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Sandiaga Uno fears Rohingya refugees could get caught up in human trafficking, affect Aceh tourism

Tempo - December 8, 2023

Sultan Abdurrahman, Jakarta – Indonesia's Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sandiaga Uno addressed the presence of Rohingya refugees in Aceh, fearing they may end up being part of human trafficking crimes. Sandia said he was concerned about the situation, and how it could affect the tourism in Aceh.

"Our brothers and sisters, the Rohingya refugees, are under pressure. We are worried that this could be part of the criminal act of trafficking in persons (TPPO)," said Sandiaga when met at the State Palace in Jakarta on Thursday, December 7.

According to Sandiaga, so far there has been no sign of the presence of Rohingya refugees disrupting tourism in Aceh. However, he said he would continue to monitor developments in the situation to ensure there was no negative impact on tourism there.

Sandiaga said he had not received special directions from President Joko Widodo on how to handle the situation, which he called a humanitarian disaster. However, he said that he would be in Aceh for a work visit soon to monitor the situation. "There are no instructions as of today, but I will visit Aceh at the end of December or early January to see the impact on tourism."

Rejected by locals

Previously, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud Md said that the government was looking for a solution to the Rohingya refugees entering Indonesia through Aceh.

"There are now 1,478 of them. The locals – the people of Aceh, North Sumatra, and Riau – object because they keep coming. 'We are also poor, but why are we hosting them for free?' is how they see it. We are trying to come up with a solution," Mahfud Md said as reported by Antara, on December 5.

Mahfud Md said that Indonesia did not sign the UN's 1951 Refugee Convention and therefore is not bound by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Indonesia's assistance to Rohingya immigrants is carried out on humanitarian grounds.

Mahfud Md said that neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Australia could no longer take in Rohingya refugees. At first, he said, the Rohingyans only made Indonesia a transit point. But after a while, they ended up making Indonesia a refugee destination.

"They stopped in Indonesia as a place to transit, but over time they made this country a refugee destination. Before, they transit here en route to Australia. But the Rohingyans stopped in Indonesia, they didn't want to leave again," said Mahfud.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1806638/sandiaga-uno-fears-rohingya-refugees-could-get-caught-up-in-human-trafficking-affect-aceh-touris