Refugee Protection in Time of Mass Influx: A Case Study on Southeast Asian Countries and their Intergovernmental Arrangements

University essay from Lunds universitet/Juridiska institutionen; Lunds universitet/Juridiska fakulteten

Abstract: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) describes a situation where the number of people crossing the international border has suddenly increased in which neither if exist, the normal individual asylum procedures nor the response capacity of individual State are able to deal with the assessment of such large numbers as a 'mass refugee influx.' In the international law context, the receiving State has an obligation to provide a ‘temporary refuge’ for any person participating in the large-scale movement. Towards achievement of a satisfactory solution, the State alone cannot bear the burden. Based on humanitarian ground, the international cooperation also plays a vital role in this scenario—UNHCR calls this is a reflection of a spirit of solidarity and burden-sharing amongst the international community. For Southeast Asia, the history has shown that Southeast Asian countries have once experienced the mass exodus of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians during the Indochinese war. Whereas the crisis was successfully ceased in the late 1990s, the formation of a new wave of displaced people can still be witnessed in the present. The continual outflow of Rohingya people from Myanmar has been lasting for more than decades—UNHCR estimates that in August 2017, around 600,000 of Rohingya people had crossed the international border. With no sign of actual commitment from Myanmar in the issue, the prediction can be that history would likely to repeat itself in the region. Consequently, the thesis intends to highlight the present legal and practical obstacles to the enjoyment of temporary protection of refugees, in case of large-scale movements, in Southeast Asia and particular in ASEAN countries. It then concludes that the temporary protection of refugees in the region is still at risk by the reason that: first, a refugee is not fully entitled to the legal status compared to the international standard; second, the arrangements between ASEAN countries is lack of solidarity and merely depends on the political will; and third, the impairment of international standards itself attributes to the obstruction.

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