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Key Messages to all stakeholders: Concerns and Requests Related to Humanitarian Situation in Kachin and Northern Shan States, Myanmar

By Bridging Rural Integrated Development, Grassroot Empowerment, Kachin Baptist Convention, Kachin Relief and Development Committee, Kachin Women Association, Kachin Development Group, Karuna Mission Social Solidarity, Metta Development Foundation and Nyein (Shalom) Foundation and Wunpawng Ninghtoi  •  February 24, 2016

The armed conflict between the Government of Myanmar and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) broke out again in June 2011. This conflict has displaced over 120,000 civilians to 167 camps across Kachin and northern Shan State. Since 2013, nine local humanitarian organisations formed a Joint Strategy Team for Humanitarian Response in Kachin and Northern Shan State (JST), to provide continuous, quality and effective Humanitarian assistance and protection to the IDPs while coordinating strategically with the UN and International NGOs.

Humanitarian organisations and the UN could not manage to fully meet the international humanitarian minimum standards due to insufficient funding. Furthermore, UN humanitarian agencies and International NGOs could only sporadically access most of the IDP camps in the conflict area due to the lengthy and opaque government permission processes. Local humanitarian organisations have been the primary providers of humanitarian assistance and protection of the rights of displaced civilians.

Concerns:

Partially singed Nationwide Ceasefire agreement and uncertainty in the peace process:

After several rounds of negotiations, Myanmar government’s Union Peace making Work Committee and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team have reached an agreement on the wording of the drafted Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). Nationwide ceasefire agreement between the government and eight of Ethnic armed groups was signed on 15 October 2015. However, majority of the ethnic armed groups did not joint yet for signing due to the issue of inclusion of all ethnic armed groups in the process. Conflict continues in Central Shan and Kachin States areas. Without participation of all the ethnic armed groups, it could not guarantee durable peace and will not address the root cased of the conflict.
Increasing military offensives: a threat to life security and dignity of civilians

Regardless of the national wide ceasefire agreement, Myanmar government continues its military offensives. Human right violations and threat to life security and dignity of the civilians are always a great concern in conflict areas in Myanmar. Just days before the general election, the Government Tamadaw launched a major offensive against the Shan State Army (SSA-North) in the central part of Shan State which have displaced more than 10,000 civilians from their villages. On the14th November, fighting broke out again in Moenyin township, Kachin State and affected civilians have to flee from their villages to different directions. Four civilians have been arrested on 17th November and they have not been released yet up to now and we are concerned about their situation. Continuous fighting, use of airstrikes and heavy artillery have intensified fear of civilians and increased anxiety as they are terrified by these incidents. In many instances, Myanmar government not only launched indiscriminate attacks against the civilian settlements, but also blocked the humanitarian assistance. Therefore, security situation in the IDP camps and villages has increasingly deteriorated.

Post General Election

Myanmar’s general election was taken place on 8 November 2015. However, many of IDPs participation in the current election was constrained by the lack of relevant documents to register. Moreover, potential voters in KIO controlled area could not participate as these townships were excluded in the election. National League for Democracy party (NLD) has won landslide election victory and it has now secured enough seats in the Parliament to control the body and choose the country’s president. However, the challenge remains to deal with transition of new government, Myanmar Tatmadaw position upon the remaining ethnic armed group those do not sign yet NCA and broader peace process.

Humanitarian needs

  1. After 4 years of displacement, the support to the IDPs is still far from the internationally accepted humanitarian minimum standards. Meeting their basic needs like food and shelter is still a constant struggle. Protection of vulnerable groups remains a great challenge. Human traffickers are increasingly targeting the adolescents to sell them as child bride or sex workers to China. Gender-based violence is increasing in the stressful and crowded camps. Education is still a shameful yawning gap; insufficient education infrastructure, teachers and support, increasing drop out rates. Hundreds of high school graduates from KIO control area are left in limbo because there is no way to access higher education for them, effectively wiping away any hope of a bright future for the IDP children. Psychosocial support is very much needed to address IDP’s trauma. Donors and international governments, apparently exhausted as the crisis being prolonged, started to reduce their support.

    Requests to all stakeholders: Based on the above concerns

    I. Must request the warring parties to respect and abide to International Humanitarian Law and Principles and fully respect IDPs Rights:

    1. International humanitarian principles, laws and the “UNHCR Durable Solutions Framework” must be respected by Myanmar Government, KIO, and all actors during the humanitarian response and in the implementations of the Return and Resettlement process; ensuring a dignified, safe and voluntary return or resettlement. Land mine issues should be specifically addressed. The IDPs need to be directly involved in planning- implementation of return and resettlement programmes.

  2. All stakeholders ought to ensure that the IDP’s rights and needs are fully covered as per International Humanitarian Law.II. Should increase funding support to meet the urgent humanitarian needs
  3. Humanitarian response should continue in the IDPs camps until a safe return and resettlement takes place; this aid should be duly funded in order to guarantee the fulfillment of the minimum humanitarian standards.

    III.  Should champion the protection of IDPs

  4. All parties and Humanitarian actors should take all measures to ensure the security and safety of IDPs while staying in the camps; as well as, during and after their return or resettlement. Military posts should not be near any IDP camp.
  5. Provide sufficient fund for child protection and education in emergency situation.
  6. Provide sufficient fund for women rights and advancement, peace and security, and violence against women. Particularly, enable the establishment of reliable “Legal, Health, Counseling and Social Services” for the victims. This will require substantial funding and technical support, long term planning and capacity building to government, ministries and to civil societies.

    IV. Should encourage Aid effectiveness and improving coordination

  7. We urge all stakeholders to recognize and support the local humanitarian agencies’ roles and contributions to the ongoing humanitarian response and on the forthcoming return and resettlement process. It should be recognized that locally based organizations have been playing a leading role in response activities. The JST joint programme strategy for return and resettlement has to be taken into account seriously, supported and respected by UN agencies and INGOs.

    V. Should encourage civilian and civil society participation in the peace process

  8. Warring parties should promote inclusiveness and opening the space for civilian participation in the current peace process. We reiterate that having a ceasefire agreement alone is not synonymous with meaning that peace will prevail in the region.

 

Media Contacts:

Gum ShaAwng, gum.sha.awng@metta-myanmar.org (+95 95192913)

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This post is in: Press Release

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