in the critical conditions I came across on my first visit to Myanmar in July 2014,” she said.

The human rights expert will meet the Chief Minister of the Rakhine State to discuss current developments toward peace, stability and the rule of law, including the Rakhine Action Plan. She will meet as well with community leaders in the context of intercommunal tensions and efforts towards reconciliation. “In the Northern Shan State, I will look at the human rights situation of religious and ethnic minorities,” Ms. Lee noted. “I will also speak with various parties about the situation of sexual and gender based violence in the context of the ongoing conflict in this region”.

The independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on the situation of human rights in Myanmar will also assess progress on the authorities’ commitments towards democratic reform. She will also review issues related to freedom of association and the media, as well as land disputes and protests against development projects.

“I will pay special attention to the significant human rights concerns raised by the package of four bills on protection of race and religion, which contain provisions that do not meet international human rights standards,” Ms. Lee stressed. “I am deeply concerned that if passed, these four bills will legitimize discrimination, in particular against religious and ethnic minorities, and against women”.
With Myanmar now in an electoral year, the Special Rapporteur will also discuss progress in the democratic process with authorities and civil society to encourage these forthcoming national elections to be transparent, inclusive, participatory, free and fair.

During her ten-day visit, the expert will meet with Government officials, members of Parliament and the judiciary, the National Human Rights commission and civil society in Naypyitaw and Yangon. She also intends to visit political prisoners that remain in detention.

The Special Rapporteur, who visits the country at the invitation of the Government, expressed her appreciation of the open engagement and cooperation that has been offered in the preparation of this mission. Ms. Lee will submit a report to the Human Rights Council in April 2015 A press conference will be held at the end of the Special Rapporteur’s visit on Friday 16 January from 5-6pm at the Sedona Hotel, Yankin Ballroom in Yangon.

ENDS

Myanmar: Fire Guts Kachin IDP Camp on Chinese Border

2 January 2015 - 6:57am
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By YEN SNAING & NANG SENG NOM / THE IRRAWADDY

RANGOON — A camp for internally displaced persons in Kachin State suffered a devastating fire on Monday that has gutted at least 100 households, according to local reports.

About 1000 IDPs live in the Sin Kyaing camp, located in Wine Maw Township, about 65 kilometres (40 miles) east of the state capital Myitkyina on the China-Burma border. While there were no casualties from the blaze, which started from an electrical fire, the Kachin Baptist Church says that the camp’s residents are now in dire need of warm clothes, food and accommodation to see through the winter months.

“There is no place for refugees to sleep now,” said Lamang Yaw, a communications officer from the church said of those Sin Kyaing camp residents who lost their homes in the fire. “The neighbors are helping with food… [but] it’s important to build huts for them to live, urgently.”

Doi Be Za, the head of the Kachin Independence Organization’s IDPs and Refugees Relief Committee, told The Irrawaddy that the camp fell outside of his organization’s jurisdiction.

“It’s not at in our area of control. But we are compiling a list on the loss of property lost in the fire. Then, we will continue to do what we need to for the refugees.”

The nearby village of Kambaiti is reportedly under the control of Border Guard Force unit led by Zahkung Ting Ying, a parliamentarian representing a territory previously controlled by the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK). The NDAK’s predecessor organization split from the KIO in 1968 and merged into the Border Guard Force in 2009, two years before the outbreak of renewed hostilities between the KIO and the Burma Army.

Another Kachin IDP camp on the Chinese border suffered a fire in March last year, which claimed the life of a 13-year-old girl after a tarpaulin tent provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees burnt to the ground.

Myanmar: 10,000 people in Rakhine State ‘willing to be listed as Bengali’

1 January 2015 - 11:41pm
Source: Mizzima News Country: Myanmar

Written by Kay Zue

More than 10,000 people want to participate in the citizenship verification process by agreeing to be listed as “Bengali,”according to U Khin Soe, the official in charge of the Rakhine State Immigration and Population Department.

Currently the citizenship verification process in Rakhine State based on the 1982 Citizenship Law is suspended due to objections.

Disagreement occurred over the verification process because some people identifying themselves as “Rohingya” are not allowed by law to be listed as such but must accept the designation, “Bengali.”

On the other hand, there have been complaints from ethnic Rakhine people against the verification process, claiming it will allow illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh currently in the State to be accepted as citizens.

Against this backdrop, the Rakhine State Immigration and Population Department has prepared to resume the citizenship verification process.

The people who want to apply for citizenship, by agreeing to be listed as “Bengali,” are from Ponna Kyun, Kyauk Phyu, Mrauk-U and Minbya Townships, according to figures compiled by the immigration department.

U Khin Soe said on December 30 that his staff members are ready.

“When the Union government [central government] orders us to resume the process, we will resume it. But we will carry out the citizenship verification process only if the people who want to apply for citizenship agree to be identified as Bengali,” he said.

The citizenship verification process for people who identify themselves as Rohingya but the government refers to as Bengali began in June, 2014, but was suspended after five months due to various objections. The Rakhine State Immigration and Population Department hopes to resume the process in January.

According to U Khin Soe, the people identifying themselves as Rohingya in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships have not applied for citizenship because they are still pondering whether they should agree to be listed as Bengali or not.

U Hla Thein, a Rohingya leader in Maungdaw Township, said, “We are still negotiating whether the label [for the race] or applying for citizenship should be given a higher priority.”

During the citizenship verification process in Rakhine State in 2014, 40 people were granted citizenship and 165 people became naturalized citizens, according to figures compiled by the Rakhine State immigration department.

Rakhine State has population of more than 3 million. Among them, more than 1 million people do not have the right to citizenship, according an estimate by the Rakhine State government.

Communal rights broke out in the State in 2012 between Buddhists and Rohingya left up to 140 people dead. Today, tens of thousands of internally displaced people remain in camps.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Peace Monitoring Dashboard: Dec 2014

31 December 2014 - 8:20am
Source: Myanmar Peace Monitor Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: Water Woes for Residents of Chin State Capital

30 December 2014 - 8:43pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By SALAI THANT ZIN

Local residents in the Chin State capital Hakha are facing a potable water shortage amid a partial suspension of the township’s water supply that has lasted more than three months.

“It is about three months now that the municipality has stopped supplying water, which has caused a lot of trouble for people. I have to buy water for my shop, for which I have to spend around 20,000 [US$20] or 30,000 kyats monthly from my profits,” the owner of an eatery in Hakha told The Irrawaddy.

The municipality stopped providing water after underground water pipes were damaged during the expansion of roads in Hakha, the administrative seat of the Chin State government.

More than half of Hakha’s 15,000 residents have been affected by the water crisis and have had to rely on private water sellers, according to locals.

The majority of the town’s pain has been gain for some entrepreneurial spirits, however, who have taken to fetching water from the nearby Thee River and selling it to needy residents. A bucket of water is sold for 200 kyats and an entire car’s load worth of water goes for 12,000 kyats, locals said.

The head of Hakha township municipality, Aung Tun Lin, told The Irrawaddy that efforts were underway to restore the town’s piped water system.

“Pipelines in certain areas were damaged as roads in downtown Hakha were broadened. Therefore, we cannot supply water to those areas. We plan to repair the pipes and resume water supply by January 15 [of 2015].”

While some locals have relied on buying water from private sellers, others drive to the Thee River, some seven miles from Hakha.

“Those who can afford it buy water. Those who can’t afford it go to Thee River by motorbike and fetch water. They take their clothes and wash them there. I have to buy water, 200 kyats per bucket, when I don’t have time to go to the Thee River,” said a departmental staffer.

The system used by the Hakha municipality sees piped water supplied from eight watersheds in areas surrounding the town, and the late 2014 water woes likely will not be the town’s last.

The surrounding watersheds have been decreasingly productive since 2000, due to deforestation and hillside cultivation, making water shortages in the months of March through May an annual occurrence, said Aung Tun Lin.

“The watersheds produce less water and creeks are drying up year by year, mainly because of cutting down trees for fuel or crop cultivation,” he said.

“Now, we only get 65 percent of water from those sources. Therefore, Hakha is always confronted with a water shortage in March, April and May every year,” he added.

In an effort to resolve Hakha’s water scarcity, the Chin State government started building a dam on the Thee River in April of this year. The project comes at an estimated cost of 8 billion kyats.

Myanmar: Burma Landmine Casualty Rate Among World’s Worst: Report

30 December 2014 - 8:35pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By NOBEL ZAW /

RANGOON —Burma has the third-highest landmine-related casualty rates in the entire world, has edged away from international forums focused to eradicate the munitions, and is one of the only countries in the world still actively deploying mines in conflict areas, according to the latest report from the research arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).

The 2014 Landmine Monitor report documents 3,450 casualties between 1999 and the end of 2013, resulting in at least 348 deaths. The recorded landmine casualty rate in the six years from 2006 is surpassed only by Colombia, a nation that has spent five decades fighting a Marxist insurgency financed by drug trafficking, and Afghanistan, a country ravaged by seemingly interminable war for most of the last 35 years.

Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, the Landmine Monitor researcher for Burma, told a press conference yesterday that the country’s refusal to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty and allow direct inspection of conflict flashpoints made it difficult to compile an accurate number of casualties, but the ICBL’s official estimates over the period were almost certainly understated.

He added that despite a request from President Thein Sein for European Union assistance in establishing clearance programs in 2012, international organizations had been prevented from traveling to areas contaminated with landmines, with the military and the government blaming each other for the refusal of access. According to Landmine Monitor, there has been no mine clearance by accredited organizations in the last two years, although some ethnic armed groups and organizations such as the Free Burma Rangers have engaged in some local demining programs.

The Landmine Monitor report found “credible allegations” of anti-personnel mine use by the Burma Army over the last two years in Kachin and Arakan States, including a stretch of land less than 100 meters from the country’s border with Bangladesh. While the report was unable to corroborate any accounts of landmines being used over the same period by ethnic armed groups, it noted that none of these groups had renounced the use of landmines since negotiations toward a nationwide ceasefire agreement began in 2011.

162 countries are signatories to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the world’s governments. Burma has repeatedly abstained on United Nations General Assembly resolutions to prohibit the use, stockpiling and production of anti-personnel mines, and President Thein Sein told an audience at the 2012 Asean Summit in Phnom Penh that the country’s continued use of landmines was necessary “in order to safeguard the life and property of people.” While Burma has participated in several recent international forums established by the Mine Ban Treaty, the government declined to field representatives for the most recent review conference, held in Mozambique in June.

Myo Myint Aung, a former military doctor who lost his eyesight and sustained 86 separate shrapnel wounds in a landmine injury at the age of 25, told The Irrawaddy that all landmines in Burma should be eliminated.

“I want to say solemnly that landmines should not available,” he said. “When people fire guns, you are aware of the danger in front of you, but with landmines you can never know when you will be hurt.”

World: Asia-Pacific: Natural Hazard Risk (December 2014)

30 December 2014 - 7:00pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam, World

World: Asia-Pacific: Tectonic Plates and Faults (December 2014)

30 December 2014 - 7:00pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: American Samoa, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, French Polynesia (France), Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia (France), New Zealand, Niue (New Zealand), Norfolk Island (Australia), Northern Mariana Islands (The United States of America), Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Pitcairn Island, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Wallis and Futuna (France), World

Tectonic Plates and Fault Lines

The region is home to extremes in elevation and the world's most active seismic and volcanic activity. Southwest of India, the Maldives has a maximum height of just 230cm, while far to the north, the Tibetan Plateau averages over 4,500m across its 2.5 million square kilometres and is home to all 14 of the world's peaks above 8,000 metres. The Himalaya were born 70 million years ago when the Arabian Plate collided with the Eurasian plate.

The Pacific Ring of Fire is a belt of oceanic trenches, island arcs, volcanic mountain ranges and plate movements that encircles the basin of the Pacific Ocean. The ring is home to 90% of the world's earthquakes - 95% if the Alpide belt is included, which runs through Java and Sumatra. The Ring of Fire is a direct consequence of plate tectonics and the movement and collisions of crustal plates, with the northwestward moving Pacific plate subducted beneath the Aleutian Islands arc in the north, along the Kamchatka peninsula and Japan in the west. To the south a number of smaller tectonic plates are in collision with the Pacific plate from the Mariana Islands, the Philippines, Bougainville, Tonga, and New Zealand.

World: Asia-Pacific: Holocene Eruption and Selected Volcanoes (December 2014)

30 December 2014 - 7:00pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: American Samoa, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, China - Taiwan Province, Christmas Island (Australia), Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australia), Cook Islands, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, French Polynesia (France), Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia (France), New Zealand, Niue (New Zealand), Norfolk Island (Australia), Northern Mariana Islands (The United States of America), Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Pitcairn Island, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Wallis and Futuna (France), World

Volcanic Explosivity in Asia-Pacific

This map shows the density of volcanic eruptions based on the explosivity index for each eruption and the time period of the eruption. Eruption information is spread to 100km beyond point source to indicate areas that could be affected by volcanic emissions or ground shaking.

The original source of the data is a point dataset of worldwide historical volcanic eruptions occurring within approximately the last 11,500 years (to 2002). Adapted from Simkin and Siebert, 1994 "Volcanoes of the World: an Illustrated Catalog of Holocene Volcanoes and their Eruptions" and produced digitally by the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program.

The volcanic eruptions were rated using the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI). The VEI is a simple 0-to-8 index of increasing explosivity, with each successive integer representing about an order of magnitude increase.

World: Asia-Pacific: Tropical Storm Risk (December 2014)

30 December 2014 - 7:00pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, China - Taiwan Province, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, World

Tropical Storm Risk Zones

This map was derived from the Munich Reinsurance Company's World Map of Natural Hazards and shows tropical storm intensity based on the five wind speeds of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed. This scale estimates potential property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage.
Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous, however, and require preventative measures. In the western North Pacific, the term "super typhoon" is used for tropical cyclones with sustained winds exceeding 240km/h.

The zones indicate where there is a 10% probability of a storm of this intensity striking in the next 10 years.

American Samoa: Asia-Pacific: Earthquake Risk - Modified Mercalli Scale (December 2014)

30 December 2014 - 7:00pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: American Samoa, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, China - Taiwan Province, Christmas Island (Australia), Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australia), Cook Islands, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, French Polynesia (France), Guam, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia (France), New Zealand, Niue (New Zealand), Norfolk Island (Australia), Northern Mariana Islands (The United States of America), Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Wallis and Futuna (France)

Earthquake Intensity Risk Zones

This map shows earthquake intensity zones in accordance with the 1956 version of the Modified Mercalli Scale (MM), describing the effects of an earthquake on the surface of the earth and integrating numerous parameters such as ground acceleration, duration of an earthquake, and subsoil effects. It also includes historical earthquake reports.

The Zones indicate where there is a probability of 20 percent that degrees of intensity shown on the map will be exceeded in 50 years.This probability figure varies with time; i.e., it is lower for shorter periods and higher for longer periods.

Pacific islands and countries too small to be easily visible are represented by boxes giving an approximate level of equivalent risk based on data from Munich Reinsurance Company's NATHAN system.

Earthquake Intensity Risk Zones

I. Instrumental

II. Feeble

III. Slight

IV. Moderate

V. Rather Strong

VI. Strong

VII. Very Strong

VIII. Destructive

IX. Ruinous

X. Disastrous

XI. Very Disastrous

XII. Catastrophic

Indonesia: Asia-Pacific: Wildfire Density 1997 - 2013 (December 2014)

30 December 2014 - 7:00pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, China - Taiwan Province, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vanuatu, Viet Nam

Sixteen years of wildfires in Asia-Pacific

Wild land fires and other biomass fires annually burn a total land area of between 3.5 and 4.5 million km2, equivalent to the surface area of India and Pakistan together, or more than half of Australia. This makes it one of the most spatially prevalent hazards after drought.

Emissions from biomass burning inject pollutants into the atmosphere, as well as greenhouse gases (GHG). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change attributes 17.3% of total anthropogenic emissions to biomass burning, making it the second largest source of GHG from human activities after the burning of fossil fuel.

This dataset includes an average of fires density over the period 1997-2010. It is based on the modified algorithm 1 product of World Fire Atlas dataset. The data was compiled monthly. The unit is expected average number of event per 0.1 decimal degree.

This product was designed by UNEP/GRID Europe for the Global Assessment Report on Risk Reduction (GAR). It was modeled using global data.

Credit: GIS processing UNEP/GRID Europe. http://preview.grid.unep.ch;
World Fire atlas (ESA-ESRIN), GIS processing UNEP/GRID-Europe.

Australia: Asia-Pacific: Flood Risk (December 2014)

30 December 2014 - 7:00pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, China - Taiwan Province, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Northern Mariana Islands (The United States of America), Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam

Flood Risk

Disaster risks can increase or decrease over time according to a country’s ability to reduce its vulnerability and strengthen response capacities. In recent decades, countries in the Asia-Pacific region have strengthened their capacities to reduce mortality risks associated with major weather-related hazards such as floods.
Flooding can happen anywhere, however certain areas are especially prone to serious flooding. This map shows a subset of the global estimated risk index for flood hazard. The unit is estimated risk index from 1 (low) to 5 (extreme).

This product was designed by UNEP/GRID Europe for the Global Assessment Report on Risk Reduction (GAR). It was modeled using global data.

Credit: GIS processing UNEP/GRID Europe. http://preview.grid.unep.ch

World: Asia-Pacific: Estimated Risk for Multiple Hazards (December 2014)

30 December 2014 - 7:00pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australia), Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Maldives, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Northern Mariana Islands (The United States of America), Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, World

Flood Risk

Risk assessment for an area exposed to multiple hazards requires solutions to compare the risks. This map was generated by adding the value of mortality to the cumulated risk of cyclones, earthquakes, floods and landslides. Categories of risk based on expected annual losses.

This product was designed by UNEP/GRID Europe for the Global Assessment Report on Risk Reduction (GAR). It was modeled using global data.

Credit: GIS processing UNEP/GRID-Europe. http://preview.grid.unep.ch

India: Asia-Pacific: Physical Exposure to Drought (December 2014)

30 December 2014 - 7:00pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, China - Taiwan Province, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

Physical Exposure to Drought

Drought is a phenomenon that affects more people globally than any other natural hazard. Unlike aridity, which refers to a semi-permanent condition of low precipitation (desert regions), drought results from the accumulated effect of deficient precipitation over a prolonged period of time.

The units used in this product refer to the expected average annual population (2010 as the year of reference) exposed (inhabitants). The dataset includes an estimate of the annual physical exposure to drought. It is based on three sources:

1) A global monthly gridded precipitation dataset obtained from the Climatic

Research Unit (University of East Anglia).

2) A GIS modelling of global Standardized Precipitation Index based on Brad Lyon (IRI, Columbia University).

3) A population grid for the year 2010, provided by LandScanTM Global Population Database (Oak Ridge National Laboratory).

This product was designed by UNEP/GRID Europe for the Global Assessment Report on Risk Reduction (GAR). It was modeled using global data.

Credit: GIS processing UNEP/GRID Europe. http://preview.grid.unep.ch

Myanmar: UN urges Myanmar to grant rights to Muslim Rohingya

30 December 2014 - 2:06am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

United Nations, United States | AFP | Tuesday 12/30/2014 - 04:49 GMT

The UN General Assembly on Monday adopted a resolution urging Myanmar to grant citizenship to its Rohingya Muslim minority and grant them equal access to services.

The non-binding measure was adopted by consensus in the 193-nation assembly, a month after it was approved by the assembly's rights committee.

The resolution expresses "serious concern" over the plight of the Rohingya in Rakhine state, where 140,000 people live in squalid camps after violence erupted between Buddhists and Muslims in 2012.

Under a controversial government-backed plan, the Rohingya would be forced to identify themselves as Bengali -- a term seen as disparaging -- in order to apply for citizenship. Those who refuse would be forced to live in camps.

Many in Myanmar's government and local Buddhists view Rohingya as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh, but the community maintains its has ancestral roots in the country.

The resolution urges the government to protect the rights of all inhabitants of Rakhine state and allow "equal access to full citizenship for the Rohingya minority," to "allow self-identification" and ensure equal access to services.

The measure drafted by the European Union was adopted by consensus after Myanmar did not request a vote on the measure. A vote is held if the country targeted by the resolution requests it.

Despite criticism of the Rohingya's treatment, the resolution welcomes "continued positive developments in Myanmar" toward reform and notes that the government is making efforts to address the "complex situation in Rakhine state."

It calls for an office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to open "without delay" in Myanmar.

cml/sg

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Farming together to overcome fear and mistrust in Rakhine state, Myanmar

29 December 2014 - 2:55pm
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Myanmar

MAUNGDAW, Myanmar, December 29 (UNHCR) – For 18 months they lived side by side but did not see or talk to each other. Following the 2012 inter-communal violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state, Muslim and Buddhist neighbours in this mixed village in northern Rakhine state were divided by fear and mistrust even though they were not directly affected by the unrest.

But they could not ignore the realities their forefathers had accepted. "The people of this village depend on each other," said Khine Myat San,* an ethnic Rakhine woman in the village. "Rakhine women used to sell vegetables in the Muslim hamlet, and Muslim men have been habitually hired as labour by Rakhine families."

In the country's second poorest state, paddy cultivation is one of the main sources of income and the two communities used to cooperate for agricultural and trading purposes. Luckily their leaders understood the importance of maintaining and restoring traditional links, and have progressively re-established a dialogue in some locations.

As a member of a mixed "agricultural committee," Khine Myat San speaks proudly of her efforts to promote a harmonious environment and enhance economic opportunities in her village. Her committee received farming machinery from UNHCR this year – part of an initiative to encourage reconciliation and coexistence in the wake of the violence that displaced more than 140,000 people.

UNHCR has spoken to numerous community leaders about livelihood activities that could lead to further interaction in their area. Early this year a meeting was called so that all community representatives could set out the basis for their cooperation. It was the first time that Muslim villagers were able to access the Rakhine hamlet in one-and-a-half years.

The committee members recall it as a moment of joy. "At the beginning we were all afraid that something might go wrong, but when we saw each other, we relaxed, and the meeting went well," said committee member Osman Johar.*

Today the agricultural committee members gathered in the house of the village administrator to highlight the benefits of their interaction and appreciate UNHCR's help in this process. When asked how often they held meetings, they looked at each other and burst into loud laughter: "We see each other every day we don't need to make an appointment for that."

Six villages have benefitted from this UNHCR initiative to support agricultural activities and improve income. Since the beginning of the year, UNHCR has helped more than 800 farmers by providing 18 small tractors, six rice mills, six harvesters, 12 water pumps and 45 tons of fertilizer. As a sign of their commitment, the committee members contribute an equal amount of fertilizer.

Where the villagers previously relied on manpower and cattle to plough their lands, the introduction of farming technology is expected to increase rice production while reminding people how they used to work together.

The project primarily targets communities that face irrigation problems and limited resources while trying to cultivate winter crops during the dry season. Equipment like water pumps decreases cultivation costs and improves irrigation.

Following this example of positive collaboration between the two communities, another 10 projects have been approved by the local authorities and the machinery will be delivered to the committee members in January.

While much more remains to be done to promote reconciliation between the communities, there are hopes that projects like this can start to sow the seeds for dialogue. As Khine Myat San observed, "We need to stay together. If we continue our lives separately, there will be risk of more misunderstandings, and violence might happen again."

  • Names changed for protection reasons

Myanmar: Managing risks to reach more people with lifesaving services and support in Myanmar

29 December 2014 - 1:07pm
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Myanmar

By Kate Roux

The Myanmar Red Cross Society operates with over 450 staff in 330 branches throughout the country. The nation’s leading humanitarian organization, and the oldest, the Red Cross is operating in a dynamic economic and social environment that is rapidly changing every day. Myanmar’s doors have recently opened to the world and as a result, not only is civil society playing a stronger role, but there is increasing competition in the humanitarian world.

“Risk is not to be avoided in this context,” explains President of the Myanmar Red Cross, Professor Tha Hla Shwe. “But we can take steps to analyze and mitigate risk. It is important to address risk, so that we can operate to our fullest and reach all beneficiaries,” he continues.

From 9-11 December, the Myanmar Red Cross Society hosted both Michael Raper, Director of Services and International Operations, and Vivian Schenker, head of Media and Communications from the Australian Red Cross, to run a joint workshop focusing on risk management.

“Our goal is to engage governance and senior management on the importance of risks, and why it should be addressed as we head into our next planning cycle,” explains the President. “Myanmar Red Cross is reaching more than 500,000 people each year, yet we need an external perspective to help us assess and learn how to better mitigate the risks we face.”

Michael Raper led the 3-day session with National Society governance and programme staff through the RiskSmart risk management system, which is aligned to the International Risk Management Standard ISO 31000.

“In Australian Red Cross, we have risk management systems in place because we know it protects our staff and volunteers, and it also improves our service delivery, our efficiency and effectiveness,” Raper says. He continued to remind participants throughout the workshop. “We cannot be risk averse, but we can be risk smart.”

Vivian Schenker, head of media for the Australian Red Cross, made the critical link to reputational risk. Given the rapidity of social media and the global brand of the Red Cross Red Crescent, Schenker explained that reputational risk is not only a loss resulting from damages to an organization’s reputation, “It is about losing trust in the brand. It is about upholding the Fundamental Principles,” she says.

By the end of the workshop, participants set a framework for risk management. Top risks were identified, as well as controls required to bring each risk down to an acceptable level. All of this will be discussed with leadership during the Red Cross strategic planning session in 2015.

With an increasingly inter-connected world, the risks National Societies around the world face, including the Myanmar and Australian Red Cross, are more present than ever. And the issues that face one National Society will affect another, for the bad but also the good. Supporting each other to be well-prepared, and avoid the damaging consequences is one key advantage to the world’s largest humanitarian network.