Myanmar

Myanmar: Humanitarian access in Central Rakhine (September 2018)

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The latest tracking of travel authorizations as of 11 September underscores the unpredictability of humanitarian access to people in need in central Rakhine. While in July, 100 per cent of travel requests were eventually approved, in August, 82 per cent of humanitarian personnel had their TAs approved, while 18 per cent (172 people) had their TAs rejected, preventing them from accessing people in need. These personnel came from two organizations (one UN and one INGO) that had their TA requests refused despite complying with requests for additional paperwork. Organizations are still being required to submit daily activity plans in advance for all staff in order to get their TA approved, reducing flexibility and making it difficult to respond quickly when there are urgent needs. The average processing time for TAs that were eventually approved was 10 days, which is slightly longer than the previous two reporting periods. One month remains the most common TA validity (82% of TAs). Two organizations reported that they were asked to supply ethnicity data regarding the people they are serving, which they supplied, and three reported construction delays including one agency which faced delays in its construction activities in Rakhine villages.

On 17 September 2018, an Independent International Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar established by the Human Rights Council issued its detailed findings. This included a section on humanitarian access constraints in central Rakhine which noted that "[a]ccess for humanitarian agencies may be restricted without notice." The report also notes the constraints being experienced by humanitarian organizations as a result of the need for prior authorization to conduct needs assessments, the need for travel authorizations to be submitted in advance and other requirements. The Fact Finding Mission concludes that "These instructions are of serious concern. Those related to needs assessment and travel authorizations severely curtail the ability of international organizations to undertake their work effectively and may lead to self-censorship on assessments to be shared publicly. Any requirement that humanitarian assistance be delivered on the basis of ethnicity or other factors apart from humanitarian need could contravene the humanitarian principle of impartiality."

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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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