Australia’s support for Indonesia to contain refugees
Since 2000, the Australia Government has worked with Indonesia to stop refugees travelling by boat to Australia, and has funded the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide support for refugees who have been intercepted and detained by Indonesian officials. This arrangement comes under the Regional Cooperation Agreement. Under this agreement, Indonesian police and immigration officials agree to intercept refugees and other undocumented migrants and place them in immigration detention centres. Once detained, refugees and people seeking asylum were able to receive support from IOM, funded by Australia. Since 2001, Australia has provided $388 million to IOM under the Regional Cooperation Agreement, which includes the provision of care for detainees, community housing facilities, information campaigns and capacity building for the Indonesian government.
In March 2018, IOM announced that the Australian Government was ending funding under the Regional Cooperation Agreement for any refugees and people seeking asylum newly arriving in Indonesia. The reason provided for this decision is that the Australian Government does not want the care under IOM to be a ‘pull factor’ for refugees to come to Indonesia. Under the new arrangement, Australia will still fund care for IOM’s existing caseload of 9000 people, but will close its services to any new refugees after 15 March 2018. This leaves over 5000 refugees with no support in Indonesia.