Refreshment for a DayThursday, March 3rd, 2016
On 17 November, life became normal again for a few hours for 10 asylum seekers and refugees detained in Immigration Detention Center (IDC) Surabaya. Spending a day at the Safari Park, sitting in nature, observing animals, to be with many people and eat in a restaurant is a luxury for people waiting to receive international protection from persecution in Afghanistan and Somalia. Excursions to the world behind fences are events longed for after months or years of confinement. Being detained in immigration detention, they feel like being in a prison, restrained. As soon as they get the chance to see the outside world, they were absolutely delighted, even though some limitations are still applied. The detainees have to wear uniform shirts provided by JRS.
For Rezai, a 26 years old asylum seeker from Afghanistan, this trip was his first encounter with a real elephant. He was so excited, he begged to join the next trip to Safari Park again, “If there is another trip to Safari Park, I can come again right? When are you going to organise the next trip?”
Faces lighten up when our bus entered Safari Park and one could start observing the animals. When entering the American-European animal zone, phones were taken out to take pictures of the llama, bison, deer, and bear, and other animals in the open enclosure.
For a 17 year old like Ismat, being able to see so many different species of wild animals is a very exciting experience. Excited he took many pictures of birds, elephants, lion cubs, white tigers and snakes. This was Ismat’s first visit to a zoo in his life. A moment he would cherish in the months or maybe years to come. Ismat and other 9 refugee brothers are the last group to visit Safari Park this year. These 10 asylum seekers were the latest to arrive in Surabaya IDC after being transferred from Pekanbaru Immigration Office in August.
The trip offered not only the chance to see animals but also to interact with other visitors, mostly Indonesians. Language was not much a barrier as body language and some basic words offered means to communicate. Sometimes they met students or young families with children. Ali (17) and Ghulam said they were happy to interact with some children they met there. “This reminds me of my family in Afghanistan,” Ali said. His two younger siblings were only 6 and 4 years old when he left his country 2 years ago. Ghulam added, “When I see children I remember my nephew, he was only 2 years old when I left Ghazni.”
Taty Sufiani, Head of Surabaya IDC is in full support of these excursions for detained asylum seekers and refugees. She believes it will help to ease their boredom and stress living in confinement. “Indeed there are activities provided for them by JRS and IOM, such as futsal, volleyball, and English classes. But recreational activities to see nature will give them the opportunity to recharge their feelings and offers a diversion,” she explained.
By the end of November 2015, JRS has facilitated 15 visits to Safari Park for 150 asylum seekers and refugees held in IDC Surabaya. The one hour trip would take them pass rice fields, villages, and up the hills offering stunning views over East Java.
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
It was the 20st of June, World Refugee Day, and JRS had invited to come to Sanata Dharma University Yogyakarta. About 50 people including lecturers, representatives of civil society and students from Indonesia, Thailand and Burma/Myanmar had gathered here to watch the film describing the experiences and challenges faced by refugees in their home country and in the country of asylum (Malaysia). “Personally I appreciate everyone that helps them (refugees) and accepts them in their country … these people fleeing and their voices touched everyone of us” states Lorence a student from Myanmar/Burma at Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta still touched by the stories shared through the film. Continue reading