Jakarta – Hundreds of refugees living in Tanjungpinang, Riau Islands, staged a rally in front of the local office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Monday, demanding "justice and a more humane treatment" for asylum seekers in Indonesia.
About 400 refugees from various countries – including Sudan, Afghanistan and Somalia – who have stayed in Indonesia for up to seven years, raised a call for the authorities to allow them to live freely and get access to employment.
"We have various abilities, yet we cannot work here," said one of the protesters, Ali Rizal Nazario, as quoted by Antara. "Many of our friends suffer from depression and mental disorders."
Ali, who previously had lived for years in the Balikpapan Immigration Detention Center in East Kalimantan, further assured the public that asylum seekers were not criminals, so they deserved more humane treatment.
The country's prevailing regulations have barred refugees from working in Indonesia, but the government has promised to provide the asylum seekers with basic accommodations and emergency needs as they await resettlement in a third country.
Most of the thousands of asylum seekers in Indonesia, however, were still unable to get resettled in the destinations they had expected because of various constraints, including the restrictions on asylum seekers recently implemented by United States President Donald Trump.
The Riau Island's branch of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) could not say when the refugees would be able to depart for their resettlement destinations in the US, Canada, or Australia.
"I am currently waiting for a follow-up from the Bintan Police," said the office head, Frangky Lukitama.
Indonesia currently hosts about 14,000 refugees and asylum seekers, the majority of whom stay in the capital Jakarta. (vny/afr)