JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Hundreds of Afghan refugees and asylum seekers living in Indonesia rallied in front of the U.N. refugee agency office in Jakarta on Monday to urge it to speed up their resettlement.
They held large banners reading “Our families are in danger. Please act now” and “Resettle refugees and save lives” during the rally in front of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Some children of asylum seeker joined the rally and held banners in their hands.
Bibi Rahima Farhangdost, 31, said she left her job as a teacher in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province and arrived in Indonesia in 2014 after the Taliban ordered her not to work outside her house.
She said she received a refugee card from the UNHCR in 2016, but since then there has been no further action on her resettlement.
“I only stay home as I cannot work here. I feel disappointed. Eight years is a very long time,” she said.
Indonesia is not a signatory to the U.N. Refugee Convention, and the government does not allow asylum seekers to work or have access to schools or public hospitals. It is surrounded by countries that host large numbers of asylum-seekers and refugees such as Malaysia, Thailand and Australia.
In December 2020, almost 14,000 refugees from 50 countries were registered in Indonesia, most of them Afghan refugees.
Many asylum seekers have fled to Indonesia as a jumping-off point to reach Australia by boat. Since 2013, the Australian government has sent the often barely seaworthy vessels back to Indonesian waters.