UNHCR officers tended to refugees on Jalan Kebon Sirih in Central Jakarta before they were relocated on Thursday. (Antara Photos/M. Risyal Hidayat)

Jakarta's Stranded Refugees Moved Off the Streets


JULY 11, 2019

Jakarta. The Jakarta administration has decided to relocate hundreds of refugees who have been living rough on the streets near the United Nations Refugee Agency office in Kebon Sirih, Central Jakarta, to an old military building in Kalideres in the west of the city.

"We were going to move them to the Islamic Center, but there were too many of them so we're relocating them to a disused military building in West Jakarta," Jakarta Regional Legislative Council chairman Prasetyo Marsudi said on Thursday.

According to Prasetyo, the Jakarta administration will pay for the refugees' new temporary accommodation for one week. The UNHCR will need to take over after that.

"We decided to get involved for humanitarian reasons. We want the UNHCR to come up with a concrete solution to solve this problem," Prasetyo said.

Over 240 refugees queued to be transported by six Transjakarta buses to their new shelter on Thursday.

The Social Affairs Ministry is also helping out by providing meals and sanitary supplies. 

"We have also sent our social disaster protection and social rehabilitation teams to help the refugees," Social Affairs Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita said on Thursday.

The ministry's social rehabilitation director general Edi Suharto said the teams will focus on providing psychosocial care to the refugees' children.

Hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from Afghanistan and Somalia, have been demonstrating in front of the UNHCR office in Central Jakarta in the past few weeks, living rough on the streets at night. They had moved to Kebon Sirih from their temporary housings in Kalideres, West Jakarta.

The director of human rights at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Achsanul Habib, said on Tuesday that the refugees felt frustrated with the slow process of their resettlement applications at the UNHCR. Many of them have been stuck in limbo in Jakarta for years, some of them up to seven years.

The UNHCR's representative in Indonesia, Thomas Vargas, said the agency currently does not have enough funding to provide proper care for the refugees and asylum seekers. He said the UNHCR is trying to work with its partners to give better assistance to them. 

Refugees waiting for their turn to enter buses to be relocated from Kebon Sirih sidewalks, Jakarta, on Thursday. (Antara Photos/M Risyal Hidayat)
Refugees waited for their turn to be relocated from the sidewalks on Jalan Kebon Sirih in Central Jakarta on Thursday, where they had been living rough in the past few weeks. (Antara Photos/M. Risyal Hidayat)
Refugees crossing the street to enter buses to be relocated from Kebon Sirih sidewalks, Jakarta, on Thursday. (Antara Photos/M Risyal Hidayat)
A family of refugees crossed the street into a waiting bus. (Antara Photos/M. Risyal Hidayat)
Most refugees are from Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, and Pakistan. (Antara Photos/M Risyal Hidayat)
Most of the refugees stranded in Jakarta came from Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia and Pakistan. (Antara Photos/M. Risyal Hidayat)
Refugee in a Transjakarta bus, about to be relocated to Kalideres area, West Jakarta. (Antara Photos/M Risyal Hidayat)
The refugees were transported by Transjakarta buses to their new temporary shelter in Kalideres. (Antara Photos/M. Risyal Hidayat)