Wednesday November 22, 2017

UNICEF calls for full Humanitarian access to Muslim-Majority area in North of Rakhine state in Myanmar

World Food Programme had begun the first deliveries of food aid in Maungdaw, reaching about 6,500 people in four villages affected by the violence

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FILE - Rakhine Chief Minister Nyi Pu, left, and Myanmar's high ranking military officers return from a trip with a diplomatic mission and United Nations officials to the Maungdaw area in northern Rakhine State in Myanmar, Nov. 3, 2016. VOA

Yangon (Myanmar), November 9, 2016: Unrest in Myanmar’s northwest is taking a “terrible toll” on children, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said and called for full humanitarian access to the Muslim-majority north of Rakhine state.

Tens of thousands of people have been cut off from food and other aid normally provided by international agencies since the Oct. 9 deadly attacks on police guard posts along the border with Bangladesh.

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“While some aid has been delivered in recent days, UNICEF calls for full resumption of essential services and the urgent lifting of all restrictions of movement of health and other professionals so they can safely reach children and families,” UNICEF said in a statement from New York Tuesday.

Troops have poured into the region in response to the attacks, in which assailants believed to be from the mostly stateless Rohingya group killed nine policemen. The army declared the area an operation zone, blocked aid and barred foreign journalists and observers from the Maungdaw area. Residents and human rights monitors say extra-judicial killings, rape and arbitrary arrests have taken place.

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FILE - Renata Lok-Dessallien, left, the U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, and British ambassador to Myanmar Andrew Patrick attend a news conference after a trip to the Maungdaw area in northern Rakhine state in Myanmar, Nov. 3, 2016. VOA
FILE – Renata Lok-Dessallien, left, the U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, and British ambassador to Myanmar Andrew Patrick attend a news conference after a trip to the Maungdaw area in northern Rakhine state in Myanmar, Nov. 3, 2016. VOA

On Tuesday, the World Food Programme said it had begun the first deliveries of food aid in Maungdaw in more than a month, reaching about 6,500 people in four villages affected by the violence. WFP said its assistance would normally reach 152,000 people in northern Rakhine.

The majority in the area are Rohingya Muslims, a 1.1 million strong group in Rakhine who face restrictions on their movements and access to services. The malnutrition rate is 19 percent among children younger than 5 in Maungdaw, according to U.N. statistics.

The limited access came after a request from diplomats and the U.N.’s top official in Myanmar, who visited Maungdaw over two days last week. The delegation called for an independent investigation into alleged rights abuses and for aid programs to be allowed to resume.

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U.N. officials and diplomats from Western countries privately expressed concern at the public response to the crisis from the government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, which has flatly denied allegations of abuses committed by the military.

State-run newspapers have said last week’s visit by diplomats — who stressed they were not able to verify claims of rights abuses — revealed that the allegations were baseless. A key official spokesman singled out a journalist reporting allegations and said the claims were concocted by people with links to insurgents. (VOA)

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Drone and Satellites Expose Myanmar’s Pain

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Rohingya refugee
An Oct. 5, 2017 image taken from a video released by Arakan Rohingya National Organization shows villagers preparing to cross a river towards the Maungdaw township in the Rakhine state that borders Bangladesh.

London- The Rohingya refugee crisis is an age-old tale of displacement and suffering, but technology is providing new tools to tackle it, rights groups and charities said on Wednesday.

Powerful drone and satellite images are bringing to life the urgent needs of more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, while also providing strong evidence of abuses, which could be used to lobby for justice.

“We can describe for hours the large numbers of refugees crossing the border and how quickly existing camps have expanded, but one image captures it all,” said Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since the military in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar launched a counter-insurgency operation after attacks on security posts by Rohingya militants in late August.

The UNHCR is using videos and photographs shot with drones to show the scale of the displacement crisis and bring it to life to spur action from the public and donors.

It is also using satellites to count and identify refugee families by their location in the Bangladesh camps to target assistance to those most in need, Mahecic told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

The use of drone footage of refugees entering Bangladesh has boosted donations for medical care, water and food, according to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an alliance of 13 leading British aid agencies.

Rights monitors also hope satellite images can provide evidence that to help bring perpetrators to justice.

Satellite photos were used in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to prove mass executions in 1995 in Srebrenica.

But the technology has yet to achieve its potential because of limited budgets and a lack of standardised methodologies accepted by courts, experts say.

Human Rights Watch has shared satellite images showing the burning of almost 300 villages in Myanmar, refugees’ mobile phone footage and their testimonies with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“We have found the debris field in satellite imagery where people were executed, corroborating multiple eyewitness statements,” said Josh Lyons, a satellite imagery analyst with the U.S.-based rights group.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has called the violence against Rohingya in Myanmar “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” and his office is working to determine whether it meets the legal definition of genocide.(VOA)

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Myanmar Must Take Back Displaced Rohingya Refugees : India

Sushma Swaraj did not use the word Rohingya to refer to the thousands who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and instead referred to them as displaced persons from Rakhine state

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Rohingya
A group of Rohingya refugees walk on the muddy road after traveling over the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. VOA

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India on Sunday said Rohingya refugees who have poured into Bangladesh must be taken back by Myanmar from where they have been displaced.

“Normalcy will only be restored with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine state,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a media meet also attended by her Bangladeshi counterpart Abula Hassan Mahmood Ali.

This followed the fourth India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Committee meeting.

ALSO READ US will Provide $32 Million to Rohingyas As Humanitarian Aid Package

Sushma Swaraj did not use the word Rohingya to refer to the thousands who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and instead referred to them as displaced persons from Rakhine state, bdnews24.com reported.

She said India was “deeply concerned at the spate of violence in Rakhine state of Myanmar”.

According to latest figures from the UN office in Bangladesh, over 600,000 refugees have entered the country since August 25 after the Myanmar Army cracked down on the Rohingyas after a series of attacks on security personnel in Rakhine.

Bangladesh Minister Ali said India was urged to contribute towards exerting sustained pressure on Myanmar to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, including return of Rohingyas to their homeland. (IANS)

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Myanmar to launch its own Satellite System MyanmarSat-2 in 2019

The project will cost about $155.7 billion.

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Nirbhay
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) sources said the Nirbhay missile test was "successful".(Representative image) VOA

Yangon, October 22, 2017 : Myanmar has planned to launch its own satellite system MyanmarSat-2 in June in 2019, official Global New Light of Myanmar reported on Saturday.

To establish state-owned satellite system, the three ways — Condosat which is to lease the use of satellite transponder of another country, joint ownership system and total ownership system — are needed to be done, Vice President U Myint Swe told a coordination meeting of the steering committee in Nay Pyi Taw.

The MyanmarSat-2 will be used on joint ownership system while the MyanmarSat-1 is currently used on lease system.

ALSO READ NASA launches ‘KalamSat’, Smallest 64 gms weighing Satellite Built by Indian boy Rifath Sharook

The project will cost about $155.7 billion.

The Vice President urged the committee to put the Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU) of the transponder as an unchangeable provision in the contract.

The vice president also called on the ministries which are currently working for MyanmarSat-1 using the foreign satellite to hire Myanmar Sat-2 after their contracts with foreign firms expire. (IANS)