The Most Important Thing for Me Is My Life Is Safe and Peaceful

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014


‘I am going to die here’ thought Dinesh when drifting on a wooden boat between Indonesia and Australia. The engine broke down in the middle of the Indian Ocean leaving destiny in the hands of the current and ferocious waves . For days Dinesh did not eat and could only drink water from the rain. Together with dozens of fellow passengers he grow weak from hunger and fear. Men, women, and children had to face the danger of death at sea.

In hunger and despair, some people tried to lure fish with improvised fishing equipment to at least be able to feed the children and women. If lucky one or two fish a day could be caught. For the rest, they just relyed on drinking rain water to survive. Ninety-five days they were floating in the sea.

“It would have been better to die in the sea than have to suffer upon my return to my country,” said the 17 years old Dinesh. At the age of 12, he was forced to join an armed group in Sri Lanka. Hundreds of other children suffered the same fate.

“I do not like guns. I do not like war. I am afraid to see people dying, but I was forced to do it.” During one of the violent clashes, he run away and hid in a safe place, but was caught by government soldiers, who jailed him for five months. One time as a drink water truck entered the prison he escaped running and hid for two months at his brother’s house. Unfortunately, he was caught again by armed groups and government informers and returned to custody. While detained he experienced repeated violence and severe torture.

After he managed to escape again the only option for him seemed to leave the country aboard a boat with dozens of people suffering a similar fate. Like his older brother, who had fled to India, Dinesh was seeking asylum and a safe place.

Drifting in the middle of the ocean full of desperation and fear Dinesh and his fellow refugees were found by an Indonesian fishing boat in March 2013. “It was like a miracle and grace from the Creator,” said Dinesh. “The fisherman gave us instant noodles and towed our boat ashore. There were security officers but we did not care anymore. At that time, the only thing we had in mind was food,” he recalls.

Dinesh and others in the boat were detained at an Immigration Detention Center, living in crammed conditions, locked in a stuffy room for 24 hours a day, during the first month. No fresh air, no sunlight, only iron bars. In such circumstances, he still remains grateful to be given the opportunity to live and obtain food, all is better than the two months in the open sea with fear and without food.

In a detention center it is easy to lose hope. “At that time I did not know how long I will be locked in a prison like this. When JRS came and visited us every day, I felt very happy to have friends here. JRS also helped me to get documents and assisted me,” says Dinesh.

November 2013 Dinesh was excited and full of hope after receiving his refugee status from UNHCR. Now he is waiting for a third country to accept him for resettlement. “If it is free I want to learn anything. I want to learn English, computers, whatever,” said Dinesh. “Initially I wanted to go to Australia. Now I do not care how long I will stay here or where I can go after this. The most important thing for me is my life is safe and peaceful.” ***

Saefudin Amsa

(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