BIWEEKLY BRIEFS: 1-15 MARCH 2021

Biweekly Briefs

(1-15 March 2021)

The following is a brief bringing you highlights of advocacy efforts by APRRN, partners, and what’s upcoming. We hope to provide you with regular updates on our network’s activities and developments in the landscapes of refugee protection in the Asia Pacific region. Should you like to contribute information, resources, or updates, kindly contact Michelle at michelle@aprrn.org.

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Advocacy Updates

National

Australia

  • 1 March: The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) released a statement opposing the proposals made in the Migration and Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Information Provisions) Bill 2020 “that would give the Ministers for Home Affairs and Immigration powers to prevent refugees from viewing or challenging information that could get them sent back to be harmed and possibly killed in their country of origin”.
  • 5 March: The Jesuit Refugee Service Australia joined 39 other civil society organisations endorsing an open letter to the New South Wales Government on the rights of renters, as the Evictions Moratorium draws to an end. On 8 March, JRS joined women seeking asylum, refugee women, and women from all walks of life to celebrate International Women’s Day.
  • 16 March: Tina Dixson, the Chair of the Forcibly Displaced People’s Network (FDPN), presented in a parallel event co-hosted by the Center for Migration, Gender and Justice, discussing how the global women’s movement can provide more support for LGBTIQ+ forcibly displaced people.
  • Adama Kamara, RCOA‘s newly appointed Deputy CEO, will be joining several others on a panel at the Sydney Writer’s Festival this 29 April to 2 May 2021. The panel will be discussing about the ongoing refugee crisis, in Australia and abroad, and the importance of continuing the conversation on refugee protection.

Bangladesh

  • 8 March: On International Women’s Day, Odhikar released a joint statement highlighting the discrimination, violence, and human rights violations committed against women. The statement also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the escalation of gender-based discrimination and domestic violence in the country. “Without upholding human rights and ensuring participative democracy and basic freedoms, and the scrapping of repressive laws, women’s empowerment and gender equality in Bangladesh will remain elusive.”

Hong Kong

  • RUN Hong Kong is partnering with The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network to launch an entrepreneurship track as part of their ‘PATHS for the Future‘ adult education programme. Over the next few months, 23 of their participants will be learning the ins and outs of launching and running a business, and honing their entrepreneurial ideas.

India

Indonesia

  • SUAKA held their fifth ‘Refugee Legal Webinar Series’ on 25 February on ‘Strengthening Refugee Resiliency’. The webinar covered current challenges around refugee livelihoods and future opportunities. For a quick recap of the webinar, please see here.

Japan

  • The Japan Association for Refugees is running a campaign throughout March regarding the revision plans by the government to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, emphasising the need to increase protection for refugees and adherence to the principle of non-refoulement.

Malaysia

  • 9 March: Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia released a statement welcoming the decision by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to grant leave for judicial review on the Malaysian government’s decision to deport 1,200 Myanmar nationals back in February.
  • 9 March: Aegile Fernandez, Tenaganita‘s Co-Founder and Director passed away at 72. Aegile was an avid advocate for migrants and refugees in the country, and had dedicated much of her life to protecting and promoting the rights of people in need of protection.
  • 10 March: Astro AWANI, a local television news channel interviewed Tham Hui Ying, Executive Director of Asylum Access Malaysia and Lilianne Fan, International Director of Geutanyoe Foundation and the Chair of the Rohingya Working Group, in a session entitled, ‘Consider This: Myanmar Refugees Repatriation Endangers Lives?’. The interview can be accessed here.

Myanmar

  • 4 March: Fortify Rights published a news release calling on the Myanmar military to immediately end its deadly nationwide attack against protesters. Over 60 protesters have been killed up to date.
  • 10 March: Researcher, Hanh Nguyen, from the Mixed Migration Centre Asia released an op-ed on ‘Malaysia’s Forced Deportations Cannot Be Tolerated’, emphasising the need for a human rights-centred regional response framework to address the ongoing conflicts in Myanmar, impacts and increasing protection needs.

New Zealand

  • 10 March: The Asia Pacific Network of Refugees (APNOR) held a consultation to identify challenges and solutions faced by refugees and asylum seekers in the country.

Thailand

  • 13 March: The Bangkok Prep Secondary School organised their ServICE Conference with 10 international schools in Bangkok, inviting human rights activists, philanthropic entities and organisations to present on current issues in the region. APRRN’s Programme Officer, Rachel Tan, gave a keynote speech on issues affecting refugees and ways international schools can be involved to help.

Regional and Global

  • 3 March: APRRN, APNOR, and the Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies co-hosted the ‘Global Refugee Forum: One Year On’ webinar, looking at the progress made since the Global Refugee Forum in 2019. The webinar had a particular focus on the refugee self-representation and participation pledge, discussing this important commitment made by governments, civil society, and the private sector. APRRN members, APNOR and PILnet presented as panel speakers.
  • 10-12 March: UNESCAP and the UN Network on Migration for Asia and the Pacific co-organised the Asia Pacific Regional Review of Implementation of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) which focused on migration in the region and its irregularities, vulnerable situations contributing to abuse and exploitation, harming migrants and all of society. APRRN and its members participated as panelists and co-organised side events during the two day webinar.
    • 10 March: Representatives from Boniĝi and HOST International participated as speakers addressing Item 2: Review of progress and challenges with regard to implementing the GCM in Asia and the Pacific, including the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • 11 March: Carolina Gottardo, the GCM focal point for APRRN and the Executive Director of the International Detention Coalition, participated as a speaker in the ‘Protecting Migrants through Rights-Based Border Governance and Border Management Measures’ panel, addressing Item 3: Thematic discussions on progress and challenges with regard to implementing the GCM at all levels, with due respect to the cross-cutting and interdependent guiding principles of the GCM.
    • 11 March: Save the Children joined four other organisations to host a side event entitled, ‘On The Move and Out of School: Migrant Children’s Struggles to Access Education in Asia’, which highlighted both challenges and opportunities in ensuring that children on the move can access schooling in the region. It also provided a case study from the Thailand-Myanmar border. Migrant Forum Asia also presented as a speaker on the ‘Supporting Migrants’ Protection, Integration and Contribution to Development’ panel on the same day.
    • 12 March: Boniĝi and International Detention Coalition co-organised a side event that focused on commitments of states to work towards alternatives to detention, and ending the detention of children in the context of international migration.
    • 12 March: APRRN’s Programme Coordinator, Janeen Sawatzky, moderated the ‘Regular Pathways for Migrants in Vulnerable Situations in Asia and the Pacific’ webinar side event. Carolina Gottardo, the GCM focal point for APRRN, was also one of the speakers in this panel.
  • In consultation with several APRRN members and NGO partners, the Danish Refugee Council and Asylum Access, the Development Assistance Research Associates developed a Refugee Response Index (RRI). Inspired by the Global Compact on Refugees, the RRI is an independent assessment tool designed to identify both positive practices and unmet needs of asylum seekers, refugees, and other persons in refugee-like situations. Brian Gorlick, the current Deputy Chair of the Legal Aid and Advocacy Working Group is the project manager for RRI. For more information, please see here.

On the radar

National

  • Australia: The Forcibly Displaced People Network (FDPN) is organising a retreat in Canberra for LBTIQ women from forced displacement backgrounds (asylum seekers, refugees or migrants from non-Western countries) as part of the Queer Sisterhood project. The retreat will run from 2 to 5 April 2021. To register, please see here.
  • Hong Kong: Justice Centre Hong Kong is looking for a Legal Casework Volunteer to help provide direct assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and survivors of human rights violations. For more info, please see here. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.
  • India: The Migration and Asylum Project is looking to engage a qualified software development organisation for the design and development of a mobile application for its Sexual-and-Gender-based-Violence Programme. Deadline for application: 30 March 2021. For more info, please see here.
  • Indonesia: SUAKA is looking for an intern to join their Campaign and Public Awareness Programme. Interns will be given the responsibility to assist in the implementation of the work programmes. For more info, please see here.
  • Thailand: Asylum Access Thailand is looking for a Community Outreach Assistant to implement their Refugee Empowerment Group projects. For more info, please see here.

Regional

  • 24 March: Start Fund Bangladesh is organising ‘The Impact of Locally-Driven Humanitarian Action’ online event. This event aims to share the achievements and future ambition of Start Fund Bangladesh, as well as lessons learnt, best practices, and evidences gathered. For more information and to register, please see here.
  • 20 and 27 March: The University of Essex is hosting the ’13th Human Rights in Asia Conference’. This two-day student-led event will be discussing the rights of asylum seekers and refugees in Asia, with a special focus on South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand. For the event details, please see here.
  • 40 Years 40 Stories: Calling for Inspiring Letters‘: The Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific is inviting refugees, IDPs, asylum seekers, and current or former JRS volunteers and staff for inspiring personal stories to be featured in their anniversary videos. Content can be submitted to jrsap.campaign@gmail.com by 30 June 2021.
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