JAKARTA (Reuters) – Hundreds of Afghan refugees protested in Indonesia on Tuesday against a prolonged resettlement process, saying they needed to be offered new homes now that repatriation was out of the question with the return of the Taliban.
Explainer: Who is Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny?NOW PLAYING
Microsoft joins GM, Cruise self-driving partnership
Uganda accuses U.S. envoy of trying to subvert election
Spectacular Northern Lights over frozen forest and river
Drone footage shows Swiss vineyards under snow
Thousands of refugees from Afghanistan, most of them from the Hazara ethnic minority, who have long been persecuted by the Taliban, have lived in Indonesia for years as they await resettlement in third countries such as Canada or Australia.
On Tuesday, hundreds gathered outside the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the capital, Jakarta, despite coronavirus restrictions prohibiting demonstrations, to demand that their cases be expedited.
“In the past year the UNHCR has been telling us there is only one percent chance of resettlement,” refugee Hakmat Ziraki told Reuters.
Political Cartoons on World Leaders
View All 91 Images
“Today we come here to ask ‘what is your answer now? Are you still encouraging voluntary repatriation?’.”
“Our people are dying every day,” he said. “We need some justice, we need resettlement.”
A spokesperson for UNHCR was not immediately available for comment.
Indonesia is not a signatory to the 1951 U.N. Convention on Refugees and is predominately seen as a transit country for those seeking asylum to a third country.
Tuesday’s protest saw minor scuffles between police after demonstrators were warned to disperse given the public health risks, with the capital still recovering from a wave of coronavirus infections.