Hundreds of Afghan refugees in Jakarta demand resettlement abroad

Attribution: Eko Siswono Toyudho - Anadolu Agency

Crowds gathering since Tuesday morning, chaos broke out as protesters refused orders to disperse.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AA) – Hundreds of Afghan refugees and asylum seekers held a protest in front of the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, offices in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Tuesday.

They urged the resettlement process to a third country as thousands of refugees have been waiting for the resettlement for nearly a decade.

“We are holding this protest to put pressure on the UNHCR, that accept refugees from Indonesia, to work on the resettlement process which has been prolonged for too long,” said Hakmat, one of the Afghan refugees.

“These people are the most vulnerable ones. We cannot do anything in here because Indonesia has not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention,” Zayn, another refugee, added.

It is illegal for them to work, and so they typically cannot access or pay for health services and education.

Some have waited more than a decade for a third country to take them in, a process facilitated by the UNHCR.

The crowds have been gathering since Tuesday morning until chaos broke out because protesters refused orders to disperse.

The police said the protests were violating the Community Activity Restrictions that have been implemented as part of the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

A meeting between representatives of Afghan refugees and the UNHCR is currently underway.

“The discussion between both representatives is still ongoing,” Dwi Anisa Prafitria, a communication associate at the UNHCR Indonesia, told Anadolu Agency.

Currently, there are 13,459 refugees registered with the UNHCR office in Indonesia.

By April this year, the UN refugee agency noted that most refugees in Indonesia were from Afghanistan (57%), Somalia (10%), and Iraq (5%).

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