Following is the Joint Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) statement ahead of the intergovernmental Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean, being held on May 29, 2015 and hosted by the Royal Thai Government in Bangkok. The signatories below represent more than 600 non-governmental and civil society organizations operating across Asia and the Pacific regions.
We the undersigned welcome the decision of the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand to provide temporary shelter and protection to refugees and migrants rescued at sea as a step in the right direction.
We acknowledge that Thailand has called for a Special Meeting on Irregular Migration, on the 29th of May 2015 with 17 states invited to attend. We are hopeful that the meeting will pave the way for longer term, sustainable and durable solutions to address the irregular movements by sea from those seeking to escape poverty and/or persecution.
We are encouraged by announcements of the Indonesian, Malaysian, and Myanmar governments that search and rescue operations will be conducted to locate and rescue people in boats still at sea. We urge other governments to follow suit in conducting their own search and rescue operations.
We reiterate that all people who are in need have the right to request and receive humanitarian assistance and international protection with special attention paid to vulnerable women and children. All rescue at sea and interception operations should ensure access to disembarkation and access to full and fair asylum procedures for those who express a need for international protection. Furthermore, we believe that no refugee should be penalized as a result of the way that she or he entered a country. The reception arrangements for those rescued at sea should be in line with international standards.
All authorities involved in border and immigration management should treat all persons with dignity and respect and in accordance with their obligations under human rights law.
Practical protection safeguards are required to be put in place and the differentiated protection requirements of people in this mixed population movement must be taken into consideration.
We are committed to support the efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the population. We strongly urge the States involved to:
- Provide people rescued immediate access to humanitarian assistance, especially vulnerable women and children, with adequate food, water, health care, shelter and sanitation.
- Allow and facilitate access by humanitarian agencies and international organizations with protection mandates.
- Ensure that people rescued at sea are not penalized for the way they have entered the country.
- Those in need of international protection should be given access to asylum procedures.
- Explore and pursue durable solutions with processes that draw input from affected persons.
- Ensure procedural transparency and accountability to affected persons such that they are accorded due process of law and are fully informed of their rights and responsibilities and the limitations and time frames of any proposed solution.
- Urgently develop regional and national solutions that address the root causes of refugee and migrant outflows.
- Action Aid
- Action Contre la Faim
- Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma
- AMAL Human Development Network
- Amnesty International Australia
- Asia Disaster Risk and Response Network
- Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development
- Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network
- Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition
- Australian Council for International Development
- Australian National Committee on Refugee Women
- Badhan Hijra Sangha, Bangladesh
- Bangladesh Women’s Health Coalition
- BRAC 15. Burma Partnership
- Business and Welfare Initiatives Bangladesh
- Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association
- CARAM Asia Berhad
- CARAM Asia Network
- CARAM Cambodia
- Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees
- Centre for Migration Research and Development, Sri Lanka
- Centre for Participatory Research and Development, Bangladesh
- Centre for Refugee Research, University of New South Wales
- Children and Women Trust, Pakistan
- Church World Service 27. Coastal Association for Social Transformation Trust, Bangladesh
- Community Development Services, Sri Lanka
- Community World Service Asia
- Empower India
- Equal Rights Trust
- Equity and Justice Working Group, Bangladesh
- Fortify Rights
- Gonggam Human Rights Law Foundation
- Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
- Human Rights Working Group, Indonesia
- IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh
- Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion
- International Council of Voluntary Agencies
- International Movement of Catholic Students Asia Pacific
- International Refugee Rights Initiative
- ISDE Bangladesh
- Jakarta Legal Aid Institute
- Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific
- Knights for Peace, International
- Law Life Culture, Bangladesh
- Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid
- Light House, Bangladesh
- MAP Foundation, Thailand
- Mercy Malaysia
- Migrant Working Group, Thailand
- Migration Working Group, Malaysia
- Migrante International
- Minority Rights Organization, Cambodia
- Nepal Institute of Development Studies
- Norwegian Refugee Council
- Occupational Opportunities for Refugees & Asylum Seekers, Australia
- Overseas Services to Survivors of Torture and Trauma
- Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program, Bangladesh
- Oxfam Australia
- Oxfam Great Britain
- Oxfam International
- Participatory Research Action Network, Bangladesh
- Prodipan Bangladesh
- Refugee Council of Australia
- Refugee Rights Network Pakistan
- Resource Integration Centre, Bangladesh
- Rights Jessore, Bangladesh
- Same Skies, Indonesia
- Shikha Shatha Unnayan Kazakram, Bangladesh
- Settlement Services International
- Society for Human Rights and Prisoners Aid, Pakistan
- St. John’s Cathedral HIV Education Centre, Hong Kong
- SUAKA, Indonesia Civil Society Network for Refugee Protection
- Swahili Speaking Refugee Women Advocacy Services, Australia
- Thai Commission for Refugees Foundation
- Vietnamese Human Rights Defenders and Activists
- WhyDev, Australia
- World Vision International – Asia Pacific
- Yayasan Kelompok Kerja Sosial Perkotaan, Indonesia
- Youth Advocacy Network South Asia
- Zo Indigenous Forum, Indi
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- NGOs applaud decision of governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand to provide temporary shelter and protection to refugees and migrants rescued at sea.
- Committed to providing humanitarian aid to those in need