● Responses to COVID-19
● Shifting to online activities (including Short Course)
● Responding to pushbacks and xenophobia
● International work (e.g., Global Pledges, UN Network on Migration)
2020 was a challenging year for all, as the COVID-19 pandemic and attendant health risks and travel restrictions forced us to reimagine our work and respond to a rapidly changing landscape, including outbreaks of xenophobia, boat pushbacks, and opportunistic shrinking of the civil society space. In response, APRRN quickly re-organised, re-envisioning what was possible and reimagining how we could advocate for the protection of refugees across the Asia Pacific region and strengthen the capacity of advocates for refugee rights. Our responses included vigilantly monitoring and responding to protection challenges, advocating for the inclusion of refugees in all
COVID-19 preparedness and response plans, supporting localisation and refugee-led initiatives, and bridging local, regional and global responses.
As a regional network, many of APRRN’s activities already took place virtually, so we were relatively well prepared to adapt to the new reality. In 2020, APRRN held its first virtual Short Course—receiving the largest number of applications in its history—thus strengthening the capacity of advocates throughout the region, while also engaging in joint advocacy. Participants were among the most diverse of Short Courses APRRN has organised: of the 26 participants, 16 were women and 12 were people with refugee backgrounds; half of the resource persons were women. The virtual learning process and platform provided participants, especially those limited by travel restrictions due to their legal status, the opportunity to convene, work on group projects, and collaborate with international course mates. The course helped foster remote engagement, which has been sustained after the course.
In 2020, Converge, a network consultancy, explored APRRN’s network structure and governance to streamline our processes, more effectively deliver our objectives, and strengthen communications. From April 2020 to October 2020, Converge met with the Secretariat, the Board Members, the Steering Committee, and APRRN members more broadly to identify challenges and strategise solutions. They presented a synthesis of APRRN stakeholder engagement, underpinned by the feedback they received and identifying key areas for growth. A draft APRRN Network Charter outlining APRRN’s purpose, priorities, and principles was created.
As the year progressed and it became more apparent that travel restrictions would not soon be lifted, and that many of the countries in which APRRN members are based were grappling with severe COVID-19 outbreaks, APRRN’s membership amended the APRRN Statutes to enable the Steering Committee to postpone APRRN’s eighth biennial Asia Pacific Consultation on Refugee Rights (APCRR8). With the General Assembly’s approval, APCCR8 was postponed until 2021.
Full report here.