Monthly Briefs (August 2022)
The following Monthly Briefs highlight APRRN and partners' advocacy efforts over the month of August and inform about upcoming events and activities. We strive to provide you with regular updates on the network’s activities and developments in the refugee protection sphere, alongside the emerging political climate in the Asia Pacific region. Should you like to contribute information, resources, or updates, kindly contact Sharon at email@example.com.
- APRRN’s Afghanistan co-consultants continued collating information on legal pathways out of Afghanistan, including practical information on border crossings, passport and renewal issues, mapping of mental health and psychosocial support services (MHPSS), and online education or remote employment opportunities open to Afghan refugees. This information is collated in both English and Dari on ‘APRRN Information on Afghanistan’, an Afghanistan-specific Facebook page and will be soon hosted on a bilingual website.
- In collaboration with Equal Asia Foundation, APRRN is currently recruiting an individual to develop and produce a documentary film, documenting the experience of LGBTQI+ forcibly displaced persons in Thailand. The aim is to improve state and non-state actors’ empathy, understanding and responsiveness to LGBTQI+ forcibly displaced persons’ protection needs in Thailand and across the Asia Pacific region. Interested candidates are required to apply before the 10th of August 2022 at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating in the subject line “Filmmaker Application”. To identify suitable resource persons a survey has been disseminated inviting LGBTIQ+ forcibly displaced people to express interest. The four selected participants will be interviewed, co-design and develop the documentary.
- 17th August: The Asia Alliance Against Torture (AAAT) invited our Afghan consultant Rana Refahi and our membership and communications officer, Sharon Kisubi to facilitate a seminar on Displacement and Refugee Rights in Asia for The Asia Classroom (TAC). The Asia Classroom (TAC) is a free online human rights course for youths across Asia. Rana and Sharon presented an overview of refugee rights, challenges for refugee youths in the region and a case study on protection concerns for refugees in Thailand and explored with participants how young people can use their own voices to expand the conversation on refugee rights in Asia.
- 17th August: APRRN in partnership with the Center for Asylum Protection (CAP) in Thailand conducted a multistakeholder discussion on the country’s National Screening Mechanism (NSM) on how to realise protection for refugees and asylum seekers. The event aimed to create opportunities for refugee representatives to raise their concerns on the mechanism with other stakeholders, including the Royal Thai Government to make sure that refugees are fully protected when the mechanism is implemented. A diverse range of participants including government representatives, refugee coalition groups, refugee advocates, refugee representatives, NGO representatives, and UN organizations participated in the event. For further information please contact email@example.com.
- 19th August: The TAFT Education Initiative concluded with a graduation ceremony in Bangkok Thailand. The project was an APRRN initiative in collaboration with Bangkok Urban Community Club (BUCC) and the US Embassy to provide Thai language and computer literacy courses to refugees and asylum seekers in the country.
- 25th August: APRRN launched a Briefing Paper: It's Time to Share Responsibility-The Rohingya Crisis Five Years On, authored by Chris Lewa, Deputy Chair of the Rohingya Working Group. Analysing the reality of the protection environment in each of the countries where large numbers of Rohingya refugees are physically located, the briefing paper highlights the inadequacies in each of these contexts, the failure to afford even the bare minimum of human rights to the Rohingya, the repeated cycle of forced displacement, and the normalisation of their denigration and disempowerment. It provides practical recommendations on how to improve protection for the Rohingya in view of the lack of any realistic solution to their long-standing persecution in Myanmar, and stigmatisation globally, regionally, and nationally in countries of refuge. APRRN's Chair, Hafsar Tameesudin, was one of the contributors to the paper and, as a Rohingya, former refugee, states: “After more than 40 years of persecution, with no solutions in sight, and no clear political leadership, we are all complicit in the ongoing marginalisation of the Rohingya, and we must all begin to accept, and share, responsibility if we hope that situation to change.” The report was distributed extensively to the Media, APRRN Members, APRRN networks, government contacts and regional Think Tanks and covered by a Myanmar news site Mizzima.
- 25th August: Liberty Victoria has awarded Sitarah Mohammadi Deputy Chair of APRRN and Sajjad Askary the 2022 Liberty Victoria Young Voltaire Human Rights Award. The award was due to their continuous advocacy for the Hazaras along with other marginalized people in Afghanistan, by publishing articles in various prominent newspapers in Australia and globally.
- 29th August: APRRN conducted a webinar on Strengthening Advocacy Efforts to Make the Right to Work for Refugees a Reality in the context of Malaysia and Thailand. The panel included Lilianne Fan, Chair of the Rohingya Working Group, Dr Bhanubhatra Kaan Jittiang from Chulalongkorn University, Aslam Abd Jalil from the University of Queensland, Zack Denton from Asylum Access Thailand (AAT) and Mohammad Esmail Ghaibi from Asylum Access Malaysia. The event discussed current legal barriers and challenges, ways to advance the discussion between the government parties and best practices from each country.
- 30th & 31st August: APRRN conducted a workshop on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at APRRN. The workshop falls under the Gender and Diversity Mainstreaming Project by the Women, Gender and Diversity Working Group. Facilitated by Janet Irvine, manager of diversity training at Settlement Services International (SSI), the interactive workshop provided a space for further discussion and reflection on what diversity, equity and inclusion looks and feels like as individuals and within APRRN. Moreover, tapped into a discussion around unconscious bias and power differentials so as to understand discrimination and exclusion in our individual interactions and within the network, among others. Outcomes of the discussion will inform future guidelines and strategic planning.
- 14th August: Light Sound Art Film (LSAF) and Muzafar Ali, an Afghan photographer, conducted a public photo exhibition, marking the one-year fall of Kabul. An Afghanistan Lost is categorised into four themes: children, education, life and women, and was projected in Victoria Square Afghanistan.
- 31st August: Amnesty International released a new report, ‘They don’t treat us like humans’ revealing how Iranian and Turkish security forces have repeatedly pushed back Afghans who attempt to cross their borders to reach safety. The organisation documented numerous instances where security forces have unlawfully opened fire on men, women and children trying to cross the border. Afghans who do manage to enter Iran or Turkey are routinely arbitrarily detained, and subjected to torture and other ill-treatment before being unlawfully and forcibly returned.
- 1st August: Legislation mandating timeframes on detention, has been introduced in parliament by independent MP Andrew Wilkie, seconded by independent MP Kylea Tink. The legislation has the potential to terminate Australia's indefinite arbitrary detention system. Read more here.
- APRRN member Harley Tristant, a researcher at UNSW, published his thesis titled Beyond Storytelling: Refugee Participation in Decision-Making Process demonstrating the restriction of refugee participation in the relocation of durable solutions, the delivery of programs and refugee services. As per the limitations of international refugees and human rights law in ensuring refugee participation, the thesis proposes novel reforms to improve the international legal and policy framework. Download the full thesis here.
- Forcibly Displaced People Network (FDPN) in collaboration with Equal Asia Foundation, has announced the 2023 Queer Displacements Conference, the second Asia Pacific conference to cover LGBTIQ+ asylum and migration. The conference is a space to raise awareness, and solidarity and engage the whole of society in ensuring justice, protection and solutions for LGBTIQ+ people in forced displacement. With the theme of Leadership, Partnership and Belonging, the conference will present the leadership of LGBTIQ+ forcibly displaced people and best practices of support for these communities with the objective of achieving belonging and ending displacement.
- 25th August: Rohingyas Students Union (RSU) released a joint CSO statement marking the 5-year Rohingya Genocide Remembrance day, expressing their needs, expectations and demands for the community.
- 14 August: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, visited Cox’s Bazar & Dhaka during her first official visit to Bangladesh. She met with a host of officials including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Ministers, civil society representatives and Rohingya refugees. Her Press Statement is here.
- 23rd August: The Japanese government has granted refugee status to 98 Afghans fleeing the Taliban, a rare venture from a country with little record of providing asylum. The refugee list consists of staff from the Japanese embassy, which people hope could lead to a breakthrough from the government to accept more people fleeing conflict in nations such as Myanmar in the future. Read more here.
- 3rd August: In a joint statement, the Alliance of Chin Refugees and Beyond Borders, urges the government to create a conducive environment for refugees to live with dignity. Both organisations called to stop immigration raids, ensure aid packages include refugee communities, grant the right to work and allow the UNHCR access to immigration detention centres. The statement emerges in light of the recent suicide of a refugee father from Myanmar and his daughter and son. Malaysia is increasing immigration raids which create fear of arrest and detention by refugees affecting their mental health and freedom of movement. Read more here.
- 5th August: Liliane Fan co-founder of the Geutanyoe Foundation and Chair of the Rohingya Working Group, has called for a strong spotlight on Malaysia’s mental health situation, in response to the heartwrenching murder-suicide involving three Myanmar nationals. She calls for a study to be conducted on the matter, on how to prevent such tragedies in the future. Read more here.
- 6th August: The United Nations' new special envoy for Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, made her first trip to the country, a day after a junta court sentenced ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to six more years in jail for corruption. The trip followed the UN Security Council’s latest call for an immediate end to all forms of violence and unimpeded humanitarian access in the strife-torn country. Read more here.
- 17th August: Hardeep Singh Puri, Federal Minister for Housing and Urban Development, has backtracked on his earlier statement to provide housing, around-the-clock security and basic amenities for the Rohingya, implying a potential shift in the government's stance on the group. Read more here.
- 18th August: The Rohingya Human Rights Initiative (ROHRIngya/R4R), released a press statement in response to the Home Minister's Office's comments on Rohingyas as “illegal foreigners” to be detained and deported.
- 1st August: The UNHCR has published the Myanmar Situation Preparedness & Response Plan for July - December 2022. The report is an inter-agency document jointly prepared based on agreed scenarios and contingency plans with the help of various in-country resources. Download the full plan here.
- 24th August: Fortify Rights, released a report a compendium of reports of the Rohingya genocide, in conjunction with the 5-year Remembrance of the Rohingya exodus. The reports serve as a reminder of the continuous atrocities committed by the Mynamar military and the violations bestowed on Rohingyas.
- 25th August: FotoEvidence published A Chance to Breathe a book of exclusive photography and poetry by three Rohingya refugees Omal Khair, Dil Kayas and Azimul Hasson, living in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps. The work is part of a 2018 partnership between Doha Debates and Fortify Rights, providing photography and social media training for the three young refugees, to document their lives and engage the outside world by providing an intimate look at the life of Rohingya refugees. The book is available for purchase and all proceeds from the book sales will be directed to the Rohingya community.
- 31st August: APRRN member, Chawaratt Chawarangkul, from the International Detention Coalition (IDC) presented on Immigration Detention and Alternatives in Thailand during the “Wednesday SEA Mobilities” event conducted by SEA Junction in collaboration with IPSR In-House Seminar and Mahidol Migration Centre (MMC). The event revolved around the refugee and migrant situation in the nation and how despite the introduction of some initial ATD practices, policy and implementation gaps persist. Read more about the presentation here.
- 3rd August: The Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration (ADFM) held its eleventh meeting on the opportunity to reform the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, along with the ongoing conflict in Afghan and Myanmar; discussing effective ways for the region to respond. The meeting was attended by the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi and Foreign Minister of Malaysia, Saifuddin Abdullah. Participants included senior government officials from eight countries, international organisations and civil society representatives. Read more here.
- 6th August: Angga Reynadi, from APRRN member SUAKA, presented at the ALSA LC UGM annual National Video Conference 2022 calling for stronger Legal Protection for Refugees of War and International Crime. SUAKA, the only CSO speaker at the academic conference presented on the situation of refugees in Indonesia, the right to seek asylum and the criteria for refugee status determination. The event was significant as it included one prominent law professor from University of Indonesia that regularly advocates against the protection of refugees in Indonesia in the national media, belittling Indonesia’s international human rights obligations toward refugees. Watch the video conference in the Indonesian language here.
- 11th August: The Refugee Solidarity Network (RSN) and the Open Society Foundation (OSF) published the Undoing Precarity report written as part of their multi-year research consultancy. The report offers a condensed regional and Global South-oriented analysis of protections and positive practices catered toward refugee and asylum-seeking populations in Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand to demonstrate how protection practices are implemented by non-signatory countries.
- The Global Detention Project (GDP) is conducting the third in its series of interactive webinars on how civil society organisations can mobilise international and regional human rights mechanisms to protect the rights of detained refugees and migrants. The webinar on 5th September 2022 will concentrate on the various mechanisms established by the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT), including the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) and National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs), sought to prevent torture and ill-treatment in detention. More information about the webinar. Please register at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The panel discussion on Refugee Led Responses in a World of Upheaval as part of the Global Summit on Local Leadership by Local Humanitarian Leadership (LHL) has published the video of their full discussion here. The event was moderated by the Chair of APRRN’s Women, Gender & Diversity Working Group, Apajok Biar with panellists of leaders with lived experience of forced displacement, including Hafsar Tameesuddin our APRRN Chair.
- The Migration and Technology Monitor (MTM) has announced a fellowship programme with a 12 monthly stipend of 50,000 USD in support of work from the ground up on border and migration technologies. The fellowship strives to create opportunities for people with lived experience to contribute to storytelling, policy and advocacy conversations from the beginning and not merely as an afterthought. The application deadline is 30th September. Read more here.
- 11th August: Refugee Council of Australia published a report on the 2022 Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR) conducted in Geneva. The report highlights UNHCR's plea for support from resettlement states due to the recent 36% surge in refugees needing urgent resettlement across Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Download the full report here.
- Jeff Crisp, the former senior occupant of UNHCR positions and current advisory member of Refugee History, published an article analysing displacement data, its limitations and potential for misuse. Crisp argues that although the issue of refugees and displaced statistics is taken more seriously now than in the past two decades, displacement statistics are still problematic. This is due to refugees living in places that are dangerous and difficult to access along with states and non-state actors' continuous interest in manipulating refugee statistics, therefore decreasing the precision of statistics presented by the UNHCR and other organisations. Read more here.
Development opportunities and tools
- The Asia Pacific Network of Refugees is conducting a survey on Refugee capacity building needs in the Asia Pacific Region. Based on this survey APNOR will conduct training to empower refugees for a better future. Please head over here to take the survey.
- Tool: The Migration & Asylum Project (M.A.P) has successfully launched a first-of-its-kind app for forcibly displaced women/girls in India. 'Talika' is designed for communities with low literacy levels, poor digital capacities, heightened privacy concerns, and language barriers. Through this app, M.A.P aims to facilitate linkages to hyperlocal support structures, mainly, NGOs, paralegal volunteers, government clinics, police stations, legal aid centres etc., and government helplines. The app is available for Android users to download here.
- Settlement Services International is currently calling for applicants with a refugee background to join their Refugee Employment Support Programme (RESP). RESP is available to people in western Sydney and the Illawarra who are underemployed or unemployed and require extra support. Anyone who arrived in Australia on a refugee visa from December 1, 2011, aged 16 to 66, is eligible for the programme. For the full description, please go here.
- Talent Beyond Borders (TBB) offers an employment connection platform for refugees, in English and Arabic. TBB is a nonprofit organisation committed to opening labour mobility pathways for refugees and other displaced people. TBB does not work on refugee resettlement but rather connects refugees with international employment opportunities so that they may work in countries where they can access full rights and stability. By registering on the platform, refugees are connected to companies in need of their skills. Employers gain valuable talent and displaced people have a chance to rebuild their careers and lives. More information here.
- May 2022: Grant Mitchell, former Director of the International Detention Coalition and founding member of APRRN, released the Practice Guide for Civil Society: Engaging decision-makers on human rights issues. The guide includes a range of tools, tips, resources, and strategies used to increase access, overcome barriers, and contribute to decision-maker receptivity to consider policy change in line with international human rights. A key focus of the guide is to support emerging civil society leadership and the voice and self-representation of affected communities and activists in their advocacy work.
- The United Nations Network on Migration secretariat released a summary of the key outcomes from the IMRF held in May 2022. Access to website, website and overview of side events here.
- APRRN is pleased to announce the call for applications for our Refugee Rights and Advocacy Course 2022! We are excited to be partnering with the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies at Mahidol University and the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York for our course again this year. Our course is a combination of practical and learning modules with the aim of developing critical human-rights understanding relevant to forced migration issues and strengthening the capacity of advocates for refugee rights in the Asia Pacific region. Each year our course brings together a range of experts, from experienced practitioners to advocates with lived refugee experience as resource people and mentors. Participants will also have spaces to network, exchange and be connected with a wider community of practice. The course will run from 27 September to 21 October 2022, held on Tuesdays and Fridays. Enquiries about the course can be directed to the APRRN Secretariat at email@example.com.
- The Karibu Foundation is offering 15,000 USD for projects based in the global south within priorities including strategic networking and movement building; capacity building and young leadership; grassroots mobilisation and civil resistance; just peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Karibu typically funds programmes that provide information exchanges, mobilisation efforts, legislative and research efforts, bridge-building, and dialogue. Projects should have a systemic focus and engage more than one country in collaboration. Deadline 15 August and 24 October. More information here.
- The Open Technology Fund is offering funding within their Internet Freedom Fund. This programme supports projects and people working on open and accessible technology-focused initiatives that promote human rights, Internet freedom, and open societies. The Internet Freedom Fund accepts applications on a rolling basis, meaning there is no set deadline and is done in a two-stage process, from concept note to full application. More information here.
If you would like to apply to one of these funds in partnership with APRRN, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org APRRN would be happy to provide support and/or partnership where needed.
Want to see more funding opportunities? Please see here for APRRN’s funding database, which in particular sets out funding opportunities for refugee-led organisations and initiatives, alongside a sign-up sheet to provide support on applications as needed.
Please support our crowd-funding campaign to enable us to channel funding to refugee-led organisations (RLOs) across the Asia Pacific. RLOs are experts in providing effective interventions due to their practical understanding of the unique situation refugees are in. In other words, RLOs bridge the gap between absent refugee protection policy and the essential services this population needs. Despite the vital nature of this work, RLOs are often excluded from funding streams due to complex donor requirements and administrative burdens, compounded by a competitive environment. This in turn limits RLOs’ autonomy, leadership and connection to the global community. APRRN is thus raising funds to channel finance directly to RLOs, to ensure these organisations can continue to support, protect and assist the ever-expanding refugee population across the region.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Keep up to date with our work and the work of our members in this region