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

Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023
rohingya refugees

RSO participates in High Level Meeting on Rohingya Refugees

On 17 October, the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO) was privileged to participate in the High-Level Meeting on Rohingya Refugees, organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in partnership with the Governments of the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Bringing together more than 120 attendees from across government, academia, NGOs and international organisations, the event was a strategic marker on the path towards the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) to be held in December 2023.

David Scott, RSO Co-manager (Australia) and Evan Jones, RSO Programme Coordinator attended on behalf of the RSO. Throughout the event, they had the opportunity to contribute to discussions with a wide range of stakeholders, furthering thinking and strategy around the most effective way to support long-term solutions for the Rohingya, as well as provide support to Bali Process Member States who are hosting Rohingya refugees.

The meeting was also well attended by Bali Process Members and Observers, notably Indonesia and Australia. The Australian delegation was led by Beth Delaney, First Assistant Secretary of the Humanitarian Division at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as well as Assistant Director Emily Lyons, and A/g Regional Director, Mekong, Christine Deegan from the Department of Home Affairs. The Hon Andrew Giles MP, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs also delivered a video message during which he noted the importance of the Bali Process as a robust and agile regional instrument for cooperation.

Indonesia was represented by the Ambassador to the Kingdom to Thailand H.E. Rachmat Budiman, and Minister Counsellor Mr. Marvin Anwar Arpan. Ambassador Budiman’s intervention highlighted the compassionate approach by Indonesia towards supporting Rohingya that arrive in Indonesia, especially as it relates to supporting their basic needs. Furthermore, he also shone a light on the Bali Process as a space to not only discuss regional cooperation, but as a forum to generate and work towards practical solutions.

Throughout the event, several other Member States and NGOs made mention of the Bali Process as a key mechanism to effectively address the smuggling and trafficking of Rohingya. Themes of collaboration, information sharing and ensuring responses to trafficking have a protection lens were also discussed at length. David Scott reflected that “the Rohingya crisis is complicated and will only be effectively addressed through regional cooperation. The RSO is committed to supporting a whole of society approach towards combatting the smuggling and trafficking of the Rohingya, and ensuring that the Rohingya are protected at all stages of their journey.”

The RSO submitted an intervention for the event under the theme of ‘Resilience and Solutions’. The intervention highlighted the RSO’s concerns of an uptick in the number of irregular maritime movements, especially in the lead into the next sailing season. Furthermore, it stressed the need for States to work collectively in search and rescue and to ensure that all responses to trafficked Rohingya are protection-centred and trauma informed.

Last year was one of the deadliest years in the region since the Andaman Sea Crisis in 2015. In 2022, more than 3,600 Rohingya refugees were adrift in the sea, with over 340 dead or missing. The RSO is committed to working collaboratively with Member States to foster strategic coherence and collective regional action.

The RSO is considering how best to engage in the 2023 Global Refugee Forum, as well as how to contribute to the Multi-Stakeholder Rohingya Pledge. We welcome ideas from Bali Process Member States and Observers from within and beyond the region who may be interested in supporting pledge engagement. Please do contact us at info@rso.baliprocess.net.