Cannot have more refugee camps like Kalideres: UNHCR

Cannot have more refugee camps like Kalideres: UNHCR

UNHCR Indonesia director Thomas Vargas addressing a group of journalist during a doorstop interview at his office in Jakarta on Monday (Aug 26, 2019). ANTARA/Azizah Fitriyanti

The last thing UNHCR would like to see is for another site to be created
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is unwilling to see more shelters like the one in Kalideres, West Jakarta, to be built after the Jakarta government shuts it August 31, a spokesperson has stated. "The last thing UNHCR would like to see is for another site to be created," said UNHCR Indonesia Director Thomas Vargas at his office in Jakarta Monday, responding to ANTARA's question.

The refugee camp in Kalideres, West Jakarta, is currently overflowing with more than 800 adults and 300 children, most of them from Afghanistan.

"Because we have seen already the types of problems that occurred in these type of sites, such as the expense to manage and to maintain these sites and how much work it takes to ensure they can be safely run, the means are not there," he said, adding, "the UNHCR and other partners don’t have the means to ultimately maintain a site like that."

Despite the unwillingness to see another refugee camp being built, Vargas said that the UNHCR is now cooperating with other partners in the hope to fulfill the immediate needs of the refugees in the Kalideres refugee camp.

"It is clear that the UNHCR cannot do this alone. We need to work with the government and with other partners and we will continue to do that until the site is closed," he remarked.

The UNHCR appreciated the Indonesian government's initiative to help the refugees who are currently in Kalideres in a bid to share the responsibility with the UN office, Vargas said.

"We are very happy with the government and with the efforts, it is making to try to address the situation and to share the responsibility of taking care of refugees," he added.

Furthermore, Australia, the country that has been viewed as one of the resettlement countries for the refugees stranded in Indonesia, has been tightening its national policy about accepting asylum-seekers in the past few years.

Indonesia as a transit country had provided a safe haven for around 1.500 refugees for about 40 days as a response for a series of protests they held before UNHCR office in Jakarta. Since then, the Ministry of Social Affairs allocated US$18,720 as assistance to refugees who occupy the former building of West Jakarta military command in Kalideres, West Jakarta.

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