Jakarta ● Fri, January 14 2022
Indonesia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, and as such, is not obliged to take on the boatloads of asylum seekers that have been arriving in large numbers to avoid persecution in their countries. Indonesia, nevertheless, has been taking in many such people on humanitarian grounds, temporarily, and has arranged with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) to accommodate them, pending their resettlement in third countries.
The latest case is the fate of 105 Rohingya from Myanmar's troubled Rakhine region stranded in the Aceh city of Lhokseumawe. Their boat had been turned away by Malaysia, their original destination, before Indonesia took them before the end of the year. Now that they have been vaccinated and completed their COVID-19 quarantine, Lhokseumawe wants them out. North Sumatra has also rejected them since the province is already overwhelmed with many asylum seekers.
This mechanism is on the brink of breaking down because the number of asylum seekers is simply staggering and still growing. It is already overwhelming the UNHCR office in Indonesia and is creating problems for the host nation too.
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