29 September 2020
Palau, a Pacific archipelago nation made up of more than 300 islands, has not been a significant destination for asylum seekers or refugees. However, its location--shared maritime borders with Indonesia, the Philippines, and Micronesia--is adjacent to important migration routes in Asia. Nevertheless, the country does not have national asylum legislation and the country is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention. In April 2015, UNHCR provided assistance to a small number of refugees (fewer than five) in Palau in finding a durable solution. A very small number of asylum seekers sought international protection in Palau in 2014, however, they departed the country following counselling by UNHCR.
There is little available information about the treatment of migrants or asylum seekers in immigration enforcement procedures in Palau. As of September 2020, Palau was one of only a small handful of countries that had yet to report any Covid-19 cases.
Foreign nationals, primarily working in the domestic labour, agriculture, hospitality, or construction industries, make up around one third of the country’s population. According to the 2020 US Trafficking in Persons Report, this population is vulnerable to trafficking. In 2020, Palau “remained without standard operating procedures for victim identification and referral to services. Protection services were insufficient; the government did not provide basic services such as medical and psychological care, and the government did not investigate indicators of trafficking in labor recruitment and contract violations experienced by many foreign workers.”
- J. Pasley, “Isolation and closed borders: Here's how ten Pacific Island nations are COVID-19-free, and the costs that come with it,” Business Insider, 22 September 2020, https://www.businessinsider.com/heres-how-10-pacific-island-nations-are-covid-19-free-2020-9?r=US&IR=T
- UNHCR, “Submission by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees For the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Compilation Report – Universal Periodic Review, 2rd Cycle, 24th Session: The Republic of Palau”, UNHCR, https://www.refworld.org/country,,UNHCR,,BRN,,5ccab7d67,0.html
- United States Department of State, “2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Marshall Islands”, Refworld, 3 March 2017, https://www.refworld.org/docid/58ec8a0013.html
- Reinalda Ebiklou at the entrance to Belau National Hospital, (Richard Brooks, "Fear Will Always Be There: Covid Free Island Prepares to Bring Home Stranded Citizens," The Guardian, 1 June 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/02/fear-will-always-be-there-covid-free-island-prepares-to-bring-home-stranded-citizens)