International


Burma took the unprecedented step of appealing for international aid on Tuesday, seeking assistance to provide medicine, food, clothing, hygiene kits and shelter for more than 210, 000 people affected by torrential flooding across the country.

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Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Putra World Trade Center
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
August 5, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very much, my co-chair and friend. I appreciate enormously the opportunity to be here with you. It’s a privilege to sit around the table with so many friends from ASEAN, and I particularly want to thank Foreign Minister Anifah Aman for his chairmanship of ASEAN itself this year. And I thank my co-chair and friend, the foreign minister of Myanmar, Wunna Mwang Lwin, for co-chairing and serving as the U.S. country coordinator so ably in this.
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Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Putra World Trade Center
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
August 5, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good morning everybody. And let me begin by thanking my counterparts, my colleagues from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam for coming this morning for the meeting, as well as the secretary general, Secretary General Luong Minh. And I’m really delighted to say thank you to Malaysia for hosting us here today. And thank you for putting up with me. I’m moving a little slow.
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UN human rights envoy to Burma, Yanghee Lee, is currently in the country for her third official visit since assuming the role in June 2014.
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Mizuho Bank opened its Yangon branch office yesterday, becoming the third Japanese megabank with a local branch presence.
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Myanmar said on Tuesday it had appealed for international assistance to help provide food, temporary shelter and clothing for more than 210,000 people affected by widespread flooding following weeks of heavy monsoon rains.
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The top representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Myanmar has reminded candidates from more than 80 political parties running in historic elections 99 days from today, “to make new commitments for children” and to improve spending for health, education and social welfare which remains the lowest in the Southeast Asian region, the UN News Centre reported on 4 August. (more…)

Chairman of the Union Election Commission U Tin Aye received former Australian prime minister and President of Asia Society Policy Institute Mr Kevin Rudd in Nay Pyi Taw on 28 July.

They discussed election issues including compilation of voters’ list, voter’s education and inviting local and international observers to the general election.

http://www.moi.gov.mm/npe/nlm/

Last week the British government arranged for Angelina Jolie to visit Burma, in part in her capacity as co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI). The British government certainly deserves praise for how it has taken up the issue globally, put it on the international agenda, and in some countries developed projects that are making a noticeable difference on the ground.
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The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) and the Former Political Prisoners Society (FPPS) are greatly disappointed at the release of only a handful of political prisoners this week, among thousands of criminal offenders set free in the amnesty, according to a press release July 31.
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UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie Pitt visited Jam Mai Kaung camp in Kachin State capital Myitkyina on Thursday, after plans to visit internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sittwe were scuttled due to a cyclone warning.
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The watchtowers and the high-security fence on the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh make this frontier look impregnable. Yet thousands of Rohingyas cross into Bangladesh each year. Rohingyas are a Muslim group whose persecution in their mainly Buddhist home state of Rakhine in Myanmar is long-standing but has recently escalated. The Myanmar government does not recognise Rohingyas, many of whose ancestors originally hailed from Bengal during British colonial days, as one of the country’s many official ethnic minorities. Denied nationality since 1982, they are in effect stateless. (more…)

Hollywood movie star Angelina Jolie arrived in Naypyidaw on Wednesday morning in her capacity as a special UN envoy for refugee issues, according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs source.
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The UN’s refugee agency unveiled a draft plan this week detailing how to carry out the voluntary repatriation of 110,000 refugees residing in Thailand’s camps, drawing mixed reactions from camp leaders.
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Myanmar remains under the US State Department’s Tier 2 Watch List for its anti-human trafficking efforts, marking its 4th consecutive year in that category.
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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is supporting the Myanmar Customs Department in developing its Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) scheme, a new system that will simplify and expedite the release of imported and exported goods and help the country catch up with Asean counterparts. (more…)

Around the world, the way foreign aid works is coming under wider scrutiny. Criticisms of an increasingly privatized international aid “industry” include claims that many of its approaches are too top-down, inflexible and ineffective.
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Australia’s Snowy Mountains Engineering Corp (SMEC) is facing mounting criticism over its role in a 7000 megawatt hydropower project in Myanmar, Sky News reported on 27 July.
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An Italian spyware company at the centre of a global hacking scandal has been in discussions with the Burmese government about helping them establish domestic surveillance mechanisms since 2012, a trove of emails released by WikiLeaks has shown. (more…)

The United States on Friday said it was “deeply concerned” about escalating conflict in parts of northern Myanmar, raising fears over the fragile peace process as the latest round of ceasefire talks in Yangon ended without a breakthrough. (more…)

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