Myanmar Country Report
Myanmar's political environment is still in flux following the end of military rule in 2011. The current National League for Democracy (NLD) government took power in April 2016 and controls both houses of parliament. However, under the 2008 constitution Myanmar's military controls 25% of all parliamentary seats and important ministerial positions. Several of Myanmar's ethnic minorities have been fighting the military for territorial control in their regions for about 60 years. In some cases these clashes have involved artillery and helicopter gunship fire, causing the displacement of thousands of civilians. Myanmar's economy has grown by more than 7.5% per year on average during the past five years, and continued growth of over 7% is likely in the medium term.
After Canada, the European Union, and Norway lifted sanctions in April 2012, the United States followed suit in October 2016. Virtually all Western sanctions on Myanmar have now been lifted, although arms embargos remain. Popular opposition to controversial infrastructure projects that pose environmental concerns have become better publicised, potentially increasing reputational risks. In addition the probable continuation of violence against the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state poses reputational risks to foreign firms with business there. There are two to three industrial action incidents per month over wages or working conditions. Corruption is a problem, and businesses are expected to pay bribes to secure deals or permits.
Anti-terrorism operations in Rakhine state target ethnic Rohingya militants but also displace at least thousands of civilians. Other ethnic insurgencies also involve attacks, mainly in Kachin and Shan states. Intelligence-sharing with Bangladesh and fellow ASEAN members is extensive, reducing the risk of a successful large-scale Islamist terrorist attack. Such an attack would probably target government buildings, security forces, prominent Buddhist nationalist figures, or a Buddhist religious site in Mandalay or Yangon. The incidence of improvised explosive device (IED) attacks has reduced with the new administration in 2016, but is likely to increase if militant groups perceive the government to have failed at reining in the military.
Though informal talks between the government and key rebel groups offer a potential pathway towards a resolution, the largest militant groups did not sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October 2015. The Panglong peace process, begun in September 2016, is likely to make limited progress on key issues in the one-year outlook. Since 2015 regular fighting with the military has continued, particularly in Kachin and northern Shan states, involving artillery and small‐arms fire. Infrastructure projects are not directly targeted but are likely to be disrupted by nearby fighting. There is also a risk of collateral damage from stray bullets or artillery rounds.
Frequent protests are likely against hydropower, mining, Special Economic Zones, and other infrastructure projects where compensation and land rights are disputed, or where projects pose risks to the environmental. Such protests range from relatively peaceful to belligerent demonstrations, involving fighting with security personnel. These protests are likely to disrupt operations, and in the case of particularly controversial projects such as the Myitsone dam or Letpadaung mine are likely to cause project suspensions. Labour unions were legalised in 2011, and industrial action over wages is probable if wage negotiations become intractable.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers over one year of age arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and for travelers who have been in transit for >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission. Proof of vaccination is required for nationals and residents of Myanmar.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Japanese Encephalitis: For stays of longer than one month in a rural zone during the rainy season (for children over the age of one). The vaccine is administered in a local medical facility.
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
The country is also at risk for natural disasters; Cyclone Nargis devastated the south (Irrawaddy Delta area) in May 2008, leaving 140,000 dead and affecting 2.4 million residents. In September 2014, the Irrawaddy River burst its banks and flooded the central Bagan area, the country's main tourist destination. Finally, in early August 2015, a quarter million Burmese were impacted by monsoon floods, especially in the Rakhine, Chin, Sagaing, and Magway regions, all of which were placed under a "natural catastrophe" alert.
Finally, visitors should avoid taking public transportation, whether by ground (bus), rail, ferry, or air, due to a lack of safety regulations (ferries sink relatively often).
The dry season extends from October until March during which days are sunny and pleasant. The hot season, from April to June, is marked by very high temperatures, particularly inland. The monsoon is a fixture in the Rangoon region between June and October; the center of the country receives slightly less rainfall during this period.
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