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Police chief: Rohingya refugees in Indonesia only for transit

Tempo - December 6, 2023

Sultan Abdurrahman, Daniel A. Fajri, Nabiila Azzahra, Jakarta – National Police Chief Gen. Sigit Prabowo spoke about Rohingya refugees who are currently in Aceh. According to the general, the asylum seekers are only in Indonesia for transit before continuing to their destination countries.

"Previously there was an agreement that, when refugees enter transit countries en route to their destination countries, whether we like it or not, we have to accept them," Listyo Sigit said when met at the National Police Headquarters, South Jakarta on Tuesday, December 5.

He also said he would coordinate with the provincial government of Aceh and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to discuss the Rohingyans' situation.

When asked about how long they would stay in Indonesia, Sigit said they must follow applicable regulations on asylum seekers. He stated that there are rules governing how long refugees can stay in transit countries.

He said that Indonesia accepted the entry of Rohingya refugees for humanitarian reasons. According to Sigit, there is no problem for them to be in Indonesia temporarily, as it is the state's obligation to help others. Sigit also asked all parties involved to continue to respect the rights of asylum seekers.

Previously, Foreign Affairs Ministry's spokesperson Lalu Muhammad Iqbal said that Indonesia is not one of the nations that ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention, which requires said countries to protect refugees in their territories. A total of 146 countries are parties to the convention and 147 are parties to the protocol.

"Indonesia does not have the obligation and the capacity to accommodate refugees, let alone provide a permanent solution for them," he said in a short message on Thursday, November 16.

Almost 200 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, arrived on a large boat in Aceh province on Tuesday, November 14. They were stranded on Kalee Village Beach, Gampong Batee, Muara Tiga District, Pidie Regency.

At the beginning of this year, several hundred Rohingyans also arrived in Aceh. Most of them died at sea from disease, starvation, and exhaustion. According to UNHCR data, 2022 was one of the deadliest years in a decade for refugees.

According to the data submitted by UNHCR at the beginning of the year, Indonesia is currently hosting 12,805 refugees from 51 countries, and around 1,000 people or 8 percent of them are Rohingya refugees.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1805801/police-chief-rohingya-refugees-in-indonesia-only-for-transi