March 2016 Issue

This Spring at APRRN

 

Regional Activities

Of Interest

Upcoming Events

For a list of upcoming APRRN events, check out the APRRN Upcoming Events Calendar


Regional Activities

Track II Dialogue

January 2016, Bangkok, Thailand

In 2015, the Centre for Policy Development convened the first of six meetings of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration. The Dialogue brings together individuals from government, NGOs, policy and academic institutions and international organisations, each of whom act in their personal capacities to support the development of a more effective, durable and dignified approach to ‘forced migration.’ Several APRRN members are also part of the Dialogue.

The second Dialogue meeting took place in late January 2016 in Bangkok. Julia Mayerhofer, APRRN’s Interim Executive Director, joined the Dialogue on the first day and presented on APRRN, highlighting the strong and important role civil society plays in refugee protection in the Asia Pacific region.

Key documents, the agenda and background materials of the second Dialogue are available here: http://cpd.org.au/2016/02/secondadfmmeeting/

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Bangkok Refugee Youth Consultation

13-16 February 2016, Bangkok, Thailand

IMG_0168APRRN, Asylum Access Thailand, Jesuit Refugee Services Thailand (JRS), and Amnesty International Thailand hosted the first ever Bangkok Refugee Youth Consultation, with over 30 refugee and local Thai youth participants. Five facilitators (including three refugee youth) coordinated the sessions. The three and a half day consultation encouraged youth participation, with the purpose of building their capacity, increasing their involvement and making their voices heard. The youth participated in team building activities and learned about refugee and Thai law and the basics of advocacy.

IMG_9884At the end of the consultation, the youth presented the solutions and recommendations to improve refugee rights and protections that they had been working on throughout the consultation. Over fifteen stakeholders from the Bangkok area attended, allowing youth to discuss their ideas and receive feedback from important decision makers.Many of the participants expressed the importance of getting Thai youth and refugee youth together more often, so that each group could share experiences and learn to work together to raise support for refugee rights in Bangkok.

 

APRRN is looking forward to continuing to support the advocacy efforts of youth in the region. As one of the youth said themselves, “we are more powerful than we realise.”

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Panel on Urban Refugees at Thammasat University

25 February 2016, Bangkok, Thailand

12729360_1018841658162661_4339915862373752463_nAPRRN Programme Officer Evan Jones attended a panel on “The Plight of Urban Refugees: Exploring the Dark Corners of Immigration Law” at Thammasat University. As a panel speaker, Evan spoke about the situation of refugees across the Asia Pacific region, focusing on challenges common in many cities in the region. APRRN members Asylum Access Thailand and Boat People SOS also spoke, discussing topics like immigration detention in Thailand, the Thai legal framework and community engagement with these issues.

The panel was attended by undergraduate students from the Social Policy and Development Program at Thammasat University, in the Faculty of Social Administration. Several local urban refugee youth from Bangkok also attended and shared their experiences. The Thai students showed a genuine interest in learning about how they can get involved in volunteering and engaging with refugees in Bangkok.

Both formal and informal University talks and panels are a part of APRRN’s outreach efforts to help build a new generation of refugee rights activists and allies.

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Annual Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy (SAPA) Meeting

25-26 February 2016, Bali, Indonesia

Annual SAPA meetings were held after the ACWC (ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children) Workshop on 25 and 26 February in Bali.  APRRN continues to act as the focal point on refugee issues within the SAPA network. Migration is going to be one of the focus areas of SAPA in 2016 and we believe SAPA is good space to further advance the refugee rights movement.

The upcoming ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum was also discussed and it will be held from 2-5 August 2016 in Dili, East Timor. APRRN will join the preparatory workshops to ensure (forced) migration is one of the key themes.

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Engagement with the ACWC

February & March 2016, ASEAN region

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 Regional Plans of Action on Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) and Regional Plans of Action on Elimination of Violence against Children (EVAC).

On the 23 and 24th February 2016, APRRN was invited to a regional preparatory meeting to discuss these Regional Plans of Action (RPAs) along with other civil society members and selected ACWC representatives. In the RPAs there is reference to refugees, stateless persons and displaced persons as vulnerable groups. ‘Alternatives to Detention’ are also listed in the priority areas for the next five years. APRRN is pleased to find these references and areas of action designated as priority areas in these RPAs.

A larger ACWC meeting will be held in Bangkok on the 29th and 30th March 2016 with all ACWC representatives and over 40 CSO representatives. APRRN has been invited to present the refugee issue and will focus in particular on Alternatives to Detention for Children in ASEAN countries as a strategic entry point. However, there is also space for us to work in other priority areas in both RPAs.

APRRN members who are keen to be engaged in this to please contact the APRRN Secretariat as soon as possible.

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Meeting of APRRN members and friends in Cambodia

7 March 2016, Phnom Penh

APRRN’s Programme Officer Helen Brunt, hosted a meeting in Phnom Penh for APRRN’s members and others working on refugee rights in Cambodia. The meeting was attended by 13 people including human rights activists, lawyers, researchers and service providers, and provided an opportunity for people to come together and share updates about their work and discuss possible areas for collaboration. Topics discussed included the ‘Australia-Cambodia refugee deal’, Australia-Cambodia Refugee Deal, conditions for refugees in Cambodia, collaborative research opportunities, vulnerable groups of asylum-seekers in Cambodia, and statelessness issues.

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Of Interest

 

Welcome the new WAGAR Deputy Chair: Yamamah Agha

Yamamah_01Yamamah Agha leads the Humanitarian Settlement Services Program at Settlement Services International (SSI). She has more than 10 years’ experience assisting refugees and humanitarian entrants to settle in Australia. Having studied sociology, Yamamah has a strong passion for delivering social justice to refugees and vulnerable groups in need. She has a particular interest in women’s rights and supporting refugee women and their families to reach their potential.

 

Yamamah established the refugee women’s and youth committees at SSI which are aimed at improving SSI service delivery to refugee women and youth by ensuring they receive tailored and adequate services to help them during their initial settlement in Australia. Yamamah is looking forward to bringing this passion and experience to WAGAR to help improve the lives of refugee and migrant women and girls.

Welcome Yamamah! We are looking forward to working with you!

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Submission to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

The APRRN Southeast Asia Working Group finalised a case submission to be submitted to AICHR on the Maritime movements of the Rohingya and recommendations to improve human rights protection for Rohingya refugees. In response to the mass maritime migration movements in May 2015, this submission examines issues of concern regarding the situation inside Myanmar, conditions at sea and the current situation for Rohingya in transit and host countries. The submission also offers ten recommendations for AICHR to encourage ASEAN countries to adopt. Key recommendations include the creation of a task force to improve regional mechanisms, ending the detention of all Rohingya refugees in host countries, and allowing safe disembarkation for any future refugees arriving via boat.

A link to the submission will be posted as soon as it is available online.

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Engagement with Thailand’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process

In the second half of 2016, the APRRN joined NGO leaders and APRRN members in Thailand in preparation for Thailand’s UPR review. An informal working group on refugees has been formed and the group prepared a UPR submission in September 2015: Thailand Joint UPR Submission

In February 2016, APRRN Secretariat staff joined a civil society organisation (CSO) workshop on the UPR and also provided input into fact sheets. At the end of March 2016, APRRN is hosting several diplomat briefings both in Bangkok and in Geneva, Switzerland. An APRRN representative will also join the pre-sessions in Geneva.

A joint press release, Refugees and Asylum Seekers Lack Protection in Thailand is now available online. This press release provides further information about APRRN’s involvement in Thailand’s UPR process.

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