Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration – December update

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The Secretariat and members of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration (ADFM) have been busy since meeting in Kuala Lumpur in September 2016.

After the New York Refugee Summits in September, the ADFM Secretariat released a statement and wrote an article about progress in the region on forced migration. We argued the Asia-Pacific may be where sustained, constructive action on forced migration is found over the next two years.

ADFM statement: Asia-Pacific region can galvanise the globe on migrants, refugees after New York Summit – 21 September  2016

How the Asia-Pacific can lead the way on migrants and refugees, September 21 2016.

The Secretariat then prepared the ADFM submission to the Review of the Region’s Response to the Andaman Sea Situation. The Review was authorised by Bali Process Ministers in March 2016, following a recommendation from the ADFM.

Senior officials and representatives of member states and organisations of the Bali Process considered the Review findings at their Ad Hoc Group Senior Officials’ Meeting in Colombo on 16 November 2016.

We are pleased to report that the ADFM’s recommendations were accepted and senior officials have agreed to critical improvements to the way the region responds to mass displacement of migrants. You can read a statement from the ADFM conveners about the outcomes in Colombo here:

ADFM statement: Bali Process countries signal preparedness for constructive action on forced migration – 20 December 2016

The Colombo meeting agreed the administrative arrangements and modalities of the Bali Process Consultation Mechanism. Senior officials encouraged countries to develop necessary operational systems, including for search, rescue, disembarkation, and registration, in order to manage mass displacement events, as well as to develop post-disembarkation assistance provisions. They have established a Task Force on Planning and Preparedness, comprising operational-level governmental officials, who will coordinate and harmonise the development of the operational systems. Senior Officials’ Meeting Co-Chairs have undertaken to meet with ASEAN institutions to identify extant capacity, complementarities and shared interests, with a view to coordinated responses in the future. ADFM recommendations on security matters were also endorsed. The SOM Co-Chairs’ Statement, and the Andaman Sea Review Outcome Document are available here:

Senior officials and representatives of member states and organisations of the Bali Process expressed their gratitude to the ADFM for first proposing a review of the region’s response to the Andaman Sea situation. Further to this, the meeting agreed to invite the ADFM to partner with Bali Process members and organisations to provide ongoing policy advice and ideas. The critical paragraph [18] of the Review is extracted below.

“We believe that substantial progress in these areas requires joined-up expertise across the region. In this regard, we recognise the contributions made by the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration, and look forward to its continued partnership with the Bali Process. We believe that the Dialogue is well-placed to undertake targeted research and contribute ideas that could assist the Task Force on Planning and Preparedness in its work. For example, the Dialogue could undertake work to identify existing technical capacity in the region, particularly in humanitarian assistance and disaster management, and how this might be utilised in the event of large influxes of irregular migrants. The Dialogue could also undertake research or prepare policy papers on critical issues, such as:

(1) root causes of mass displacement;

(2) temporary local stay arrangements; and

(3) expanding safe, legal and affordable migration pathways as an alternative to irregular movement.

Such papers could be considered by the Task Force on Planning and Preparedness. The Task Force Co-Chairs could also commission the Dialogue to undertake other specific tasks on an ad hoc basis, that would be of value to the Task Force. In carrying out such tasks, the Dialogue would take into account the existing and previous work undertaken by the Regional Support Office and other relevant programs. We are conscious that such work may contribute directly to the development of the global compacts on refugees and migrants, for which negotiations will soon commence; and in which the members of the Bali Process have a direct interest.”  

We are pleased by the progress made in the region, and also by this encouraging recognition of the ADFM. We are also mindful much work remains to be done to address the challenges of forced migration in the region.

We note the grave turn of events in Rakhine State in Myanmar and express our concern about the increasing reports of violence against people who identify themselves as the Rohingya. ADFM conveners made a statement regarding the situation in November 2016, which is available here:

ADFM statement: Situation in Rakhine State in Myanmar of grave concern – the region must be on high alert – 29 November 2016.

The next ADFM meeting will be held in Indonesia on 5-7 March 2017 where will we discuss human trafficking and the best way to take forward the actions agreed in Colombo.

Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support to the ADFM. For more information, click here to visit the ADFM homepage.