Our Work

The Need

The Asia Pacific region hosts almost five million refugees and asylum seekers, yet few states in the region have ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and the majority of national protection systems are ad hoc and precarious. Asia Pacific thus displays some of the most severe violations of human rights for refugees and displaced persons, including refoulement, indefinite detention, and de jure and de facto denial of the right to education, healthcare, and work. COVID-19’s continued presence and the slow roll-out of vaccination programmes continues to limit access to asylum, exacerbating xenophobic narratives and restricting human rights defenders' operational space.

Nonetheless, human rights actors throughout the region are working hard to protect and advance refugees' rights, and there are glimmers of hope. New policies and frameworks for refugee protection are emerging in the region, such as Thailand’s National Screening Mechanism and MoU to End Immigration Detention of Children, of which the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) has been integral in passing, signal the potential to transform the lives of the almost five million refugees and asylum seekers who reside in the region.

What We Do

APRRN was formed in 2008 at a regional conference on refugee rights, held in Malaysia, in which representatives of 70 civil society organisations from 14 countries determined the necessity of establishing a coordinating entity to convene collaborative action, progress and advance refugee rights across the region. We have since grown to over 200 active members, with three main pillars of work.

Joint Advocacy

APRRN facilitates collaboration between human rights actors across borders, enabling members to strategise and collaborate for greater impact to prevent and end severe violations of fundamental human rights such as immigration detention, persecution, and loss of life at sea. By working together as a regional network, our ability to advance the rights of refugees in the region is amplified. Additionally, APRRN's joint advocacy enables people who have personally experienced forced displacement to lead and participate in advocacy, influencing policies, programmes, and solutions that affect their lives without having to put their names on the final product. This insulates them from facing reprisals for their advocacy, the threat of which is pervasive in the Asia Pacific region. Our advocacy includes issuing joint statements and press releases; hosting meetings with key stakeholders, including government officials; and engaging in high-level forums on refugee-related issues. We advocate at international, regional, national, and sub-national levels, weaving members together to maximise impact.

Capacity Strengthening

APRRN's 200 active members possess extensive and complementary expertise and experiences. APRRN helps our members to challenges more effectively, through coordinating trainings and workshops online and throughout the region on a range of topics, including refugee law, advocacy, mental health responses, gender sensitivity, statelessness, and alternatives to detention. APRRN's flagship annual Short Course on Refugee Rights and Advocacy, organised in collaboration with the University of York and Mahidol University, prepares refugees and mid-to-high-level staff in civil society organisations to engage with issues of current concern, including gender, health, and discrimination, and how to plan and implement an advocacy campaign.

Knowledge and Resource Sharing

As a region-wide network with a wide variety of members, APRRN facilitates the sharing and exchange of information among members and partner organisations, in order to increase awareness of refugee issues and best practices. Through APRRN's listservs and meetings, members can share relevant events, publications, and opportunities with each other, thus raising awareness of what's being done and inspiring each other to keep advocating in an effective, inclusive, dignity-respecting and rights-based way.

Response to Emerging Issues

APRRN is currently responding to the crises in Afghanistan and Myanmar by collating vital information and devising structured and evidence-based advocacy approaches to target appropriate decision-makers in host countries and resettlement countries to provide increased protection and assistance for Burmese and Afghan people.