News Briefs (June 2023)
Happy World Refugee Day 2023! To commemorate the month, APPRN and its members carried out diverse activities throughout the month, to highlight the challenges and opportunities for refugees and other displaced people in our region, as part of our ongoing efforts to protect and promote human rights and meaningful inclusion and participation in refugees, migrants and displaced people.
Stop arbitrary detention of refugees: making this a reality under Thai law
APRRN, as part of the Coalition of the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons (CRSP), held an event on 19th June at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Thailand, which discussed arbitrary and indefinite detention of refugees, migrants and stateless persons, and provided recommendations to whoever will be in power under the new government of Thailand to stop arbitrary detention. During the event, APRRN - in collaboration with Equal Asia Foundation - showed its newly released film “It’s Not Always Rainbows”, which will be launched publicly in July 2023.
We are thrilled to announce that APCRR 9, the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Networks biennial event, will be held on Tuesday 12 and 13 Wednesday September in Bangkok. We have scheduled the days to coincide with the UNHCR consultation on 14 and 15 September. To ensure the broad participation of our members, the event will be held in a hybrid format, offering both in-person and online options. Please mark the dates in your calendar, and if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see as many of you as possible in Bangkok.
Sitarah Mohammadi at the UN Human Rights Council 53rd Regular Session
APRRN Chair Sitarah Mohammadi spoke at the UN Human Rights Council's 53rd Regular Session, emphasising the layers of vulnerability faced by Hazara women due to their gender, religion, and ethnicity. Written statement here.
Create a Rainbow subcategory in the New Zealand Refugee Quota Programme
Co-Secretary General Hafsar Tameesuddin submitted a petition on behalf of APRRN to the New Zealand Parliament on the creation of a Rainbow Refugee subcategory within the annual refugee resettlement in New Zealand. Rainbow refugees are among some of the most at-risk people fleeing persecution due to the situations that have compelled them to flee their country in the first place, and the unsuitable situations that they often find in the countries where they first flee to. The petition was signed by more than 50 people and endorsed by Labour Party & Green Party MPs.
UNHCR Asia Pacific NGO Consultations
APRRN, in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Network of Refugees (APNOR) and ICVA co-organised the first side events to the 2023 UNHCR NGO Consultations on 14-15th of June. More than a hundred participants expressed their interest and commitment to engage in the Global Refugee Forum process this December, and explored with UNHCR on how to strengthen and improve meaningful implementing and strategic partnerships.
Refugee resettlement in New Zealand and its future implications
Co-Secretary General Hafsar Tameesuddin took part in a World Refugee Day event hosted by Voice of Aroha and New Zealand Youth Refugee Council on, “Refugee Resettlement in NZ and its future implications” to discuss challenges and opportunities for collaboration for better outcomes of refugee resettlement and protection in New Zealand and beyond. The event highlighted the importance of creating a more compassionate and inclusive society that values and supports the rights and well-being of refugees in New Zealand which centre on the expertise and knowledge of people with lived experiences.
Working Group Updates
Rohingya Working Group
- Rohingya Working Group Chair, Lilianne Fan, spoke during the ‘Rohingya at Risk’ segment of the Straight Talk Southeast Asia podcast series, discussing policy responses needed to improve conditions for Rohingya.
- On 6th June, the Associated Press released a harrowing account describing events leading up to the sinking of a boat carrying 180 Rohingya refugees on 7 December 2022. Rohingya Working Group Deputy Chair, Chris Lewa, provided key input to the article and was heavily involved in advocacy at the time the boat was in distress. The article provides key insight into why Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh camps are compelled to take the perilous journeys, and the devastating consequences of a lack of coordinated search and rescue operations by states in the region.
- Deputy Chair and Arakan Project Founder, Chris Lewa, attended the 53rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva as a panellist on the measures necessary to find durable solutions to the Rohingya crisis and to end all forms of human rights violations and abuses against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar. Chris’ statement is here. Fellow panellist and Rohingya female activist, Yasmin Ullah, Chair of the Board at Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma), also delivered a powerful statement here
Member Spotlight! World Refugee Day 2023
Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh:
- COAST Foundation, in cooperation with the Cox’s Bazar CSO-NGO Forum (CCNF), held a webinar, ‘Rohingya Community & Humanitarian Face of Bangladesh’.
- Rohingya Students’ Union (RSU) Bangladesh released a video of Rohingya students expressing their feelings about their favourite place in Myanmar and their wish to be there, and not in Bangladesh refugee camps, on World Refugee Day. Watch the video here.
- Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH) released a statement and the following message: "Today is World Refugee Day, on which the world celebrates refugees’ strength, bravery, and solidarity. As Rohingya refugees living in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp, we ask not to be celebrated, but for our rights - the rights to justice, to citizenship, and to return home.”
Indonesia: JRS Indonesia and SUAKA conducted a series of World Refugee Day Commemoration activities starting with their RISE Discussion Series: Welcoming the Global Refugee Forum 2023: The Role of Civil Society and Refugee Communities in the Development of International and National Refugee Situations. Speakers included Nimo Adam Ahmed, Co-Founder and Director of The Sisterhood - a refugee women-led organisation and APRRN member. Nimo suggested that ‘finding accessible funds should be a priority for communities and civil society organizations that aim to help refugees in Indonesia’. Read more here.
Mizoram, India: Zo Indigenous Forum (ZIF), in collaboration with Student Bar Council, conducted an International Workshop on Refugee Issues in Mizoram. Attended by prominent members from Chin State, including scholars, MPs and MLAs, the speakers highlighted the laws in place that also apply to refugees. Read more here.
From our Members
12th June: Rohingya Human Rights Initiative released a statement in solidarity with the campaign by Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to return to Myanmar, with a guarantee of full citizenship restoration for the Rohingya, accountability and reparations for the acts of genocide committed by the Myanmar Arm Forces.
22nd June: SUAKA Indonesia’s press release condemns the decisions and actions of the Soekarno Hatta Airport Immigration which refused entry and refouled one asylum seeker from Myanmar on 21st June 2023. This action goes against their non-refoulment principle ratified in Article 3 of the Convention against Torture.
28-29th June: Amnesty International's East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Regional Office in Bangkok organised a Regional Campaigners Skillshare, gathering staff and activists from regional civil society organisations and movements whose roles are focused on campaigning. Participants exchanged skills and learnings on effective and innovative campaigning and created new and deepened existing partnerships that increase our collective campaigning impact.
FORUM-Asia released a joint open letter to the Government of Japan with 237 civil society organisations urging Japan to step up its leadership role at the UN Security Council regarding the ongoing crises in Myanmar.
24th June: Various organisations, including FORUM Asia, released a joint statement concerning the ongoing use of physical and psychological torture by Bangladesh law enforcement and the lack of systematic support for victims. They urge the convenience to adhere to its human rights obligations under international law by ceasing its use of torture and holding perpetrators accountable.
20th June: Pathways Japan has initiated a higher education program for refugees living in Japan or those admitted to Japan in refugee-like situations. More than 150 youth originally from Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine have been enrolled in educational institutions in Japan. Representative Director of Pathways Japan Mr Orii spoke at the event World Refugee Day: Transforming Higher Education and Life-Long Learning organised by UNESCO, where he introduced this initiative. Read more here.
19th June: Education Ministry adviser Morshidi Sirat announced Rohingya refugees will soon be able to pursue tertiary education at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) through the 50 million USD donation from the Qatar Fund of Development. Read more here.
20th June: The Myanmar junta’s increasing prevention of humanitarian aid in the month since Cyclone Mocha has placed thousands of lives at immediate risk and endangered millions of people. Proceeding the cyclone on 14th May 2023, junta authorities have denied authorising travel and visas for aid workers, releasing urgent supplies from customs and warehouses, or reducing unnecessary restrictions on lifesaving assistance. Read more here.
About 2,000 North Korean refugees detained in China are at risk of ‘imminent forced repatriation’, according to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) in the US, once North Korea reopens its border, which has been closed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Philippines’ Vice President Sara Duterte is said to oppose a US request to bring in 50,000 Afghan refugees to the Philippines, prior to their relocation to the United States. Many Afghan men, women and children have been stranded in countries bordering Afghanistan since 2021 while awaiting US visa processing. The Philippines’ government is considering the request from the US to allow the refugees to stay in the Philippines until they receive special immigration visas from the US.
Reports & Publications
UNSW Sydney’s Tristan Harley published a research brief analysing UNHCR’s first-ever definition of a refugee-led organisation, a welcomed development from the agency. This is a step towards UNHCR recognising refugee-led organisations as legitimate stakeholders in policy and programming. How the agency will incorporate this definition into its policies and programmes is left to be seen.
The Protecting Rohingya Refugees in Asia (PRRiA) project released a discussion paper examining how humanitarian actors can strategically promote regional responses to protracted Rohingya displacement to better protect Rohingya refugees and better serve the interests of host countries. The paper distils lessons from past efforts to promote regional responses and suggests recommendations for actions that could be taken both within existing policy frameworks and towards new policy processes.
FORUM-Asia launched Defending in Numbers – Rising Together Against All Odds, a publication that investigates the significant obstacles faced by human rights advocates in Asia throughout 2021 and 2022. Despite the region's gradual recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, political changes and unrest created a contentious environment for human rights defenders (HRDs).
APRRN Member Job Vacancies
The Legal Advisor acts as a legal representative for clients when engaging with the justice system for the protection and expansion of the rights of new refugees. Key duties include researching the law and conducting group legal clinics in collaboration with and following the training of community paralegals. Deadline: open until filled.
The Refugee Emergency Response Team Lead oversees the identification of protection issues, provides legal advice and long-term legal solutions through information and referrals. The Team Lead liaises and works collaboratively with representatives from international and local partners to enable positive case outcomes and policy and advocacy efforts. Deadline: open until filled.
Awards & Scholarships
Nominations are now open for the Women Building Peace Award to honour a woman peacebuilder who has made a substantial contribution to the pursuit of peace and security in her community, region, or issue area. Must be a non-US citizen who is able and willing to travel to the US and speak publicly about her work. Self-nominations are not permitted. Deadline: 31 July 2023.
The Fugee HiEd Scholarship applications are now open! This tertiary education scholarship is awarded to qualified and deserving refugee students living in Malaysia. Through the programme, scholars receive free tuition, mentorship and extensive career and development opportunities. Deadline: 16th August 2023.
Awards & Prizes
We Are Together International Prize is open for nominations to support initiatives related to social change through volunteering. Priority areas: Healthcare and Emergency Response, Ecology and Sustainable Development, Equal Opportunities and Social Justice and ‘Good Deed of the Year’. Amount: $10,000. Deadline: 20 July 2023.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) is inviting applications to enhance Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM) oriented research on the health and welfare of marginalised communities (including refugees) by researchers from marginalised groups. The funds may be used for research activities and/or living expenses by the recipient when conducting the research project and/or travel to the research destination/necessary for the research. Amount: £2,000 (12 months) + mentoring. Deadline: 31 July 2023.
The ARISE Consortium seeks proposals from women’s rights organisations or other CSOs with experience conducting applied research and are interested in the intersection of gender equality and finance. The ARISE Research Grants will support innovative research that is driven by organisational expertise on gender equality to change the way local communities think about and engage with financial actors. Amount: 20,000 - 50,000 USD (6-9 months). Deadline: 7 July 2023.
The United Nations in Malaysia has announced a call for applications for projects that make a positive impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Malaysia. Refugees are included in the listed priority areas. Applicants must be registered organisations in Malaysia. Amount: 100,000 - 500,000 USD (6-18 months). Deadline: 14 July 2023.
Rising Tide Foundation accepts letters of interest all year round (no deadline). Priority areas: Private Sector Solutions, Systems Change, Empowerment of Individuals and Teaching Freedom. Grant amount: not specified. Multi-year funding is available.
If you would like to apply to one of these funds in partnership with APRRN, please reach out to Victoria at email@example.com. APRRN would be happy to provide support and/or partnership where needed.
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