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Refugee Council of Australia
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Home > Reports > After the boats have stopped: Refugees stranded in Indonesia and Australia’s containment policies

After the boats have stopped: Refugees stranded in Indonesia and Australia’s containment policies

Refugees in Indonesia

In the late 1990s, Indonesia became a transit hub for refugees fleeing war and persecution from Asia and the Middle East. As Indonesia has not signed the Refugee Convention, and does not provide refugees with basic human rights, many refugees did not intend to stay for long, hoping instead to be processed for third country resettlement or to make their own way to Australia by boat. However, because global resettlement places have declined so significantly, and Australia has increased its deterrence policies, including Operation Sovereign Borders, many refugees have been forced to remain in Indonesia.

As of September 2018, there were 13,801 refugees and people seeking asylum registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Indonesia. 29% are children, 25% adult women and 52% are elderly. The main countries of origin include Afghanistan, Somalia, Burma, Sri Lanka and Iraq. There are likely to be many more refugees in Indonesia who have not registered with UNHCR.

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