(1-15 April 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 email@example.com.
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22 April: APRRN members, Sitarah Mohammadi and Sajjad Askary, wrote an opinion piece for The Guardian on Australia’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the need for Australia to increase resettlement numbers for the most vulnerable Afghans to seek refuge in the country. The two authors also wrote another op-ed for Al-Jazeera on the dangers of the European Union’s move to repatriate Afghan asylum seekers back to Afghanistan.
- Odhikar published their three month (January-March) human rights monitoring report on Bangladesh. It features the human rights situation in the country, where it focuses on issues such as democracy and the deprivation of freedom of expression and the right to life.
- 22 April: The Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ) of BRAC University organised an exclusive online lecture on the ‘Marginalised and Impoverished in Assam’, joined by APRRN member, Ravi Hemadri from the Development and Justice Initiative (DAJI). Discussions included the analysis of a recent study documenting the hardship and exclusions faced by released detainees, those declared foreigners, and others at risk of statelessness in Assam.
Justice Centre Hong Kong provided a submission to the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau in relation to Hong Kong’s sixth report under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) in the context of forced migration. The summarised key points of the submission can be seen here.
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation in India has drastically deteriorated. Almost 4,000 people die each day, while hundreds of thousands struggle to access treatment. The shocking growth in the number of deaths each day has heavily impacted the people, physically and mentally, including our friends who are working hard to meet the needs of communities and the communities themselves. APRRN would like to take this time to express our solidarity and lend support wherever we can in their fight against the pandemic.
- 9 April: Fortify Rights published a news release calling on the India government to protect Rohingya refugees and prevent their forced return to Myanmar in response to a decision made by the Supreme Court denying a petition challenging the arbitrary detention of Rohingya refugees in northern India. The court further ruled that the refugees could be returned to Myanmar, where Rohingya have faced mass atrocity crimes by Myanmar security forces for years.
- The Migration and Asylum Project (MAP) developed the ‘Handbook for Legal Practitioners and Human Rights Defenders‘, a comprehensive document addressing the different facets of refugee protection in India and maps all relevant legislation, rules, and regulations. The Handbook was launched in 26 March 2021 in a regional roundtable organised with APRRN from South Asian countries.
- 22 April: FORUM-ASIA co-organised an online public dialogue to talk about the varying responses from ASEAN towards the military coup in Myanmar that took place on 1 February. The dialogue covered the challenges of the situation on the ground and how pressure from public and civil society in ASEAN can push their governments to immediately and meaningfully respond to Myanmar’s coup. Representatives from FORUM-ASIA, the UN, ALTSEAN-Burma, and Progressive Voice were among the speakers.
- 23 April: Fortfiy Rights published a news release calling on ASEAN member states to work with the newly formed National Unity Government in Myanmar and the international community to end the military junta’s rule ahead of the ASEAN Summit that was held on 24 April.
- The People’s Empowerment Foundation joined seven other organisations to release a statement calling for the provision of humanitarian aid for refugees stranded at the Thai-Myanmar border, who fled from the violence in Myanmar.
- 8 April: APRRN, the Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons International Detention Coalition, and Save the Children were among the 13 organisations that released a joint statement calling on Thailand and other governments in the Asia region to protect people fleeing violence and repression in Myanmar. The statement also calls on the Myanmar military to immediately end the use of violence and abuse against civilians, whether in the context of peaceful protests or armed conflicts.
- 8 April: The Asia Displacement Solutions Platform released a statement calling upon the Royal Thai Government (RTG), ASEAN States, and the international community to support refugees leaving Myanmar for Thailand.
Regional and Global
- 9 April: APRRN released a statement to voice concerns regarding the COVID-19 outbreaks in international detention facilities in Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand. The statement highlights the need for the authorities to treat detainees infected with COVID-19 as they would for their nationals, collaborate with civil society organisations to improve the conditions and prevent further outbreaks, and to include everybody in the nation’s response plans to the pandemic.
- 14 April: APRRN, the Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies, and the Asia Pacific Network of Refugees held their fifth webinar on exploring the need for greater access to tertiary education for refugees and solutions to making it a reality. The video of the webinar is now available on YouTube.
- 20 April: CAPRS moderated a panel titled ‘Higher Education in Conflict and Crisis Zones: Models of Innovation and Impact’ for the Times Higher Education Impact Summit. This panel included academic and graduate representatives of the Connected Learning Consortium in Crisis (CLCC), which consists of 27 member universities and NGOs, to show how their innovative educational models have been impactful for the lives of the displaced youth and communities around the world before and after the pandemic.
- APRRN submitted a joint submission to the 39th Session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group which focused on human rights concerns relating to Papua New Guinea’s treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum, including its use of immigration detention. The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), an APRRN member, actively involved across a number of relevant Working Groups (including the Immigration Detention and Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Working Groups) and made significant contributions to the submission. RCOA worked closely with Caritas PNG, another APRRN member, to present the main issues on the ground.
- The Asia Pacific Network of Refugees launched the 2021 Refugee Education campaign aiming to raise funds and awareness that will help refugee-run education initiatives reach their full potential in empowering refugees. They launched their campaign with a webinar on the importance of and challenges for refugee education, which is available here.
On the radar
- 12 May: The Mixed Migration Centre is hosting a webinar discussion on ‘The experience of refugees and migrants in host countries in Southeast Asia’ representing two research projects on Indonesia and Malaysia. The webinar aims to create an open dialogue between different stakeholders, and to inform decision-making and humanitarian responses to assist refugees and migrants in the region. For more information, please go here.
- Oxford University is offering scholarships for refugees for their summer course on forced migration. The course, which will take place online, offers an intensive, interdisciplinary, and participative approach to the study of forced migration. It enables people working with refugees and other forced migrants to reflect critically on the forces and institutions that dominate the worlds of displaced people. The course also takes an active learning approach, requiring participants to prepare for and then engage in the school’s activities. Applications close on 28 May. Please go here for more information.
- Justice Centre Hong Kong is looking for interpreters and translators (Amharic, Arabic, French, Kinyarwanda, Luganda, Sinhala, Somali, Spanish, and Swahili) to help with their work providing direct assistance to communities of refugees, asylum seekers, and other survivors of human rights violations in Hong Kong.For further information see here.
Successful applicants will need to attend in-house training prior to providing interpretation services.
From the Secretariat
APRRN is proud to introduce our new Fundraising and Development Manager, Eliza Horton, who joined us in April. Ms. Horton has spent 4 years in East and Southern Africa, working in fundraising and business development, social policy, and human rights research for the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative, Voluntary Service Overseas, and the Global Institute for Social Protection. Eliza is British; she is currently based in Cape Town, South Africa, a place she calls her second home. During the 5 years she’s lived in Cape Town, Eliza has actively participated in advancing the rights of the increasing migrant population in South Africa as well as tackling pervasive xenophobia. We are excited to have Eliza as part of the APRRN team.
APRRN is looking for a suitable candidate to fill the position of Secretary-General who is passionate about advancing the rights of refugees and other people in need of protection, who will use her or his skills and knowledge to help us achieve our network’s goals and support the collaborative efforts of our diverse membership. Interested applicants must have an understanding of organisational change and capacity building processes, skills and experience in the leadership of an organisation, a minimum of three years work experience in promoting and protecting the human rights of forced migrants, and a relevant tertiary degree would be ideal. For more information and to apply, please go here.