RDI Urban Refugees Research Group has conducted the seventh series of Pop Up Discussion Series on Friday, November 6, 2020. This PUD features four speakers, Akmal Haris as a representative from IOM Indonesia, Dwita Aryani as a representative from UNHCR Indonesia, Tengku Suadi Yahya as Lhokseumawe city mayor, and Wicaksono Sarosa, Director and Chief Knowledge Worker at RuangWaktu Knowledge Hub. This PUD was moderated by Risye Dwiyani, M.Eng.
The first speaker, Akmal Harris, explains about IOM Indonesia's support and assistance for urban refugees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, IOM Indonesia has facilitated around 7,800 refugees and asylum seekers throughout Indonesia. Various forms of assistance were provided to meet their basic needs, including the provision of accommodation, medical services and monthly assistance. During this pandemic, IOM has conducted several activities online, such as teaching and learning activities, counseling services, and children's psychological activities. Regarding activities in the field, IOM distributed medical equipment to refugees and the local community, donated medical equipment as recommended by BNPB to hospitals in several regions in Indonesia.
The second speaker, Dwita Aryani, provides information regarding the UNHCR's current assistance and support to refugees during COVID-19 pandemic. UNHCR continues to carry out several activities or mandates, including registration of refugees as well as RSD process-especially for newly arrived refugees in Aceh, support the government in providing international protection for refugees and asylum seekers, disseminate, promote and monitor the application of international refugee law, and provide counseling service and protection to refugees. UNHCR also provides COVID-19 hotline service and cash-based assistance to 5,500 refugees who were living independently for 4 months.
As the third speaker, Tengku Suaidi Yahya explains how the Lhokseumawe government provides support and assistance to Rohingya refugees during pandemic. The government and people of Lhokseumawe along with local NGOs in Aceh continue to support and assist Rohingya refugees who are experiencing distress at sea, even though the community also has its own difficulties in fulfilling their daily needs. The government, host society and NGOs treat refugees as ordinary people, as human beings seeking refuge in other human beings.
The fourth speaker, Wicaksono Sarosa, provides insights regarding support and assistance for refugees during the pandemic from the perspective of urban development researcher and practitioner. In his book entitled "Kota Untuk Semua", Wicaksono explains that the percentage of Indonesia's population living in cities is 56% and will continue to grow. Based on this phenomenon, Wicaksono mentions humans's right to cities, as well as the principles of "Leaving no one behind" in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and "Cities for all" in the New Urban Agenda. Another critical point postulated is regarding the prospective approach to prepare for government policy as set forth in the New Urban Agenda. This action-oriented document recommends the national government to work with city or local governments to adopt inclusive immigration policy. By adopting the policy, the central government and city government will be able to provide funds and mobilize resources in preparing adequate support for refugees.