Check out this issue for exciting updates on the Nepal National Roundtable, retreat on refugee status determination challenges, Pakistan Youth Consultation, and Rescue Workshop with fisherman in Aceh, Indonesia! Additionally, guest columnist Laleena Salar from Children and Women Trust-Pakistan shares her experience from a visit to a refugee camp in Pakistan.
The purpose of this newsletter is to update members on APRRN activities within the last three months. For a list of upcoming events, check out our APRRN Calendar for a list of events in the region.
If you have any questions, concerns, comments or corrections, please email email@example.com.
- Nepal National Roundtable 25 March 2016, Kathmandu, Nepal
- Engagement with the ACWC: Representatives meeting, 29-30 March 2016, Bangkok, Thailand
- Special Feature: ‘Rescue at Sea’ Workshop, 1-8 April 2016, Aceh, Indonesia
- APRRN Steering Committee Retreat, 23-24 April 2016, Bangkok, Thailand
- Regional retreat on ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedures,’ 25-26 April 2016, Bangkok, Thailand
- Youth Picnic, 29 April, 2016, Bangkok, Thailand
- Pakistan Refugee Youth Consultation, 2-5 May 2016, Islamabad, Pakistan
- Pakistan National Roundtable, 6 May 2016, Islamabad Pakistan
- APRRN Delegation to New Zealand, 7-15 May 2016, New Zealand
- Submission to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), April 2016
- Guest column, Laleena Salar from Children and Women Trust- Pakistan
- Welcome Nook, the new APRRN intern!
Nepal National Roundtable, 25 March 2016, Kathmandu, Nepal
The Nepal National Roundtable was jointly hosted by INHURED and PPR Nepal with support from APRRN. The event brought together over 50 government representatives, NGO leaders and civil society members for a day of discussions on regarding advocacy plans for future collaborative work on refugee rights in Nepal.
Guest speakers from the Nepal National Human Rights Commission, the Nepal Bar Association and activist groups updated participants on the current country situation, recognising that humanitarian work and earthquake relief has consumed the capacities of all NGOs in the country. There is still much relief work to be done, due to the extreme and wide sweeping damage caused by the tragic April 2015 earthquake. However, the roundtable served as a starting point for stakeholders to analyse the ways in which refugee rights work could be revitalised going forward throughout the next year.
Guest speakers reminded everyone of the importance of a human rights based approach, regardless of the lack of a legal framework. Simply because a legal framework does not exist does not mean that stakeholders should not advocate for such a framework and apply it to their daily work. Stories shared about past programming and events with refugees in Nepal highlighted the warm and welcoming attitude the Nepali people have maintained towards refugees in the past and the need to carry that generosity forward.
The roundtable concluded with group discussions on creating advocacy plans to address the four main areas of interest for refugees: documentation issues, livelihoods, exit permit fines and the revitalisation of a draft refugee bill for Nepal. Participants focused especially on livelihoods, as this issue affects all refugees who are currently living in Nepal. Whereas exit permit fines and a draft refugee bill involve higher level discussions with government, livelihood projects are often run by civil society organisations.
APRRN’s previous work in Nepal has included co-hosting a National Consultation with Urban Refugees in 2014 and visiting local partners in 2015. The roundtable served as a platform to follow-up on these activities. Having highlighted four areas of focus, participants expressed serious interest in drafting concrete advocacy plans. APRRN members have since begun planning long term advocacy projects aimed at improving livelihoods and garnering support for certain refugee groups to more easily obtain the documentation necessary for a legal life in Nepal.
Engagement with the ACWC: Representatives meeting, 29-30 March 2016, Bangkok, Thailand
The ACWC (ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children) is comprised of 20 representatives, two from each country in ASEAN. ACWC recently published their ASEAN Regional Plans of Action to End Violence Against Women (EVAW) and Violence against Children (EVAC).
APRRN joined a preparatory workshop, organised by Forum Asia and held in Bali, back in February 2016.
A larger ACWC meeting was held in Bangkok on 29th and 30th March 2016 with all ACWC representatives and over 40 CSO representatives present. APRRN was represented by Helen Brunt and Vivienne Chew (Chair of APRRN’s Immigration Detention Working Group). Productive conversations were had about joint advocacy between refugee rights groups and children’s rights advocates.
Special Feature: ‘Rescue at Sea’ Workshop in Aceh Indonesia, 1-8 April 2016
In Aceh, Indonesia the Geutanyoe Foundation is promoting social cohesion between Rohingya refugees and the local fishermen who rescued them at sea, and facilitating training from experts to strengthen response preparedness. Continue reading about this unique programme…
APRRN Steering Committee Retreat, 23-24 April 2016, Bangkok, Thailand
The annual APRRN Steering Committee (SC) Retreat was held over the last weekend of April in Bangkok. In addition to the Network’s Chair and Deputy Chair, the APRRN SC is made up of the Chair and Deputy Chair of each of APRRN’s Geographic working groups, as well as the Chair of each Thematic working group. The SC also has two non-voting advisors.
During the retreat, SC members discussed APRRN’s financial and governing structure, as well as complete programmatic planning. A detailed report will be shared with members soon.
Regional retreat on ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedures,’ 25-26 April 2016, Bangkok, Thailand
UNHCR is currently processing the highest number of asylum and refugee cases in its history. A lack of both UNHCR and state resources has led to a significant backlog, with first instance interviews often scheduled two to three years after an asylum seeker registers their claim with UNHCR. Further compounding protection challenges, even once a refugee has been recognised by UNHCR, many still find themselves subject to arrest or detention, effectively without protection. In this environment, the need to reevaluate the effectiveness of the current RSD system is clear. Against a backdrop of the current global ‘RSD crisis’, UNHCR is engaging in multi-stakeholder dialogue on this issue; a meeting with UNHCR’s Regional RSD Advisors is planned for June 2015.
In preparation for these global events, APRRN organised a retreat, facilitated by Brian Barbour, Chair of APRRN’s LAAWG and Director of the Protection and Assistance Unit at the Japan Association for Refugees (JAR). The two-day retreat included discussions on measuring protection mechanisms and their impact, how to improve quality, efficiency and integrity of RSD operations, and how to facilitate greater civil society and state engagement in RSD and non-RSD protection activities.
Retreat participants prepared recommendations which are being shared with UNHCR Headquarters, the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, and with the National Offices in countries where APRRN has members.
Youth Picnic, 29 April, 2016, Bangkok, Thailand
Many of the youth who attended the Bangkok Refugee Youth Consultation (February 2016) expressed the desire for more opportunities to connect with one another and build relationships. APRRN, Asylum Access Thailand, BP SOS and JRS Thailand jointly hosted a youth picnic for local refugee and Thai youth. The afternoon picnic included games, food and an opportunity for the youth to learn how the recommendations they offered at the youth consultation in February are being taken forward.
Pakistan Refugee Youth Consultation, 2-5 May 2016, Islamabad, Pakistan
The Global Refugee Youth Consultations were held in Islamabad from 2-5 May 2016. The consultations were co-organised by APRRN, UNHCR, the Women’s Refugee Commission, Children Women Trust and REPID. Twenty refugee youth from Afghanistan and five Pakistani youth participated in the four-day consultations.
During the first two days, participants discussed youth participation in advocacy, identified the issues and needs most important to them, assessed the causes and impacts of their needs, and also worked through a problem tree analysis activity. Participants agreed that the following are some of the issues most important to them: a lack of (higher) education opportunities, legal documentation (extension of the POR cards), difficulties in accessing SIM cards and bank accounts, harassment and discrimination, and a lack fair employment and vocational training opportunities.
On the third day, participants prepared their recommendations on how to address these issues, as well as a presentation for the stakeholder meeting to be held on the following day. On the last day, the youth led a stakeholder meeting with UN agencies, NGOs, embassies, donors and others, during which they presented their recommendations and suggestions for how these stakeholders could address the issues presented.
After the youth consultation, many participants expressed the need for a platform through which they could continue to engage in advocacy about refugee youth issues. Consequently, Children and Women Trust-Pakistan supported the youth through the creation of the Refugee Youth Network-Pakistan in May 2016, which aims to foster refugee youth involvement in Pakistan. The mission of the Network is to advocate for refugee youth in Pakistan, with refugee youth themselves at the forefront of all group activities.
For more information, please visit their Facebook page. APRRN will continue to support the outcomes of the consultations, and the activities of the Refugee Youth Network-Pakistan.
Pakistan National Roundtable, 6 May 2016, Islamabad Pakistan
In early May, APRRN organised and chaired a National Roundtable in Pakistan to bring together APRRN members and partners for strategic planning around national refugee issues. Dr Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, APRRN’s Chair, opened the roundtable, and Syed Laiqat Banori, Chair of the Refugee Rights Network Pakistan, also offered welcoming remarks. Julia Mayerhofer, APRRN’s Interim Executive Director, then provided a brief overview of APRRN’s past and upcoming activities. Lastly Qaiser Siddiqui, CEO of Inspire Pakistan provided a brief presentation highlighting the protection challenges and issues that refugees experience in Pakistan.
After the introductory presentations, participants split into small discussion groups to address three specific subject areas: legal framework and policies, documentation and advocacy. Specific advocacy plans were drafted to address these three thematic areas. To advocate for an improved legal framework, participants planned to update the existing draft refugee bill, organise a roundtable to build momentum around the new draft bill, and create a national committee to organise stakeholders around this issue. Advocacy plans to address documentation challenges include a joint statement on POR (ID) card extensions.
Finally, participants committed to strengthen advocacy on behalf of refugees through a social media campaign, sensitization trainings for government officials across all departments, and planning for a possible regional event to foster collaboration between civil society and governments in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.
APRRN Delegation to New Zealand, 7-15 May 2016
From 7-15 May 2016 a delegation of APRRN members visited New Zealand. The visit was an initiative of APRRN’s Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Working Group and the delegation was comprised of Paul Power (Chair of the Working Group), Dr Robyn Sampson (from the International Detention Coalition) Julia Mayerhofer from the APRRN Secretariat. The visit was made possible due to the strong support of APRRN members in New Zealand, in particular Amnesty New Zealand.
The five-day visit to Auckland and Wellington focused on promoting New Zealand’s role in the region with a focus on promoting Alternatives to Detention (ATD) for children in Southeast Asia. The delegation met with various government officials and parliamentarians. The 13 MPs who met the delegation were drawn from the National, Labour, Green and NZ First parties and included the Deputy Speaker. The delegation also met the Leader and Deputy of the Opposition Labour Party as well as officials from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Immigration NZ, Ombudsman’s Office and NZ Human Rights Commission.
The delegation also took the opportunity to convene brief meetings with members in both Auckland and Wellington. At a public event in Auckland, APRRN highlighted the inhumane conditions in detention centres across the Asia Pacific region and spoke about tangible steps that could be taken to explore viable alternatives to immigration detention. Some ideas and proposals discussed during the week include funding for shelters in South East Asian countries, increased resettlement opportunities, government-to-government trainings and New Zealand taking on a greater leadership role in refugee protection, at both the regional and international level.
Media coverage of the delegation can be found here:
From the Asia Pacific Report: “NZ could play key role in ending child detention, say refugee advocates”
From the Immigration detention Coalition: “NZ could play key role in ending children detention”
See the APRRN Facebook page for additional coverage
Submission to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), April 2016
In partnership with ALTSEAN Burma, Burma Partnership, FORUM-Asia, and the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, APRRN has sent in a submission to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). This is part of APRRN’s continued engagement with ASEAN..
The submission, “Maritime movements of the Rohingya and recommendations to improve human rights protection for Rohingya refugees: an analysis of the situation of maritime movements of Rohingya refugees in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea” includes recommendations to improve human rights protection for Rohingya refugees in the ASEAN region.
Read the full submission: http://aprrn.info/submission-to-the-aichr-rohingya-refugees/
Guest columnist, Laleena Salar from Children and Women Trust- Pakistan
APRRN member, Laleena Salar from Pakistan, writes about her personal encounter with a refugee boy struggling to provide for his family and she calls on us to push for equality and dignity for refugees around the world. Continue reading…
If you’re interested in submitting a piece for the next newsletter, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome Nook, the new APRRN intern!
Hi, I’m Nook. I was born and raised here in Thailand. I just recently graduated from Thammasat University with a major in British and American Studies. I had spent a year studying abroad at San Diego State University, USA. Over there, I had a chance to work with International Rescue Committee (IRC) in San Diego. Working with them, as a Citizenship Tutor, has significantly changed my perspective towards refugees. Since then, I have developed my passion in working for people in need.
Q: What made you interested in working with APRRN?
So from my experience working with IRC, I found myself a purpose in life, that is to work within the refugee context. I am also pursuing my Master’s degree in Asia-Pacific Studies. So I found APRRN is the best and most suitable platform to further my practical experiences and refugee knowledge in the region I am studying.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about working with APRRN?
I would say the opportunity to gain first hand experiences and knowledge of the refugee situation in Asia-Pacific region. With all the incredible work they have done, I am sure that I will be able to learn a lot from APRRN. Also, I believe APRRN would be a great channel for me to contribute and raise awareness of refugee rights in Thailand and countries in the region.