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Impact Assessment of Cyclone Nargis: Gross Violations of Housing and Land Rights

What is affected
Housing private
Land Private
Communal
Electricity, Sewage
Type of violation Forced eviction
Dispossession/confiscation
Date 25 July 2008
Region A [ Asia ]
Country Myanmar
Location Rangoon, Irriwaddy Delta

Affected persons

Total 1000
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution Stop eviction. Authorities provide reparation for those dispossessed, injured and killed.
Details Cyclone Nargis - Alternative assessment.pdf
COHRE CERD rpt on roma in italy.pdf
Development
Forced eviction
Costs

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

State
Naxalites, Security Forces
Brief narrative Source: Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction COHRE

25 July 2008: An alternative assessment of the impact of Cyclone Nargis released this week shows that the cyclone and the reconstruction effort have caused serious land and housing rights violations. These include: inadequate and discriminatory provision of emergency assistance, forced relocations, loss of security of tenure and threats of land confiscation.

The report was written by an independent researcher and member of the Burmese community known to COHRE. It contrasts with the official assessment released by ASEAN, the UN and the Burmese government earlier this week.

On forced relocations, the report states: “One month after Cyclone Nargis hit on 24th May, the government stated that people must restart their own traditional way of living and return their original villages. They state that people cannot continually be dependent on relief from outside as it would result in people not being able to stand on their own two feet anymore.” About 1000 people were forced to go back their villages in different areas. In Rangoon, when villagers refused to go back, soldiers threatened to shoot them.

The independent assessment also documents threats of land confiscation by the government, exacerbated by the fact that both documentation and markers used to denote ownership of land in the Irrawaddy delta were lost in the cyclone. Further, the report notes: “The government has also announced that any farmers who cannot restart their farming activities as they have done in the past, will be taken over by the government. For instance, if a farmer has 80 acres of farmland and can only harvest 20 acres this year, then the rest of the land will be taken over by the government to start farming activities.” Restarting farming is especially difficult since many farmers do not have access to seed or farming equipment.

The report also notes inadequate provision of temporary assistance to the homeless, and discriminatory provision of assistance. Many people who took refuge with friends and relatives have received little or no assistance. In other cases, assistance is given when high ranking officials visit, but then taken away again afterwards by local authorities.

The report highlights the need for independent monitoring of the reconstruction process in Burma from a human rights perspective, particularly the right of displaced persons to return to their land and housing freely and voluntarily; and the right to be free from forced eviction or arbitrary confiscation of property. COHRE aims to assist local organisations to undertake this kind of monitoring. The independent assessment also demonstrates the need for assistance and reconstruction to be carried out in compliance with international human rights standards and in a manner that upholds human rights principles – notably non-discrimination and equality.
Costs   0


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