Welcome to the final issue of APRRN’s Newsletter for 2018! Here is a glimpse of what APRRN has been working on for the past 3 months. If you have any inquiries or feedback, kindly contact Rachel Tan at email@example.com.
- APRRN Secretariat welcomes the new Secretary General and Finance Manager
- OXFAM Meeting in Beirut
- 3C Forum By Open Universities for Refugees and UNHCR in Indonesia
- Visit to Roshan Learning Centre, Indonesia
- APRRN at Innovation for Change’s Campaign Accelerator Training (CAT) and Annual Strategy Meeting
- Launch of Running on Empty: Canada and the Indo-Chinese Refugees, 1975-1980
- APRRN’s 7th Asia Pacific Short Course on Refugee Rights and Advocacy
- CRSP and Save the Children’s Training on Child Safeguarding
NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ADVOCACY
- ICVA-APRRN Rohingya Briefing
- Philippines Refugee Forums
- APRRN Joint Embassy Briefing on Mass Arrest in Thailand
- APRRN at the 7th Meeting of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration
- International Metropolis Conference 2018
On 16 October 2018, Themba Lewis officially assumes his role as the new Secretary General at the APRRN Secretariat. Prior to joining APRRN, Themba worked closely alongside the late Dr. Barbara Harrell-Bond, OBE in building a global movement for legal protection of refugees and co-directing a centralised information hub for refugee legal aid and advocacy, known as ‘Rights in Exile’.
A Message From the Secretary General
APRRN’s mandate is based on a progressive democratic membership, creating connections across significant divides in pursuit of common strategies. This makes my appointment as Secretary General all the more humbling.
I am honoured to be a part of it.
While it may seem distant, my first introduction to APRRN was in Geneva many years ago, in advance of the UNHCR-NGO consultations. Since that time, I have continually been impressed by the integrity, scope, and vision of the network. The fundamental values expressed in those early meetings I had with APRRN were reaffirmed at the recent 7th Asia Pacific Consultation on Refugee Rights in October. This year’s Consultation was particularly notable in its increased efforts in pushing for the engagement of refugee communities, minority populations, and other voices which are rarely heard in dialogues determining the strategies employed to address these same populations. APRRN has come a long way since that first meeting I attended, sharing one room between three networks, on the fringes of the refugee-rights landscape, many years ago and many miles away. The efforts of the members, the Steering Committee, and a dedicated team at the Secretariat have been considerable, and I owe a debt of gratitude to those who have built APRRN into what it is now as I begin my role here in Bangkok.
The landscape has changed. We are stronger as a network and clearer in our vision. We face considerable challenges, however, as growing isolationism, disregard for legal obligations, xenophobia, threaten to further undermine refugee protection efforts. Global attitudes towards refugees are more negative now than they have been in my memory, and a lack of accountability from leadership has allowed for increasing risk to protection standards and human beings. APRRN is needed now more than ever before, and that is a source of renewed motivation and energy.
I look forward to engaging widely with the membership as we move forward on these issues.
I look forward to the challenges and the successes.
I look forward to a strong future at APRRN.
APRRN also welcomes the new Finance Manager, Sunisa Jaiklaew. Sunisa graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Cost Accounting at the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce and holds a Master’s Degree in Managerial Accounting from Chulalongkorn University. Sunisa spent years in the business corporate sector before being affiliated with World Vision Foundation of Thailand, where she had worked as the Project Account Development Manager for six years. Before joining APRRN, she was the Finance and Administration Manager with the Catholic Office for Emergency Reliefs and Refugees.
We look forward to both Themba and Sunisa’s contributions to the network.
ICVA-APRRN ROHINGYA BRIEFING
5 SEPTEMBER 2018
In early August 2018, UNHCR shared a ‘Concept Note on A Solidarity Approach for the People of Rakhine State’ which proposed an approach for comprehensive solutions for all people of Rakhine State in Myanmar. The note highlighted the importance of responsibility-sharing and inclusive growth and encouraged multiple stakeholders to address the refugee situation in a more holistic and coordinated manner.
On 5 September 2018, APRRN together with the International Council of Voluntary Agency (ICVA) jointly hosted a multi-stakeholder dialogue in Bangkok which included UNHCR, NGOs and other civil society partners. The dialogue crafted a space to discuss the Solidarity Approach, exploring how NGO engagement can be further strengthened, and to highlight specific concerns and opportunities from the NGO perspective.
The multi-stakeholder meeting provided a valuable platform for NGO stakeholders to raise concerns about aspects of the Solidarity Approach, and gaps within the initial Concept Note drafted. Amongst some of the things noted were the lack of clarity on entry point(s) for NGOs, the foreseeable roles, as well as emphasis on the importance of consultation and inclusion of a diverse range of actors in the process of developing this approach.
Following the dialogue, the supplementary input contributed by APRRN members was included in a detailed compilation of NGO reflections on the document prepared by ICVA. This was later shared with the UNHCR Asia Bureau to inform the next steps and further developments of the Solidarity Approach.
UNHCR has highlighted that the proposed approach is a process, and is now still at its early stages. No formal launch date has been set for the approach, as this will depend on the feedback received during the discussion period. UNHCR has also indicated that they are developing a Road Map to outline the next steps and will be seeking interest from stakeholders to join a Supporters Group for the process. APRRN will keep abreast with the updates and opportunities for further engagement.
PHILIPPINES REFUGEE FORUMS
A small delegation consisting of two APRRN Secretariat staffs, APRRN Steering Committee member, a refugee representative, together with ASEAN parliamentarians, lawmakers and refugee experts convened in the Philippines for a series of refugee forums in September 2018.
As one of only two ASEAN member states to have signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, the Philippines has historically been considered a refugee-friendly country. Not only does it have a legal protection framework, it also has a functioning national system for registration and refugee status determination. Refugees are allowed to stay, work and travel abroad, and are able to integrate into local communities. Such positive practices are noticeably absent across most of ASEAN, and thus formed the basis for the two forums.
With the objective to foster an exchange of knowledge and regional perspectives on the refugee situation across South East Asia, APRRN partnered with the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), and respectively the Philippines House Committee on Human Rights and the Commission on Human Rights to hold these two forums on refugee awareness and protection mechanisms.
During the first forum, APRRN’s former Deputy Chair, Lilianne Fan gave an overview of the regional and international perspective. She highlighted how factors such as protracted conflict, xenophobia, and political instability have contributed to bringing about the alarming rise in displaced persons across the globe.
APHR Board Member and Malaysian Member of Parliament, Charles Santiago and Kasit Piromya – a former Thai diplomat, foreign minister, and Chair of APHR’s Thailand Caucus, provided insights into the refugee situation in their respective domestic contexts, and engaged in an open and frank dialogue on opportunities, followed by challenges for promoting regional refugee protection.
Throughout the parliamentary forum, participants engaged in robust discussions on the capacity of ASEAN to deal with refugee and mixed migrations movements. This included the need for ASEAN to develop a comprehensive refugee and asylum policy i.e. one that includes guidance on actions to be taken as a result of large-scale refugee movements. This discussion is particularly relevant, given the most recent large-scale displacement of Rohingya from Myanmar.
On 12 September a half-day ‘Refugee Forum with Civil Society Organisations’ was held at the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines. This event provided a platform for members of civil society, ASEAN parliamentarians, other non-governmental stakeholders and the Commission to exchange knowledge about the refugee situation in the Philippines and across the region.
A refugee residing in the Philippines and another in Thailand both shared their personal accounts of the conditions and challenges their communities are currently facing. These two testimonies, which in many regards stood in stark contrast to each other, highlighted again the need for more knowledge exchange and collective efforts to improve refugee protection regionally.
Discussions in both forums also zeroed in on on-going activities focused on developing a Draft Refugee Bill in the Philippines – efforts that would further strengthen the national protection framework. The forums were incredibly impactful, with the House Committee as well as the Commission now committing to make refugee rights a priority. APRRN will follow these developments closely, and offer any technical assistance as needed.
OXFAM MEETING IN BEIRUT
17-18 SEPTEMBER 2018
APRRN’s Programme Officer, Evan Jones travelled to Beirut, Lebanon, to take part in a network-learning event entitled ‘Civic Space or No Space? Reflections and Lessons Learned: Civil Society Collective Action’, hosted by Oxfam Lebanon and ALEF Act for Human Rights. This two-day event provided a space for networks from across the world to share experiences and knowledge on what works, how various networks function and discuss how mandates and priorities of these networks shift over time. By bringing together representatives of collaborative action bodies that have experience in planning and conducting collective advocacy initiatives, the conference also aimed to:
- Nurture a learning environment where network members can share experiences and best practices;
- Reflect on different advocacy tactics that have been utilised thus far;
- Initiate cross-country network collaboration; and
- Develop a framework to measure the impact of collective action on policy.
In addition to a general sharing of information, the event acted as a platform for regional and global network representatives to support the development of a local Lebanese network known as the ‘Working Group for Persons Affected by the Syrian Displacement Crisis (WG PASC) in Lebanon’. It is essentially a network of Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian NGOs. The meeting provided a space for them to learn from other networks in an effort to strengthen the legal, physical and material safety of Syrian and Palestinian refugees inside Lebanon.
Oxfam Lebanon is currently in the process of developing a summary paper from the event which will include an overview of the workshop, all presentations and group discussions, and a strategy for a way forward.
3C FORUM by OPEN UNIVERSITIES FOR REFUGEES AND UNHCR
APRRN member from Open Universities for Refugees (OUR) and UNHCR Indonesia co-hosted the 3C Forum (Collaborate, Create, Change) at the University of Jakarta, Indonesia. This was the third 3C forum that OUR has organised in the Asia Pacific region, following similar forums in Malaysia in August 2016 and New Zealand in November 2017.
OUR is a registered charity designed to help meet higher educational needs of communities, especially those in protracted refugee and displacement situations, focused in the subregion of South East Asia. OUR recognises the critical role that higher education can play in offering refugees greater protection, better opportunities and access to livelihoods – particularly when given that at present, only 1% of refugees have access to higher educational opportunities.
The one-day event provided an exciting opportunity for discussion and dialogue between a wide variety of stakeholders. This includes representatives from refugee learning centres; involvement from local Indonesian universities and higher education providers; NGOs that support and advocate for refugees; and the UNHCR. A significant number of refugee representatives participated in the event, all representing their communities and the refugee learning centres around Jakarta and the surrounding areas.
The discussions throughout the day were focused around ways to improve refugee access to tertiary education in Indonesia, and also how to better equip the existing refugee learning centres and education-focused initiatives. Refugees in Indonesia face numerous challenges without proper legal documentation and the right to work. The discussions extends to creating greater awareness about refugees amongst the local Indonesian community about these challenges. Some of the outcomes from the day included the establishment of action plans both in the short-run and long-run within two main areas:
- Looking at creating awareness in the Indonesian community and
- Looking at what local universities can do.
Some participants who attended also volunteered in leading some of the action plans in moving forward and each were assigned different roles.
With the positive outcomes reflected in the Malaysian and New Zealand contexts for refugees to access higher education and a number of other 3C events being planned in various other countries around the region in the future, the work of OUR and the energy generated from these events will continue to have an impact in the region.
VISIT TO ROSHAN LEARNING CENTRE, INDONESIA
18 SEPTEMBER 2018
During a visit to Indonesia in September, APRRN’s representative from the Secretariat, Matt Potts visited the Roshan Learning Centre in Jakarta. Roshan Learning Centre is a community-led initiative serving refugees and asylum seekers in the city, who is also an organisational member of APRRN.
The two sites of the centre, both within walking distance from each other are managed almost entirely by members of the refugee community themselves – providing a range of learning opportunities for refugees including language lessons in Farsi, Bahasa Indonesia and English as well as other education opportunities for children and adults.
When entering the unassuming house that is home to the Roshan Learning Centre, one can sight the vast numbers of communities present as pre-schoolers all the way through to adults gather in a number of classrooms for their lessons. The centre aims to provide a safe learning space for people of all ages and backgrounds. While it was originally set up by the Farsi-speaking Iranian and Afghan refugee community of Jakarta, the centre is now opened for all.
With the option for resettlement almost entirely suspended for refugees in Indonesia, coupled by the lack of legal status and denied access to the right to work, life for over 14,000 refugees living in limbo in Indonesia becomes increasingly difficult. A space like the Roshan Learning Centre is crucial in recognising the resilience of refugees and asylum seekers, providing space and opportunity for self-led leadership apart from access to education. The centre provides a safe and engaging learning environment for many children, which is also crucial to overcoming the trauma that many of them have faced.
CRSP TRAINING ON CHILD SAFEGUARDING
The Coalition for the Rights of Refugee and Stateless Persons (CRSP) collaborated with a member of APRRN, Save the Children in providing a training on chid safeguarding, purposed to equip civil society with the knowledge to better support children in crisis within the guiding principle of ‘do no harm’. This training was seen as necessary, especially given the recent mass arrests that had happened in the same month; children were taken into detention centres and lack proper support. Participants from a number of civil society organisations such as Caritas Bangkok and the Muslim network attended the training. The training focused on Psychological First Aid (PFA), responding to children ranging from toddlers to teenage years. Some of the content of the training emphasised on the principles of ‘Look, Listen and Link’, especially when communicating with children in detention, who are often found to be in distressed conditions. The training also touched on ‘Self-Management in Crisis’ for those who provide PFA. At the end of the training, facilitators shared their experiences in dealing with children and best practices in supporting them, how to effectively designing activities for them, and ways to further strengthen collaboration and teamwork when working with them.
JOINT EMBASSY BRIEFING ON MASS ARREST IN THAILAND
17-18 SEPTEMBER 2018
On 28 August 2018, 181 refugees, asylum seekers, and persons seeking registration with UNHCR were arrested on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand. Those arrested were predominantly Montagnard (an umbrella term that includes Jarai, Ede, and other ethnic groups) in Vietnam and Cambodia. Many Montagnards are Christians and have fled to Thailand and Cambodia in the recent years to flee religious and political persecution.
The refugees and asylum seekers were criminally charged with illegal entry and illegal stay under several articles of Thailand’s Immigration Act. In the following days, 34 refugees and asylum seekers, including children, of Cambodian nationality were transferred to the Suan Phlu Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok to await potential deportation. On 30 August, Vietnamese children were separated from their parents and placed in MSDHS-operated shelters. Those separated included children as young as three months old.
The arrests and separation of children from mothers jeopardises the positive steps taken by the Royal Thai Government in recent years to find alternatives to, and ultimately end immigration detention of children. It also seriously calls into question Thailand’s recent commitments to protecting the rights of refugees.
In response to the severely concerning developments and actions taken by Thai authorities, APRRN together with the Center for Asylum Protection (CAP) and the Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons (CRSP) prepared a Briefing Paper, which was circulated to the diplomatic community in Bangkok, Thailand. The Briefing Paper can be found here.
On 19 September 2018, APRRN, the Embassy of Canada, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Center for Asylum Protection (CAP) and the Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons (CRSP) jointly hosted a Briefing to provide the diplomatic community with an update on the situation and insights into how the mass arrest relates to, and contravenes the Royal Thai Government’s international commitments.
Presentations and updates were provided by representatives from CAP, CRSP and APRRN, which was followed by fruitful and open discussions on how the diplomatic community can effectively engage with and support civil society on these issues. Following the Diplomatic Briefing, CSOs have continued their engagement with relevant governmental agencies and ministries to advocate for the release of children, and for parents and children to be reunited.
APRRN, CAP and CRSP compiled a Summary Sheet on the developments relating to the mass arrests covering the period between 19 – 25 September, which was shared with the diplomatic community. The Summary Sheet can be accessed here.
ASIA PACIFIC CONSULTATION ON REFUGEE RIGHTS SIDE EVENT: ROHINGYA ROUNDTABLE
22 OCTOBER 2018
In conjunction with the 7th Asia Pacific Consultation on Refugee Rights, APRRN hosted a regional roundtable entitled ‘Protecting Rohingya Refugees in South Asiab; Southeast Asia – Challenges, Opportunities and Ways Forward’. Primarily driven and facilitated by APRRN’s Rohingya Taskforce, the roundtable brought together a range of diverse stakeholders from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. Attendees included key civil society organisations, think tanks and representatives of regional organisations.
Held under Chatham House rule, the roundtable provided a unique space for ongoing cross-sector, transnational dialogue, engagement and capacity development on strengthening protection for Rohingya. Throughout the various sessions, themes discussed included access to justice, documentation, alternatives to detention, durable solutions, complementary pathways, and engagement of regional and global mechanisms.
Other key areas of focus explored throughout the various sessions were the ‘whole of society’ approach i.e. diverse actor perspectives on challenges, priorities, ways forward; understanding and improving existing national and regional protection frameworks; and possible national and regional ways forward.
APRRN’s Rohingya Taskforce will be continuing their work in support of the Rohingya over the course of the next two years as part of an APRRN Interim Rohingya Working Group. It is expected that this will include a series of trainings, workshops, legal sector capacity building, awareness raising and advocacy.
ASIA PACIFIC CONSULTATION ON REFUGEE RIGHTS SIDE EVENT: ASIA PACIFIC SUMMIT OF REFUGEES
The inaugural Asia Pacific Summit of Refugees took place in Bangkok, representing a groundbreaking and historic moment in refugee self-representation in the region. 30 refugee leaders from 5 refugee hosting countries gathered for the Summit in Bangkok, while 78 others joined in virtually from subregional hubs in Malaysia, India, Iran, Australia and Indonesia. It was an event organised by refugees, with refugees themselves setting the agenda.
“What makes me excited to be here today is to see this leadership of refugees coming together and speaking for themselves”
– Darius Agbeko Kokou Dzadu, refugee advocate from Hong Kong
The summit was birthed from the Global Summit of Refugees which took place earlier in June 2018 in Geneva, preceding the Annual UNHCR NGO consultations. The Global Summit of Refugees in Geneva was organised and facilitated by eight refugee-led networks from around the world, and the event brought together key refugee leaders from all around the world to discuss refugee issues, refugee self-representation and active collaboration with civil society and UN actors. One of the key outcomes of the meeting was the decision to establish an international refugee-led network or international platform for refugee participation and self-representation. Hence, the opportunity for an Asian regional model of the Global Summit in conjunction with the the biennial APRRN Consultation was seized.
The Asia Pacific Summit of Refugees was organised by a number of refugee-led organisations and networks from within the region including The Global Summit of Refugees Steering Committee, Australian National Committee on Refugee Women and New Zealand National Refugee Association. It was also supported by the Refugee Council of Australia and APRRN. The summit was moderated by Najeeba Wazefadost, a refugee advocate from the Australian National Committee on Refugee Women, and Tin Ma Ma Oo from the New Zealand National Refugee Association, along with hub facilitators from each of the country hubs who coordinated the simultaneous gatherings in 5 different remote locations.
Knowing well that many refugees are limited by their freedom of movement yet have much to contribute, the webcam technology was hence utilised, partnering with Monash University, in order to ensure representation from the different countries. The country hubs were self-organised by local refugee leaders in Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; New Delhi, India; Mashad, Iran; and Sydney, Australia. During the morning session of the summit, facilitators and representatives from each hub were able to share about the issues refugees and displaced peoples were facing in their context and how they were already leading and self-organising in response. The afternoon session of the agenda featured workshops discussion within each hub, centred around two questions:
After a full day of open and productive discussions, two concrete outcomes from the summit emerged. These include the decisions to form an Asia Pacific branch of the Global Network of Refugees, and a working group within the APRRN structure. The latter was formalised during the Asia Pacific Consultation on Refugee Rights (APCRR7), with the formation of the Refugee Leadership and Self-Representation Working Group within the APRNN network structure that will function for the next two years. This working group is now led by two refugee leaders within the network; Najeeba Wazefadost (ANCORW) as the Chair and Wakhushee (Karen Peace Support Network) as the Deputy Chair.
ASIA PACIFIC CONSULTATION ON REFUGEE RIGHTS SIDE EVENT: ICVA-APRRN DIALOGUE ON ‘FORCED MIGRATION IN THE ASIA PACIFIC – FUTURE TRENDS AND IMPACTS’
22 OCTOBER 2018
The ICVA-APRRN dialogue was planned as an event to share experiences and perspectives on various dynamics and natures of forced migration in the regional and sub-regional contexts. There were five presentations covering a wide range of topics and small group discussions providing an opportunity to all participant to contribute.
In the first half, Davina Wadley of Statelessness Network Asia Pacific (SNAP) presented the issue of statelessness, such as Rohingyas, as causes and consequences of forced migration. Davina specifically emphasised on the vulnerability nature of forced migrants to become stateless. She suggested that it is significant to address stateless in both the causes and consequences in the process of seeking solutions for the region. Ruttiya Bhula-or of Chulalongkorn University presented her review in the last ten years of the global and regional trends in forced migration and predicted possible triggers to massive forced migration, such as economic instability, environmental crises, and conflict-induced displacement.
Sumitha Kishna from the Migration Working Group of Malaysia spoke about opportunities and frustration of complex features and patterns of migration in the region. She noted some overlapping areas between migrant workers and refugees in their natures and how that affects the protection for both groups. For example, refugees who are often not properly distinguished from economic migrants often suffer the same treatments and risks refoulement. She also asserted that many of undocumented workers in the region, that became undocumented in the host countries face a risk of punishment when they return to their home country due to violation of national laws.
Rina Chandran of Thomson-Reuters Foundation shared her experience as a journalist, whereby she witnessed the challenges faced by women who remain behind after male figures of their households leave to seek work in urban areas or abroad. One interesting example noted was when females are denied the ownership of lands in Nepal and India and forced to migrate to urban areas. They are often found trapped in conditions which makes them vulnerable, including extreme poverty and sexual assaults.
Ashok Gladston Xavier, APRRN’s Deputy Chair, presented his decades-long march to push for rights of refugees through local activism in Tamil Nadu, India. Refugees were able to receive ID card, housing, access to education, healthcare, and even employment as outcomes of persistent advocacy of local civil society members. Since the end of civil war in Sri Lanka, refugee communities along with local NGOs are now facilitating a voluntary, safe and respected return to home.
During the event, participants present also divided into small groups to discuss specific topics, including conflict-induced forced migration, disaster and environment-induced forced migration, and statelessness. Participants were able to share opportunities and challenges for effective advocacy with existing initiatives and key stakeholders in the region.
ASIA PACIFIC CONSULTATION ON REFUGEE RIGHTS SIDE EVENT: AGE, GENDER AND DIVERSITY PROJECT WORKSHOP: ‘REFUGEE WOMEN AND GIRLS – KEY TO THE GLOBAL COMPACT’
22 OCTOBER 2018
The workshop jointly organised by UNSW and APRRN was an introduction to a 3-year research project that will support the implementation and monitoring of commitments to gender equality, age, gender and diversity and ending sexual and gender-based violence and the new Global Compact on Refugees. Underpinned by UNHCR’ Age Gender and Diversity (AGD) Policy, these commitments seek to improve international protection for refugee women and girls, support gender equality and women’s leadership and end sexual and gender-based violence.
The project is led by researchers from UNSW’s Forced Migration Research Network, who undertook the Gender Audit of the Thematic meetings which informed the development of the GCR. The Gender Audit team also included refugee women from Myanmar and who are resettled to Australia.
Working in partnership with refugee women, service providers and UNHCR the project will develop and trial a suite of implementation tools and monitoring and evaluation strategies in five countries in the Asia Pacific. The project will support the active involvement of refugee women and refugee woman’s organisations throughout all stages of the project from community consultations to engagement in international meetings of UNHCR.
45 participants from diverse backgrounds working with or advocating fo refugee women were present from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Australia.
Key project activities discussed include:
- Promotion of gender-specific language and commitments in the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and its Program of Action (the current stage).
- Consultations with refugee women and service providers in five sites, to identify existing gender related gaps and challenges, as well as good or promising practices and potential alternative tools and approaches.
- Working with refugee women in each site to identify participatory approaches for monitoring implementation of the GCR’s gender related commitments, with refugee women to undertake these monitoring activities.
- Develop and trial tools to support the implementation of commitments to gender equality and to address sexual and gender-based violence, for dissemination on UNHCR’s planned Digital Platform.
For more information about the project, please see here.
INTERNATIONAL METROPOLIS CONFERENCE
29 OCTOBER-2 NOVEMBER 2018
For a week long, academics, government officials, community leaders and practitioners travelled to Sydney, Australia for the 2018 International Metropolis Conference. Titled “Global Migration in Turbulent Times” the week-long conference provided a unique space for leaders and experts to discuss concepts related to migration, diversity and integration.
The Metropolis conference is well regarded annual event which serves as one of the primary platforms for discussion on migration related issues. Co-hosted by APRRN member, Settlement Services International (SSI), Metropolis 2018 focused on a range of sub-themes including innovation, mobility, displacement and asylum, migrant voices, religious diversity and multiculturalism. APRRN members were strongly represented throughout many of the panels with speakers and panelists including Arash Bordbar, Rez Gardi, Paul Power and Carolina Gottardo.
Over the course of the week, participants had access to over 100 workshops, side events, cultural activities and entertainment – all aimed at exploring some of the complex and contentious issues around migration, diversity and integration. Participants were also lucky enough to hear from a wide range of international guests including David Manicom (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada), Tolu Olubunmi (Entrepreneur and Global Advocate), and Karim Albrem (University Clinic of Hamburg).
The next international Metropolis Conference will be held in Halifax, Canada. More information can be found here.
INNOVATION FOR CHANGE: CAMPAIGN ACCELERATOR TRAINING AND ANNUAL STRATEGY MEETING
4-10 NOVEMBER 2018
APRRN’s Programme Officer Sussi Prapakranant joined 13 civil society actors, human rights defender and activists in Penang, Malaysia from 4-10 November to attend a Campaign Accelerator Training (CAT) and Annual Strategy Meeting (ASM) organised by the Innovation for Change (I4C) East Asia (EA) Hub team.
Ahead of the CAT, the attendees had chosen the overarching theme of Disinformation, and over the course of three days, the participants actively engaged in action based learning, team building exercises, and campaign planning approaches to aid campaign and advocacy work aimed at combatting disinformation and the shrinking of civic space in the East Asia region.
In addition to bringing the I4C East Asia Hub members together to collectively develop a Campaign on Combating Disinformation, the CAT was an opportunity for them to learn how to incorporate actor mapping, design thinking and systems analysis into developing campaigns and many more useful tools in advocacy work within their respective country context and organisations.
The three-day workshop was characterised by the great energy, passion and focus of the participants, the facilitators and the East Asia Hub, and a great space for exchanging knowledge, expanding the network and an all-through inspirational experience.
On 8-10 November 2018, many of the CAT participants, along with 40 other I4C East Asia Hub members and partners of the network attended an ASM.
During the first day of the ASM, the attendees guided by the EA Hub team, took stock of the first two years’ of work of the Hub members. This was followed by a session scanning the terrain for the shrinking civic space in the region, focused specifically on the role of China and the geopolitical, economic and political implications of China’s influence on the rest of East Asia.
Concluding the first day of the ASM, East Asia Hub members then proceeded with a scan of the East Asia terrain by country, identifying the most pressing issues and concerns and factors contributing to the shrinking of the space within which they work.
The second day of the ASM was dedicated to Strategy Setting for the I4C East Asia Hub to collectively come up with strategic priorities, identifying and uniting on specific goals and strategic outcomes for our work.
The ASM also provided a platform for the East Asia Hub members to discuss governance issues, and provide input on resolving governance issues, in order to improve and strengthen the life and sustainability of the East Asia hub. Some of the topics that were covered were membership forms and criteria and participation, Hub leadership, Hub and project hosting and the East Asia hub in relation to the Global Governance Circle.
On the final day of the ASM, participants were able to attend two Skills Share sessions. The first Skills Share presented the attendees with various collaborative technological tools such as hackfoldr, hackmd, jitsi, github, setting up websites. The second Skills Share workshop introduced participants to Collaborative Economy, peer-to-peer, often technology-supported tools created to allow users to acquire, provided or share access to goods and services that are facilitated by a community based on-line platform.
LAUNCH OF RUNNING ON EMPTY: CANADA AND THE INDOCHINESE REFUGEES, 1975-1980
5 NOVEMBER 2018
APRRN Secretary General Themba Lewis and APRRN Board Member Puttanee Kangkung attended, at the invitation of Her Excellency Ms. Donica Pottie, Ambassador of Canada to the Kingdom of Thailand, the launch of Running on Empty: Canada and the Indochinese Refugees, 1975-1980, by Michael J. Molloy, Peter Duschinsky, Kurt F.Jensen, and Robert J. Shalka, held at the official residence of the Canadian Ambassador.
The event provided an opportunity for select guests to discuss the history of the largest and most ambitious refugee resettlement effort in Canada’s history, which saw 60,000 refugees transferred to Canada primarily through private sponsorship programmes in the aftermath of the fall of Saigon in 1975. Mr. Michael Molloy, a primary author of the book, chronicled Canadian government officials’ efforts to help with the resettlement and personal account of the process, drawing from his direct involvement with the initiative, communications with refugees themselves, and accounts of staffers assigned the task of facilitating the movement. Attendees discussed lessons learned, explored the development of Canada’s current refugee resettlement scheme, and worked to consider ways forward for current refugee communities in the face of growing isolationism, widespread xenophobia, and decreasing resettlement spots.
APRRN’s representation at the event was significant, particularly in terms of directing discussion
towards current refugee issues in the region and transferrable lessons from the historical
experience. A number of issues of concern to the APRRN membership were raised during the
presentation itself and follow up conversations with the author.
SEVENTH MEETING OF THE ASIA DIALOGUE ON FORCED MIGRATION
18-20 NOVEMBER 2018
The 7th Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration (ADFM) meeting was held for 2 consecutive days in Bangkok, Thailand. Held twice annually since 2015, this particular meeting was focused on the risks of human trafficking, migrant smuggling and related exploitation arising from the displacement of the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh. In addition, the meeting also discussed coordinated regional responses to migrants at risk; and good practice alternatives to child detention.
A number of APRRN members were present at the meeting, including representatives from Act for Peace (Australia), Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (Bangladesh), Jesuit Refugee Service (Indonesia), Guentanoye Foundation (Indonesia), Migration Working Group (Malaysia) and the International Detention Coalition (Malaysia).
More information on the meeting can be found here.
SHORT COURSE ON REFUGEE RIGHTS AND ADVOCACY
26-29 NOVEMBER 2018
APRRN organised the 7th Short Course on Refugee Rights and Advocacy in Bangkok, joined by 23 participants from 11 different countries in the Asia Pacific region. This year, the Short Course participants comprised of legal advocates, refugee representatives, researchers, and NGO workers from Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Hong Kong and Iran. Participants came with a diverse range of experience and from different professional backgrounds, each bringing interesting reflections and perspectives to the table. Three directors of well-established organisations and refugee advocates were amongst those who attended.
The course was aimed at strengthening participants’ understanding of forced migration in Asia Pacific through a human rights lens, as well as to build capacity, practical knowledge and skills in advocating for the rights of refugees in this region. Contents of the Short Course were carefully curated to ensure that the curriculum presented were relevant for current contexts in the region and practical in its application.
Rachel Tan from the APRRN Secretariat and Dr Mike Hayes from Mahidol University’s Institute for Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP) were the main course facilitators. Resource persons invited as speakers for the course included individuals from the academics (University of New South Wales and Mahidol University), OHCHR, UNHCR, Human Rights Watch, the media (Reuters), and a refugee representative who is now an avid advocate in Australia.
The course was delivered through a combination of interactive lectures, case studies of current ongoing issues and group work. Each participant brought an advocacy issue of interest prior to the Short Course, specific to their individual contexts, and those issues were utilised throughout the Short Course as examples and in the exercise of strategising advocacy plans. Five advocacy plans were developed by the end of the course, addressing pertinent refugee issues in the region.
APRRN IN THE MEDIA
• ‘Afghan Hazaras Slaughtered and Australian Families Want Action’
• ‘Aussie Refugee Soccer Star Hakeem Al-Araibi Remains Detained in Thailand’
• ‘Australia Refuses to Sign UN Migration Pact, Citing Risks to Turnbacks and Detention’
• ‘In seeking solutions to Rohingya crisis, ASEAN must learn from past mistakes’
• ‘Why the Trump-Kim Summit Did Nothing for North Korean Refugees’
• ‘Zambales Lawmaker Leads Parliamentarians Forum on Refugees Issue’
• [특파원리포트] “인터폴 적색수배자” vs “난민 출신 축구선수”…태국의 선택은?
• 近年中國人在台提政治庇護3案 3人結果大不同
• ‘Refugees: Collateral Damage In Thailand’s Illegal Migrant Crackdown’
• ‘Arab Refugees in Bangkok Long for Home Amid Immigration Crackdown’
• ‘Bahrain Footballer to Remain in Detention: Thai court’