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Stranded Refugees Lose Hope

Excerpt from an article by Kate Lamb and Ben Doherty.

At an immigration detention center in Kalideres, West Jakarta which is full to the brim, the gates are topped with spirals of barbed wire. These are designed to stop people from getting out.

But more than 300 harmless asylum seekers and refugees are camped out in makeshift tents of tarpaulin and bamboo wanting to get in!

In the past asylum seekers would arrive in Indonesia from countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Iraq, hoping to board a boat to Australia. But only a handful of boats have made it to Australian shores in the past three and a half years. The few asylum seekers who have reached Australia have found themselves exiled – again – to languish indefinitely in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Refugees here are now hoping to be approved for third-country resettlement. But globally each year, less than 1% of refugees get that chance.

For the 13,885 asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia, the walls have been steadily closing in. In recent months the United Nations high commissioner for refugees has told them they are unlikely to ever be resettled.

In detention centers in Java, Sumatra, and Kalimantan there have been regular protests this year, while reports of depression and requests for psychological assistance are on the rise.

In Kalideres, the desperation is palpable. The street is a string of horror stories. “In the morning they come with guns – my family killed,” says Muhammad Al Amien, 17, from Darfur, in Sudan. ” I hid in the school.”

Living on the street that lines the detention center, more than 300 asylum seekers and refugees are reliant on charity for water and food. Battling poor sanitation, crippling heat, and monsoon rain, people are getting sick.

An Indonesian philanthropist assists those seeking medical treatment.

*In recent weeks things have gone from bad to worse. The Australian Department for Immigration and Border Protection has pulled funding to the International Organisation for Migration to support any new arrivals in Indonesia. The DIBP is the IOM’s principal funder in Indonesia, so Canberra’s diktat means the organization can no longer support any new asylum seekers, despite their continuing arrival. Refugees could be stuck in Indonesia forever.

*Who cares? What a sad indictment of our society. A morally bleak, pathetic picture of a culture sold out on materialism, bereft of human kindness.

Part excerpt from The Guardian Weekly, 20/04/2018

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