Seven Years Is Enough!

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Refugees are exhausted by this situation in which they are denied their most basic human rights. Losing all hope of ever getting resettled into third countries, they have gathered for a peaceful rally in front of the UNHCR building in Jakarta to protest for a faster and fairer resettlement program. Deeply frustrated and mentally lost, the refugees’ only option is to ask UNHCR Indonesia to insist that the Australian government keeps its promise to take more refugees from Indonesia. ​

The government of Indonesia currently hosts 14,000 stranded refugees and asylum seekers. It is not Indonesia’s responsibility to provide food, water, medical treatment, and shelter for us. Indonesia has not ratified the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, because it has one of the highest populations in the world, and many of its citizens live below the poverty line. UNHCR and IOM do not have sufficient funds available to provide better living conditions for the refugees who have been trapped across Indonesia since 2013. The responsibility for providing adequate funds to supply the basic needs of refugees and asylum seekers rests absolutely with those countries which are party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, especially the Australian government.

Among all the potential resettlement countries, Australia and the US have the most brutally cruel immigration policies. The Australian government in particular continues to allocate literally billions of dollars to keeping the powerlessly poor asylum seekers and refugees hostage on Manus and Nauru islands, and continues to refuse, without shame, New Zealand’s repeated offers to make a deal to accept these refugees.

Refugees are exhausted by this situation in which they are denied their most basic human rights. Losing all hope of ever getting resettled into third countries, they have gathered for a peaceful rally in front of the UNHCR building in Jakarta to protest for a faster and fairer resettlement program. Deeply frustrated and mentally lost, the refugees’ only option is to ask UNHCR Indonesia to insist that the Australian government keeps its promise to take more refugees from Indonesia. ​

In 2013, the Australian government stopped the asylum seekers and refugees who attempted to reach Australia by boat. They made a deal with UNHCR in Jakarta to accept such refugees on a temporary basis, and claimed this was the safest way to come to Australia. However, for years this government has not only reneged on the deal it made with UNHCR in Indonesia, it has also reduced its annual level of support for IOM and UNHCR. This has left 14,000 refugees and asylum seekers stuck in Indonesia in a critical state of anxious uncertainty.

Today, all refugees around Indonesia stand in solidarity with those brothers peacefully protesting in front of the UNHCR office in Jakarta. We respectfully ask the international media, human right activists and journalists around the globe to raise the collective voice of these refugees. UNHCR and IOM are telling us we don’t have the power and authority to push other countries to take more refugees from Indonesia through UNHCR. The Indonesian government has provided temporary accommodation for the refugees, and we acknowledge with gratitude the generosity they have shown us since our arrival. We are aware, though, that the Indonesian government is benefiting financially from keeping the refugees in Indonesia, and that this may be encouraging them to remain silent instead of pushing the Australian government diplomatically to resolve this intolerable situation. It is time for the international community to increase diplomatic and political pressure on the Australian government and insist they immediately stop destroying the lives of 14000 homeless and innocent refugees. ​

 

Seven years is enough. Please hear the plea of the forgotten refugees in Indonesia.

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