Spotlight
Here you can read close up accounts of individual issues effecting refugees. While they might not be a specific campaign of JRS Asia Pacific, these stories shed light on the complexities of living day to day as a refugee.

Australia: community detention, a humane alternative
26 September 2013
Sydney, 26 September 2013 – Moved by the plight of vulnerable asylum-seeking minors being held in detention centres, a group of Australian advocates lobbied successfully for the implementation of community detention as a viable, humane alternative, giving asylum seekers an opportunity to engage in a more meaningful existence while awaiting the outcome of their asylum application.
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Asia Pacific: regional cooperation... an impossible dream?
28 December 2012
Bangkok, 28 December 2012 – Millions of refugees and asylum seekers face tough challenges in their struggle to find safety in Asia Pacific. With the lowest number of signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention in the world, this region* offers paltry protection to people on the move. The glaring absence of national asylum laws and standardised procedures for refugee status determination has driven asylum seekers underground.
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Thailand: Moving the tides of education in Ranong
08 November 2012
Ranong, 5 November 2012 – The seafood factory on the southwestern coast of Thailand is sometimes ironically referred to as the 'Burmese university in Ranong'. It is one of the only opportunities available to many Burmese migrant children denied an education due to chronic poverty and social pressure.
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Regional cooperation: an impossible dream?
31 October 2012
Bangkok, 1 November 2012 — Millions of refugees and asylum seekers face tough challenges in their struggle to find safety in Asia Pacific. With the lowest number of signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention in the world, this region* offers paltry protection to people on the move. The glaring absence of national asylum laws and standardised procedures for refugee status determination has driven asylum seekers underground.
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Global: new guidelines on detention, a step forward
27 September 2012
Brussels, 27 September 2012 – Amid growing concern of the abuse of detention as a way of controlling the flow of asylum seekers, this week the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) published new guidelines for governments dealing with the issue. Although far from perfect from a JRS perspective, this document represents a step forward in the promotion of human rights.
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Australia: expert panel, where is the queue?
29 August 2012
Sydney, 29 August 2012 – 'The Devil is in the detail' seems to be a fairly recent idiom in the history of the English language, but I much prefer the earlier version of this idiom, sometimes attributed to Gustave Flaubert: 'Le bon Dieu est dans le detail': the good God is in the detail.
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Australia: Fear of 'other' reflected on refugees
17 June 2011
Sydney, 15 June 2011 – I was watching the May 9th edition of ABC’s Q&A television program when, during a discussion about the Australian government’s proposal to send irregular maritime arrivals – “boat people” to most Australians – to Malaysia for processing, a Tweet at the bottom of the screen caught my eye: “My aboriginal mate still defines ‘irony’ as one wave of boat people complaining about another.”
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The UN refugee convention: still valid?
06 May 2011
Rome, 05 May 2011 – This year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) marks the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Amaya Valcarcel, JRS International Advocacy Coordinator, considers the aptness of the law to deal with forced displacement today.
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Asia Pacific: The Rohingya: Between the devil and the deep blue sea
11 April 2011
Bangkok, 11 Aril, 2011 – In January 2009, the Rohingya hit international media headlines when the world saw images of hundreds of emaciated boat people being rescued off the Andaman Islands of India and in Aceh, Indonesia. They had been intercepted in Thai waters, transferred to deserted islands, tortured and eventually cast adrift by the Thai military on the high seas, in boats without engines and with little food and water. At least 1000 people were dumped at sea in three separate incidents. Hundreds were reported missing.
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Asia Pacific: Islands at risk: Climate change in the Pacific
11 April 2011
Sydney, 11 April, 2011 – Over the past decade a new term has entered the lexicon of policymakers and the media: ‘climate change refugees’. Human movement caused by environmental factors – drought, land degradation or significant climate events (like cyclones) – is not new; what is new is the number of people thought to be susceptible to such pressures and the attention these movements are now getting.
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Thailand: When school interferes with family income: a photo story
05 April 2011
Ranong, 6 April, 2011 – Ranong is a small coastal town. Population 25,000, most people earn their income from the sea — working in hotels for tourists stopping off before heading to an island or into Burma; working on fishing boats for weeks at a time to haul in squid, prawns and fish; working in fish processing factories to prepare the meat for distribution all over Thailand; or working in local shops and stands selling the fresh fish.
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Australia: Blame detention centres, not detainees
21 March 2011
Sydney, 21 March, 2011 -- Taken together the recent events in remote detention centres are both deplorable and predictable.
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Papua New Guinea: The slow tides of change – West Papuan refugees, 25 years of exile
16 March 2011
Kiunga, 16 March 2011 – After 25 years of exile, these 12,000 West Papuans must decide their future: life in the camp, integrating into their host society, or attempt to free West Papua from Indonesian control and move home.
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Thailand: Life for a female Burmese economic migrant
19 January 2011
Bangkok, 19 January, 2011 – Kyaw never expected to be a father. “The mother was raped by a Burmese broker who promised her a job in a factory,” he explained. “He locked her up, raped her and she became pregnant. When her belly became visible she lost her job as a housemaid.”
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Thailand: Living day to day in limbo as a Sri Lankan refugee
13 January 2011
Bangkok, 12 January, 2011 – A family of six sits in their Bangkok apartment, talking about field trips, exams and homework. The oldest daughter smiles as she talks about college brochures.
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Thailand: life for a female Burmese economic migrant
02 December 2010
Bangkok, 2 December 2010 -- Kyaw never expected to be a father. "The mother was raped by a Burmese broker who promised her a job in a factory", he explained. "He locked her up, raped her and she became pregnant. When her belly became visible she lost her job as a housemaid."
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Asia Pacific: Precarious lives, involuntary displacement of people today
21 January 2010
Paper prepared for the 'Right to Move' Symposium
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Indonesia: Weathering the Storms
13 December 2009
“What is a Jesuit? I get asked this question all the time.” Zainuddin, a young man from Jogjakarta, received a Muslim education from elementary to university level. His interest in Jesuits arises from his work as education officer with JRS in Aceh, a region in northwest Indonesia hard hit by the 2004 Tsunami and by civil war that ended in 2005. In this province governed by Sharia law, it is villagers benefiting from the intervention of JRS who ask what ‘Jesuit’ means.
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