UNHCR honors government officials coordinating help to refugees

UNHR recently recognized officials of a Desk set up under the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs for their work to promote protection and solutions for refugees in Indonesia.

Carlo Tewu (center) receives an award of recognition from UNHCR Representative in Indonesia Thomas Vargas (left) as Chairul Anwar, also a recipient, looks on. © UNHCR/T. Kurniasari

Over the past years, UNHCR has worked in close coordination with the Desk for Handling Refugees and People Smuggling at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, which is an inter-ministerial body tasked with coordinating help to refugees. Its role became even more prominent with the December 2016 enactment of a comprehensive Presidential Regulation for handling refugees (No.125/2016).

Thanks to the leadership of two officials at the Ministry’s Desk for Handling Refugees and People Smuggling – Inspector General Carlo Brix Tewu and Deputy Head Brigadier General Chairul Anwar – this important coordination body continues to actively lead actions to help refugees and host communities.

In recognition of their work, UNHCR Representative in Indonesia Thomas Vargas presented them awards during the opening ceremony of an entrepreneurship program for Indonesian and refugee youth. The event was organized by UNHCR in collaboration with UN sister agency the International Labour Organization (ILO), Dompet Dhuafa and Atma Jaya Catholic University to bring together young Indonesians and refugees to listen to advice from local entrepreneurs on how to set up a successful business.

“I would like to commend the work of Bapak Carlo and Bapak Chairul to promote solutions for refugees. UNHCR is working closely with them to promote solutions such as resettlement to third countries. However, given the changing policies of governments, we are also promoting novel ways to better prepare refugees for the future by improving their skills and knowledge. That is why we are pleased to present Bapak Carlo and Bapak Chairul this award today in the presence of all of you – local entrepreneurs and refugees – who are participating together in the entrepreneurship pilot project to promote economic development in neighborhoods that are hosting refugees,” said Thomas Vargas in his speech.

Carlo noted he was honored to receive such recognition from UNHCR. “This is actually part of the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs’ job as stipulated in the Presidential Regulation 125/2016. As of now, we are still working on how to implement the regulation,” Carlo said after receiving the award.

Chairul shared the same sentiment. “This [award] is like a motivation for me to work much harder to do humanitarian work on refugee handling,” said Chairul. “We, in the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, have conducted sensitization on the Presidential Regulation No. 125 to other agencies in the central government and regional administrations so they are aware and understand the plight of refugees and how they deal with them,” he went on.

Entrepreneurship training jointly organized by UNHCR, the International Labour Organization, Atma Jaya Catholic University and Muslim philanthropic organization Dompet Dhuafa was provided to young Indonesians and refugees. © UNHCR/M. Suryono

Both Carlo and Chairul also praised UNHCR for organizing the entrepreneurship training program for Indonesian and refugee youth. The training program itself started with the strong partnership between UNHCR and ILO to pilot an entrepreneurship training for refugees. The program kicked off in September 2018 at Atmajaya University and Dompet Dhuafa with Indonesian and refugee participants. The pilot project is aimed to support Indonesians and refugees aged between 17 and 30 with entrepreneurship skills, which will improve their self-reliance and prepare for their future.

“We are grateful for this training program, which will prepare young people – Indonesians and refugees [for their future],” said Carlo. “We believe that this program, […] will be a great program and surely help my work in the implementation of the Presidential Regulation,” he added.

Chairul also responded positively on the training as it provided skills for refugees and locals. “We know that the main issue of refugees in Indonesia is resettlement, particularly since the number of resettlement tends to be going down and leaves refugees in uncertain situation. The main problem is, they have to survive,” Chairul said. “From the humanitarian perspective, UNHCR has done a good job as it provides skills to refugees so they can survive,” he added.

Under the joint entrepreneurship project, UNHCR and its partners hope local economies will be stimulated and also will provide refugees the opportunity to give back to their host communities by sharing their talents and special abilities.