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A Transit Country No More: Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Indonesia

The vast majority of refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia intended to pass through quickly en route to a final destination, most commonly Australia. Instead, due to shifting immigration policies in Australia, they have found themselves stuck for years, with limited support and little desire or opportunity to integrate. Unable to go home, they wait and hope for resettlement. As of March 2021, there were approximately 13,700 refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia. While the absolute number is very small in comparison to the Indonesian population and other countries in the region, the challenges they face reveal the regional impacts of hardline border management, lack of opportunities in situ, as well as the need for more permanent solutions when return or resettlement are not possible. The challenges faced by this group also illuminate the devastating impacts of uncertainty and indefinite transit on the daily lives and wellbeing of people on the move. This report examines two inter-related questions: What is the impact of involuntary immobility on refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia? What changes in programming and policy would better support refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia?

Key findings from the report were presented during MMC Asia’s webinar discussion on 27 May 2021 on “The experience of refugees and migrants in host countries in South East Asia”. Click here for the webinar recording.

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