Myanmar_Burma

Casualties and Victim Assistance

Last updated: 24 October 2014

Casualties

Casualties Overview

All known casualties by end 2013

3,450 (348 killed; 2,898 injured; 204 unknown) since 1999

Casualties in 2013

101 (2012: 106)

2013 casualties by outcome

29 killed; 69 injured; 3 unknown (2012: 16 killed; 90 injured)

2013 casualties by device type

81 antipersonnel mines/improvised explosive devices (IEDs); 18 antivehicle mines; 1 explosive remnants of war (ERW); 1 unknown device

In 2013, there were at least 101 new mine/ERW casualties in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, based on information provided by NGOs and other organizations, as well as by state and independent media reports.[1] Of the 2013 total, 64 casualties were civilians and 19 were military personnel.[2] The majority of casualties were men, but at least seven casualties were boys, eight were women, and three were girls.[3]

For the second year in a row, the number of casualties recorded by the Monitor was lower than previous years. The 2013 total represents a significant continued decrease in total annual casualties compared to the 381 from 2011, and only slightly less than the 106 casualties identified in 2012 through similar reporting sources. The Monitor casualty data for Myanmar represents an aggregation of available sources.[4] However, due to the lack of official systematic data collection and the varying sources of annual data available to the Monitor, reporting is believed not to reflect the full extent of mine/ERW incidents and casualties in the country. As in the past, the data contained insufficient details to distinguish trends or to ensure that the details for all casualties were correctly recorded by the source. The actual number of casualties is likely to be much higher.[5]

Past reporting by the Monitor has indicated that there are a significant number of military casualties recorded, but such records are not generally available to the public.[6]

In 2013, mines/ERW remained a source of concern in an estimated 10 out of 14 regions/states.[7] Most mines causing casualties were recorded as antipersonnel mines. It has been reported by local risk education providers that victim-activated IEDs or “craft” antipersonnel mines are among the mine types causing casualties. People involved in mine and IED incidents are often not able to distinguish between these types of victim-activated explosive items, so the type is not recorded.[8]

The total number of casualties in Myanmar is unknown. The Monitor reported annual casualty data of 3,450 mine/ERW casualties (348 killed; 2,898 injured; 204 unknown) between 1999 and the end of 2013.

In addition to human casualties, village livestock, elephants, and wildlife are also affected by landmines in Myanmar. Most elephants killed and injured by mines are those used in the illegal cross-border timber trade. In February 2013, an elephant was injured by a mine laid near the border with Bangladesh.[9]

Victim Assistance

At least 2,898 survivors have been identified by the Monitor since 1999. However, this is a fraction of the actual figure, estimated to exceed 40,000.[10]

Victim Assistance in 2013

In 2013, there was an increase in rehabilitation and economic inclusion services available to survivors within Myanmar.

Under an agreement with the government of Myanmar, the ICRC supported government-run rehabilitation centers. The centers had been operating without external support since 2007.

More actors were involved in delivering, planning, and organizing all aspects of victim assistance.

Assessing victim assistance needs

In 2012, DanChurchAid (DCA) conducted research and an in-depth situational analysis, collected baseline data, and made recommendations for future programming to assist survivors and their families in the areas of health and rehabilitation, training, and other potential activities in victim assistance. DCA had previously carried out a casualty and victim assistance survey and a suspected mined area survey in localities that were recognized as the most contaminated in Myanmar.[11] In 2013, no new initiatives were implemented to assess the needs of mine/ERW victims in Myanmar.

The Ministry of Health does not disaggregate injuries due to mines/ERW incidents from other traumatic injuries.[12]

Victim assistance coordination

There was no government victim assistance coordination mechanism in 2013.

There was greater awareness of the need for victim assistance. In January 2013, member of parliament Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the Myanmar parliamentary Rule of Law, Stability, and Peace Committee, was reported to have stated publically that she would work to ensure landmine survivors received vocational training and prosthetic devices, demonstrating an increasing awareness on the part of the government to address the issue of victim assistance.[13]

The Department of Social Welfare, within the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, is responsible for community-based rehabilitation and for carrying out social welfare services through preventive, protective, and rehabilitative measures.[14] Several institutions were involved in physical rehabilitation; the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Defense, and the Myanmar Red Cross Society played an important role in the provision of mobility aids, especially prosthetics and orthotics.[15] The Disability Working Group, assembled to coordinate and implement the National Plan of Action for Persons with Disabilities 2010–2012, stopped meeting after only a few meetings because the various organizations involved chose to run their programs independently.[16]

To follow up the round-table seminar on prosthetics and orthotics organized in 2012 by the ICRC in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, the ICRC had bilateral meetings with the Department of Social Welfare in 2013 to discuss the creation of an official coordination body.[17]

No inclusion of survivors in victim assistance planning or activities was reported in 2013.

Service accessibility and effectiveness

Victim assistance activities[18]

Name of organization

Type of organization

Type of activity

Changes in quality/coverage of service in 2013

Ministry of Health

Government

Prosthetic centers and two orthopedic hospitals

Increased the number of beneficiaries due to ICRC and Exceed Worldwide support

Ministry of Defense

Government

Prosthetics provided through three centers

Increased the number of beneficiaries due to ICRC support

Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement

Government

Socio-economic and rehabilitation services; vocational training school for adults with disabilities, including mine/ERW survivors

Unknown: statistics not publicly available

Shwe Min Tha Foundation

Local NGO

Covered incidental medical care costs, transportation to medical centers, and food distribution

Ongoing

The Back Pack Health Worker Teams (BPHWT)

Local NGO

Mobile emergency medical service in eastern Myanmar

Decrease in the number of services provided

The Free Burma Rangers (FBR)

Local NGO

Medical care; trained and supported mobile medical teams

Ongoing

Peace Myanmar Aid Foundation

Local NGO

Mobile Prosthetic delivery

Started providing services in 2013

Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People

Community-based organization

Prosthetic production at the Kho Kay Prosthetic Clinic, Mutraw, Karen (Kayin) state

Ongoing

Karen Health and Welfare Department (KDHW)

Community-based organization

Provided medical first aid assistance and amputative surgeries

Decrease in the number of services provided

Karenni Health Workers Organization

Community-based organization

Provided prosthetics in Loikaw, Kayah (Karenni) state

Ongoing

Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan)

International NGO

Vocational training; community-based rehabilitation; referral system; survivor rights/advocacy

Ongoing

Leprosy Mission –Myanmar

International NGO

Rehabilitation

Increased victim assistance oriented services

Exceed Worldwide

International NGO

Providing rehabilitation care and capacity building

Assumed responsibility for the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) in Yangon; financially supported the Myanmar School of Prosthetics & Orthotics

ICRC/Myanmar Red Cross Society

International/national organization

Support to Hpa-an Orthopedic Rehabilitation Centre; prosthetic outreach for remote areas

Increased capacity

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

UN

Discretionary funds for financial assistance to cover medical costs of war victims/landmine survivors and rehabilitation including transport; economic inclusion through livelihood program

Provided services to some areas in Kayin and Mon states and Thannintharyi division

Emergency and continuing medical care

In rural Myanmar, most villages lack basic healthcare. Patients travel hours, and in some hilly regions nearly an entire day, to reach hospitals or clinics. Due to a lack of healthcare services, people in rural areas may rely on treatment from untrained health workers, or  rely on local, traditional remedies.[19]

In 2013, the ICRC supported the second amputation surgery seminar for twenty-five junior surgeons working in remote stations of southeastern Myanmar. The training also focused on the most appropriate surgical techniques allowing for optimal use of a prosthetic device.[20]

During decades of conflict in Myanmar, ethnic communities and organizations developed their own health provision structures, which continued to be the main providers of healthcare in the mine-affected and remote areas. In recognition that those networks needed to continue to function until the adequate convergence of state and national health systems, the Health Convergence Core Group (HCCG) was formed in May 2012. The HCCG aimed to prepare existing community-based health networks inside Myanmar for future work with government health agencies and other international, national, and local actors.[21]

The HCCG is composed of four ethnic health organizations and four community-based health organizations: Burma Medical Association, Back Pack Health Worker Teams, Karen Department of Health and Welfare, Karenni Mobile Health Committee, Mae Tao Clinic, Mon National Health Committee, National Health and Education Committee, and the Shan Health Committee.[22]

Physical rehabilitation, including prosthetics

As most rehabilitation centers are located in major cities and travel costs are high, people with disabilities, especially those living in rural areas, often face tremendous difficulties in order to access services.[23]

In 2013, the ICRC offered the Ministry of Health assistance to develop two Physical Rehabilitation Centers in Myitkyina (Kachin State) and in Kyaing Tong (Eastern Shan State) to address the high demand of the services users in those regions affected by the conflicts. The Ministry of Health approved the construction of Myitkyina PRC in 2014 and then Kyaing Tong PRC in 2015.[24] In 2007, ICRC support of Ministry of Health and Ministry of Defense rehabilitation centers had been suspended due to restrictions imposed on its operations.[25]

In 2013, the ICRC continued to support the Hpa-an Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Centre (HORC), run jointly by the Myanmar Red Cross Society and the ICRC, and to support three centers managed by the Ministry of Health located in Yangon, Mandalay, and Yenanthar enabling people living in remote areas to have access to services. The ICRC increased support to the Myanmar Red Cross Society’s Outreach Prosthetic Programme for areas covered by the HORC as well as for Upper and Central Myanmar. This program enabled persons living in remote areas to have access to services free of charge, including prosthetic and orthopedic devices, lodging, transport, and medical assistance if necessary.[26] In 2013, the ICRC supported the construction and refurbishment the HORC’s foot production units, which allowed them to create 3,842 prosthetic feet for their patients.[27] Expansion of the outreach activities at the HORC, and an increase in the production of prostheses at the center, resulted in a 25% increase in the number of prostheses produced in 2013 over 2012.[28] In 2013, 44% of prostheses were for mine/ERW survivors (761 of 1,741).[29]

In 2013, the ICRC also prioritized admission for child amputees at the HORC during the school summer-holiday season through a program designed to facilitate access for children without disrupting their studies; the number of child admissions increased by 20% (61 in 2012 compared to 49 in 2011).[30]

In December 2013, in agreement with the Ministry of Health the ICRC handed over the its role in supporting the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) in Yangon to the NGO Exceed Worldwide. The organization also financially supported the Myanmar School of Prosthetics & Orthotics, which is being built on the campus of the University of Medical Technology in Yangon.

The Myanmar Disabled Person’s Organization (MDPO) produces prosthetics at a small workshop in its office in Yangon. Recipients must pay for their prosthetic or find a donor; however, MDPO provides a few prosthetics at no charge to the very poor.[31] DCA operates a mobile prosthetic-limb clinic that assists landmine survivors who have little or no access to similar services offered elsewhere in the country.[32] In July 2014, Peace Myanmar Aid Foundation ran a mobile prosthetics workshop which provided 53 prosthetics to mine victims from 22 villages in Shwegyin in eastern Bago Region.[33]

No psychological or psychosocial services available to mine/ERW survivors were reported in 2013.

Economic and social inclusion

A lack of understanding about persons with disabilities as well as poor infrastructural accessibility make it difficult for persons with disabilities to attend school or find employment. The Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan Vocational Training Center for Persons with Disabilities provides training in tailoring, hairstyling, and computers free of charge. Most trainees are persons with disabilities due to polio or they are landmine survivors. The center supports graduates to achieve economic independence, gain employment, open their own shops, or become teachers at the center.[34]

Within a limited geographical scope, the First Myanmar Basic Disability Survey 2008–2009, endorsed by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, indicated that 1,276,000 people in Myanmar (2.32% of the population) live with some form of disability. The survey further found that 85% of persons with disabilities were unemployed and their level of education was considerably below the national average.[35]

Disabled veterans can apply for housing in specially built settlements. A settlement of disabled former soldiers, visited by the Monitor in May 2013, was located on an all-weather road outside Taungoo and had water and electricity. Transport to schools for children was provided. From the settlement, former military personnel could contact a local military officer and request transport to the local hospital, if needed. Former soldiers also could obtain free intercity transport on public buses and were provided with replacement prosthetics as needed at no cost. Those disabled military personnel that did not apply for housing in the special settlement were eligible for a one-time grant of 500,000 kyat (US$590). All disabled military personnel are eligible for a small pension.[36]

Laws and policies

There are no laws specifically prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to healthcare, or in the provision of other state services; the government does not provide ample protections for these persons. In 2013, there were few official resources to assist persons with disabilities.[37] Furthermore, persons with disabilities reported societal stigma and discrimination,[38] as well as abuse from civilian and government officials.[39]

In June 2014, activists requested that landmine victims be included within the draft disability law being discussed in parliament.[40] The upper house of parliament approved a proposal for a disability rights law in September 2011. The proposal was drafted following recommendations developed by Leprosy Mission International and the Ministry of Social Welfare in May 2011.[41] It was reported that the draft law gave preferential treatment to disabled military veterans over civilians with disabilities, including giving priority to providing jobs to military personnel.[42] As of September 2014, the law had not yet been approved.

Military veterans with disabilities received benefits on a priority basis, usually a civil service job at equivalent pay. Official assistance to non-military persons with disabilities in principle included two-thirds of pay for up to one year for a temporary disability and a tax-free stipend for permanent disability; however, the government did not provide job protection for private sector workers who became disabled. In March 2013, the government enacted a law designed to assist the families of deceased and injured military personnel.[43]

On 7 December 2011, Myanmar acceded to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The convention entered into force on 6 January 2012.

Victim assistance for Myanmar citizens in Thailand

Landmine survivors from Myanmar who go to Thailand to seek asylum can receive medical care and rehabilitation in refugee camps as well as in public district hospitals in the Thai-Myanmar border provinces.[44]

However, throughout 2013 and into 2014 the availability of this assistance in the Thai border camps was becoming increasingly uncertain. Political reforms in Myanmar resulted in discussions around the possibility of refugees being returned, leading to a reduction in financial assistance by some donors to NGOs in order to focus on activities within Myanmar.[45] Furthermore, in July 2014 Thailand’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) “reached an agreement with the commander-in-chief of Burma’s military to repatriate the 120,000 refugees accommodated in the nine refugee camps on the Thai Burma border.”[46] This change of situation, including the shift in funding priorities, was reported to be premature, and the UNHCR has said conditions in south-eastern Myanmar where the refugees come from are not yet fully conducive to organized returns. This includes the absence of a permanent ceasefire, the presence of mine fields, and lack of critical infrastructure in some areas.[47]

 



[1] Unless noted otherwise, Monitor casualty data for 2013 is from published and unpublished sources. Unpublished information provided to the Monitor by Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG), “KHRG Submission to the Landmine Monitor Report, September 2013,” and “KHRG Submission to the Landmine Monitor Report, September 2014;” email from Nuengruethai Plaenglakkhana, Field Officer, ICRC Chiang Mai, 3 January 2014; and statistics supplied by UNHCR, Yangon, 24 January 2014. Published sources include, Back Pack Health Worker Teams, “Annual Report 2013,” 30 June 2014, p. 13. Also media reports by Irrawaddy, Mizzima, Karen News, Shan Herald, Burma News International, and the New Light of Myanmar between 1 January and 31 December 2013.

[2] There were 18 casualties for which the civil status remained unknown.

[3] There were 33 casualties for which the sex remained unknown. However, all of those casualties were adults.

[4] It is possible that available data contains duplicate casualties, but this could not be verified in all cases given the limited amount of information provided.

[5] See, “Myanmar: Landmine survivor needs outstrip aid,” IRIN, 7 December 2011.

[6] See the 2009 edition of the Monitor report for Myanmar available on the Monitor website. Unprecedented levels of information on military casualties were received in 2008 from the State Peace and Development Council; 508 military casualties were identified. Information from this source has not been made available any other year.

[7] ICRC, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, May 2014, p. 291.

[8]Deadly Soil: Burma’s Enduring Landmine Tragedy,” Burma News International, 11 June 2011. Non-state armed groups reportedly also use captured factory-made mines. See, “The world’s longest ongoing war,” Aljazeera, 10 August 2011.

[9] Monitor interview with Naikongchari witness in May 2013.

[10] Email from Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, Mine Free Burma, 26 September 2014.

[11] DCA, “Consultant (6 weeks) Research on Landmine Victim Assistance, Myanmar,” Closing Date: Monday, 17 September 2012.

[12] UN Security Council, “Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Myanmar,”S/2009/278, 1 June 2009, para. 38; and Ministry of Health, Public Health Statistics 2012, Naypyitaw, May 2014.

[13] The ceremony was held in Mone in Bago Region’s Kyaukkyi township on January 20. “On Bago tour, NLD leader pledges to help mine victims,” Myanmar Times,28 January 2013.

[14] ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Programme (PRP), “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 52; and Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, “Rehabilitation of the Persons with Disabilities,” 2012.

[15] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 52.

[16] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2012,” Geneva, September 2013, p. 60.

[17] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 52.

[18] The Back Pack Health Worker Teams (BPHWT), “Mid-Year Report 2012: Provision of Primary Healthcare among the Internally Displaced Persons and Vulnerable;” KHRG, “Landmines Briefer Information Received: August 2012 –March 2013,” 8 April 2013; BPHWT, “Not Free or Safe: Talks Bring Reduced Fighting and More Aid, but Thousands Remain Displaced,” 18 June 2013; AAR Japan, “Community-Based Assistance for Persons with Disabilities,” 28 Sep 2012; ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2012,” Geneva, September 2013, pp. 60–61; and ICRC, “Annual Report 2012,” Geneva, May 2013, p. 252. Indirect sourcing from Monitor notes taken at the UNHCR Protection Working Group meeting by Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, Researcher, Yangon, 24 February 2012; and Monitor notes taken at the South & South East Asia Regional Victim Assistance Workshop, Vientiane, 20–22 November 2012.

[19] IRIN, “Myanmar: Rural healthcare ‘in crisis,’” 28 January 2011; and Karen News, “Burma’s Healthcare System in Critical Condition,” 28 June 2013.

[20] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 11.

[22] Ibid.; and Burma Health Association, “The 5th Health Convergence Core Group Meeting,” 21 August 2014.

[23] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 52.

[24] Ibid.

[25] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2007,” Geneva, May 2008, p. 37.

[26] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 52; and “Hpa-an prosthetics centre gives landmine victims new start in life,” Mizzima, 27 April 2014.

[27] ICRC, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, May 2014, p. 293.

[28] Ibid., p. 294; ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 52; and ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2012,” Geneva, September 2013, p. 60.

[29] ICRC, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, May 2014, pp. 293–294; and ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 52.

[30] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 52; and “Hpa-an prosthetics centre gives landmine victims new start in life,” Mizzima, 27 April 2014.

[31] Below-the-knee prosthetics cost 150,000 kyat (US$177) and above-the-knee cost 900,000 kyat ($1050). MDPO also manufactures its own replacement foot for prosthetics, which are sold to anyone at 5000 kyat ($6). Monitor interview with Aye Ko Ko, Associate Secretary, MDPO, Yangon, 19 November 2013. MDPO is a member of the newly-formed Myanmar Campaign to Ban Landmines.

[33] Email from Col. Thant Zin, Director, Peace Myanmar Aid Foundation, 25 September 2014.

[34] AAR Japan, “Activities in Myanmar (Burma),” undated; and AAR Japan, “Community-Based Assistance for Persons with Disabilities,” 28 Sep 2012.

[35] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 52; and “In Burma, Children With Disabilities Struggle to Access Schools,” The Irrawaddy, 5 November 2013.

[36] Monitor field mission notes, May 2013.

[37] United States (US) Department of State, “2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Burma,” Washington, DC, 26 February 2014, pp. 38–39.

[38] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 52.

[39] US Department of State, “2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Burma,” Washington, DC, 26 February 2014, pp. 38–39.

[40] Aye Min Soe, “Rights of land mine victims should be included in bill on rights of disabled people: activists,” New Light of Myanmar, 16 June 2014, p. 1.

[41] “Second regular session of First Amyotha Hluttaw continues for ninth day,” New Light of Myanmar, 2 September 2011, p. 10; and “In Burma, Children With Disabilities Struggle to Access Schools,” The Irrawaddy, 5 November 2013.

[42] Media statement by the Myanmar Physically Handicapped Association, “Draft Law for Disabled Favors Military: MPHA,” The Irrawaddy, 3 October 2012.

[43] US Department of State, “2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Burma,” Washington, DC, 26 February 2014, pp. 38–39.

[44] For more information, see ICBL-CMC, “Country Profile: Thailand,” 9 October 2013.

[45]Under pressure: refugees feel welcome has worn out,” Bangkok Post, 26 May 2013.