RDI Urban Refugees Research Group conducted the second series of Pop Up Discussion (PUD) Series on Friday, 28 August 2020. The webinar is one of the eight series discussing urban refugee issues.Â PUD No.1 features Ainul Fajri, MA an academic from Radboud University of Nijmegen, Diah Tricesaria, MA, a research coordinator at HOST International, Realisa Masardi, MA, an academic from FIB UGM, and Dr. Galuh Syahbana Indraprahasta, a researcher at LIPI. This second PUD was moderated by Ayu Prestasia, M.Sc.
Ainul Fajri explained the situation of refugees and their experience with the locals in Aceh from locality perspective. Locality is an accumulation of various factors, external and internal processes, that occur in a region and has implications on the refugee management in that region or city as well as on the lives of refugees. Aceh has undergone tremendous change regarding their locality in social and economic aspects as a result of internal processes, such as the anomaly of 'conflic' and 'tsunami disaster' whereby Acehnese people became empathetic towards refugees since they have faced similar situations with refugees. This situation affects the communities and local government to accept the refugees, and further influences the refugee governance from the provincial level to the district level. Those historical events stimulate community solidarity towards the refugees.
Diah Tricesaria presented an overview of refugee management in Jakarta. Jakarta is an urbanized city that which highly connected with surrounding cities (Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi), administered by two levels of government (national and provincial) that strongly influence the management of refugees in Jakarta. The presence of UNHCR representative office attracts refugees as they have to register once they arrive in the country. Most refugees in Jakarta heavily rely on personal savings and expect to be resettled to a third country in 2 - 3 years. As the chance for resettlement is under 1%, it takes more than three years for being resettled to a third country, and refugees face difficult financial situation. DKI Jakarta Provincial government provided temporary shelters, food, and access to water and electricity which only lasted until 31 August 2019. This suggests that the refugee governance in Indonesia still limited to a framework of emergency assistance. Refugee issue in Indonesia is strongly related to 'uncertainty' hence, it requires solutions and management that are sustainable.
Discussion during Q&A session
Realisa Masardi discussed about the social and relational dynamics in Bogor. In Bogor, the social system and relationships between ethnic communities from refugees from Afghanistan Pakistan, and Iran were established, resulting in their resilience and tremendous self-organization skill. Even after the issuance of Presidential Decree 125/2016 there is an absence of operational regulations that hinders the city government role in handling refugees. A discourse emerged regarding the approaches towards refugees that should not only be conducted formally under legal perspective, but also through acceptance of the host society to foster interaction with the refugees. Understanding of local community context is essential to build a harmonious social relation between refugees and host community. How national and local media portrays the refugees may influence the opinion of host society towards refugees. The media representation of refugees may contribute to how local people determine their attitudes or treatment on refugees.
Dr. Galuh discussed the nexus between urban planning, informality and refugees. Relevant stakeholders can consider path dependency and informality in their effort to incorporate the refugee issue in urban planning. Path dependency is related to the history of cities, whereby the current condition of cities is a collection of their previous conditions. Understanding this context enables us to assess the future path of the city. Informality is seen as a driving factor for community to be more self-sufficient and self-reliance, and as a distinct characteristic of cities in transit countries such as Indonesia. Adopting and adapting informality may help reduce the negative externalities of uncontrolled informality. Within this framework, several alternatives to incorporate refugees within city planning emerged. The first is to create a new path with the local government as the initiator. For instance, Makassar city government had signed an MoU with IOM for the advancement of refugee management. This initiative appears as an inclusive and collaborative effort from the government. The second is to create new path from existing social network among refugees and the locals. The many refugee-led learning centers in Cisarua is an example of social networks that is capable in creating a more conducive living environment for refugees. It can be a starting point for transforming the 'uncertain' situation into a 'certain' one by giving opportunities for refugees to be more creative and innovative, able to meet their needs independently without assistance from the government and NGOs.