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Summary of Pop Up Discussion Series #3 Stories from Cities in Indonesia (Session 2)

admin - Oct 02, 2020 01:47:31 am 221 Views Location - RDI Indonesia YouTube Live

RDI Urban Refugees Research Group conducted the third series of Pop Up Discussion (PUD) Series on Friday, 11 September August 2020. The webinar is one of the eight series discussing urban refugee issues. PUD No.3 featured Mutiara Pertiwi, MA, from UIN Syarif Hidayatullah, Isdah Nur Idris, MA, from FISIP Hasanuddin University, Mangisi Erlinda, S. Psi as a representative of IOM Pekanbaru, and Gading Gumilang Putra, SH, from the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Jakarta. The PUD was moderated by Dr. Akino Tahir.

Mutiara Pertiwi, MA, started with Tanjung Pinang and Riau Island's status as important historical sites for the arrival of refugees in Indonesia. The lives and interactions of refugees with local communities was explained through resonance (connectedness) and dissonance (disagreement). In the context of resonance, the local community and refugees have a good and positive relationship. This was uniquely generated due to a misunderstanding of the community who perceived refugees as tourists or foreign workers; hence, they treated refugees as ordinary people, a harmless group that does not need to be feared. In the context of dissonance, refugees existence still instigates disagreement among the local community, leading to prejudice towards refugees. The dissonance emerges due to the lack of knowledge among the local community and government regarding refugees' lives and fundamental rights. Unfortunately, the government that still sees refugees as a threat. This mindset is still thriving among the government and local officers and hinders the establishment of a strong resonance between local people and refugees during their transit in Indonesia.

Nur Isdah Idris, MA, described the management of refugees in Makassar. In Makassar, there are stakeholders who are not legally visible but hold power and relations in 'refugees shelter, which include shelter managers, middleman, landlord, and security officers'. Based on her analysis, there are three types of perspectives within the management of refugees in Makassar. The first is to see refugees as a national threat, implying controlling, monitoring, and imposing sanctions if they commit violations. The second is to see refugees as a group that needs help, where community and authorized person deliver the support, assistance, and other refugees' needs. The third is to see refugees as a group that can contribute to the local economy. Isdah hopes that these stakeholders' presence, although with different perspectives, motivations, and responsibilities, could work together to create a better and more promising situation for the refugees.


Mangisi Erlinda shared about management of refugees in Pekanbaru and the role of IOM. In general, refugee management in Pekanbaru is similar to Tanjung Pinang and Makassar. IOM provides cash-based assistance to refugees, health and counseling services and clinical interventions, and assists refugees for voluntary repatriation or resettlement to third countries. IOM support in education is limited to primary education in public schools and kindergarten/early childhood education, but IOM is also working with the Ministry of Manpower to provide vocational and skills training to refugees and asylum seekers. IOM organized several joint activities with host communities to strengthen the social cohesion of refugees and the locals. During the pandemic, the refugees produce cloth masks in their accommodations and distribute them to the refugee community and the local community.

Gading Gumilang Putra discussed refugee management in Yogyakarta between 2011 to 2017 based on JRS experience and highlighted many opportunities to invent humanitarian-based policies and programs in Indonesia, as the alternative of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Presidential Decree 125/2016, GCR and GCM, innovative urban planning education program and the SDGs could be the starting point in preparing data-driven policies for refugee management at the local government level. With this data-based policy, refugees handling can be more effective, responsive to the city context, and the current situation. The policy may also become an instrument that could gradually change the way local communities perceive the refugees, from seeing them as burdens to seeing them as people who can contribute to Indonesia's development.


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