Indonesia drafting aid distribution plan for Rohingya

Government finalising presidential regulation on budget for host regions to tackle migrants’ needs, human trafficking

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Indonesia’s government has announced the drafting of a plan to distribute humanitarian assistance to migrants, after the country agreed to provide temporarily shelter to Rohingya Muslims amid a regional human trafficking crisis.

The Foreign Ministry’s director for international security and disarmament has said the amount of state funds set aside for the Rohingya – many of whom have fled Myanmar – would be settled in the plan which would involve various ministries, the Jakarta Post reported Friday.

"We are drafting the work plan to decide what to do during this year and the responsibility of each ministry," Andi Rachmianto told reporters.

"The local governments need funds and human resources to tackle migrants [needs],” he said.

He added that the form of a presidential regulation on the budget to be supplied to host regions had been finalised, and local governments could use it to request funds from Jakarta.

Rachmianto said the regulation would also serve as a legal basis for combatting human trafficking and smuggling as Indonesia is not a signatory of a United Nations Refugee Convention obliging the resettlement of refugees.

Thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants have been stranded at sea since Thailand launched an anti-trafficking crackdown May 1 after discovering the bodies of dozens of migrants near its border with Malaysia.

After initially turning back boatloads of migrants, Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to take Rohingya in for one year, ascertaining which are asylum seekers and which are economic migrants, on the condition that the international community then resettle them.

Rachmianto said Thursday that the temporary shelters would be set up those currently located in the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra.

"The shelter will be [separated] as much as possible from the [local] community, quoted him as saying. “This is to facilitate supervision, because they [migrants] came without documents and possibly carrying disease."

Rachmianto, however, assured that Acehnese would continue to receive the migrants with the enthusiasm they have shown since they began washing ashore.

He added that the shelters would be used for one year until their asylum status had become clear, during which time the government would provide education to the children and work to reunify separated families.