News / Asia

Jakarta Forum Focuses on Sea-Borne Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran cry as Indonesian officers force them to leave the Australian vessel Hermia docked at Indah Kiat port in Merak, Indonesia's Banten province, April 9, 2012.
Asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran cry as Indonesian officers force them to leave the Australian vessel Hermia docked at Indah Kiat port in Merak, Indonesia's Banten province, April 9, 2012.
Kate Lamb
— This week the United Nations High Commission for Refugees held talks in Jakarta to try to develop a more coordinated, regional approach to the rising number of boat arrivals and deaths at sea.

Government representatives from Afghanistan, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Burma and the United States gathered this week to discuss a growing, common problem.

Talks at the regional roundtable centered on improving search and rescue procedures and how to better process irregular boat arrivals.

UNHCR spokesperson Vivian Tan says the meeting, which was closed to journalists, was just the beginning of a regional response.

"Basically this meeting was meant to be the start of discussions between states in the region about the issue of irregular maritime movements," she said. "It was an attempt to get states to discuss the common challenges and agree on the need for regional cooperation. In terms of concrete proposals, we’re not there yet, but there was definitely a consensus on the need for more specific, more action driven responses to this common problem."

UNHCR says irregular migrations in the Asia Pacific recorded a huge increase in 2012.

Escalating conflict in Burma’s Rakhine state and protracted tensions in Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan have seen a growing number of people fleeing on boats.

The United Nations says the Indian Ocean was particularly deadly in 2012, estimating that 500 people who boarded smugglers’ boats in the Bay of Bengal later died at sea.

In Australia, an attractive destination country, a record 17,000 people arrived by boat last year.

Because each country handles the irregular arrivals differently, where refugees end up can have a great bearing on their future.

Chris Lewa, director of the Rohingya advocacy group, Arakan Project, said, "I don’t know, but the way it is built at the moment is definitely not acceptable; that people arrive and some of them are pushed out to the sea, then they arrive in another country and they end up in detention.  So these people need protection."

The UNHCR says the conclusions of this week’s meeting will be shared with the Bali Process members, a group focused on improving regional law enforcement coordination to prevent people smuggling and trafficking networks.

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid