(16-30 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 email@example.com.
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APRRN is proud to present our very first special feature for the Biweekly Briefs. We will now feature interviews with members, particularly those with lived experience, on semi-monthly basis. The interview session for the Biweekly Briefs is intended to give APRRN’s members a voice to speak about their background and experience in refugee-related settings and better acquaint the network. For the very first interview issue, we are featuring the highly talented Htu Lai Magawng.
Htu Lai, who is a refugee herself from Myanmar and is currently residing in South Korea, gave a heartwhelming interview about her experience and her work advocating for refugee rights. Please head over here to read the full interview.
- 20-26 June: The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) hosted Refugee Week – a national event in the country where it’s an annual activity. RCOA has been coordinating the event since 2004 to inform the public about refugees and celebrate positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society. This year, the Settlement Services International (SSI) co-organised one of the events for an online film screening on a series of captivating cinema poems and photo stories created by CuriousWorks and six artists who share asylum seeker and refugee experiences.
- The Rohingya Human Rights Initiative (ROHRIngya) released a two-minute video highlighting their initiative on raising awareness on mental health and providing pyschosocial support to Rohingya refugees in India. COVID-19 has severely impacted refugee communities and with that, the need for psychosocial care has become more pronounced.
- Geutanyoe Foundation, with the support of APRRN’s Rohingya Working Group, held a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) with district and municipal governments in Aceh, Indonesia (Lhokseumawe, Aceh Utara, and Aceh Timur), who have had the experience of hosting and helping refugees. This FGD was conducted in the framework of improving the Presidential Regulation 125/2016, based on inputs from policy-making stakeholders in Aceh, as well as inputs from researchers who have been studying the issue of Rohingya refugees in Indonesia and especially in Aceh.
- 20 June: Fortify Rights produced a visual animation with the voices of refugees from Myanmar, detailing some of the experiences of how they were forced to flee persecution. Young innocent children, women, the disabled, and the elderly have been victims of this unconscionable brutality. Head over here to watch the video.
- The Asia Displacement Solutions Platform published their briefing note entitled, ‘Humanitarian priorities in post-coup Myanmar’, highlighting three key priorities for responding to Myanmar’s worsening humanitarian situation: 1) supporting internally displaced and refugee populations, 2) removing or circumventing barriers to humanitarian access and services, and 3) redirecting development assistance to support humanitarian activities; monitoring humanitarian impacts of international sanctions.
- To celebrate World Refugee Day on 20 June, APRRN, in coordination with the refugee-led Bangkok Community Urban Community Club (BUCC) and Borderless 360, co-organised an online webinar with resettled refugees, including APRRN Chair, Hafsar Tameesuddin, sharing their stories, followed by a panel discussion with current refugees in Southeast Asia, moderated by APRRN Member, Themba Lewis. The event was hosted by APRRN Member Baqir Poiesh from BUCC, and APRRN’s Programme Coordinator, Janeen Sawatzky, provided the closing remarks. In addition, APRRN’s National Screening Mechanism Project Coordinator, Nuchnalin Leerasantana, took part as a speaker in a podcast hosted by the Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons (CRSP).
- 18 June: Save the Children hosted a virtual event to launch their report on ‘No Safe Haven: The plight of Rohingya children across Asia’. The report covers the plight of Rohingya children and will discuss the root causes in Myanmar, as well as the challenges that these children face in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Lilianne Fan, the Chair of the Rohingya Working Group and from Geutanyoe Foundation, was one of the panelist. You can now watch the event here.
- 21 June: Geutanyoe Foundation organised a webinar series examining the drivers of displacement and impact of war on civilians. This first webinar examined the ways in which civilians and public services are targeted and affected in war. Experts were from Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Syria.
- 24 June: The Asia Pacific Network of Refugees organised an online event in conjunction with World Refugee Day to conclude their ‘Education Empowers Refugees’ campaign and to celebrate refugee-led education initiatives across the Asia Pacific region.
- 28 June: University of New South Wales partnered with refugee women leaders, Tenaganita, and UNHCR Malaysia for a session to discuss meaningful participation of forcibly displaced and stateless women and girls using a local multi-stakeholder approach to identify effective responses to gender-based violence and promote gender equality. Apajok Biar, APRRN’s newly elected Chair of the Women, Gender and Diversity Working Group moderated this session.
- APRRN, ICVA, and UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific organised the first Regional Consultations with NGOs. The theme selected for the regional consultations was: ‘Socio-economic inclusion of refugees in the COVID context’, other thematic sessions included ‘Climate change’, ‘Review of progress on the GRF pledges’, and ‘Localization’, which is also the global theme for the 2022 Annual Consultations with NGOs. APRRN’s Interim Secretary General, Lars Stenger, and the Deputy Regional Director of UNHCR, Bernard Doyle, opened the event and APRRN Members and The Secretariat contributed to other sessions as focal points, moderators, and presenters. The aim of the consultations was to strengthen trust, collaboration, and coordination between UNHCR, NGOs, and refugee-led organisations. Recommendations will feed into the global NGO consultations in 2022.
On the radar
- Forum: The National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy (NRAAG Australia) Group is hosting another ‘National Refugee Dialogue’, a closed-door forum with members and representatives of the Australian refugee communities. Participants of this forum will explore effective models of participation, representation, and accountability needed to enable strategic and collaborative refugee-led advocacy in Australia. This event is supported by the Refugee Council of Australia.
- Fellowship opportunity: The University of Auckland’s Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies (CAPRS) has launched their Non-Residential Fellowship (NRF) programme. The opportunity invites postgraduate researchers to convert their theses into action-oriented policy papers to create systemic change in their research communities. The programme is specifically geared for research relating to forced displacement in Asia Pacific with special consideration given to applicants who have experienced forced displacement themselves. The application deadline is 2 August and the details of the programme can be found here.
From the Secretariat
People Behind APRRN
We are pleased to announce our list of newly-elected leaders for 2021 to 2023!
We are excited to have such a distinguished and diverse group of individuals in our leadership for this term. For the first time in APRRN’s history, almost half of the committee commissioned comprise colleagues with refugee backgrounds and experience! Our newly appointed Chair and Deputy Chair of the network are two incredible women advocates who were once forcibly displaced themselves.
We are also proud to see a gender-balanced representation in APRRN’s leadership, with greater participation of women and LGBTIQ+ community in decision-making roles.
For the full list with biographies and photos, please go here.