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  • Tenth meeting | ASIA DIALOGUE ON FORCED MIGRATION | May 2021


Key documents for the tenth ADFM meeting:

On 6 May 2021 the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration (ADFM) convened virtually for its tenth meeting. The meeting took place over two hours and involved participants based in eight countries, stretching from New Delhi to New York. All participants attend in a personal capacity and discussions take place under the Chatham House Rule. This virtual meeting followed the ADFM’s ninth meeting in Dhaka in February 2020, where the Secretariat also returned to Cox’s Bazar to follow up on the Trafficking risk assessment conducted there in 2018-19.

The meeting was held amid a deteriorating situation for forced migration in the Indo Pacific. The unfolding crisis in Myanmar, the continued displacement of the Rohingya in Bangladesh and stalemate in progress toward safe, dignified, voluntary repatriation, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and threats to peace and stability in countries across the region combine to make sudden displacement more likely.

These challenges were outlined in a discussion paper prepared by the ADFM Secretariat ahead of the meeting. The purpose of the paper is to be an up to date resource to assist governments in the region in choosing where to concentrate their efforts. It has been updated based on feedback and input from ADFM participants and experts.

The first part of the meeting focused on specific events, particularly political instability in Myanmar and the ongoing stalemate on repatriation for those Rohingya displaced on the Bangladesh border. While those working closely with the issues described the situation in grave terms, there are clear practical things that can be done. This includes pursuing mini-lateral and bilateral arrangements with interested parties and champion countries, strengthening humanitarian responses, providing protections for irregular migrants in place, conducting strategic research to inform policy and engaging with local actors and those most affected.

The role of existing institutions and the need to make the most of their mandates was discussed in the second part of the discussion. The role of ASEAN, particularly the appointment of a Special Envoy and the role of the AHA Centre, were also identified as having the potential to make a big difference. The upcoming twentieth anniversary of the Bali Process and associated events, were also identified as an opportunity for reviewing and rejuvenating this institution, potentially through a strategic assessment of future priorities.

Despite the gravity of the situation, we were pleased to see broad consensus on the challenges ahead and energy around the need to act and scale of the challenges we are facing in the region. The ADFM Secretariat will continue to advance proposals in close consultation with key partners, and will likely meet next towards the end of 2021.