BIWEEKLY BRIEFS: 16-31 MARCH 2021

Biweekly Briefs

(16-31 March 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

Bangladesh

The Centre for Peace and Justice of BRAC University participated in a virtual field trip organised by the University of Westminster for development students to meet with NGO leaders and refugee youth from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka who are working on refugee rights and peace building.

    Hong Kong

    31 March: The Justice Centre Hong Kong organised a talk, touching on the current legal framework for refugee recognition and protection in the country, hosted by the research team of Immigration Detention and Vulnerable Migrants in Hong Kong and the The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The talk also discussed the proposed amendments to the Immigration Ordinance that are currently being considered at the Legislative Council.

    Malaysia

    24 March: Katrina Jorene Maliamauv and Aslam Abd Jalil from Amnesty International Malaysia gave an exclusive interview with Aliran, a multi-ethnic reform movement working for the cause of justice, freedom, and solidarity. The interview highlighted the Malaysian government’s treatment of refugees and undocumented migrants and the benefits of ratifying the 1951 Refugee Convention for Malaysia.

    Myanmar

    • 27 March: Fortify Rights released a statement calling on the international community for an immediate and collective action to end the Myanmar junta’s widespread and systematic killing of unarmed people.
    • 29 March: The Karen Women’s Organisation released a statement strongly condemning the Myanmar Army’s escalation of attacks on innocent Karen civilians using jet fighters. The army launched night-time airstrikes on a village which killed three civilians, injuring seven others, and displacing thousands of Karen people from their village.

    Thailand

    • 30 March: Save the Children released a statement calling on the Thai government to open its borders to people fleeing violence and repression in Myanmar, refrain from pushing refugees back, and allow aid groups unfettered access to the new arrivals.
    • The Bangkok Prep Secondary School organised their ServICE Conference with 10 international schools in Bangkok, inviting human rights activists, philanthropic entities, and organisations to present on current issues in the region. APRRN Programme Officer, Rachel Tan, gave a keynote speech on issues affecting refugees and how international schools can get involved to help.
    • Back in February, APRRN and The Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons organised the ‘National Screening Mechanism (NSM) Multi-Stakeholders Meeting’. There were 40 participants from government agencies, civil society organisations, diplomats, and academics. Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree, an expert on human rights and forced migration, gave an exclusive interview with APRRN’s Project Coordinator, Nuchnalin Leerasantana. The interview was done on the occasion of the event to give an overview of the refugee policies and practices of the regulations of the Office of the Prime Minister. The interview is now available with English subtitles on Facebook.

    Regional and Global

    • 16 March: Tina Dixson, the Chair of the Forcibly Displaced People’s Network, presented in a parallel event co-hosted by the Center for Migration, Gender, and Justice, discussing how the global women’s movement can provide more support for LGBTIQ+ forcibly displaced people.
    • 26 March: The Migration and Asylum Project (M.A.P), in collaboration with APRRN, organised the ‘Regional Roundtable: Access to Justice for Displaced Populations’ to launch M.A.P’s ‘Access to Justice’ handbook. The handbook is to help equip human rights defenders and legal practitioners with the legal tools to advocate for the rights of refugees in India. The Roundtable also focused on various aspects of refugee protection in the South Asia region and various representatives from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka presented their future plan of action towards improving the refugee protection framework across the region.
    • 26 March: Programme Officer, Rachel Tan, delivered the NGO Statement on Asia & the Pacific at the 80th meeting of the Standing Committee Meeting, urging UNHCR and states for a regional response addressing the severe ongoing rights violations affecting refugees, especially women and girls.
    • 31 March: The Asia Pacific Network of Refugees released a media statement to voice their concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Myanmar and the international community’s response to those fleeing the recent bombing of villages by the Myanmar Army in Mutraw District, Karen State, Myanmar.
    • 2 April: The Duroo Association for Public Interest Law and Justice Centre Hong Kong co-hosted the ‘Refugee Protection in East Asia: Changes and Challenges’ – the first in an online webinar series on Racism in East Asia. APRRN co-sponsored the webinar and Pilkyu Hwang from Korean Public Interest Lawyers Group GONGGAM, an APRRN organisational member, was the moderator.
    • To celebrate Women’s History Month, Fortify Rights is releasing a series of posts on their Facebook page with quotes from women activists who they interviewed.
    • The International Detention Coalition released their annual report of 2019-2020 detailing their key impacts and achievements during this unprecedented period. Please go here for the full PDF version.
    • The Migration and Asylum Project (M.A.P) won the prestigious Ockenden International Prize of 2021. They are one of the four global winners of the ninth annual prize for refugee and/or displaced people projects. The winners were selected out of 146 entries from 43 countries.
    • The Roshan Learning Center in Indonesia won the UNHCR’s 2020 NGO Innovation Award for establishing remote education tools and resources to help refugees continue learning during the pandemic.

    On the radar

    Funding opportunity: The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration is offering funding for NGO programmes benefiting refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. The deadline for submission is on 28 April. Please go here for more information.

    From the Secretariat

    New Interim Secretary General

    APRRN saw the departure of Themba Lewis, who was the Secretary General at APRRN for more than two years. Ashok Gladston Xavier, the Acting Chair of APRRN, said of Themba:

    ‘He has steered APRRN through what has been a very tumultuous time, including the COVID-19 challenges in the past year. We thank Themba for his commitment, leadership, and dedication to refugee rights, and wish him the very best for the future.’ Echoing his words, we are immensely grateful for his leadership and we wish him the very best for his future endeavours.

    We are also delighted to announce that Lars Stenger will be our Interim Secretary General as of 1 April. Lars attended Forced Migration Studies at the University of Oxford and holds a Masters in Sociology from the University of Leipzig. Via his role with Jesuit Refugee Service Indonesia, he has been actively involved in APRRN since 2008. Most recently, he is the Chair of the Immigration Detention Working Group. He will be joining the Secretariat team and lead during this transition period, while we recruit the new Secretary General. 

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