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UNHCR disturbed over mob attack and forced eviction of refugees in Aceh, Indonesia

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UNHCR disturbed over mob attack and forced eviction of refugees in Aceh, Indonesia

27 December 2023

BANGKOK – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply disturbed to see a mob attack on a site sheltering vulnerable refugee families, the majority being children and women, in Indonesia Banda Aceh city. Hundreds of youngsters stormed a building basement on Wednesday (27 December 2023) where refugees were sheltered.

The mob broke a police cordon and forcibly put 137 refugees on two trucks, and moved them to another location in Banda Aceh. The incident has left refugees shocked and traumatized.

UNHCR remains deeply worried about the safety of refugees and calls on local law enforcement authorities for urgent action to ensure protection of all desperate individuals and humanitarian staff.   

The attack on refugees is not an isolated act but the result of a coordinated online campaign of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech against refugees and an attempt to malign Indonesia’s efforts to save desperate lives in distress at sea.

UNHCR reminds everyone that desperate refugee children, women and men seeking shelter in Indonesia are victims of persecution and conflict, and are survivors of deadly sea journeys. Indonesia – with its longstanding humanitarian tradition – has helped save these desperate people who would have otherwise died at the sea – like hundreds of others. 

The UN Refugee Agency is also alerting the general public to be aware of the coordinated and well-choreographed online campaign on social media platforms, attacking authorities, local communities, refugees and humanitarian workers alike, inciting hate and putting lives in danger.

UNHCR appeals to the public in Indonesia to cross-check information posted online, much of it false or twisted, with AI generated images and hate speech being sent from bot accounts.