MUI Criticizes UNHCR for Poor Handling of Refugees in Indonesia

Diana Mariska
Rohingya refugees in Idaman island, East Aceh, Aceh, on Saturday, June 5, 2021. (Photo: ANTARA FOTO/Irwansyah Putra)
Rohingya refugees in Idaman island, East Aceh, Aceh, on Saturday, June 5, 2021. (Photo: ANTARA FOTO/Irwansyah Putra) - The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has criticized the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for failing to immediately provide solutions for refugees in Indonesia.

MUI chair for foreign relations and international cooperation Sudarnoto Abdul Hakim said the international organization’s recent message to the Indonesian government to immediately assist the Rohingya refugees stranded in Aceh waters was unnecessary. Instead, he called for UNHCR to focus on helping refugees in Indonesia, so they can be resettled.

“UNHCR’s urge to the Indonesian government is unnecessary. This gives an impression that the Indonesian government and people aren’t concerned about humanitarian issues. What UNHCR must do instead is to immediately help the Afghan refugees that have been stranded in Indonesia for quite a while,” Hakim said in a statement on Thursday, December 30.

He added that by not resettling the refuges to third countries, UNHCR fundamentally denied them their basic human rights and dignity. And he condemned UNHCR for their call-out.

“It seems apparent that UNHCR works very slowly in resolving the crisis with Afghan refugees. And now, Indonesia is asked to accept the burden of Rohingya refugees. UNHCR shouldn’t burden the Indonesian government and people by urging us to immediately receive Rohingya refugees,” the scholar said again.

It’s also deemed unethical because, according to Hakim, Indonesia’s commitment and contribution in humanitarian issues and crisis have been proven over time.

Among others, he noted Indonesia’s involvement in helping the Palestinians under Israel occupation and genocide, in welcoming Vietnamese refugees in Galang island, Batam, during the war, as well as being a temporary home to the Afghan refugees.

For the latter, Hakim said they are treated well in the country as Indonesians work together to help them. However, he reminded UNHCR to not hand over their responsibility to the Indonesian government.

Lastly, improving diplomacy and negotiations with countries of resettlement are deemed the best solution for UNHCR to be able to solve the ‘deadlock’.

“The deadlock is within the UNHCR, and it must be broken soon. Diplomatic talks must held soon and more intensively, so they will result in concrete solutions for the resolution of this refugee crisis,” he concluded.

Previously, UNHCR has called on the Indonesian government to allow ships carrying Rohingya refugees in the waters of Bireuen, Aceh, to dock since they were first seen on Sunday, December 26, 2021.

In a written statement from the UNHCR office in Indonesia on Wednesday, the UN agency expressed concern over the safety of the refugees on board, following reports and photos from local fishermen showing that the majority of the ship's passengers were women and children, while the condition of the ship very dense and unable to sail.

“UNHCR is very concerned about the safety and lives of the refugees on board. To prevent loss of life, UNHCR urges the Government of Indonesia to immediately allow the ship to dock safely," the statement read.

Tag # unhcr # refugee # rohingya # afghan refugees # resettlement # mui

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