Biweekly Briefs (1-15 September 2021)
Every two weeks, APRRN brings you updates on our network’s activities and developments in the refugee protection landscape in the Asia Pacific region. We provide you highlights of our network's advocacy efforts, what's upcoming, and feature the work of our members, partners, and supporters.
- 9 September: The International Detention Coalition released a statement emphasising the need to respect human rights of Afghan people who have fled the country ensuing the Taliban takeover. This includes a commitment to non-detention, as well as implementation of rights-, community-, and engagement-based alternatives to detention (ATD) where relevant.
- 14 September: Hayat Akbari (Chair of APRRN's Youth Working Group) wrote an op-ed on The Canberra Times about the consequences of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and how the international community, especially Australia, has the moral obligation to protect the rights of people from Afghanistan most at risk.
- 14 September: Evan Jones (Asia Displacement Solutions Platform) wrote an op-ed calling for the continued humanitarian support for Afghanistan and for countries to come together to protect those still in the country.
- Fundraising update: The Asia Pacific Network of Refugees has successfully raised successfully raised over USD 26,000 in their emergency appeal to support displaced Afghan people, receiving donations from the global community. The funds will provide 65 Afghan men, women, and children who have fled to Iran with housing and basic food supplies, and cash transfers to people displaced within Afghanistan, including 25 families.
- The Refugee Solidarity Network published a report as part of a multi-year research project which examines relevant national laws and policies, outlining how they may be applied to improve the current situation of Rohingya refugees, and in some instances of other non-citizen groups.
- The Centre for Peace and Justice, BRAC University hosted an online discussion on Justice and Accountability which was entirely centred around the concept of justice and accountability for Rohingya people. The project hopes to enable the international community to include the Rohingya people in international justice processes and to provide materials, resources, and information for Rohingya refugees to have access to different facets of justice mechanisms. You can watch the recorded sessions here.
- ALTSEAN-BURMA released their August Coup Watch report which monitors the situation in Myanmar. The report includes information on the military crackdown on opposition parties, the pursuit of justice, civil disobedience, COVID-19 vaccination uncertainties, no respite, and the shrinking economy, amongst other key themes.
- The Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies has a new podcast series called 'Unfiltered' where they host honest discussions about issues impacting the lives of those forcibly displaced and possible solutions from a range of perspectives. Their first episode features Behrouz Boochani who talked about his life, detention, and insights into improving the lives of refugees. 'Unfiltered' can also be found on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
- 13 September: Naiyana Thanawattho (Asylum Access Thailand) was mentioned on Al-Jazeera highlighting the plight of Myanmar dissidents who fled the army crackdown and are living in hiding in Thailand trying to seek humanitarian protection.
- In August, APRRN and the Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons organised the National Screening Mechanism (NSM) Report Soft Launch to share the key study findings and recommendations with the public, including activities conducted regarding the NSM implementation assessment. The visual notes are now available here and you can watch a video segment from the event here.
- 6 September: The University of New South Wales organised a film screening and panel discussion on 'Intersectionality, Women & Girls: From Theory to Practice'. The panelists discussed applying the concept of intersectionality in participatory research with forcibly displaced and stateless women and girls, to explore their complex situations, and to identify responses to sexual and gender-based violence and barriers to gender equality. Apajok Biar (Chair of the Women, Gender, and Diversity Working Group) and Hafsar Tameesuddin (Chair of APRRN) were on the expert panel.
- 8 September: Adam Severson (Asia Displacement Solutions Platform) wrote an op-ed in the Bangkok Post on how the international community, regional governments, civil society, and Rohingya themselves could better work together to ensure Rohingya refugees have access to adequate protection, fundamental rights, and opportunities to thrive.
- SUAKA co-organised the Forced Displacement and Urban Management Conference (FDUMC) 2021 from 7-9 September. This conference consisted of participants from the general public, students, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers where they exchanged knowledge and experiences on international forced migration in an urban context. They also got the chance to filter issues of concern for future collaborative research works, especially in the context of the Global South and the Asia Pacific Region.
- The Rohingya Human Rights Initiative released an educational video about the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccinations in the Rohingya language. The video explains why, how, and when to get vaccinated, for refugees.
On the radar
- Virtual events: Resolve Foundation is hosting four online events throughout October on their Every Action Matters campaign. The events will include the release of a Hong Kong first-ever bilingual Equality Toolkit, 'Everyday Actions for Equality in Hong Kong: A Toolkit for Allies', on how to be an ally and active bystander on the areas of race, gender and disability, and a series of experiential virtual workshops. Find out more about the dates and the events here.
- Educational: Justice Centre Hong Kong (JCHK) is introducing their first-ever Mock Trial Experience - a two-day programme for high school students to learn about and apply human rights and asylum law. Students will be trained in the law and then participate in a mock trial – a simulation of the Torture Claims Appeal Board/Non-refoulement Claims Petition Office. Participants will be judged by experts in asylum and human rights law in Hong Kong. JCHK staff and university student coaches from local law schools will guide and mentor participants. Please go here to read more about it.
- Fellowship opportunity: The Aspen Institute in the US is offering a year-long, non-residential programme which provides intensive media and advocacy training for frontline development experts in Asia, as well as Africa and Latin America; in fields such as human rights, food security and global health. The Aspen Institute will give special consideration to Fellows whose work focuses on COVID-19 relief, vaccine development, and pandemic resiliency. The deadline for applications is 20 October. Please go here for more information.
- Call for papers: New Series on ‘Health and Internal Displacement’. This new series seeks to increase engagement on the health needs of IDPs and support research, policy, and programming responses. The series focuses specifically on IDP health but is not prescriptive in terms of health conditions, age groups, geographic region, camp or urban setting. Accepted articles will be published by the Elsevier Journal of Migration and Health. The deadline for submissions is 15 December.
- Fundraising opportunity: RUN Hong Kong is currently running a WiFA x RUN Virtual Fitness Challenge fundraising campaign to support vulnerable refugees to rebuild their mental and physical strength, unite across differences as a community, and nurture self-reliance for a more hopeful future.
From the Secretariat
APRRN is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Eades as its new Secretary General. Chris served as the Executive Director of St Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS), in Cairo from 2014 until recently. Under his leadership, StARS grew from 65 staff assisting 3,500 refugees per year in 2014 to 440 staff assisting 65,000 refugees in 2020. Chris was responsible for recruiting, training, and developing staff from forcibly displaced communities into leadership roles. Today 85% of StARS’ staff and leadership have the lived experience of forced displacement. Previously, Chris was Director of Legal Services for the Jesuit Refugee Service in Bangkok (2013-14) and Director of Legal Programming for Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance (AMERA) in Cairo (2012-13). A UK-trained lawyer, Chris has also worked in the United States as an attorney representing condemned prisoners on death row and children in juvenile prisons, and in the UK as a policy and advocacy officer with the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London, and as a lawyer and team leader with the Refugee Legal Center and Asylum Aid. About his recent appointment, Chris says:
'As recent events in Afghanistan have shown, this is a critical time for the forcibly displaced. APRRN is essential to refugee rights and protection across the Asia Pacific region. Its model of membership gives it unique perspectives founded on the lived experience of refugees and those working on the ground. I'm really looking forward to hearing from the membership and partners about what more APRRN can be doing to improve the lives of the forcibly displaced.'
For more than 13 years, APRRN has been a leader in the region, developing unique strategies and interventions that have directly advanced refugees’ socioeconomic inclusion, supported the capacity of civil society and enhanced the equitable rights of refugees in a region facing severe human rights crises. Please support our vital work by contributing to our campaign to enable us to continue crucial advocacy coordination, collaborative and strategic action, as well as respond to emerging crises in Afghanistan and Myanmar.
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