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Returning Refugees Face Uncertainty in Eastern Myanmar Settlement

Steve Sandford 

Black diesel smoke belches from a rusty engine that pumps water to the relatively new eastern Myanmar town of Lay Kay Kaw, about 5 kilometers from a local reservoir. Thousands of people who fled to Thailand to escape civil war in Myanmar have come to the 2-year-old town to put down roots, but the homecoming has not been a smooth one.

For the returnees, keeping water flowing as pipes break, especially during the hot summer, is one problem they face in the struggle to adjust after more than six decades of conflict and displacement. Another is a lack of job opportunities. Critics say poor planning contributes to the problems.

The returnees include members of the Karen ethnic minority, which has been fighting for independence since 1949. Their settlement is in the state of Karen, or Kayin, a flashpoint in the conflict between the minority group and government.

Observers, however, say the main challenge facing the returnees is security. Plans to “repatriate” another group of displaced Karen refugees this month were delayed by security concerns as sporadic fighting continues.

Myanmar threatening cease-fire

Myanmar forces have repeatedly crossed into areas controlled by ethnic armed groups without permission, violating the Nationwide Cease-Fire Agreement (NCA) signed in 2012 between the Myanmar military and Karen state’s largest armed ethnic group, the Karen National Union.

There are five armed groups in Karen state, including the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), the Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO), the KNU/KNLA Peace Council and the Border Guard Forces (BGF).

Recent skirmishes involving government forces and various ethnic armed groups have stirred more mistrust for refugees like Naw Lay Paw. Naw Lay Paw moved from one of the Thai camps to a safe house on the edge of the Thai border town of Mae Sot.

Naw Lay Paw was considering joining some of her family, already living in Lay Kay Kaw, but is not sure if she will have enough money.

“I don’t think I want to return right now because I know I can work on the Thai side and save more money before I return,” the 59-year-old mother said.

The Lay Kay Kaw housing project is seen by analysts as an attempt to restore trust and confidence with the local population, but some locals say the effort offers them little consolation.

Seventy year old Naw La Gee who fled the fighting 30 years ago, is worried about other family members still in the camps, including her two children.

“Right now my son has a job to do but in the past he could not find any work. I have two more cousins that are going to resettle in this village soon, but I don’t know what jobs they can find here so it’s going to be hard for them,” Naw La Gee says, as she pours a cup of tea.

Additionally, international funding is being increasingly diverted to central Myanmar, where many nongovernmental organizations have relocated, taking away vital resources from camps on the border.

Land confiscation

Separately, land confiscation is on the rise as both international and domestic development increase in former conflict zones. Thousands of Karen villagers, who farmed sections of land years ago, no longer have hopes of reclaiming property that was taken from them by the government in the agriculture-rich region.

“There are also many investors, including the Myanmar government, who want to do business in our area and open up factories,” said Padoh Mahn Batun, a Karen Forestry Department official.

He once served as a Karen soldier and says he is wary of unkept promises made by the Myanmar military in the past.

“They say they will create more jobs for locals, but we have to consider now how to manage and make our land work for everyone,” he said.

A recent study by the Myanmar civil society network Land in Our Hands, points out that the nation’s military was the leading actor responsible for land confiscation, accounting for nearly 50 percent of all land grabs surveyed.

“For indigenous people, land is life, so transporting rural refugees into urban areas will not address grievances about the dispossession of ancestral lands,” says Duncan McCargo, of The Border Consortium (TBC) a Thailand-based group of 10 NGOs that has provided food, shelter and support to refugees from Myanmar and internally displaced persons since 1984.

New laws that demand official documentation for proof of land ownership have left many displaced families without legal ground on which to stand.

“Instead of criminalizing upland farmers for cultivating so-called vacant, fallow and virgin lands, recognizing customary land management systems will be key to promoting social reintegration,” McCargo added.

Make-work projects

An organization known as the Nippon Foundation has created several make-work projects at the edge of Lay Kay Kaw, including an agriculture center where workers grow corn, green beans, dragonfruit and mushrooms, but production is limited and there is not enough to sustain the community appetite.

“Many refugees no longer have homes to return to, so the allocation of land and development of resettlement areas like Lay Kay Kaw is significant in terms of promoting options for refugees beyond the camps,” The Border Consortium’s McCargo said.

“However, return movements will not be sustainable unless access to agricultural land can be secured or employment opportunities generated in the surrounding areas,” he added.

According to Human Rights Watch, farmers received little or no notice before their land was taken from them and received little, or no compensation, depriving them of their livelihood.(VOA)

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India News Brief

 3 June, 2020

Several Parts of Maharashtra Witness Strong Winds as Cyclone Nisarga Makes Landfall

Cyclone Nisarga Passes Mumbai Heads Towards Pune

India's COVID-19 Figure Reaches 2,08,709 Death Toll: 5,834

India's Most Affected States:

Maharashtra: Total Positive Cases 72,300 Total Deaths: 2,465

Gujarat: Total Positive Cases: 17,632 Total Deaths: 1,092

Madhya Pradesh: Total Positive Cases: 8,420 Total Deaths: 364

West Bengal: Total Positive Cases: 6,168 Total Deaths: 335

Delhi: Total Positive Cases: 22,132 Total Deaths: 556

Rajasthan: Total Positive Cases: 9,475 Total Deaths: 203

Uttar Pradesh: Total Positive  Cases: 8,870 Total Deaths: 230

Tamil Nadu : Total Positive Cases: 25,872 Total Deaths: 208

Andhra Pradesh: Total Positive Cases: 3,791 Total Deaths: 68

Telengana: Total Positive Cases: 2,891 Total Deaths: 92

Karnataka: Total Positive Cases: 4,063 Total Deaths: 53

Punjab: Total Positive Cases: 2,376 Total Deaths: 47

Jammu and Kashmir: 2,718 Total Deaths: 33

Lockdown extends till June 30

  • International air travel, Metro rail services not allowed 

Cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and, social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations will not allowed.

  • Places of worship, hotels will open from June 8 with specific guidelines.

According to MHA guidelines, in Phase II, schools, colleges, educational/ training/ coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with States and Union Territories.

There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission or approval or e-permit will be required for such movement

But  states have the freedom to decide on public movement.

COVID-19: Delhi Death Toll Rises to 82 in Last 24 Hours

Probable Guidelines for Lockdown 5.0.

More travel routes are likely to open in Lockdown 5.0.

From June 1, the Railways will operate 100 pairs of mail or express trains, bookings have already begun. Then AC class services will resume.

Some states have already begun intra-state buses. Other states may  begin intra-tate bus services after June 1.Metro  services may begin in a limited manner, with lesser passenger capacity, social distancing norms and longer stops at each station.

Shops selling non-essential items were allowed to open during Lockdown 4.0.. More shops may open in Lockdown 5.0 even in markets.But no confirmed news regarding opening of shopping malls.Now many shops that have re-opened in market areas are operating on an odd-even basis.

Some cities have already allowed salons and beauty parlours to open with strict social distancing guidelines and wearing protective gear is a must.In containment areas the same rule may prevail in Lockdown 5.0.

The Human Resource Development Ministry of India will soon announce the guidelines of   schools reopening.

How to identify Fake News or Messeges on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition

Follow WHO guidelines

www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on viral social media messages such as Coronavirus Infected Indian Currencies of Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 Notes Found, Muslim Man Spit in Food At Indian Restaurant.....Always Check Authentic Sources.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they are developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

 

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+919073399779

COVID-19 Related Conspiracy Theories:
https://fsi.stanford.edu/news/china-covid19

 

 

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