UNHCR advocates for and supports the development of a national protection framework to assist the Indonesian Government in managing the presence of persons seeking asylum. In this respect, UNHCR continues to actively promote Indonesia’s accession of the two international refugee instruments, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.
In 2008, UNHCR shared with the Government of Indonesia a draft “10 Point Plan of Action in Addressing Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration in Indonesia,” which is a step-by-step process intended to assist the Government in developing mechanisms to effectively address refugee protection and to manage mixed migration issues as Indonesia moves toward accession to the 1951 Convention. The 10 Point Plan of Action includes the most appropriate ways to build capacity within the government so that it can eventually take on this responsibility with support from UNHCR.
More recently at the end of 2016, the President of the Republic of Indonesia signed the Presidential Regulation Concerning the Handling of Foreign Refugees which contains key definitions and sets out processes for the detection, shelter and safeguarding of asylum seekers and refugees. It is anticipated that provisions contained within the Presidential Regulation will be implemented in the near future and that it will bring about closer working between the Indonesian Government and UNHCR including joint registration of asylum seekers.
UNHCR’s main government counterparts in its program to promote access to asylum and effective protection of refugees and asylum-seekers include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Directorate-General of Immigration under the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, the Indonesian National Police, and local authorities throughout the country.
UNHCR has been an active participant of the Bali Process since 2001 and works closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the implementation of the decisions taken by the 4th Bali Regional Ministerial Conference (March 2011) on the operationalization of a Regional Cooperation Framework to address shared problems relating to irregular movements of refugees and migrants and refugee protection. On 10 September 2012, the Bali Process launched the Regional Support Office (RSO), based in Bangkok, Thailand, which is co-hosted by Australia and Indonesia, the two co-chairs of the Bali Process.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
In 1975, a massive Indochinese influx brought thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodian asylum seekers and refugees to Indonesia’s Galang Island. This historical momentum lead to the establishment of a UNHCR office in Indonesia. However, UNHCR’s presence was only formally authorized in 1979, the year a MOU was signed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs authorizing UNHCR to protect refugees in the country. Throughout the years the MFA’s support to UNHCR allowed the agency to process refugee arrivals in Indonesia, as it happened with the arrival of the Oceanic Viking boat, the Jaya Lestari boat to Merak, or the MV Alicia to Tanjung Pinang in 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively.
UNHCR has also been an active participant of the Bali Process since 2001. The Office is working closely with the MFA in the implementation of the decisions taken by the 4th Bali Regional Ministerial Conference (March 2011) on the operationalization of a Regional Cooperation Framework to address shared problems involving irregular movements and refugees. On 10 September 2012, the Bali Process reached a new height after the Regional Support Office (RSO) was launched in Bangkok, co-hosted by Australia and Indonesia, the two co-chairs of the Bali Process.
Ministry of Law and Human Rights – Directorate General of Immigration and the Directorate General of Human Rights.
- Directorate General of Human Rights – the Directorate of Human Rights launched the third generation of Indonesian Human Rights Plan of Action (RANHAM), which provides another national programmatic framework for promotion and protection of human rights from 2011 to 2014. The RANHAM includes the Government’s decision to accede by 2014 to the two Refugee Instruments, the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. UNHCR welcomes the Government’s intention and continues to discuss the accession process with the Directorate General of Human Rights and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Directorate General of Immigration – As UNHCR deals with foreign people present in Indonesia, it also works closely with the Directorate General of Immigration. Our daily activities are conducted in full observance of the terms established by the September 2010 Directorate General of Immigration Directive on Handling of Illegal Migrants. Among others, this Directive grants UNHCR access to intercepted asylum-seekers and refugees, including those taken and being kept in Immigration Detention Centres (IDCs).
Capacity Building Activities
Since 2008, in accordance with UNHCR’s 10 Point Plan of Action on Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration, UNHCR has been dedicated to building the capacity of Government counterparts, NGOs, and other partners involved in refugee protection in Indonesia.
UNHCR regularly conducts capacity building and advocacy activities with the Indonesian Government in Jakarta and across the country, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Directorate General of Immigration, the National Police, the National Defence Forces, and various local authorities in communities where refugees are accommodated. UNHCR also engages with Indonesian lawyers, NGOs, academic institutions, the media, and members of the public. Activities include workshops, meetings, briefings, roundtable discussions, focus group discussions, social media, and other promotional activities aimed at raising awareness on refugee issues and promoting policies and procedures that ensure effective protection of refugees in the country.
Pioneered by the United Nations in 1948 with the deployment of UN military observers to the Middle East, United Nations Peacekeeping Missions continue to work on creating conditions for lasting peace in countries torn apart by conflict. The humanitarian nature of peacekeeping operations bond an important partnership between UNHCR and peacekeeping forces, as the two often work along side one other in carrying out humanitarian activities in insecure environments across the globe.
Indonesia is among the top 20 contributors to UN peacekeeping operations. To support the deployment of Indonesian Defence Forces personnel to UN peacekeeping operations, UNHCR Indonesia has been regularly invited by the Indonesian National Defence Forces Peacekeeping Centre to conduct presentations on the role of UNHCR in United Nations peacekeeping operations. In its presentations, UNHCR provides information on the refugee situation in areas where peacekeeping forces will be deployed, with additional information on how peacekeeping forces will be working with UNHCR in addressing the needs of refugee in these countries.