December 2015 Issue

The Latest News from the

APRRN Secretariat



Wishing you a Happy New Year from everyone at the

APRRN Secretariat!

Regional Activities

Of Interest

Upcoming Events

  • Youth Consultations in Pakistan, 29 February – 4 March 2016
  • National Roundtable in Pakistan, 7-8 March 2016
  • Youth Consultations in Indonesia, TBC
  • National Roundtable in Japan, February
  • New Zealand Immigration Detention Coalition Event, TBC
  • ICVA Annual Conference, Geneva, 4 April 2016


Regional Activities


ICVA Structured Dialogues

22-24 September, Bangkok, Thailand

IMG_0218The International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) organised a three-day workshop in Bangkok, bringing together international and national NGOs with UNHCR, IFRC and IOM. On the first day, participants reviewed and discussed issues surrounding their partnerships between UNHCR and NGOs.

The second day was dedicated to a more in-depth discussion on Protection at Sea and Statelessness in Asia, and included two break-out sessions in which participants heard from regional experts and then discussed challenges and potential solutions surrounding Protection at Sea and Statelessness in their national contexts.

6On the third day, a peer-to -peer learning event offered the opportunity for participants to learn from one another, with the aim of identifying solutions for fundraising for Protection at Sea and Statelessness advocacy projects.

Read the ICVA Structured Dialogues day one report here: ICVA-UNHCR Regional Structured Dialogue – Partnerships and Collaborations Final Report

Read the ICVA Structured Dialogues day two report here: Regional Structured Dialogue on Protection at Sea and Statelessness with a special day on Humanitarian Financing

Read the ICVA Structured Dialogues day three report here: Peer to Peer Learning: Funding tips on advocacy

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Nansen Initiative Report Launch

29 September 2015, Bangkok, Thailand


The Norwegian Refugee Council, in partnership with ICVA, APRRN and Praxis Labs hosted a launch of their report, ‘Community Resilience and Disaster –Related Displacement in South Asia’ in Bangkok on 29 September. This report, created through a process championed by Norway and Switzerland, calls for international cooperation and provides standards for the treatment of people involved in disaster-related displacement in South Asia. In addition to providing insight into the research methodology used and the challenges raised by the findings, the launch provided a platform for open discussion regarding next steps in the region.

IMG_0035Going forward, participants noted the importance of lobbying donor states to pressure ASEAN member states to be proactive on issues involving displacement. The value of linking protection, disaster risk reduction and resilience to make inter-connectedness more relevant and foster cooperation was also highlighted throughout the discussion.

Read the full report here: Community Resilience and Disaster –Related Displacement in South Asia

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UNHCR Executive Committee (ExCom) Meeting

5-9 October 2015, Geneva, Switzerland

Excom 2015_2The UNHCR Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme (ExCom) is a separate elected body responsible for advising the High Commissioner, approving budget targets and reviewing UNHCR funds and programmes. During the ExCom annual session, usually held in October, NGOs have the opportunity to deliver a general statement. This year’s coordinated NGO statement subject was ‘forced displacement.’


Julia Mayerhofer, APRRN’s Interim Executive Director and Yiombi Thona, APRRN’s Deputy Chair, joined the UNHCR Executive Committee (ExCom) meeting held in Geneva from 5-9 October. In addition to the ExCom meeting, both also attended several side meetings including a meeting to plan for the UNHCR-NGO Consultations in mid-2016.

excom 2015Yiombi Thona also delivered the General Debate statement on behalf of ICVA and NGOs during the ExCom meeting, which can be viewed hereOn the sidelines of the ExCom, the APRRN delegation also met with the permanent mission of Thailand to discuss the recent submission NGOs have prepared for Thailand’s Universal Periodic Review.

Read the full ExCom meeting report here: “Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme Sixty-fourth session”

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Nansen Initiative Global Consultations

12-13 October, Geneva, Switzerland

nansen 2Julia Mayerhofer also joined the Global Consultations of the Nansen Initiative held from 12-13 October in Geneva. The consultations brought together over 300 participants from governments, UN agencies, civil society and academia. The aim of the meeting was for the Nansen Initiative to present their final Protection Agenda.

The Agenda highlights a set of positive practices and tools that states can adopt. The Agenda was endorsed by states present as a guiding document to better conceptualise cross-border disaster-displacement. During the consultations, APRRN presented a statement highlighting the lack of national and regional protection frameworks, the need for inclusive and participatory approaches to engaging affected communities, and the need to strengthen community resilience. The APRRN statement also called for improved collaboration and cooperation as well as the need to commence action immediately.

Read the final Protection Agenda here: Agenda for the protection of cross-border displaced persons in the context of disasters and climate change

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Community Interpreter Training

8-14 November 2015, Bangkok, Thailand

APRRN partnered with the Cairo Community Interpreter Project at the American University in Cairo, and the Rotary Peace Centre at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand to organise a 50-hour training on ‘Community Interpreting and Multilingual Access Capacity Strengthening for Refugee and Asylum-Seeker Assistance Organisations in Bangkok.’ Asylum Access Thailand provided administrative support and the Rotary Peace Centre at Chulalongkorn University provided the venue for the training.

Alice Johnson, Director of the Cairo Community Interpreter Project, conducted the training over seven days. Twenty- four participants who interpret Arabic, French, Mandarin, Urdu and Vietnamese among other languages, received training in interpreting theory and ethics, linguistic analysis for dialogue-based settings, and interpreter cognitive skills and techniques. The participatory training methodologies included interactive group activities and role-plays, allowing the participants to openly discuss the challenges they face as interpreters who work with asylum-seekers and refugees, and devise strategies to deal with similar challenges in the future.

APRRN also provided support to Asylum Access Malaysia and the Malaysia Social Research Institute (MSRI) who organised trainings for interpreters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. These trainings were held in October and were also conducted by Alice Johnson.

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Regional Expert Roundtable on Alternatives to Immigration Detention

19-20 November 2015, Bangkok, Thailand

detention roundtableIn November, APRRN and the International Detention Coalition (IDC) once again joined forces to organise a Regional Expert Roundtable on Alternatives to Immigration Detention for Children, which was held on 19 and 20 November in Bangkok, Thailand. The Roundtable was hosted by Thailand’s representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Dr Seree Nonthasoot, and fifty participants from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand who spent two days actively engaged in discussions about potential models of alternatives to immigration detention children and their families, in their respective countries.

At the Roundtable, the IDC also launched an updated version of their research, There are Alternatives, in which the global benefits and good practices around alternatives to immigration are detailed.

Maintaining the momentum around ATD that was generated during the Roundtable is essential, and follow-up activities are now being planned in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. We will report back on developments in the next newsletter!


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Short Course on Advocacy and Refugee Rights

1-4 December, Bangkok, Thailand

group with mahalia


APRRN’s fourth annual short course, focusing on Advocacy and Refugee Rights, was held from 1-4 December in Bangkok, Thailand. The aim of the course was to strengthen participants’ capacity, expertise and knowledge in advocating for the rights of refugees in Asia. The course discussed specific advocacy tools, highlighted successful advocacy models and discussed the components of a successful advocacy strategy.


short course 1 (3)


Leeanne Torpey from the International Detention Coalition (Australia), Brian Barbour from the Japan Association for Refugees and Mike Hayes from the Mahidol University Institute for Human Rights and Peace Studies joined the course as the main facilitators. Other resource persons came from UNHCR, Forum Asia and other NGOs.



short course 1 (13)


Thirty participants coming from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, the Philippines and Australia joined the course. The variety of participant backgrounds and group work modules provided ample opportunity for hands-on application of the daily topics. The APRRN Secretariat is currently working on a toolkit for the short course, which will be ready in Q1 of 2016 and shared on our website.



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Of Interest

Joint Statement calling on China to stop repatriation of North Korean refugees

1 December 2015

The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights call upon China to immediately stop the forcible repatriation of nine North Korean refugees.

Read the full statement here: Joint statement calling on China to stop repatriation

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APRRN Statement on Protection at Sea

12 October 2015

The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network calls on states to address the root causes of movements at sea, otherwise the Rohingya will continue to flee from Myanmar and Bangladesh in search of safety and dignity. All states have an obligation to protect people in the region in need of assistance, regardless of their mode of transportation.

Read the full statement here: APRRN Statement on Protection at Sea

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Introducing Hina Tabassum, the new Women and Girls Working Group Chair

Hina Photo

APRRN would like to extend a warm welcome to the new chair of the Women and Girls Working Group, Hina Tabassum.

Hina Tabassum hails from Swat, Pakistan. She has more than 12 years of experience working in development sector mainly with refugees and migrants. She is currently the CEO of Children and Women Trust (a non-profit organization working for women and children in Pakistan), and she has worked with UN organizations and INGOs in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where she advises on issues related to sexual and gender based violence, gender and security sector reform, and empowerment strategies for women in post conflict contexts.

Hina has authored various publications on refugee issues and has strong expertise on designing programmes and projects with a gender lens; she has been the lead trainer on gender guidelines, coordinating systems in conflicts, alliances and coalitions for grass root women organizations and designing monitoring and evaluation frameworks for projects.

APRRN gladly welcomes Hina!

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Introducing Parinya (Ann) Boonridrerthaikul, the new South East Asia Working Group Chair

Pi Ann photoAPRRN would like to extent a warm welcome to the new chair of the Southeast Asia Working Group, Pariyna (Ann) Boonridrerthailkul. Check out Ann’s message to APRRN below:

My name is Ann (Parinya Boonridrerthaikul). Currently, I’m the Country Director of Asylum Access Thailand, where our work for urban refugees focuses on three main areas: resettlement status determination assistance, community outreach and policy advocacy. I may be relatively new to the field of refugee rights in particular, but I have been focusing on human rights issues for almost the last twenty years of my career.

I have come to realise that in many countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, refugees face similar challenges: no legal recognition, (indefinite) detention, and a lack access to and right to work, health, and education. With a strong network like APRRN, I do believe that we are able to respond to these challenges together and hopefully soon, refugees will be better able to enjoy their rights.

APRRN would like to extend a warm welcome to Ann!

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Briefing paper of the High Commissioner Dialogue

Together with APRRN members, the Secretariat has prepared a briefing paper for the High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges, which was held from 16-17 December 2015 in Geneva. This year the Dialogue focused on ‘Understanding and addressing root causes of displacement’ and the briefing paper provides more background and analysis on understanding root causes in the Asia context.

The paper is available here: Understanding and addressing root causes of displacement in the Asia-Pacific

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Upcoming Events


Youth Consultations in Pakistan, 29 February – 4 March

National Roundtable in Pakistan, 7-8 March

Youth Consultations in Indonesia, TBC

National Roundtable in Japan, TBC

New Zealand Immigration Detention Coalition Event, TBC

ICVA Annual Conference, Geneva, 4 April 2016

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