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Myanmar - Field Activities in January 2002

15-03-2002 Operational Update

In order to respond most efficiently and adequately to the present humanitarian situation in the south-east of Myanmar, the ICRC operates two offices in that region, one in Mawlamyine and another in Hpa-An. The two offices are fully complementary and have been merged under one structure, the South East Sub-Delegation.






 1. Introduction  


In order to respond most efficiently and adequately to the present humanitarian situation in the south-east of Myanmar, the ICRC operates two offices in that region, one in Mawlamyine and another in Hpa-An. The two offices are fully complementary and have been merged under one structure, the South East Sub-Delegation (SE S/D).



 2. Projects and Activities  



 2.1. Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Centre  

Within a joyful celebration, representatives of the ICRC, the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS), the Buddhist religion and the authorities laid the corner stones for a new orthopaedic centre in Hpa-An, capital of the Kayin (Karen) State in the Southeast of Myanmar on 14 January 2002. The ceremony had been organised jointly with local religious and other leaders, respecting the traditions of the country. The fact that the celebration had been organised on the 14 January, the Karen New Year's Day, a national holiday in Myanmar, made the occasion even more festive and auspicious.

The successful start of building this new ortho-centre has finally been possible after the ICRC signed a letter of understanding with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Health and the Myanmar Red Cross Society on 6 December 2001. The construction of the building should be finished end of April 2002, and the centre operational two months later. The final production capacity should reach 40 amputees per month after one year of operation.

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 2.2. Water supply projects  

On 28 November 2001 a " Letter of Understanding " concerning a rural promotion program was signed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) and the ICRC. Presently the ICRC in collaboration with the MRCS is carrying out an assessment in the rural areas of Kawkareik township (Kayin State) and Ye township (Mon State).

On 14 December 2001, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Health and the MRCS approved 4 projects of rehabilitation of existing health structures at the hospitals of Ye. Lamine (Mon State) and Kawkareik, Kya-in-Seikkyi (Kayin State). The ICRC started implementation of the projects in Mon State by the end of December 2001. The rehabilitation of the hospital in Lamine should be finished by mid-February 2002 and in Ye, by mid-March. The two projects in Kayin State should start in March. 

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 2.3. Protection of Civilian Population  

The ICRC has continued to strengthen its presence in the field. The main objective remained to be better known by the authorities, insurgent groups and the civilian population. The field trips also helped the delegates to better understand the humanitarian situation of the population and thus create specific activit ies for their protection. On both State and local level, the authorities seem to understand and accept the presence of the ICRC showing stronger support to its activities. They - and other armed groups - are now open for discussions about the plight of civilians in conflict areas. As a consequence they were less reluctant towards ICRC movements to some remote areas (e.g. Three Pagoda Pass) and allowed a regular presence in the unstable Ye (Mon State) and Kawkareik (Kayin State) townships.

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 1. Introduction  


ICRC activities aimed increasingly at the exposure and understanding of the ICRC in Shan State, strengthening ties between MRCS and the ICRC and planning of sustainable health programs.



 2. Projects and Activities  



 2.1. Civilian Population and IDPs  

Contacts with various interlocutors helped the ICRC to improve its knowledge about IDPs in Shan State. Several field trips in Eastern Shan State enabled the ICRC to gain a better understanding of the living conditions of the civilian population in particular and the humanitarian environment in general.



 2.2. Health Promotion Pilot Project (HPPP)  

ICRC Water and sanitation programs continued in the villages of Naung Cho, Pan Tar Lay and Kho Nar Kyaung, providing safe drinking water towards 113 households of Shan , Akha and Lahu hill tribes.

ICRC Health post's:

Since the HPPP will come to an end by the end of March 2002, discussions with the State Health Director continued for the hand over / donation of the two ICRC health posts, which will eventually be integrated into the national health system.

Health Education:

Health education sessions were organised by the ICRC project assistant, focusing on the handling and storage of drinking water. Increased emphasis was given on the use of toilets, however, with limited " success " . The impact of the activities of auxiliary midwives remained unclear.

Su pport to Ministry of Health Structures:

After the green light from MoH, the ICRC was finally able to provide structural assistance to the Mong Pying hospital. A new floor for the operation theatre and the delivery room was constructed and a waste disposal area created. Mosquito wire was fixed to the windows of the delivery room and iron bars to the windows of the x-ray department. Extensive surveys were carried out towards the Rural Health Centre in Mong Pu On and Tongta Station hospital, where structural assistance was requested by the State Health Director. The ICRC engineer is currently working on the preparation for the necessary rehabilitation.

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 III. Detention  



 1. Restoring Family Links  

In the frame of its detention visits, the ICRC gives the opportunity to all the detainees to restore contact with their relatives through the exchange of Red Cross Messages (RCM's). Once collected, the RCM's are handed over to the Myanmar Red Cross Society for further distribution to the families. Upon distribution, families are given the p ossibility to reply to their relatives. Parallel to the RCM service, the ICRC sponsors family visits to all the detainees registered by the institution. One family visit of two family members per month for each detainee is granted. An average of 550 family visits are paid monthly.



 2. Some Figures  


Up to January 2002, since the beginning of the Detention activities in Myanmar in May 1999, the ICRC delegation visited :

  • 110'411 detainees (30'951 in 1999, 46'332 in 2000 and 31'391 in 2001 and 1'737 in January 2002);

  • 36 prisons, 22 labour camps and 5 guesthouses were visited;

  • 124 visits took place (83 visits to prisons, 27 to labour camps and 14 to guesthouses).

In addition to the people met in detention places, 796 minors have been visited in 2001 in 3 different Training Schools during 3 visits.

Please note that the totals indicated above are reached on a cumulative way, which means that among the detainees accounted for, some of them have been visited several times.

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 IV. Orthopaedic Programme  

The ICRC started its orthopaedic programme in Myanmar at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, which was run by the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Yangon in the beginning of 1986. The aim was to strengthen the existing Prosthetic Services by upgrading the skills of the Myanmar prosthetic technicians and physiotherapists.

In 1988 a similar programme was initiated in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) at the Defence Medical Services'hospital (DMSH) in Mingaladon (Yangon) and at the end of 1989 a second Military Prosthetic Services was set up in Pyin Oo Lwin north of Mandalay.

The programme for civilian amputees was extended in 1990 by opening a Prosthetic Services at the Mandalay General hospital in order to take care of patients coming from Upper Myanmar.

In 1990 the ICRC started a Joint Programme (JP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, The Ministry of Defence and the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS). The aim of this programme was, to identify, select, transport, accommodate, feed and fit amputees from remotes areas, more particularly from border areas, with artificial limbs, free of charge.

In 1995 the ICRC withdrew temporarily from Myanmar, and until 1999 the JP was run by national staff with the assistance of regional delegates who visited the country periodically.

The ICRC reopened its office in Yangon in October 1998, and an ICRC Prosthetist Orthotist was assigned in July 1999 in order to boost the orthopaedic programme.

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 1. The Joint Programme  

In the Joint Programme the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) is providing a coordinator whose task is to identify, select and provide transportation for amputees in remote areas. The task is carried out in collaboration with the MRCS'branches in the so-called townships.

The MoH is providing production facilities at the two hospitals in Yangon and Mandalay and is paying salaries for the technicians.

The ICRC is participating to the programme by providing imported orthopaedic components, materials and spare parts for machinery. Some incentives to the prosthetic technicians and travel expenses for the amputees are paid by the ICRC. Furthermore, the ICRC is providing four expatriate Prosthetists Orthotists as technical advisors.

From 1990 till the end of 2001, 3279 prostheses have been provided to amputees within the framework of the Joint Programme. Those amputees came mainly from Shan, Kachin, Kayah, Mon and Kayin (Karen) States. The prostheses production from the centres supported by ICRC went from 385 prostheses in 1999 to 907 in 2000. In 2001 the total output has been 2150 prostheses. For January 2002 the output has been 101.

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 2. Yenanthar Leprosy Hospital  

At Yenanthar Leprosy Hospital (31 miles from Mandalay), the ICRC has equipped a Prosthetic Services with machinery and tools for the fitting of leprosy amputees. This Service has a limited production capacity (28 prostheses in 2000).

In 2000, ICRC organised and paid for two technicians from Yenanthar Prosthetic Services to be sent to MGH Mandalay and received a three months prosthetic training. Following the training, amputees with leprosy have been included in the JP.

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