Press release – The Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean: Falling short of expectations

Press release

The Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean: Falling short of expectations

Bangkok, 1st of June 2015

The Special Meeting on Irregular Migration, held on Friday in Bangkok has fallen short of APRRN’s expectations by failing to directly address the root cause of irregular movements by sea in Southeast Asia. While APRRN welcomes the attention and support extended by States to address the immediacy of this humanitarian crisis, APRRN remains concerned that the meeting has resolved to further increase securitisation of borders without adequate emphasis on protection.

“Trafficking is only a symptom of a much deeper malaise, the lack or non-existence of safe migration and asylum routes provides the traffickers their business model. Unfortunately, the meeting has failed to address this with any degree of clarity” said Anoop Sukumaran, APRRN Executive Director.

In the lead up to Friday’s meeting, which was hosted by the Royal Thai Government and attended by 17 high level state representatives from around the region, APRRN urged states to engage in robust and effective action to develop regional solutions that address the root causes of refugee outflows, in particular the systematic persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

“The meeting was a timely initiative by the Royal Thai Government. While there are some encouraging elements in the recommendations and proposals put forward, the meeting has failed to live up to the expectations of addressing the root causes of persecution and the consequent movement of people seeking refuge often taking dangerous sea journeys.” said Dr. Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, APRRN Chair.

APRRN is pleased that the meeting acknowledged the need to intensify search and rescue operations, and to explore options for identifying predictable disembarkation along with proper and harmonised reception for those rescued. We are also pleased to note that ensuring access for UNHCR and IOM to the migrants was highlighted and further welcome the implementation of effective screening to identify those with protection needs. However the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar as one of the key drivers of irregular movements in Southeast Asia was excluded from the discussions. “By not mentioning the Rohingya or the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar, (the meeting) has failed in one of its key objectives, that of addressing the root causes of irregular movements” said Anoop Sukumaran.

While the meeting temporarily addressed some critical concerns of those rescued during this crisis, it remains unclear what awaits those who may follow in the months to come. People will continue to flee persecution in Myanmar and the states present have failed to push for long term durable solutions.

About APRRN:
The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) is an open and growing network of over 240 civil society groups and individuals from 26 countries in the Asia Pacific region committed to advancing the rights of refugees, through joint advocacy, capacity-strengthening, resource sharing and outreach.

Media Contact:
Anoop Sukumaran
Executive Director
Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network
Tel: +66 2 252 66 54 | Mobile: 0891035708 | Fax: +66 2 689 62 05

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