By Libby Hogan
When Tang Seng heard gunshots close to his village in Myanmar, he had a choice: carry his grandmother away from the fighting on his back or run for help. She asked him to kill her and leave her there but he refused.
Tang Seng walked out of his village carrying Supna Hkawn Bu to a makeshift camp for the displaced, where they remain with their family. She has had to flee from conflict five times in her life and didn’t speak for two days when they first arrived.
War in Myanmar is synonymous with the Rohingya crisis but Tang Seng and his grandmother are not Rohingya refugees. They are from the country’s north, in the state of Kachin, where another brutal but far less well publicised conflict is playing out between the largely Christian minority group and government militias.
International Rescue Committee aid workers on the ground in Myanmar and Bangladesh are scaling up our response to the world's fastest-growing humanitarian crisis. Here's a look at the Rohingya refugee crisis by the numbers:
600,000+ Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled violence and persecution in Myanmar since August.
300,000 more Rohingya are expected to flee to Bangladesh in the coming weeks.
The total number of refugees in Bangladesh could soon top 1 million.
It's the fastest mass exodus IRC aid workers have seen since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
95% of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh do not have access to clean water, and more than three quarters lack food.
120,000 Rohingya remain trapped in Myanmar, cut off from essential services and dependent on aid to survive.
The United Nations emergency response plan is only one-quarter funded by donor countries, leaving a shortfall of $328 million.
What's happeningRohingya Muslim refugees arriving in Bangladesh tell of the horrors they endured as their families were attacked and their villages burned in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine. “The levels of trauma that we are seeing here are severe," said Sanna Johnson, the IRC's Asia regional director. "We have spoken to women who have seen their children slaughtered before their eyes."
With aid agencies overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis amid humanitarian funding shortfalls, people are living in increasingly dire conditions in the refugee camps in Bangladesh. An IRC assessment released on Oct 23 found that their greatest needs are health care, food, protection for women and children, shelter and sanitation.
“In a crisis of such unprecedented scale, we need the full weight of the international community to save lives in Bangladesh and Myanmar, and take concerted action in what is undoubtedly the most urgent refugee crisis in the world," said Johnson.
How the IRC helpsThe IRC and our partners are launching an emergency response in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh focused on essential health assistance, treatment of malnutrition, protection of vulnerable children, and a range of specialized services for women and girls.
In Myanmar, the IRC is gradually resuming critical health and protection programs in Rakhine State, serving both Muslim camps and Rakhine villages—but humanitarian access remains restricted for humanitarian groups and thousands remain out of reach of lifesaving aid.
Published on IRC on October 23, 2017.
Human Rights Council decides to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Myanmar to establish facts on violations, especially in Rakhine State
Council Adopts 13 Resolutions, Extends Mandates on Iran, Myanmar, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, South Sudan, Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Torture and Migrants.
The Human Rights Council this morning adopted 13 resolutions, in which it decided to dispatch an independent, international fact-finding mission to establish the facts about alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces and abuses in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State. The Council also extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran, Myanmar, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and South Sudan for a further period of one year, and extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and on the human rights of migrants for a period of three years.
Other resolutions concerned human rights and unilateral coercive measures, the right to work, birth registration, the rights of the child, regional arrangements for the promotion of human rights, and human rights and the environment.
The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran for a further period of one year in a resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran, adopted by a vote of 22 in favour, 12 against and 13 abstentions. It requested the Special Rapporteur to submit a report on the implementation of the mandate to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-seventh session and to the General Assembly at its seventy-second session. It called upon the Government of Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and to permit access to visit the country, and to provide all information necessary to allow the fulfilment of the mandate.
In a resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, adopted without a vote, the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for a further period of one year. It also decided to dispatch urgently an independent international fact-finding mission to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State. It called upon the Government of Myanmar to continue efforts to eliminate statelessness and the systematic and institutionalized discrimination against members of ethnic, and religious minorities, including the root causes of discrimination, in particular relating to the Rohingya minority.
The Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur of the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for a period of one year in a resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, adopted without a vote. The Council decided to strengthen, for a period of two years, the capacity of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, including its field-based structure in Seoul, to allow the implementation of relevant recommendations made by the group of independent experts on accountability in its report. It condemned in the strongest terms the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations and other human rights abuses committed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
In a resolution on the situation of human rights in South Sudan, adopted without a vote, the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan for a period of one year. It condemned the ongoing violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan, and it demanded that all actors put a halt to all violations and abuses of human rights and all violations of international humanitarian law. It also urged the Government of South Sudan to appoint a special representative on sexual and gender-based violence.
In a resolution on human rights of migrants: mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council decided to extend for a period of three years the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants to examine ways and means to overcome the obstacles existing to the full and effective protection of the human rights of migrants, recognizing the particular vulnerability of women, children and those undocumented or in an irregular situation. The Council also extended mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression for a period of three years, in a resolution adopted without a vote. It requested the Special Rapporteur to submit an annual report to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly covering all activities relating to the mandate.
In a resolution on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment: mandate of the Special Rapporteur, adopted without a vote, the Council extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for a further period of three years to receive, examine and act on information from Governments, intergovernmental and civil society organizations, individuals and groups of individuals regarding issues and alleged cases concerning torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to conduct country visits.
The Council also adopted a resolution on human rights and unilateral coercive measures, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 15 against and zero abstentions, in which it called upon all States to stop adopting, maintaining or implementing unilateral coercive measures not in accordance with international law, international humanitarian law, the Charter of the United Nations and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among States.
The Council called upon States to put in place comprehensive policies and to take the legislative and administrative measures necessary for the full realization of the right to work for all, including women, in a resolution on the right to work, adopted without a vote. In a resolution on birth registration and the right of everyone to recognition everywhere as a person before the law, adopted without a vote, the Council called upon States to establish or strengthen existing institutions at all levels responsible for birth registration and consider the development of comprehensive civil registration systems.
In a resolution on the rights of the child: protection of the rights of the child in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted without a vote as orally revised, the Council called upon States to promote, protect, respect and fulfil the rights of the child and to mainstream them into all legislation, policies, programmes and budgets, as appropriate, aimed at implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.
This press release was published on the OHCHR's website on March 24, 2017.
Four months after the launch of major security operations in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, the fate and whereabouts of hundreds of detained Rohingya are still unknown. Amnesty International considers them as victims of enforced disappearances, and are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment and of being subjected to unfair trials.
No official information has yet been released about the charges or location of the hundreds of people that Myanmar authorities claim to have arrested and “taken legal action” against since 9 October 2016. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar said on 20 January 2017 that only one detainee that she met had received any legal representation or knew of the charges laid against them. She recounted that most of the families, of those who had been arrested or detained, had not been provided with any information about the fate of their loved ones.
The absence of any information about individuals missing for several months raises ongoing concerns about disappearances, torture and other ill-treatment. Myanmar state media reported on 3 February 2017 that a man, who had been detained in connection with the 9 October 2016 attacks, had died in custody while receiving treatment for an “inflammation of the stomach”. While at least another six people who were arrested as part of ongoing security operations have also died in custody, Amnesty International is not aware of any independent investigations into these deaths.
Following international pressure, Myanmar authorities have established a number of commissions to investigate alleged human rights violations committed during the security operations in northern Rakhine State. However due to several factors, including membership, none can be considered to be independent or impartial.
1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
Contact these two officials by 29 March, 2017:
Lt. Gen. Kyaw Swe
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10, Nay Pyi Taw
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Fax: +95 67 412 439
Salutation: Dear Minister
Ambassador H.E U Kyaw Myo Htut
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S St. NW, Washington DC 20008
Fax: 1 202 332 4351 I Phone: 1 202 332 3344
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
2) LET US KNOW YOU TOOK ACTION
Here’s why it is so important to report your actions: we record the number of actions taken on each case and use that information in our advocacy. Either email firstname.lastname@example.org with “UA 10/17” in the subject line or click this link.
This appeal was published on Amnesty International USA website on February 15, 2017.