(1-15 June 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- 3 June: Elizabeth Young, the new Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Working Group Chair, was interviewed for The Guardian regarding the resettlement of refugees from Australia’s offshore detention facilities to New Zealand. Young has been engaging with New Zealand cabinet ministers to advocate for the country to re-extend its offer to bring people from offshore processing, but also the option of accepting asylum seekers in Australia for medical treatment.
- 7 June: The Asylum Seekers Centre (ASC) spoke to CityHub Sydney about the lives of refugees in Australia, the help they received from ASC, and the activities the organisation has for Refugee Week. Their heartwarming story can be found here.
- 10 June: Oxfam India spoke at The People’s Vaccine media forum, calling for G7 countries to enable the TRIPS waiver. The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP). The problem with IP lies on the barrier to scaling up the manufacturing of vaccines or other health products needed for the COVID-19 response. The waiver proposes that these should be allowed to be produced in countries such as, Bangladesh and India, to speed up the transfers of technology and production for COVID-19 response tools such as ventilators, vaccines, and other treatments – without having licensing issues.
- The Rohingya Human Rights Initiative (ROHRIngya) has been active in educating refugees on COVID-19 awareness. You can head over to their Twitter page to watch a series of videos they have posted featuring their work.
Geutanyoe Foundation has been active in assisting humanitarian aid and advocacy for Rohingya refugees in Aceh. Their team has been on the ground coordinating and responding with local authorities, humanitarian agencies, and local communities. Geutanyoe’s work, in collaboration with UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration, has led to 81 refugees receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.
- 3 June: Fortify Rights published a news release calling on the National Unity Government (NUG) of Myanmar to appoint an ethnic-Rohingya representative to help it implement and expand upon its new policy on the rights of Rohingya people.
- 3 June: ALTSEAN-BURMA, FORUM-ASIA, and Progressive Voice released a joint statement to address what the nine ASEAN Member States did by seeking to block a UN General Assembly draft resolution calling for a global arms embargo on Myanmar’s military junta. The statement declared that the move was betraying the regional bloc’s commitment to the cessation of violence in Myanmar, which also further emboldens the junta to continue perpetrating atrocities in the country.
- 3 June: The Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific released a joint statement to voice their support for the suffering people of Myanmar and to call on the military to stop the violence, respect the sanctity of all human life, and work towards a just and lasting peace throughout the country based upon the will of the people.
- 11 June: A representative from ROHRIngya talked about the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar against the backdrop of the crippling pandemic as well as the military coup on PressTV – an Iranian press and documentary network. You can watch the segment here.
- 3 June: Gül İnanç, the co-director of the Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies at the University of Auckland, spoke at the Times Higher Education Asia Universities Summit on ‘How are Asian universities responding to the challenge of demographic change?’. She highlighted the lack of refugee students in universities in the region with only 3% of the refugee youth enrolled in higher education institutions.
- 9-11 June: The Refugee Law Initiative, University of London, hosted their 5th Annual Conference – an international forum dedicated to debating the latest research and developments in the field of refugee law. The conference builds on the success of previous RLI conferences in uniting refugee law academics, practitioners, policy-makers, and students. It is based on the principle of free and open access online to allow for truly global participation.
- The Global Refugee Forum Legal Community Pledge: 2020 Report, which was compiled by PILnet, has been published and is now available here. APRRN and many of its members are signatories of the pledge, such as Act for Peace, PILnet, Justice Centre Hong Kong, and the Danish Refugee Council who are all acting as Core Group members alongside APRRN.
- The International Detention Coalition has released their June updates featuring their activities. The updates include the webinars and courses they organised, Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM) reviews, joining the GRF Pledge, the appointment of their new director, among others. You can now read the full newsletter here.
On the radar
- Consultations: UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, in collaboration with APRRN and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), is organising the 2021 regional consultations with NGOs 21-30 June. This year’s theme for the consultations will be the ‘socio-economic inclusion of refugees in the COVID context’. The consultations will be organised online. More details about the objectives and agenda can be found here.
- Funding opportunity: The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) is offering funding to support civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Indo-Pacific to carry out short-term, high-impact activities to protect civic space, and resist restrictive governmental responses to COVID-19. The funding ceiling is $25,000 and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until 30 June. The activity funded by each grant must be completed by 30 September 2021. For more information, please head over here.
- Webinar: Fortify Rights will be joining as a speaker on a webinar to talk what is happening in Myanmar which will take place on 22 June at 17:30 Bangkok time. It explores the hopes of having an inclusive political dialogue for a new Myanmar. To register, please go here.
- Webinar: Amnesty International Australia is co-organising an online conversation with refugees and about their experience in settling into the Australian community after enduring life in offshore detention facilities, Australia’s harsh asylum policies, and separation from families. Taking place on 25 June at 16:00 Bangkok time, you can go here for more details.
From the Secretariat
APRRN hosted and coordinated the 8th Asia Pacific Consultation on Refugee Rights – in short APCRR8 – virtually from 14 to 18 June. APCRR is a biennial meeting, and in fact, APRRN was founded as a result of the 1st Asia Pacific Consultation on Refugee Rights in Kuala Lumpur in 2008. Since then, APCRR has been held in Bangkok (2009, 2010, 2014, 2016, and 2018) and in Seoul (2012). In 2018, APCRR6 was attended by over 140 participants from across the region working on refugee issues. However, due to the travel and border restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, APCRR8 was conducted virtually this year.