Stop Detention of Children

Monday, April 15th, 2013

An Unaccompanied Minor in Detention Center

 “We had no choice but to secretly leave our house. My wife is still left behind in Sri Lanka. We are afraid that they will try to abduct and kill us. I’m most afraid of them abducting my son from school, so l fled with my child,” Magedara, 50 year old father of Lavindra opens his testimony. To live in an immigration detention center (Rudenim) is a challenging experience for Lavindra. “It is not a pleasant place to live in. I can’t go to school and there is no space to play. The food here is not good and I miss sleeping next to my mama”.

 “My son misses his mother. Every day he says he wants to go home to be with his mother. He wants to go to school with his friends again. I just hope he will be able to see his mother soon, even if it is in this detention center,” says Magedara.

The story about the flight of Lavindra and his father is just one of the many. Innocent children have had to leave their homes and friends to run away, losing not only important years of education but their dreams about a better future. Facing threats of persecution and serious human rights abuses with no protection from the authorities, parents are left with a trauma making them reluctant to ever return. Forced to flee they started an odyssey full of hardships often leave them stranded in a crowded immigration detention center.

Lavindra is not the only child living in the detention center. There is Mohammad from Myanmar, 7 years old, the 8 year old Ra’idah from Srilanka and 30 more children held here. They are stranded here missing their families and friends back home, longing to be in school. Learning mathematics or drawing pictures seems like a memory from far away. There are many wishes and dreams locked away in the immigration detention center.

Living in detention for the asylum seeking children is a nightmare they never imagined. The detention center with the capacity of sheltering up to 100 persons is now occupied by 258 persons from various countries and cultures. Many detainees who aren’t lucky enough to get a space in the limited rooms have no other choice but to use alleys, floors and any place that offers some shelter from the rain and the heat of the sun as their makeshift homes. And a wide range of problems subsequently emerge due to this condition – from the availability of water and sanitation, over finding a place to keep ones belongings, to washing and drying clothes simple things become a challenge due to limited bathrooms and drinking water. It is here, in a confined environment where hygiene is deteriorating that those children live, play, watch television and have to mingle with hundreds of mostly adult men – a condition full of likely hazards for a child.

The detention of children in an immigration detention center is not only reality in Indonesia. In a number of countries children have been going through the same experience. The International Detention Coalition (IDC), a network of non-profit institutions, which focuses its work on the protection for refugees’ and asylum seekers’ rights in immigration detention centers, has since conducted various activities to press governments to stop putting children into immigration detention, as those children in detention are very vulnerable affecting their development, physical or psychological health. IDC expresses concern in particular for the many children that are not accompanied by any of their parents or relatives leaving them vulnerable to sexual abuses and experiencing a lack of proper health care as well as educational services.

The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Art 22(1) states “States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is considered a refugee in accordance with applicable international or domestic law and procedures shall, whether unaccompanied or accompanied by his or her parents or by any other person, receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance in the enjoyment of applicable rights set forth in the present Convention and in other international human rights or humanitarian instruments to which the said States are Parties”. As Indonesia is party to this convention, releasing children from immigration detention centers to friendlier appropriate places is a first step to ensuring their rights are upheld. It is an unquestionable obligation: Stop the detention of children right now!!

Silvester Gultom

(Indonesia) Pastor Thomas Aquinas Maswan Susinto, SJ: Pengungsi Ingin Hidup Damai

(Indonesia) Paus Fransiskus berulang kali mengunjungi para pengungsi, menyapa mereka dan mendorong kepedulian terhadap mereka. Ia bahkan pernah memboyong tiga keluarga pengungsi Suriah ke Vatikan. Bagaimana pandangan dan ajaran Gereja terkait pengungsi? Continue reading

Refugees: An opportunity to grow together

If we, as a human family, insist on only ever seeing refugees as a burden, we deprive ourselves of the opportunities for solidarity that are also always opportunities for mutual learning, mutual enrichment, and mutual growth. Continue reading

Australia: shutting the door in the face of a global humanitarian crisis

Yogyakarta, 20 November 2014 – The Jesuit Refugee Service observes with deep sadness yet another sudden retroactive change in the policy of Australia towards people seeking international protection in Southeast Asia. Yesterday, the government of Australia announced its decision to … Continue reading

Kelud Emergency Response

Together with the Community of United Volunteers Yogjakarta, JRS Indonesia took part in the emergency response in Kelud. The Community of United Volunteers Yogjakarta, comprised of a diverse group of individuals and students from Yogyakarta, work together in humanitarian disaster response, being present and providing support in the form of accompaniment, counseling activities or delivering urgently needed goods. JRS Indonesia provided funds to support the operational and expenditure of urgently need goods, also presence in the field for two days, on February 26-27, 2014. Continue reading

33 Years on, the Needs of Displaced are bigger than Ever

Celebrating 33 years of being with and serving refugees, JRS would like to encourage you to extend your hospitality and support to our brothers and sisters that are here to seek protection. Continue reading

Vatican: Pope Francis appeals for hospitality and justice during visit to Jesuit Refugee Service

“It’s not enough to give a sandwich if it isn’t accompanied by the possibility of learning to stand on one’s own two feet. Charity that does not change the situation of the poor isn’t enough. True mercy, which God gives and teaches us, calls for justice, for a way in which the poor can find a way out of poverty.” Continue reading

JRS joins multi-faith call for refugee protection

The Jesuit Refugee Service joined together with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and representatives of a number of faith-based organisations to call for greater protection for refugees.

The multilingual, 16-page declaration, known as an Affirmation of Welcome, is the first to involve UNHCR and a spectrum of faith-based organisations. Continue reading

JRS Indonesia Accompaniment to Refugees and Asylum Seekers 2013

In May 2013 JRS supported the SUAKA Diplomat briefing on the situation of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Indonesia. SUAKA and JRS participated in a Focus Group Discussion at the National Human Rights Commission discussing and promoting Indonesia’s ratification of the convention on the status of Refugees and its protocol. SUAKA continues to provide legal advice and accompaniment to Asylum Seekers during the RSD process mostly referrals from JRS. Currently a more comprehensive referral system is developed in a collaboration of JRS and SUAKA. Continue reading


It was Sunday evening of 9 September 2012. Twelve African men were walking toward a rather big shop in Cipayung. They were some asylum seekers from Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia. Their destination, a place on the third floor of that … Continue reading

31st Anniversary of JRS

Yogyakarta, 14 November 2011 – 31 years is not short measured on a lifetime. After a 31 year journey JRS is proud of the heritage of spiritual insights from Pedro Arrupe who arouse the concern of people for the refugees. This year, JRS Indonesia celebrated its 31st anniversary in many simple ways. Continue reading