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Refugees in Indonesia Say UNHCR Jakarta Office Reneging on Food Aid Promise

July 13, 2020, 10.36 PM

JAKARTA, – A number of refugees in Indonesia held a protest in front of the UNHCR’s Jakarta office demanding food aid from the United Nations body.

UNHCR or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has a branch office in Central Jakarta.

The refugees demanding food and water supplies were from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.

Read also: Indonesia Provides Temporary Shelter to 99 Rohingya Refugees in Aceh

One of the refugees, Hasan, said that this protest action they want to hold the UNHCR accountable for their unfulfilled promises.

Hasan said that the UNHCR previously promised to pay attention to the conditions of refugees in Indonesia, who live in a former military building in Kalideres, West Jakarta.

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However, the UNHCR reneged on its promises as the refugees have not received food or water supply aid from the UN’s refugee body, said Hasan. In fact, the refugees in Indonesia have to rely on the generosity of the country’s citizens, he added.

“One year in Kalideres, but the UNHCR continues to lie and promise to visit Kalideres yet they never come. Then there’s the Covid-19 virus and still, they do not visit there. There’s no water, food, or any lighting,” said Hasan.

Read also: Indonesia Enters a Dangerous New Phase in Covid-19 Fight

Hasan reiterated that the refugees are not asking for much as they only want to gain the UNHCR’s attention in order to survive in Indonesia.

“The hope is for the UNHCR to deliver bread and water. All these times, there has been no food supply from the Indonesian government or the UNHCR. The food supply has only come from Indonesians,” said Hasan.

Demonstrations in 2019

In October 2019, a group of refugees in Indonesia also protested in front of the UNHCR’s Jakarta office for the same objective.

A protester, Wahid Ali, said that the UNHCR made promises to install electricity, water, and provide food, but had yet to meet their promises.

“Look at the children who cannot eat. If not, we will return to the UNHCR office again on Monday, threaten to kill ourselves because it has been over a month since we last received help,” said Wahid.

Read also: Amnesty International Indonesia Urges Protection of Rohingya Refugees

Wahid emphasized that to fulfill their daily needs, refugees in Indonesia often had to rely on the public’s help for their food.

To have a proper shower, they needed to go to a mosque, terminal station, or minimarket.

Wahid asked the UNHCR to take a more serious approach on how they handle refugees considering that there were 509 refugees stationed in the former military building in Kalideres. 

(Writer: Rindi Nuris Velarosdela, Bonfilio Mahendra Wahanaputra Ladjar | Editor: Sandro Gatra) 


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