Durian. More than 200 refugees, who are stranded in Indonesia for some years while waiting for possible resettlement in a new country, marched to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) representative office in Jakarta on July 13, calling for the fulfillment of their basic human rights.
They marched for about 18 kilometers from their temporary shelter in West Jakarta to Central Jakarta where the UN agency is located to deliver their demand.
“These people have been living in limbo since 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 without the availability of basic human rights like right to study, to meet their parents, families, kids and relatives,” Hassan Rrmazan Rateq, one of refugee representatives who was participated on July 13 march told thebigdyurian.news on July 14.
Refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia are not allowed to work, according to the country’s immigration laws.
Indonesia is not a party to UN Convention 1951 on Refugee but based on humanitarian ground the country accepts asylum seekers stay temporarily while waiting for their legal process at UNHCR to be resettled in a new acceptance country.
However, resettlement schedule is uncertain causing asylum seekers and refugees are stranded in transit countries in limbo.
The changing of immigration policy of countries who are parties of Convention of Refugee such as Australia and the United States on receiving refugees contributes to uncertain period of time for asylum seekers to stay in transit countries with possible chance of not to be resettled.
“Despite being deprived of all those [basic human] rights, they are not being assisted financially by UNHCR, IOM [International Organization for Migration], government [of Indonesia] and any NGO,” Rateq added.
According to data from UNHCR representative in Jakarta as of May 2020, there are more than 13,500 asylum seekers and refugees from more than 50 origin countries are now in living across Indonesia.
About 8,000 of them are living in community houses, assisted by IOM and the rest must survive on their own.
Refugees who participated on July 13 peaceful demonstration are mostly living in an empty building in Kalideres, West Jakarta since July last year. They were previously camped in front of immigration detention in the area, hoping to be hosted in that facility due to financial difficulties.
The government of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, promised to assist refugees when moved them to the current shelter last year but no support was accepted until now, Rateq explained.
“So, finally they decided to have a long march on July 13 [to UNHRC office],” he said, adding that lack of financial ability forced them to march. They carried their children with them to the UNHCR office.
Representatives of refugees have met a UNHCR’s official who promised to hold another meeting in the near future on the issue.
In December 2016, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has issued Presidential Regulation on Refugee Handling, the only legal framework on refugee issue, however the implementation is still facing overlapping policies between central and regional governments.