Friday, February 3, 2023

Refugees in limbo situation while stranded in Indonesia

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Hanif Muhammad





The refugee situation in Indonesia has prevailed since the beginning of the war on terror, especially today with the influx of refugees from the ongoing Rohingya crisis. Indonesia has harbored refugees from war-torn countries mostly from Afghanistan, Myanmar and Somalia.

Data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in September 2021 recorded there were a total of 13,273 persons, including 73% adult (26% women and 74% men) and 27% children. Majority of refugees in Indonesia are from Afghanistan, totaling 56% of all asylum-seekers. The population of refugees based on country of origin is as followed:

  • Afghanistan : 7,458
  • Somalia : 1,364
  • Myanmar : 707
  • Iraq : 677
  • Sudan : 506
  • Others : 2,561

Indonesia is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol. Refugees in Indonesia therefore cannot access sufficient health services or be formally employed. This has caused thousands of refugees to suffer in some of the worst conditions.

Waiting for accepting countries

Many asylum-seeking refugees have found themselves stuck in Indonesia while waiting for their transfer to another country that accepts them, such as Australia or New Zealand.

In the last week of December 2022, at least 185 Rohingya men, women and children landed on Ujong Pie beach at Muara Tiga, Northern Aceh.

Muhammad Rafki Syukri, the Protection Associate at the UNHCR, said the agency would provide Rohingya language translators and counseling to determine if they were from the group of 190 Rohingya who were reported by the UN to be drifting in a small boat in the Andaman Sea for a month.

“With prolonged conflict and insecure situations in their country of origin, it is possible that the movement of refugees to find safe places will continue to grow,” he said, as quoted by the Associated Press.

The refugee situation in Indonesia has not improved at all. Many of the refugees have been simply waiting for the process to move to countries that will accept them. Some have waited for years with no hope of ever solving their dire situation.

Hanif Muhammad






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