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Indonesia pushes UNHCR for prompt Rohingya resettlement

JAKARTA (Bernama) — Indonesia has urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to prompt countries under the Refugee Convention to expedite the resettlement of Rohingya refugees.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi made this call during a meeting with UNHCR in Geneva, emphasising the importance of addressing the Rohingya refugee issue to prevent an undue burden on other nations, particularly Indonesia.

During the meeting, she addressed the pressing issue of Rohingya refugees entering Indonesia’s territory and highlighted a growing concern about human trafficking.

Newly-arrived Rohingya refugees board trucks to transfer to a temporary shelter after villagers rejected their relocated camp, in Banda Aceh on December 11, 2023. PHOTO: AFP

“In a candid one-on-one conversation with the UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi, (he) fully understands the challenges faced by Indonesia,” she said in a virtual media briefing today.

According to recent data from the UNHCR, more than 1,200 Rohingya individuals have arrived in Indonesia since November. Notably, at least 300 of them reached Aceh in just the past week. 

Assuring Indonesia of support, Retno stated that the UN Refugee Agency pledged to make maximum efforts to help resolve the issue by providing assistance to support the lives of Rohingya refugees.

On Monday, President Joko Widodo stated his government is providing temporary shelter for the Rohingya refugees who have arrived in Indonesian territory.

Last week, he expressed deep concerns about human trafficking crimes linked to the growing number of Rohingya refugees entering Indonesia, especially in Aceh.

In response to concerns raised by Aceh residents, he instructed Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD to address the issue.

Newly-arrived Rohingya refugees wait to board trucks to transfer to a temporary shelter after villagers rejected their relocated camp, in Banda Aceh on December 11, 2023. PHOTO: AFP

Indonesia has not joined the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol.

Despite this, the country, guided by a national refugee law enacted in December 2016, has a longstanding tradition of granting access to and hosting refugees.

The law allows for temporary protection until more permanent solutions can be established for refugees in the country, according to UNHCR Indonesia.

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