The Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime

Friday, 14 Apr 2023
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RSO and UNHCR roll out nine new languages in version 2 of vulnerable migrant and victims of trafficking screening and referral app

The Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have launched version 2 of their joint Screening and Referral Toolkit mobile app. The latest version of the app introduces audio functionality, as well as translating the app into nine new languages, both steps intended to increase the app’s accessibility and to support its use in a wide range of contexts. The app, which is available for free on both Apple and Android devices, supports law enforcement and border and immigration officials to more effectively communicate with potentially vulnerable migrants and victims of trafficking at border stations across South East Asia, and where needed, to identify appropriate referral pathways.

The Screening and Referral Toolkit app has been developed to serve as an interactive learning resource for border officials as they build their capacity to screen and refer individuals with specific needs, including asylum-seekers, refugees, victims of trafficking, unaccompanied children and irregular migrants without international protection needs. The app further supports the training of frontline officials through its four best-practice modules that cover effective communication techniques, interview questionnaires, information on working with children, and country-specific information on referral procedures.

The updated version now supports the screening of people through a questionnaire available in 15 languages, with the app able to read aloud all content, allowing staff to play questions and answers to migrants who they may otherwise struggle to communicate with.

The toolkit was developed in consultation with a roster of national experts composed of government officials from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Its development also incorporated feedback from border officials who used it in a training context.  The toolkit was used to build the capacity of more than 300 government officials from immigration, law enforcement, and coast guard and maritime units, through its use in workshops and trainings in various countries in Southeast Asia. 

Users have recognised the ease of using the app, as a “guideline for evaluating/identifying risk groups who may be victims of human trafficking” and commented that “it is so helpful for me as a social worker who directly faces refugees”.  

A 5-minute explainer video, currently available in English (available at this link), describes how to use the app. A FAQ is also available to help answer common questions about the toolkit and how to use it. The toolkit is easy to download and can act as a useful resource for anyone whose work involves frontline interactions with vulnerable migrants or potential victims of trafficking.   

The Toolkit is currently used by the RSO and UNHCR and other partners as part of training for law enforcement and border and immigration officials, and the RSO is further seeking interest from Member States for a wider field roll-out of the toolkit, building its use formally into national screening and identification processes.  Please email to find out more and to express interest in opportunities to trial the toolkit.



Q: What is the UNHCR-RSO Screening and Referral Toolkit Mobile Application (Screen/Ref)?

A: The UNHCR-RSO Screening and Referral Toolkit Mobile Application is a tool developed through a partnership between UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the Bali Process Regional Support Office (RSO) to help border officials screen and refer people with specific needs, including asylum-seekers, refugees, victims of trafficking, unaccompanied children, and irregular migrants.

Q: What is the main purpose of the Screen/Ref Toolkit?

A: The primary purpose of Screen/Ref Toolkit is that of a learning tool to introduce key concepts on screening and referral.  The tool can be used in the context of a mock interview to suggest lines of questioning which can help a border official collect basic information and detect an individuals’ specific needs.   Based on those needs, possible avenues of referral are introduced.

Q: Who is the target audience for the Screen/Ref Toolkit?

A: The primary target audience for the Application is border officials in four South-East Asian countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. A secondary audience are officials from social welfare ministries in these countries who may also be involved in screening and referral.  Humanitarian workers may also find the Application beneficial.

Plans for 2023-24 include working with additional regional governments to update the App to align with their national context and to further develop the App to be both a training tool and a tool used by frontline officials in field contexts.

Q: Can I use the Screen/Ref Toolkit to actually screen people arriving at borders?

A: The Screen/Ref Toolkit has been primarily tested in a learning context.  The Toolkit does contain features, such as the multi-lingual questionnaires and audio read-out function, that could be useful in a field setting.  However, use of the Screen/Ref Toolkit in an actual screening context should be accompanied by additional interview training and in compliance with the relevant agencies’ standard operating procedures. UNHCR and RSO are actively exploring ways to assist Member States who may be interested to implement the Toolkit in actual screening situations. 

Q: Does the Screen/Ref Toolkit require an internet connection to use?

A: No.  While an internet connection is initially required to download the App and update its content, using the App will not require an internet connection.

Q: What are the components of the Screen/Ref Toolkit?

A: The Screen/Ref Toolkit contains four modules:

Tips: A compilation of illustrated tips on communicating effectively with vulnerable individuals, which includes suggestions on interviewing techniques and cross-cultural communication.

Visual Questionnaire: An illustrated, multilingual questionnaire designed to be administered to a new arrival in the absence of a shared language, collecting information on basic needs;

Screening Checklist: A second multilingual questionnaire which collects information on vulnerabilities, and includes a health screening component;

Referral Pathways: Contains country-specific information on referral procedures for four priority groups (asylum-seekers, refugees, victims of trafficking, children and migrants.) The App analyses responses to the questionnaires (module 2 and 3) and suggests applicable vulnerability categories the arrival may belong to.

Q: I have an earlier version of the Screen/Ref Toolkit, what’s new in this version?

A: Version 2.0 contains a screening questionnaire in fifteen languages (an increase to the original six languages) and an audio read-out function for some questions and answers.  It also supports showing referral pathway process flow diagrams in all user languages.  Finally, there have been minor updates to improve the user experience.

Q: How was the Screen/Ref Toolkit developed?

A: The Screen/Ref Toolkit was developed in consultation with a roster of national experts composed of government officials from four target countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.  UNHCR, UNODC, UNICEF and IOM and the RSO provided input into its contents. In the last quarter of 2021, UNHCR and the RSO held five online trainings on screening and referral with 200 officials from the four target countries, introducing the Application as a learning tool.  The Screen/Ref Toolkit was also implemented in UNODC’s Responding to Migrant Smuggling by Sea trainings in the region, reaching an additional 100 government officials in three countries.

Q: Can anyone download the Screen/Ref Toolkit?

A: Yes, the Application is available publicly on the Apple and Google Play Stores.  This is so that the content in the Application can be made available to the widest possible audience.  The Screen/Ref Toolkit does not contain any sensitive information about screening processes, and the interview screening forms are based on guidance material from UN Agencies that are already publicly available online.

Q: How can I get the Application?

A: The Application is free and available for download on mobile phones through the Apple Store (for iPhone) and Play Store (for Android phones). An Explainer Video in English (available at this link) describes how to use the Application in under 5 minutes.

Q: What languages does the Application support?

A: The Application displays information to users in English, Malay, Indonesian, and Thai. The Application also displays questionnaires to people arriving at borders in fifteen languages: Arabic, Burmese, Chinese (Mandarin), Dari, French, Khmer, Laos, Pashto, Punjabi (Pakistan script), Rohingya, Russian, Somali, Tagalog, Tamil and Urdu.  The Application can also read aloud certain questions and answers.  Further languages may be added in the future.

Q: Why is the audio read-aloud function not available for all questions and answers?

A: The audio read-aloud function is not available where the questions and answers are providing guidance to the official conducting the screening, since these are not meant to be read aloud to the person arriving.

Q: Are there limitations to the Application’s use?

A: The Screen/Ref Toolkit is intended to be used for training purposes related to first contact and referrals.  It is not to be used for actual status determination of persons arriving in the country, or to limit claims or rights in later processes. It is also not a replacement for interview planning and exercise of interview skills.  Rather, the Application can assist a border official to plan an interview and to implement certain skills in an interview.

Q: Will the Application collect and store personal data?

A: No, the App does not include functionality to store personal data.  The questionnaire can only be used to collect data on one individual at a time, and the questionnaire must be erased after each use. Some questionnaire data can be copied to the device’s Clipboard so that the user can paste data into a secure location. Any clearly identifiable personal data, including name, date of birth or document ID either cannot be copied to the clipboard, or is not collected by the Application at all.  As the Application is a learning tool and interview aid, it does not replace the need for the user to make use of the relevant agency-approved secure database to collect personal data.

Q: Where is the questionnaire data stored?

A: While the questionnaire data is being collected, it is stored on the local smartphone and UNHCR and the RSO have no access to it.  The App does not send any data from the questionnaire to any other party.  Once a new person is interviewed, the questionnaire data is permanently deleted unless the user has copied it to another secure location on their device.  The Application has also passed "penetration testing" to ensure its security.

Q: How can I provide feedback on the Application?

A: UNHCR and RSO seek feedback on the functioning and usefulness of the App, which can be sent to or Feedback can also be sent through the App itself.

Q: How can I get in touch with the RSO and UNHCR?

A: The RSO stands ready to collaborate and respond to address the needs of Bali Process Member States. Please contact the RSO by email  or Twitter (@baliprocessrso) to inquire and discuss your needs or to add your details to our mailing list.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We deliver life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality. []


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