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FAQs about refugees

Lack of Support Services

The limited capacity of UNHCR in Indonesia to deal with increasing numbers of asylum seekers and low resettlement places leads to significant waiting periods. The lack of information and assistance available to asylum seekers and refugees to support themselves and their families leads to frustration and desperation for many people of concern.

In general, lack of access to health care, education and work rights results in refugees and asylum seekers being extremely vulnerable to medical and livelihood emergencies.

Waiting lists for support services such as housing and health care are extremely long. Without the right to work, there are no means for asylum seekers to look after themselves and their families whilst transiting in Indonesia or waiting for resettlement.

On May 2015, UNHCR reported that refugee who are still in the detention center reached 4,589 persons, and 696 individuals have reported themselves to immigration authorities. There are also 596 persons of concern were under the care of their implementing partner. While other civil society organisations such as Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) Indonesia, Dompet Dhuafa and churches provide very limited assistance for food and housing.

Even for asylum seekers and refugees who do receive support, financial payments from UNHCR are reported to be minimal.

Asylum seekers and refugees can only access services of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) through referral from Immigration officials, which leads to many vulnerable people slipping though the gaps.

Asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia are also unable to obtain local identity documents such as the legal status permits known as Kartu Tanda Penduduk (KTP), the national identity card; without it, they cannot work legally. The lack of a clear legal status also severely restricts their ability to access social services such as health facilities and schools, with the inability to send children to school cited by many asylum seeker and refugee families as particularly concerning. Additionally children born to asylum seekers and refugees while in Indonesia are not entitled to receive birth certificates. Pregnant women cannot access antenatal care and medical treatment for their newborns, leaving vulnerable young families further at risk.

Some asylum seeker and refuges groups are especially vulnerable to homelessness. Families with very young children and unaccompanied minors, for instance, are particularly at risk. Other vulnerable groups in Indonesia include individuals who have suffered from torture and trauma; individuals with disabilities or mental health problems; single women; and adolescent girls.

Immigration detention centres

Immigration detention is increasingly used as a tool to manage irregular migrants, including refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons who would not ordinarily be in a position to access “regular” migration paths.

The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) has highlighted the following concerns about immigration detention in the region:

  • the use of arbitrary and unnecessary detention in conditions below international standards;
  • the denial of basic rights;
  • restrictions on access to asylum procedures and  legal assistance; and
  • detention of vulnerable groups such as children, unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with physical and mental health conditions.

Indonesia’s immigration detention centers are operated by the government of Indonesia, but the system does not have adequate oversight mechanisms, transparency, or complaint procedures. This results in too-common occurrences of human rights violations.

Multiple cases of human rights abuses and violations have already been documented in Indonesia’s detention centers. Documented abuses include reports of asylum seekers being confined to their cells for months at a time without being allowed into common areas or outdoor areas; asylum seekers being held in prison facilities rather than immigration detention centers; extortion; and physical violence.

There is no independent monitoring system, nor an adequate complaint procedure. Treatment is arbitrary and varies significantly between different detention centers, and corruption and bribery are widespread.

Indonesian law provides that states people can be detained if the enter or stay in the country without the necessary documentation. There are no criteria on who should (or should not be detained, and for  how long. There are regulations allowing for the release of certain groups of people from detention, such as children, into the care of international organizations (such as the International Organization for Migration or UNHCR’s implementing partners).

UNHCR has reported that as of May 2015, there were 4,589 persons of concern in Indonesian detention centers, including 3,542 asylum seekers and 1,047 refugees. Of those detainees, 831 were female and 1,167 were children (with 561 being unaccompanied minors).

This statistics shows significant increasing number of refugee and asylum seeker currently in Indonesia. From 2014 until May 2015, the number of people registered in UNHCR increased up to 43%. In December 2014, there are 5,659 people is registered in UNHCR while in May 2015, the registration reach 13,138 persons. This is the highest number of people registered in UNHCR for the past 15 years.