- The Guardian
- Issue #2038
Photo: John Englart – flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Hundreds of mostly Afghan refugees protested last week in Jakarta calling for resettlement and for basic support while they are stranded in Indonesia. The protest assembled at the Canadian embassy and marched to the IOM (International Organisation for Migration) office.
Around 7000 of the 14,000 refugees in Indonesia are Afghan refugees; many of them have been in Indonesia for nine years, condemned to limbo by Australian government policies. Many of the refugees in Indonesia have not even had refugee status interviews by the UNHCR, because UNHCR considers they have no hope of resettlement.
Many of those stranded believed Australian officials when those officials told them in 2013 and 2014 that they would be speedily resettled if they didn’t take a boat to Australia.
Survival in Indonesia has become even more difficult in recent years as IOM, which is funded in the most part by Australia, has not given any allowance to arrivals since 2018. Many refugees have no support at all.
The IOM allowance has also fallen well below the poverty line in Indonesia as the cost of living has dramatically increased with inflation over the last year.
“Already poverty conditions in Indonesia have become impossible in recent months, as everything from cooking gas to washing powder, food and medications have dramatically increased in price,” said Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson, Ian Rintoul, who was part of a fact-finding mission to Indonesia in October, 2022.
“That allowance should be doubled and paid to every adult,” he said. “I saw families of two adults and four children trying to survive on one allowance, because IOM won’t support recent arrivals and won’t pay an adult allowance to children when they turn 18.”
The Albanese government has said that it will fulfil the previous Liberal promise to resettle 16,500 Afghan refugees over four years on top of the annual humanitarian intake. But reports from Indonesia from UNHCR indicate Australia has set a quota of just 250 Afghans to be resettled from Indonesia this year.
Nor has the Labor government lifted the ban, imposed by the Morrison, government on taking any refugees from Indonesia who arrived after July 2014.
“Desperation in Indonesia is driving refugees there to protest,” said Rintoul, “Their fate is in Labor’s hands. The increase in the humanitarian quota is expected this year to increase from 13,750 to 27,000, enough to bring all the refugees in Indonesia to Australia.”