Asylum seekers and refugees from Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Congo, Turkey and Sri Lanka in Jakarta Immigration Detention Center on Tuesday (09/01) They ran to save themselves from the wars and conflicts that occurred in their country (JG Photo / Yudha Baskoro)

Seeking Refuge in Prison


JANUARY 19, 2018

Jakarta. Desperate for shelter, asylum seekers and refugees from many war-torn countries cross oceans and continents to arrive in Indonesia, despite restrictions that most often leave them stranded for years with no legal status.

While in Indonesia they are free of violence or persecution they face at home, they must still fight for survival. Many of them will have to live on the streets for indefinite time. Or in prison, if they are lucky.

In Jakarta, the immigration detention center in Kalideres, in the western part of the city, has become a sanctuary that many hope to enter. But it is not easy.

Although the facility is meant for offenders, not refugees, its authorities have allowed some people in. While it can accommodate only 120 people, twice as many are living there as of early January, when these photographs were taken. Newcomers usually end up sleeping in front of the prison building.

The immigration detention center in Jakarta's Kalideres district has become a safe haven for many asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Myanmar, and other conflict-stricken countries in Asia and Africa. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Privacy is as thin as a piece of cloth. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Sumaiya Hassani, 18, and her brother Enayat, 10, came to Indonesia from Paktia, a province in Afghanistan, where military operations are ongoing since the late 1980s. They said living at the detention facility is not comfortable, but at least they can feel free and safe. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Siham Ahmad, 25, comes from Somalia. She is grateful her child does not have to sleep on the sidewalk. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Those who were not lucky enough to get admitted to the detention center have to sleep in front of its building. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

The building is already overcrowded and its authorities refuse to accept more residents. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

The center has two times more inhabitants than it can accommodate. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

For those who come from war-stricken regions, even a detention center can be a refuge. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)