Save the Children signs Joint NGO statement ahead of the inter-governmental Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean

Thursday 28 May 2015

STATEMENT RELEASED ON 27 MAY 2015

Please find herein the Joint NGO Statement ahead of the intergovernmental Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean being held on 29 May 2015 hosted by the Royal Thai Government in Bangkok. The signatories below represent more than 600 non-­‐governmental and civil society organisations operating across Asia and the Pacific regions.

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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:

  1. Provide people rescued immediate access to humanitarian assistance, especially vulnerable women and children, with adequate food, water, health care, shelter and sanitation.
  2. Allow and facilitate access by humanitarian agencies and international organizations with protection mandates.
  3. Ensure that people rescued at sea are not penalized for the way they have entered the country.
  4. Those  in  need  of  international  protection  should  be  given  access  to asylum procedures.
  5. Explore and pursue durable solutions with processes that draw input from affected persons.
  6. 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.
  7. Urgently develop regional and national solutions that address the root causes of refugee and migrant outflows.

Signatories:

  1. Action Aid
  2. Action Contre la Faim
  3. Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma
  4. AMAL Human Development Network
  5. Amnesty International Australia
  6. Asia Disaster Risk and Response Network
  7. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development
  8. Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network
  9. Asia-­‐Pacific Solidarity Coalition
  10. Australian Council for International Development
  11. Australian National Committee on Refugee Women
  12. Badhan Hijra Sangha, Bangladesh
  13. Bangladesh Women’s Health Coalition
  14. BRAC
  15. Burma Partnership
  16. Business and Welfare Initiatives Bangladesh
  17. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association
  18. CARAM Asia Berhad
  19. CARAM Asia Network
  20. CARAM Cambodia
  21. Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees
  22. Centre for Migration Research and Development, Sri Lanka
  23. Centre for Participatory Research and Development, Bangladesh
  24. Centre for Refugee Research, University of New South Wales
  25. Children and Women Trust, Pakistan
  26. Church World Service
  27. Coastal Association for Social Transformation Trust, Bangladesh
  28. Community Development Services, Sri Lanka
  29. Community World Service Asia
  30. Empower India
  31. Equal Rights Trust
  32. Equity and Justice Working Group, Bangladesh
  33. Fortify Rights
  34. Gonggam Human Rights Law Foundation
  35. Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
  36. Human Rights Working Group, Indonesia
  37. IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh
  38. Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion
  39. International Council of Voluntary Agencies
  40. International Movement of Catholic Students Asia Pacific
  41. International Refugee Rights Initiative
  42. ISDE Bangladesh
  43. Jakarta Legal Aid Institute
  44. Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific
  45. Knights for Peace, International
  46. Law Life Culture, Bangladesh
  47. Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid
  48. Light House, Bangladesh
  49. MAP Foundation, Thailand
  50. Mercy Malaysia
  51. Migrant Working Group, Thailand
  52. Migration Working Group, Malaysia
  53. Migrante International
  54. Minority Rights Organization, Cambodia
  55. Nepal Institute of Development Studies
  56. Norwegian Refugee Council
  57. Occupational Opportunities for Refugees & Asylum Seekers, Australia
  58. Overseas Services to Survivors of Torture and Trauma
  59. Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program, Bangladesh
  60. Oxfam Australia
  61. Oxfam Great Britain
  62. Oxfam International
  63. Participatory Research Action Network, Bangladesh
  64. Prodipan Bangladesh
  65. Refugee Council of Australia
  66. Refugee Rights Network Pakistan
  67. Resource Integration Centre, Bangladesh
  68. Rights Jessore, Bangladesh
  69. Same Skies, Indonesia 
  70. Save the Children
  71. Shikha Shatha Unnayan Kazakram, Bangladesh
  72. Settlement Services International
  73. Society for Human Rights and Prisoners Aid, Pakistan
  74. St. John’s Cathedral HIV Education Centre, Hong Kong
  75. SUAKA, Indonesia Civil Society Network for Refugee Protection
  76. Swahili Speaking Refugee Women Advocacy Services, Australia
  77. Thai Commission for Refugees Foundation
  78. Vietnamese Human Rights Defenders and Activists
  79. WhyDev, Australia
  80. World Vision International – Asia Pacific
  81. Yayasan Kelompok Kerja Sosial Perkotaan, Indonesia
  82. Youth Advocacy Network South Asia
  83. Zo Indigenous Forum, India