Currently, we are inviting three provinces that are likely to house Rohingya refugees -- Aceh, North Sumatra, and Riau -- to a meeting to decide on a temporary shelter for the refugees.
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government is making efforts to arrange a joint meeting with three regional governments to discuss a temporary shelter for Rohingya refugees, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD, has informed.

"Currently, we are inviting three provinces that are likely to house Rohingya refugees -- Aceh, North Sumatra, and Riau -- to a meeting to decide on a temporary shelter for the refugees. This will only be temporary for the sake of humanity," Mahfud said in Jakarta on Thursday.

The top security minister affirmed that the government will only accommodate the refugees temporarily, without neglecting Indonesia's national interests.

"It should be noted that while we are upholding the value of humanity, we must not neglect our own national interests, given that our interests are related to the large population (of) our country," he added.

He then stressed the fact that Indonesia wields the right to reject Rohingya refugees as the country has not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention.

"According to international law, Indonesia has the right to expel the refugees. However, since Indonesia is applying humanitarian diplomacy, we are accommodating those looking for refuge," he said.

However, local people are rejecting the presence of Rohingya refugees, he highlighted.

"Over the years, the number of refugees coming here has continued to increase. This trend has led local people to voice rejection toward the (sheltering of) refugees," he explained.

At the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday (December 13, 2023), Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi stressed that the root of the Rohingya refugee problem must be addressed immediately.

Marsudi noted that the prolonged violent conflict between Myanmar's military junta and civilians has forced people of Rohingya ethnicity to flee the country, with a large number of them eventually reaching Indonesia.

"Bearing that in mind, I invited the international community to cooperate in bringing an end to the conflict and restoring democracy in Myanmar so that Rohingya refugees can return to their home, Myanmar," she said at an online press conference from Geneva.

In her speech at the forum, she highlighted that there are strong indications the refugees — including those arriving in Indonesia — are victims of human trafficking and smuggling.

"I affirmed that Indonesia would not hesitate to combat human trafficking, which is an international crime. However, I also noted that Indonesia cannot do it alone," she said.

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Translator: Rio Feisal, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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