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Indonesia only shelters Rohingya refugees temporarily, says Mahfud Md

Tempo - December 15, 2023

Moh Khory Alfarizi, Andika Dwi, Jakarta – Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud Md explained that Indonesia is only temporarily sheltering Rohingya refugees since the country is following humanitarian principles under its constitution.

"Therefore, we will temporarily shelter [the refugees]. We are unable to shelter them for longer since there is no budget for it in the State Budget, not the local government's budget," he said on Thursday, Dec. 14, in Jakarta.

The government is currently trying to collect funds for the temporary Rohingya refugee shelters in three provinces, Aceh, North Sumatra, and Riau. These three regions are asked to conduct a local leaders coordination forum to decide on the locations of the shelters.

"It's based on humanity. But our humanity would still take national interest into account," he said. "Since we do have many people that depend on our national interest."

Additionally, Mahfud Md also mentioned that the refugees were also trying to head to other countries.

According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, only state parties to the convention are obliged to protect refugees based on convention-bound obligations. Indonesia does not ratify the convention, thus, he said, Indonesia has the right to turn away asylum seekers under international law.

However, refugees are still being sheltered in Indonesia since it follows humanitarian diplomacy. "But over the years the number [of refugees] keeps rising," he said.

Locals have also protested the presence of refugees, citing their lack of privileges, according to Mahfud.

However, sheltering refugees is part of Indonesia's humanitarian duty. "We are still searching for their temporary shelters. They will be repatriated one day," Mahfud claimed.

Earlier on Dec. 2, more than 100 Rohingya refugees including women and children landed in Aceh. Their arrival faced opposition from residents. One of which was Armansyah, a Ladong resident, citing their previous experience with refugees, some have run away from the shelters and caused worry for the locals.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1809675/indonesia-only-shelters-rohingya-refugees-temporarily-says-mahfud-m