BIWEEKLY BRIEFS: 16-31 JANUARY 2021

Biweekly Briefs

(16-31 January 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

  • 47 UN member states raised concerns about and recommended changes to the Australian Government’s refugee, asylum, and immigration detention policies when Australia’s human rights record came up for its third five-yearly Universal Period Review (UPR). 122 countries made close to 250 recommendations. For the joint NGO media release, including remarks from the Chair of the Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Working Group, Paul Powers, and the Chair of the Forcibly Displaced People Network, Tina Dixson, please see here.
  • Refugees transferred to Australia under now-repealed Medevac laws were released into the community and granted bridging visas. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Refugee Council of Australia, and Amnesty International Australia, welcomed the decision and calling on the Morrison Administration to release those who are still indefinitely detained.

Bangladesh

  • 27 January: Md Saimum Reza Talukder from BRAC University wrote an article on The Daily Star titled, ‘Will Vaccine Nationalism Lead to the Exclusion of Rohingya Refugees?’, highlighting nationalism when countries prioritise inoculating their own populations before others.
  • Odhikar published their Annual Human Rights Report of 2020, covering the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on Bangladesh, along with its widespread   human   rights   violations. For the full report, please see here.

Hong Kong

  • RUN Hong Kong, Justice Centre Hong Kong, and 15+ other civil society organisations are calling upon the Legislative Council to facilitate civil society’s continued participation in public affairs amidst the pandemic. A public hearing would enable refugees, asylum seekers, and former immigration detainees to share their lived experiences in seeking protection from non-refoulement and being detained at immigration centres with legislators and officials, in addition to allowing civil society organisations to make representations. For full statement, please see here.
  • Justice Centre Hong Kong‘s Research and Policy Officer, Rachel Li, spoke to the Hong Kong International Business Channel’s ‘Talk the Walk’ about the government’s proposals to amend the Immigration Ordinance, as well as other challenges faced by the refugee and asylum seeker community in the country. For the interviews, please see here and here.

India

  • Rohingya Human Rights Initiative released a report on their ‘COVID-19 Protection Monitoring & Advocacy for Rohingya Refugees in India‘ project. Through this project, they were able to set up protection monitoring mechanisms in five targeted locations and managed to reach out to more than 2000 refugee families directly with emergency support in the past year.

Indonesia

  • 22 January: SUAKA conducted their fourth and final session of the ‘Refugee Legal Webinar Series‘ on ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing‘. For a quick recap, please see here. SUAKA has also recently launched their Annual Report 2020, along with a public discussion entitled, ‘Indonesia: Moving Towards Being A More Inclusive Society‘. For the full report (only available in Bahasa Indonesia), please see here.

Malaysia

  • 23 January: Free Malaysia Today published an article entitled, ‘Fear and Loathing Makes Refugees Shun Covid-19 Tests’, highlighting the current situation that refugees in Malaysia are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. APRRN’s Chair of the Rohingya Working Group and Director of Geutanyoe Foundation, Lilianne Fan, contributed to the article.
  • 29 January: Tenaganita, Asylum Access Malaysia, Women’s Aid Organisation, along with members of the Migrant Workers’ Right to Redress Coalition (MWR2R) urged the government to ensure that refugees, asylum seekers, migrants are not left out as national COVID-19 vaccination exercise are being finalised. Earlier, the coalition released a media statement and briefing highlighting concerns about several alarming issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers including high numbers of COVID-19 cases and appalling conditions women and children are living in.
  • Women’s Aid Organisation released an article detailing how refugee women in Malaysia are at significant risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) as a result of their lack of legal status in the country, the normalisation of violence within refugee communities, and the inaccessibility of protection and justice mechanisms, all of which are further exacerbated by xenophobia against refugees.

Thailand

  • 19 January: Khaosod English published an article entitled, ‘We Never Know What Tomorrow Brings: COVID-19 Strands Thousands of Refugees in Thailand’, detailing the accounts of urban refugees stranded in Bangkok since resettlement programmes were halted at the beginning of the pandemic. APRRN’s Deputy Chair of APRRN’s Regional Protection Working Group and Director of Asylum Access Thailand, Naiyana Thanawattho, and Senior Human Rights Specialist of Fortify Rights, Puttanee Kangkun, were featured in the article.

On the radar

Regional

  • 21 January: The Refugee Law Initiative launched their Refugee Survey Quarterly Special Issue, ‘Why Do We Need New Research on Internal Displacement?’. Consisting of over 20 original peer-reviewed articles by researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers, the new Special Issue highlights the renewed debate on policy challenges and solutions for the protracted crisis of internal displacement that affects tens of millions of people worldwide.
  • 25 January: APRRN’s Refugee Leadership and Participation Working Group Chair, Najeeba Wazefadost, and the Coordinator of the Asia Displacement Solutions Platform, Evan Jones, co-wrote an opinion piece entitled ‘The Pandemic is No Excuse to Shut the Door on Refugee Resettlement’, drawing attention to the impact COVID-19 has on rising needs, and the narrowing of resettlement and migration pathways for refugees.

From the Secretariat

  • APRRN Internship. We are seeking for motivated, passionate individuals who are keen on interning with APRRN. Interns at APRRN will have the opportunity to be involved and contribute to a variety of the network’s activities and projects on forced migration issues and advocacy for refugee rights across the Asia Pacific region. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested applicants are highly encouraged to apply. For more details, please see here.
  • APRRN Annual Report 2019. APRRN has made considerable advances and significant strides in the year, with achievements ranging from successful advocacy and interventions, including several high-profile refugee cases; a collaborative regional forum co-convened by five APRRN Working Groups and the Asia Pacific Network of Refugees; representation in the inaugural Global Refugee Forum; promotion and support for refugee leadership and self-representation; and progressing national advocacy efforts, such as Thailand’s commitment and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to End Immigration Detention of Children.In 2019, APRRN’s membership expanded to a total of 426 organisational and individual members in 26 countries. Members are core to APRRN’s strength as a network, without which these achievements would not be possible.For the full report, please see here.
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