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Archive for March 28th, 2013

Calm returns to Myanmar’s Meiktila

Posted by African Press International on March 28, 2013

MEIKTILA,  – Inside a stadium now sheltering more than 2,000 displaced people in the central Myanmar town of Meiktila, residents appear dazed.

“How could this happen?” asked 65-year old Syed Darbi, who has lived her whole life in Meiktila, an otherwise quiet university town. “I can’t believe my own eyes. We lived in the same community. [It was] so friendly.”“We are like refugees,” said 45-year old Ohnmar, sitting on the concrete floor of the stadium. After violence broke out on 20 March, the Muslim mother of two escaped a Buddhist mob only to see her home go up in flames. “How will I restart my life now?”

At least 40 people were killed and more than 12,000 displaced in the area, officials estimate, in what is being described as the worst sectarian violence to strike Myanmar since the 2012 unrest in western Rakhine State, where more than 120,000 Muslim Rohingya remain displaced.

Uneasy calm

On 20 March, a heated argument in a Meiktila gold shop between its Muslim owner and his Buddhists customers escalated, with crowds soon setting fire to businesses, religious buildings and houses. More than 150 homes and buildings were destroyed, including at least five mosques, local media reports say.

Whole neighbourhoods were destroyed

The violence continued for two days, spreading to neighbouring areas and prompting the government of President Thein Sein to declare a state of emergency in four townships – Meiktila, Thazi, Wandwin and Mahlaing – on 22 March. Troops were dispatched to the area.

“Due to the situation of devastating [sic] of peace and tranquility in Myeikhtilar District, Mandalay Division, the president’s office proclaims the State of Emergency (Act 144) for national security,” an announcement on the president’s website read.

Almost one week on, an uneasy calm has returned to the streets, but the local market remains closed and the atmosphere tense.

“We need to be alert so nobody sets our homes on fire,” said Aung Kyaw Soe, whose house was spared last week. “There are rumours that arson attacks can resume at any time.”

“Enough security forces should be in place for some period in order to prevent future clashes,” Win Htain, a parliamentarian for Meiktila Township, said.

Relief efforts continue

According to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MoSWRR), 9,710 of the displaced are now living in six temporary locations – five schools and the local stadium – and 2,800 are staying in local monasteries. Others may have fled the area altogether.

The government has been providing food and water to the displaced through the MoSWRR, while the Myanmar Red Cross Society and the Ministry of Health have been providing health assistance, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on 25 March.

The government established a relief management committee on 22 March. It is led by the deputy of the MoSWRR and includes local authorities, but aid workers say emergency assistance such as food, water and shelter is still needed.

To prevent outbreaks of communicable diseases, sanitation at each of the camps needs to be improved, said one government health worker, who asked not to be identified.

“So far, there are no serious diarrhoea outbreaks. There are just normal cases, such as injuries, and sickness, such as headache, backache and hypertension,” he said, noting that there were still not enough latrines in any of the camps.

At the stadium, there were only eight toilets for the more than 2,000 people, IRIN observed.

Under Sphere standards, which outline minimum standards in humanitarian response, the maximum number of people per latrine is 20.

“Many people who can’t wait their turns just defecate in the open space. How can they be shy now?” asked one Muslim man, pointing to dozens of residents queuing up outside the latrines.

nl/ds/rz

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ICC: Motoo Noguchi elected Chair of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims

Posted by African Press International on March 28, 2013

The Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) at the International Criminal Court elected Mr Motoo Noguchi as its Chair, at the 10th Annual Meeting of the Board in The Hague on 19 March 2013. Noguchi is amongst the five members of the Fund’s Board of Directors elected by the Assembly of States Parties in November 2012. He will serve as Chair of the TFV Board until November 2015.

Upon his election, Motoo Noguchi expressed his gratitude about the confidence expressed by his fellow Board members. “The Trust Fund for Victims is on the verge of entering a defining phase in its development. It is an honour to be called to the position of Chair and I see it as my duty to work with the Trust Fund Board and Secretariat, as well as with the ICC and States Parties, to ensure that victims and affected communities within the jurisdiction of the Court are recognised and will be effectively supported by the Trust Fund in order to regain their dignity and rebuild their lives.”

Noguchi praised Ms Elisabeth Rehn, who held the position of Chair during the Board’s previous mandate (2009-2012), for her strong personal drive and unw= avering dedication to the Trust Fund for Victims during the past three years, which have greatly helped to strengthen the Fund’s visibility and reputation.

Justice Noguchi (Japan) was in the Supreme Court Chamber at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) from the inception until July 2012. He is currently Director of the International Cooperation Department of Research & Training Institute of the Ministry of Justice in Japan, concurrently advising the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on international criminal justice. Since 1985 he has held various professional positions in Japan= and abroad, including prosecutor, counsel to the Asian Development Bank based in Manila, professor at UNAFEI (United Nations Asia and Far East Institute), and visiting professor at the University of Tokyo.

Attending the Board meeting were the President of the Assembly of States Parties, Ambassador Intelmann, as well as ICC Principals President Song, Prosecutor Bensouda and Registrar Arbia. They congratulated the Trust Fund Board and Motoo Noguchi personally on the election result, noting the interdependence of the ICC and TFV in the joint pursuit of achieving reparative justice for victims in the framework of the Rome Statute. They expressed the wish that the mutual cooperation between the institutions continues to develop in the same positive and constructive manner as before.

  • The Trust Fund Board of Directors (2012-2015) is composed as follows:
  1. Sayeman Bula-Bula (Democratic Republic of the Congo, representing African States Parties)
  2. Motoo Noguchi, Chair (Japan, representing Asian States Parties)
  3. Elisabeth Rehn (Finland, representing Western European and Other Group States Parties)
  4. Denys Toscano Amores (Ecuador, representing Latin American and Caribbean States Parties)
  5. Vaira Vike-Freiberga (Latvia, representing Eastern European States Parties)

 

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Source: Trust Fund for Victims

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Evaluation of the terrorist attack in Algeria

Posted by African Press International on March 28, 2013

“The terror attack against the gas production facility at In Amenas in January shocked us all. Five Norwegian citizens lost their lives. The assault was the largest ever mounted against Norwegian interests in peacetime. We have therefore conducted a thorough review of the way Norwegian authorities handled the crisis,” says Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.

The responsibility for dealing with the emergency, including the attack itself, was Algeria’s. The main task of Norwegian authorities was to help preserve the lives and health of Norwegian citizens. This was done through direct contact with the Algerian authorities, specific offers of assistance to Algeria, and close coordination with the crisis-management systems of other countries and Statoil.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs led and coordinated the Norwegian authorities’ efforts during the crisis. After major events, the Ministry generally performs an evaluation of its own response. Due to the large scale of this terror attack, the review was expanded to cover the crisis-management performance of all relevant Norwegian public authorities. In its evaluation, the Ministry focused in particular on the collaboration between ministries, agencies and other actors with respect to responsibilities, information flow and decision-making as well as the coordination of operational measures in Algeria.

The evaluation report concludes that the Norwegian authorities handled the crisis In Amenas in a good way. Even so, the report notes that cooperation between agencies and ministries can be improved when it comes to effective resource usage, classified information exchange and updated planning.

“In a crisis, it is important that we act wisely and use our resources as effectively as possible,” Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide says. “The evaluation report provides important lessons that we will use within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in our dealings with partners.”

In the wake of the Algeria crisis, Norwegian authorities are examining ways to strengthen support for Norwegian activities abroad on matters related to security. The Ministry of Justice and Public Security is leading this analysis.

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source mfa.norway

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