A new global advocacy initiative, #RefugeesRise, is bringing together refugee leaders from the Asia Pacific region to mobilize support for their communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around the world, refugees are using their skills to help the communities in which they live. The #RefugeesRise campaign is about recognizing, supporting and amplifying the actions which refugees are undertaking as frontline actors protecting communities in this global public health crisis. These frontline workers include Mahdia Zahidi, an asylum seeker nurse in Australia working 10-hour shifts in her local clinic; Muhadesa, a teacher who volunteers to help with remote education; and Javad, who provides emergency food packages to undocumented refugees in Iran and Afghanistan.
To ground these perspectives, APNOR held virtual consultations with refugees and asylum seekers in the early stages of the pandemic to find out how they are responding locally. These consultations also served to promote awareness and disseminate information to communities which may not have easy access to information. WeTo this end, APNOR has drawn on the expertise of refugee doctors and nurses to host live online events in Arabic, Assyrian, Kurdish, Farsi, Dari and English which allow refugees to ask questions and hear from healthcare professionals in their own language. With the support of refugee nurses and doctors, the campaign has also produced bilingual education videos on COVID-19 prevention.
At this critical time, the #RefugeesRise Emergency Appeal is calling for donations to support local refugee-led initiatives in the Asia Pacific region and to deliver services, with a focus on initiatives that have limited access to alternative funding sources. The appeal also aims to build support for refugee participation and representation in all COVID-19 response planning and decision-making. We believe any response to support refugees needs to adapt so that refugees like ourselves can meaningfully participate in strategizing, funding and implementing programs and policies that influence our lives.
Meaningful inclusion requires resources, yet up until now, most refugee-led activities and entities have been self-supported, requiring communities to rely on volunteers who, in some cases, have been giving their time for decades. #RefugeesRise is about realigning existing resources to support initiatives promoting meaningful participation by refugees, and recognizing that there is considerable capacity within refugee communities to respond to crises like the one we are facing now.
• Medical care (we have doctors, nurses, working or volunteering their time)
• Health information (we are translating and sharing information about COVID-19)
• Material and financial support to vulnerable people
• Education support (we have teachers that are continuing to teach)
• Leadership and advocacy to ensure refugees are included in broader responses.
Asia Pacific Network of Refugees (APNOR) is the only region-wide refugee-led network of refugee-led initiatives in the Asia Pacific region that is working with and for refugees. APNOR was established in 2018, on the recommendation of Asia Pacific Summit of Refugees (APSOR).