Wishing you a Happy Holidays & New Year from everyone at the
The purpose of this newsletter is to update members on APRRN activities within the last three months. Check out our last issue of the year as we provide updates on the 6th Consultation on Refugee Rights, APRRN’s interpreter trainings, the Global Forum on Migration and Development, our Short Course on Refugee Rights and Advocacy and many other projects we have been involved in.
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1. APRRN Events and Activities:
- 6th Asia Pacific Consultation on Refugee Rights and Side Events (September 2016)
- Alternatives to Detention Activities in Japan (October 2016)
- CCIP-APRRN Interpreter Training in Bangkok, Thailand (September-October 2016)
- Short Course in Refugee Rights and Advocacy (December 2016)
2. International Advocacy:
- UNHCR High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges (December 2016)
- Global Forum on Migration and Development and People’s Global Action (December 2016)
3. Participation and Representation
In the past few months APRRN has participated in…
- Pathways to Employment Regional Forum organised by the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (September 2016)
- Workshop for Academics on Researching and Teaching about Nationality and Statelessness, Malaysia (September 2016)
- ‘Rights of Rohingya’ Legal Workshop, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (October 2016)
- SNAP Conference (November 2016)
- Regional Training of Trainers on ASEAN’s Human Rights mechanisms, Jakarta, Indonesia (November 2016)
- Urban Practitioner’s Workshop on Meeting Needs in a Context of Urban Displacement in Asia (November 2016)
- USAID Workshop on Next Generation Technologies for Empowering People (November 2016)
Other meetings attended:
- 9th Regional Consultation on ASEAN and Human Rights (September 2016)
- Global Protection Cluster Retreat/Technical Working Group Meeting (September 2016)
- Platform on Disaster Displacement – Advisory Committee Meeting (October 2016)
- ICVA’s Asia Regional Members Meeting and NGO Fora Workshop (November 2016)
4. OF INTEREST:
- ‘Turning a blind eye’: the policy response to Rohingya refugees in Malaysia
- Save the Children Report: The Journey of Refugee and Asylum Seeking Children Across the Andaman
- APRRN Statement – Allow safe passage to Bangladesh for persecuted Rohingya
- APRRN Briefing Paper: What progress has been made following the Andaman Sea “Crisis” in 2015?
- The ‘Screening and Vulnerability Tool’ by IDC and UNHCR
APRRN Events and Activities
From 19 to 23 September, APRRN members gathered from across the Asia Pacific region to discuss key refugee rights issues at our biennial Asia Pacific Consultation on Refugee Rights. This is the sixth time APRRN has organised the consultation, being held on this occasion at the Ambassador hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. The consultations was joined by over 150 participants from 24 countries in the region. Participants included APRRN members, external observers from other national and international NGOs, donors, embassies, refugee communities and UN agencies.
This year’s theme was “Building on Positive Practises”, recognising some of the positive developments in the region and exploring how we build on these through collaboration. The first day consisted of a series of workshops aimed at reaffirming the theme of ‘Building on Positive Practices’. During these thematically diverse workshops, participants had an opportunity to discuss latest updates, positive developments and strategise for joint action. The Network’s governance and financial structures were presented to members and an election for a new Steering Committee was held during the Annual General Meeting on the second day of the consultation. On the third day, each of APRRN’s Geographic and Thematic Working Groups had a chance to meet in person, to review and reprioritise their respective Action Plans for the next two-year period (2016-2018). Members agreed to form two new Thematic Working Groups, namely on Youth and Regional Protection.
Key outcomes and documents:
- A new Steering Committee was elected.
- Two new Working Groups were established, Youth Working Group and Regional Protection Working Groups.
- Discussions led into the finalisation of Action Plans for all Working Groups.
- Powerpoints and resources are available on the APRRN website. Please request the password from the APRRN Secretariat.
- The APCRR6 report with more details on the discussions is now available here.
The Consultation also provided an opportunity to host side events due to the unique congregation of key refugee rights practitioners. These events included a Legal Aid and Advocacy Working Group roundtable alongside UNHCR discussing the RSD Process; a joint workshop between APRRN, MERCY Malaysia and ICVA on capacity strengthening and an Immigration Detention Roundtable on child detention and the discussion of opportunities for joint advocacy on ending child detention in Southeast Asia. Reports for these side events are forthcoming.
From 26 to 28 October, APRRN’s new Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General visited Japan with a focus on promoting Alternatives to Detention (ATDs). The trip’s range of activities were jointly organised by APRRN, the International Detention Coalition as well as our members in Japan. The trip was joined by two representatives from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement who shared good practices and experiences from their case management and ATD programmes.
The trip included a visit to Tokyo’s Immigration Bureau and the detention facilities. This was followed by a closed-door roundtable with representatives from the Ministry of Justice. The event was co-hosted by Forum for Refugees Japan (FRJ), UNHCR Japan and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA). During the roundtable good practices from across the region and the US were shared. Discussions also focused on the ATD pilot project in Japan and its potential expansion. Other activities included meetings with members of the Diet of Japan to promote an expansion of the current ATD model. Finally, the APRRN team also had an opportunity to meet with our members and other partners.
In September and October, APRRN once again partnered with the Cairo Community Interpreter Project (CCIP) to provide foundation-level training to 20 community interpreters working with APRRN’s member organisations and partners in Thailand, which was generously funded by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives. Alice Johnson, Director of CCIP, facilitated eight days of practical training for interpreters working with Arabic, Khmer, Somali, Tamil, Thai, Urdu and Vietnamese-speaking refugees and asylum seekers in Bangkok. Through the training, participants strengthened their multilingual communication capacities, and have now joined the pool of trained interpreters who work with organisations providing rights protection and assistance to the urban refugee and asylum-seeker population in Bangkok.
Alice Johnson also facilitated a ‘Training of Trainers’ for five graduates selected from previous cohorts of community interpreters and participating organisations’ Interpreter Coordinators, which has strengthened the capacity of these organisations to provide appropriate introductory sessions for newly-engaged community interpreters who work with them.
APRRN’s fifth annual short course, focusing on Advocacy and Refugee Rights, was held from 28 November to 1 December in Bangkok, Thailand. The aim of the course was to strengthen participants’ understanding of forced migration in the Asia Pacific through a human rights perspective and to also strengthen participants’ capacity and knowledge in advocating for the rights of refugees in this region. The course was delivered through a combination of lectures, case studies and small group work.
Brian Barbour from the Japan Association for Refugees, Mike Hayes from the Mahidol University Institute for Human Rights and Peace Studies and Ali Palh from RightsNow Pakistan joined the course as the main facilitators. Other resource persons came from UNHCR, Human Rights Watch and other NGOs. Thirty participants coming from Thailand, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Viet Nam, the Philippines and Australia joined the course. The variety of participant backgrounds and group work provided ample opportunity for hands-on application of the daily topics. The APRRN Secretariat is currently working on a toolkit for the short course, which will be ready in Q1 of 2017 and shared on our website.
This year the High Commissioner’s Dialogue focused on ‘Children on the Move’ and was held in Geneva, Switzerland from 8-9 December. APRRN was represented by Asmoro Hadiyanto (Secretary General), Arash Bordbar (Deputy Chair of APRRN’s Youth Working Group) and several members from across the Asia Pacific region.
Discussions focused on three broad thematic area, namely: regional approaches, operationalisation of children’s rights, and securing solutions.There were also roundtable sessions dedicated to the situation of children on the move in Middle East, Africa, America as well as Europe and comprehensive approaches towards addressing the situation.There was also a side session dedicated to the situation of Afghan children on the move and comprehensive approaches towards addressing this situation. A youth side session on the second day featured some of the members of APRRN’s Youth Working Group as panellists and discussed the role of young people in protection and solutions.
APRRN also took the opportunity to arrange side meetings with UNHCR’s Asia Bureau as well as Daniel Endres.
Background materials, the agenda and other documents related to the Dialogue can be found here: http://www.unhcr.org/high-commissioners-dialogue-on-protection-challenges-2016.html
In preparation for the Dialogue, APRRN also joined the ‘Friends of the Dialogue’, an initiative of ICVA (International Council of Voluntary Agencies). APRRN’s contributed key points for inclusion in the Joint Messages from the ‘Friends of the Dialogue’ which are available here: http://www.unhcr.org/584699337
Apart from arranging side meetings with UNHCR’s Asia Bureau and Daniel Endres, APRRN also attended a briefing held by UNHCR and the International Detention Coalition (IDC) on the implementation of UNHCR’s Global Strategy – Beyond Detention, a five-year initiative to support governments to address some of the main challenges and concerns around immigration detention policies and practices, followed by the launching of a new Vulnerability Screening Tool (VST).
From 5-10 December 2016, several APRRN members attended various events in Dhaka, Bangladesh related to the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). This included the Asia Civil Society Day (5 December), People’s Global Action (6-7 December), GFMD Civil Society Days (8-9 December) and the GFMD Government Co-Space Day (10 December). APRRN organised two sessions on mixed migration during the People’s Global Action with recommendations presented at the closing ceremony.
APRRN members in attendance included Migration Working Group (Malaysia), LSCW (Cambodia), Coast Trust and OKUP (Bangladesh). APRRN was also officially represented by Chris Lewa, Dr. Gopal Krishna Siwakoti and Evan Jones from the APRRN Secretariat.
Over the six days, discussions revolved around the two global compacts on refugees and migrants in addition to the key areas of concern across various parts of the globe. The next GFMD and associated side meetings will be held in Berlin in June 2017 followed by Rabat in 2018. Further information on the GFMD process can be found at http://www.gfmd.org.
Participation and Representation
Pathways to Employment Regional Forum organised by the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (September 2016)
The Regional Support Office was established by the Bali Process in 2012 to support and strengthen practical cooperation on refugee protection and international migration, including human trafficking and smuggling, border management, and other components of migration management in Asia and the Pacific. In March 2016, the Bali Process adopted a Ministerial Declaration which also recognised the need to engage with the private sector and explore labour opportunities for refugees.
The Regional Forum brought together representatives of governments, the private sector, civil society and others to discuss labour market access for refugees. With several APRRN members present in the room, participants were invited to discuss practical and collaborative ways. The discussions also focused on how refugees can make positive contributions to host communities.
A summary of the discussions can be accessed here: http://www.baliprocess.net/UserFiles/baliprocess/File/Pathways%20Event%20Summary.pdf
Background papers and materials are available from the Secretariat. Please contact Julia at email@example.com
Workshop for Academics on Researching and Teaching about Nationality and Statelessness, Malaysia (September 2016)
A ‘Workshop for Academics: Researching and Teaching Nationality & Statelessness’ was jointly hosted by UNHCR, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) and the National University of Malaysia (UKM) in Kuala Lumpur from 27 to 28 September 2016. The Workshop participants comprised a multi-disciplinary group of academics, experts and researchers from both East and West Malaysia, with a few expert participants from Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
Helen Brunt from the APRRN Secretariat participated in the Workshop bringing expertise on stateless Rohingya refugees, and an undocumented migratory maritime group known as the Bajau Laut (or Sama Dilaut). Participants recognised that there are significant opportunities for academic collaboration and multi-disciplinary research in Malaysia and the region. A wide range of issues relating to nationality and statelessness were considered, particularly within the context of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) in particular Target 16.9 (Legal identity for all, including birth registration by 2030) as well as development indicators on health and education.
The Equal Rights Trust and the Bar Council of Malaysia hosted a 2-day workshop for 20 lawyers, civil society activists, community leaders and UNHCR representatives involved in promoting and protecting the rights of Rohingya in Malaysia. In this closed-door event, participants developed an understanding of the unified human rights framework on equality and how it applies to the Rohingya in Malaysia. Following this, participants reflected on the current situation of the Rohingya through a presentation of Malaysia’s national law and policy framework on citizenship, right to work, and liberty and security of person with specific reference to Rohingya in Malaysia. Participants also discussed opportunities for pursuing strategic litigation to advance the rights of the Rohingya in Malaysia. On the second day, Helen Brunt, APRRN’s Programme Officer, facilitated a discussion on potential strategies for advocacy on legal and policy reform.
From 24 to 26 November over 40 civil society actors, including several members of APRRN, met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a Conference on Addressing Statelessness in Asia and the Pacific, during which the Statelessness Network Asia Pacific (SNAP) was launched. The Conference provided an opportunity for participants to enhance cooperation amongst civil society actors and strengthen collective capacities to address statelessness in our region.
Regional Training of Trainers on ASEAN’s Human Rights mechanisms, Jakarta, Indonesia (November 2016)
Over six years since the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in 2009 and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) in 2010, knowledge and skills on how to effectively engage and use ASEAN Human Rights mechanisms remain limited among civil society organisations (CSOs) and human rights defenders. In recognition of this, FORUM-Asia hosts an annual ‘Training of Trainers’ designed to strengthen the capacity of representatives from national and regional CSOs and networks to utilise existing ASEAN human rights mechanisms.
This year, APRRN’s Programme Officer Helen Brunt, participated in the 5-day Training which was delivered by prominent human rights trainers. The training programme included guest presentations by Lily Purba, Indonesia’s representative to the ACWC for women’s rights and Leena Ghosh, Assistant Director of the Human Rights Division at the ASEAN Secretariat. The training was held in Jakarta, providing the opportunity for a study visit the ASEAN Secretariat building.
Helen has now joined a pool of human rights trainers with advanced knowledge on ASEAN’s Human Rights mechanisms, and looks forward to imparting her newly-acquired knowledge and skills to members of APRRN’s South East Asia Working Group in due course.
Urban Practitioner’s Workshop on Meeting Needs in a Context of Urban Displacement in Asia (November 2016)
Globally, 59% of refugees live in urban areas, a number that is increasing annually, and Asia is the world’s fastest urbanising continent. Adding to this pressure on cities are natural disasters and the impacts of climate change, which can have severe consequences in urban contexts as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and the 2015 earthquake in Nepal demonstrated. In November, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED) co-organised a 2-day workshop for Urban Practitioners on ‘Meeting Needs in a Context of Urban Displacement in Asia’. The workshop focused on cities within Afghanistan, Iran, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand, and brought together 30 humanitarian and local government actors working in the region. Participants learned from one another through sharing past experiences and discussing opportunities and challenges of collaborative approaches in meeting the needs of displaced populations in urban areas, and exploring the links between humanitarian and developmental goals. During the second day in a session on ‘Systems Strengthening, City Resilience, Human Rights, and Social Cohesion: Practitioners at Work’, Helen Brunt was invited to speak about APRRN, specifically the Network’s work with and for urban refugee and asylum-seeking populations in the region.
Joseph Edmed from the APRRN Secretariat attended a Workshop which brought together representatives from various NGOs and USAID workers in order to share good practices in the use of new technology in humanitarian work. There were three notable projects:
Safecity: Pin the creep. A website developed in New Delhi, India that allows its users to geotag incidents of sexual harassment. The user can also pair their incidents with an image of the perpetrator as well as highlight the severity of harassment. Some of the recorded incidents have gone on to become evidence in criminal charges. For future developments, the website is looking to expand its coverage into other capital cities.
iWoman. A Myanmar-based mobile app that seeks to inspire rural women to become leaders in their communities. The app is proliferated through volunteer youths who travel across the country and introduce rural women to basic mobile IT and app usage.
Baan-Dek Foundation. A Thailand-based organisation that focuses on educating migrant children (particularly those that live on construction sites.) Baan-Dek Foundation has recently started a pilot project involving the use of tablets with a built-in app to assist in providing life lessons to the child such as cooking, knitting and reading etc.
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI)’s Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) have recently published a report on Rohingya refugees in Malaysia. Building on initial research exploring the perspectives of Rohingya refugees in Kuala Lumpur, the analysis presented in this report considers the situation more broadly, critically exploring the roles and perspectives of the individuals, organisations and stakeholders who interact with Rohingya refugees.