Indonesia has recognised refugee and asylum seekers as a vulnerable category for Covid-19 Response, however, the government has not conducted any direct practical actions towards the refugee communities apart from opening shelters and safe houses for the female refugees that were victims of violence.
Fears of a rising toll of COVID-19 continue as many refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia continue to live in overcrowded and cramped apartments, including accommodation sponsored by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In Makassar, 1,774 refugees are being accommodated in several buildings across the city with all rooms shared by at least two refugees. As of May 31, there are 1510 COVID-19 cases with 72 deaths in Makassar, with no testing services available to refugees. Refugees have further not been provided with protective equipment such as masks and hand sanitiser.
Refugees and asylum seekers across Indonesia are suffering from a lack of access to adequate health care facilities and feel unable to visit public hospitals and utilise healthcare services without legal status as they have faced rejections from hospitals in the past. They are additionally often not being able to afford medication. Only emergency minimum healthcare is provided by IOM to some refugees.
Civil Society network SUAKA, who work in the Jakarta region, have further reported cases of many fight between refugees including violence against women and children during the large scale social restriction in Indonesia.
SUAKA has maintained a policy to conduct as much legal assistance online as possible but have reported struggling with providing legal assistance due to a lack of resources and costs being significantly higher during COVID-19 whilst covering costs for volunteers. The reliance on online and telecommunication to provide legal consultations have also made it difficult for refugees to reach out for help as well as obtaining translators, delaying their services.
UNHCR states 13,693 refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia, fleeing conflicts in Myanmar, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Iran.
Communication with SUAKA