Urban Refugees

Most of the world’s displaced persons now live in urban areas. Urban refugees face many obstacles ranging from xenophobia to detention. JRS works to ensure that the most vulnerable urban refugees are not forgotten.

Outreach to Urban Asylum Seekers, in Cisarua, West Java: since December 2009

Over 5.000 people arrived in Indonesia last year wanting to claim international protection at the local UNHCR office. During the months and years awaiting an outcome of their asylum claim, people run out of money becoming desperate for assistance. JRS Indonesia provides basic livelihood support, healthcare, and non-formal education to some of the most vulnerable asylum seekers living in the community.

Refugee community, in Sewon-Bantul, Yogyakarta: since September 2011

Currently over 1.000 Refugees in Indonesia are waiting for resettlement to a third country, as Indonesia does not provide a durable solution for their displacement. Boredom, stress, and impatience are common experiences of refugees still in uncertainty about their future. JRS Indonesia team provides English classes and cultural activities for refugees waiting for resettlement.



Accompaniment – Encountering Those Forsaken

After visiting for several days and observing the refugees’ activities, I noticed a teenage boy sitting alone in a tent, while his friends were outside. I was so curious, so I went to see him. “My name Mohammad Hasan,” he introduced himself. Continue reading


My Short Experience with JRS

My name is Gifttra, an IT student from President University. I am now in my last period of study, and I am in an ongoing formation process of Magis Jakarta, a community that helps me to know more about God. This community offers me an array of different methods in searching for God. One of it is immersion, learning while living with marginalized communities. I was placed in JRS Bogor together with my 3 friends Risha, Dony, and Ririn.
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Kelas di Cisarua

Education for the Future: A Glimpse of Hope of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Cisarua

For asylum seekers and refugees, to leave their country is not only leaving their home, friends, and family, but also all opportunities to learn and develop through education. However, formal education is mostly not accessible for them while in transit countries. Education is really important for asylum seekers and refugees, not only as fundamental right, but also as a source of hope to keep learning even in uncertainty, so they can get better lives once an opportunity is given. Continue reading


A Genuine Act of Solidarity

“Really? There are refugees in Manado?” was the first reaction of Erlyn Kindangen after hearing about JRS services in Manado. JRS Indonesia started accompanying refugees and asylum seeker at Manado Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in January 2015 . Continue reading

rohingya children at aceh camp

Syaitara Longing for Her Mother

Syaitara, a 10 years old Rohingya girl has been longing for her family since she was separated from her mother Khonsuma and her two siblings Imam Husein and Nurul Amin. Continue reading

keyhan zoom

A Journey to Find Hope

My name is Keyhan. I am a Hazara refugee from Afghanistan now living in Australia. Before I came here, I was in Indonesia for about three years and spent my time in several places. Places that I will never forget. Let me tell you my journey, it is a story about finding hope. Continue reading

camp pengungsi bayeung

Ordinary People Living in Extraordinary Circumstances

This year’s World Refugee Day draws attention to our brothers and sisters who are experiencing an extraordinary situation, namely asylum seekers, internally displaced persons and refugees. Those have felt the loss, separation, and the destruction caused by war, conflicts, natural disasters, discrimination, threats or suppression of their rights. Continue reading

A documentation from the Interpreter Training on the definition of interpreting

Never Lost In Translation

Friends from the refugee community often volunteer to be of support with translating in essential situations in Indonesia’s immigration detention centers or within the community enabling asylum seekers and refugees to be heard and understood often without them having much training in how to interpret or translate in the right way. Continue reading

The situation at English class for refugees and asylum seekers, JRS Learning Centre. The class is taught by Laila, a volunteer teacher who is also an urban refugee in West Java.

Choosing To Be Empowered

Women and children are most vulnerable in regards to various issues arising during conflict and displacement. Often, they are suffering when having to deal with the social, political, educational, cultural and economic impact of war or forced displacement. Continue reading

Sarah is volunteering for 3 months as teaching assistant with JRS Indonesia

A Day in the Life of a JRS Volunteer

We chat, sometimes we talk about their home countries, and other times we talk about my home country of England. Sometimes we joke, but other times I’m lost for words when these people, who are becoming like brothers to me, share parts of their stories and put my miniscule hardships into perspective once again. Continue reading

JRS staff listening to Asylum Seekers telling their life story

When Accompaniment Becomes Brotherhood

My encounters with Fuadi are moments of companionship which I treasure. Being present as fellow human being and accompanying refugees in Indonesia teach me much about brotherhood through companionship. Continue reading

Gading and Asylum Seekers participating in a Living Values Education Workshop

“Body Not Work”

Living in Indonesia was not easy for Aaron. Being hunted by fear he found it hard to trust people even here. Aaron had to be patient during the long wait in Indonesia longing to finally hear the decision of UNHCR on his asylum claim. “I have no money to last a long time, my life is very problem,” he said repeatedly.
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Refugees, Where are They Coming from and Why are They Here?

His sad legacy was to be the only survivor of 33 people, people like him in search for safety and hope. Witnessing the deaths of his companions one by one, seeing them carried away by the salty sea far from their mourning families. Hasan’s experience seemed to have strengthened him and his belief and ideals, now being able to start a new life and prove that his second chance of a live will never be in vain. Continue reading

A visitor looking at photos of Greg Constantine at Jogja Gallery

Pictures inviting us to see, reflect and act

“Photography and Exhibitions just create an opportunity to discuss the Rohingya issue in more detail and the wider context as it raises concerns about human rights, identity, international law and refuge. If this exhibition can bring some change to the situation for the Rohingya, then this would be a remarkable thing. Incidents of human rights violations occur everywhere so a photography exhibition can be one way to raise awareness about a very alarming situation. At the end, this exhibition is not about photography but about engagement,”said Greg Constantine.
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Asylum seekers listening during one of JRS's Information Sessions

Hope is all what remains

“The Refugee Status Determination process of UNHCR is the only hope we still have. So we are very grateful that JRS is willing to come here,” Fatimah said. The loss of family, home and property caused distress for Mustafa and his family. “I never thought that our journey would be like this. But we try to be patient. At least the three of us are still allowed to live together.”
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Refugee Children Have a Right to Protection

Children who were forced to evacuate, have a right to get help and protection so that they still have a future, as stated in Article 22 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which was agreed by the United Nations on November 20, 1989.
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Unaccompanied child seeking asylum in Indonesia

Child Asylum Seekers in Danger

Hamid is one of hundreds of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Indonesia vulnerable to be arrested and detained in one of the 13 immigration detention centers, or continue living on the streets in a situation without any guardianship and no support. Often children loose many months or even years of their life without education and dwindling hope for a better future. Continue reading

The right to play and learn is not a given for Asylum Seeker children

We Flee from One Country to Another

Ali, a boy born in refuge, was never able to get an education and lacks the freedom experienced by other children of his age. War and conflict, violence and unrest forced him to become a child moving from one country to another in search of salvation and peace. His life is still full of uncertainty, for how long this will go on is not known to him or his parents. Continue reading


Refugees, a part of our World

“A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.” Continue reading

Pope Francis met with refugees in Centro Astalli, Italy

A Message Echoing through the Human Family

World Refugee Day on June 20, 2014 is a chance to encourage and practice this change of attitude when meeting asylum seekers and refugees driven by war and conflict into our midst. Our consideration and real support for them is needed as currently they receive no or only little personal and institutional attention when trying to fulfill their basic needs for food, shelter, and medical assistance. Continue reading

Visitor looking at the photo of a man blind in one eye after being beaten in the head during forced labor

Exiled to Nowhere – Burma’s Rohingya: Voices from a Ten Day Photo Exhibition

“Rohingya people who are living in Myanmar don’t have rights. Even a bird has rights. A bird can build a nest, give birth, bring food to their children and raise them until they are ready to fly. We don’t have basic rights like this.” Monir, Rohingya Man Continue reading


A Place where There Is Peace, Is where I Want to Live

Mebratu Selam lived in Indonesia for a while now. He was granted “Refugee status” by UNHCR. Twenty-six years ago, he was born in a small town in Ethiopia into a family of an ethnic minority. After graduating high school he had studied at the Academy of Engineering, but did not finish it. Fortunately, after training in the field of construction engineering with good results, he was recruited by a company and worked as construction worker. But his life was soon to change due to threats and insecurity, forcing him to leave home in search of safety. Continue reading

An Asylum Seeker Women living in a community

Even One Woman Displaced is Too Many!

Qamariah, born to a family or clan experiencing persecution, is bound to continue her journey through the world, enduring the suffering, threats and uncertainties until finding the people and a country that is willing to accept her for what she is, a human being, giving her the rights that she deserves and long yearned for – the Right to Freedom of Physical Harm, the Right to Education, the Right to a Nationality, the Right to form a Family and the Right to Work. Rights we take for granted every day. Continue reading

Peter Devantara, SJ

It is a privilege to serve refugees

To serve refugees is a noble task and makes me feel happy, despite the hard and heavy issues we face on a daily basis. It is noble because JRS treats refugees with dignity and respect, as all human beings should be treated. The bureaucratic system they have to go through in order to become citizens of another country dehumanizes them, reduces them to case numbers, and this is what JRS accompaniment strives to compensate for. Continue reading

Staf JRS mengucapkan selamat kepada Pengungsi saat peringatan Nauruz

Under God’s Wings of Protection

It’s Otang Sukarna, a 50 year old resident of a village on the hills of Cipayung, West Java, who sincerely put this Psalm in the daily life. He’s just a modest villager who befriends the Refugees and Asylum seekers. By simple but real ways, he motivates his fellow village residents, mothers and children to show kindness and friendliness to the Refugees and Asylum seekers living nearby. This honest and sincere friendship and mutually supportive attitude makes up the real kindness and also protection that gives them the feeling of security. Continue reading

A Refugee learning computer at Sewon

A Life Changing Experience

Access to computers and knowing how to use them has become a basic need for work and education, this is also true for refugees awaiting resettlement to a third country in Indonesia. But JRS classes have not only impact on refugee’s lives. Continue reading

An Asylum Seeker is learning sewing

A Dream of Cinderella’s Dress

The sewing class is not solely a place to learn new skills but it is a chance to meet each other, become good friends in a safe and kind environment, sharing the experience of learning new skills together is empowering. Here one is free to laugh, celebrate ones’ own and others small successes and gain new inspiration for dreams. After times of loss and grief the feeling of being weak and vulnerable can be left behind and hope is nurtured for a life in dignity and creativity. Continue reading

JRS Staf is visiting a detainee at Detention Center

Hospitality as Remedy

The world which suffers due to wars, conflicts, suspicious feelings and stereotyping judgements – all resulting in the plight of refugees – requires hospitality as a remedy. We do hope that JRS’s direct, concrete and modest advocacy, service and support for the refugees be able to serve as a token of hospitality that heals the wounds. The ray of hospitality may hopefully melt the social freeze among the refugee-rejecting community and make a number of breakthroughs in some important chambers where political policies toward the refugees are made. Continue reading


I don’t Want To Be Punished Anymore Just Because of My Looks and My Religion

That afternoon my cell phone rang. “Hello sir, at the moment the situation in Myanmar has become worse. Rohingyas are experiencing many more difficulties. The latest news is very bad. When can we meet?”, Mohammad Amir[1] said in worry. The … Continue reading

Pro Bono Legal Representatives in a Training Session

Training for Pro Bono Legal Representatives

An asylum-seeker is someone who claims international protection as a refugee after leaving his or her home country because of a well-founded fear of persecution. In order to be granted international protection as refugee the asylum seeker has to prove … Continue reading


I Wish You All the Best in the Future

“Thank you. You have done the best for this picnic”, says a refugee from Afghanistan when everybody has assembled by the bus which will take us to the place of destination. Their faces radiating happiness, they take photos in turns just before the bus departs. Indeed, I solemnly witness how they become high-spirited people. May God bless them! Continue reading


A Long Way to Freedom and Peace

I met Mahani (not her real name) in her home in Indonesia. She was getting ready for lunch with her three children, 13, 7 and 6 years old. She offered us a vegetarian lunch, because Sri Lankans don’t eat meat on some special days during the year. In a small home, she spent her days taking care of her family and waiting. Continue reading


Impressions and Reflections on World Refugee Day

“My son is now three years old, but I have never seen his face”, said an Afghan refugee living in Sewon, Bantul, Yogyakarta. “He was still in the womb when I left. Since then I have not met my wife and child”, his sad and lonely eyes gazing at the horizon, far beyond the lively atmosphere of the International Refugee Day celebration. Continue reading


Children Learn What They Live

Since history started to be recorded conflicts and violence have forced people to flee and seek asylum in other countries. From among those forced to flee, children are most vulnerable. Continue reading

Refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh receiving JRS supplies

The Patience for a Long Journey

It was allegedly reported that with meager supplies of food and water, they were pushed back into the sea from Thailand and drifted towards Indonesian soil after a long traumatic voyage facing starvation and illness at the open ocean. A month after the first arrival of 193 people in Sabang, the most western part of Indonesia, a second boat carrying 198 people arrived in Kuala Idi Rayeuk, East Aceh district. Its arrival, raised questions regards to the background of the situation and the compelling reasons which forces to such a perilous journey in the sea and the responsibilities countries also have to undertake when facing such a situation. Continue reading