(16-30 November 2020)
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.
The 8th Asia Pacific Consultation on Refugee Rights (APCRR8), which was supposed to be held in November of this year, was postponed to 2021 due to the inconveniences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. APCRR is a biennial meeting which serves as a platform to bring together refugee rights practitioners from around the region to discuss and strategise ways to address challenges and share good practices from around the region and the globe. On 16 November, APRRN held an Extraordinary Meeting of the General Membership to vote on the amendments made to our statutes which require that APCRRs be held every two years. The meeting resulted in the statutes being amended for the postponement and for any further unforeseen circumstances such as the current global pandemic.
We are excited to announce APRRN’s new members who joined our diverse network of devoted members and partners in November. In that case, we would like all of you to join us in welcoming
- 18 November: Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies (CAPRS) co-hosted an event with Asia Displacement Solutions Platform entitled ‘Durable Solutions for Displaced Afghans’. Panellists explored the centrality of refugees in decision-making and policy development, the need for regional cooperation, and discussed the steps necessary to bring about greater cohesion between humanitarian and development actors in order to facilitate long-term solutions for displaced Afghans.
- 24 November: Odhikar released a joint statement entitled, ‘Violence against women on the rise amid COVID-19 and rampant impunity’, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The statement highlights the emergence of all types of violence against women (VAW), especially domestic violence, that have intensified worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Bangladesh is no exception. According to information gathered by Odhikar, between January and September 2020, a total of 919 women and children were victims of rape.
- 24 November: The Centre for Peace and Justice of BRAC University announced that it has officially launched the Refugee Studies Unit which is a major step in advancing support for Bangladesh’s humanitarian and development sectors in building expertise and skills for peacebuilding, justice, and social cohesion.
- Justice Centre Hong Kong has officially launched a mobile application and a website, ‘HK Asylum Guide’, that provides basic information for refugees and asylum seekers going through the unified screening mechanism (USM) process in Hong Kong. It is also a useful tool for NGOs and others assisting individuals who may be in need of non-refoulement protection.
- 24 November: Amnesty International released a news release on Myanmar’s newly elected government, calling them to prioritise human rights reforms after failing to do so in their first term. The organisation is also presenting them with an 11-point Human Rights Agenda, urging all Members of Parliament to make a public commitment to promote respect for the human rights of everyone.
- 27 November: ALTSEAN-Burma has released its second report card on Burma’s implementation of ICJ provisional measures. The data shows that incidents of attacks and violence against civilians have continued to occur across the country in 2020. COVID-19 has exploded into a deadly second wave and Burma’s chronically underfunded health sector has produced the highest death rate in ASEAN.
- 24 November: APRRN co-organised the ‘Anti-Terror Legislation in the Asia-Pacific Region and Its Implications on Civil Societies and Refugees’ forum with the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines. This was the second of a two-part webinar series on Anti-Terrorism Legislation across the Asia Pacific Region and their impact on civil liberties and international protection. It was a closed forum aimed to allow participants from civil society organizations and international humanitarian and advocacy partners to openly discuss the implications of anti-terror legislation in our work as human rights defenders.
- 19 November: APRRN participated and co-hosted in the ‘Stakeholder Consultations for the Asia-Pacific Regional Review of Implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration’ organised by UNESCAP and UN Network on Migration. The purpose of the stakeholder consultations is to facilitate and expand collaboration, participation in the regional review process, and in particular to elicit stakeholder experiences and views around the review objectives, namely:
- Take stock of the overall progress of implementation of objectives to date
- Identify key challenges, opportunities, gaps and emerging issues
- Identify established and emerging good practices and lessons learnt
- Identify resource requirements and capacity building needs
- Formulate recommendations
- 26 November: Equal Asia Foundation and APRRN participated in the Practicing solidarity with LGBTIQ+ forcibly displaced people: Canberra Statement workshop which covers the implementation, best practices, challenges, and opportunities for organisations and the Canberra Statement. The workshop also focused on discussing ways to better support the LGBTIQ+ refugees & people seeking asylum. The event was hosted by Forcibly Displaced People Network.
- From 24 November to 18 December, APRRN will presenting our Short Course on Refugee Rights and Advocacy, in collaboration with academic partners and experts, purposed to increase knowledge, develop critical human-rights understanding relevant to forced migration, and strengthen the capacity of advocates for refugee rights in the Asia Pacific region’.
Regional and Global
- 10 November: Asia Pacific Network of Refugees (APNOR) and Refugees and Asylum Seekers Information Centre joined three other organisations in the ‘Global Problems – Local Solutions’ webinar to discuss the new Refugees Lead initiative, and how to connecting donors, civil society actors, social enterprise, and refugee leaders to build trust and shift power and resources to refugees themselves.
- 18 November: APRRN, APNOR, and CAPRS co-convened a webinar on ‘the future of refugee mobility & resettlement while borders remain closed‘. The event focused on the consequences brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic upon the lives of refugees.
- 25 November: APRRN, APNOR, CAPRS, and Settlement Services International conducted a webinar entitled ‘Gender and (in)security‘ which explored how civil society, governments and other actors can actively include women in immediate and long-term decision making, especially in relation to commitments in various realms such as the Sustainable Development Goals.
On the radar
- 16 December: APRRN, APNOR, and CAPRS will co-convene a webinar on ‘Refugees as Central Dialogue Partners in Forced Displacement’. From the Refugee Convention, to domestic legal frameworks and programming, there have been a plethora of advances to improve the lives of refugees. Therefore, the webinar will touch on the lack of refugee representation in decision-making discussions around refugee protection.
- Bangkok Urban Community Club joined five other organisations in a fund raising campaign for a refugee-led education programme. The donations will also be used for a small learning centre based in Bangkok. Please go here to donate and support for a better future for refugees and asylum seekers.
- 3 December: APRRN and CAPRS is hosting a documentary screening of ‘Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time’ which tells the injustices, violence, and grave human rights abuses resulting from Australia’s policy in the Manus Island offshore detention centre through the testimonies of its inmates. The event will also include a Q&A session and a panel discussion with the directors and representatives from the Refugee Council of Australia and International Detention Coalition.
- 11 December: The Global Independent Refugee Women Leaders (GIRWL) is organising a virtual conference on ‘Refugee Women: Unpacking Gender-Based Violence’, hosted by the World Refugee and Migration Council. This interactive virtual event will be featuring panels of women refugees from around the world leading discussions on gender-based violence including access to sexual and reproductive health as well as economic, physical, psychological, and sexual violence against women. Please refer to this link to read more and to register.