Afghan Refugees in Makassar, Indonesia, protest for their rights outside UNHCR office

Hundreds of Afghan refugees in Indonesia protested outside the UNHCR office in Makassar on Tuesday 11 January. They demanded to be sent to third countries immediately, after being stuck in Indonesia for years. The protest was held in front of Bosowa Tower in the Indonesian city of Makassar, where the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) office is located. They were also protesting against the International Organization for Migration (IOM), who they also blame for the uncertainty of their fate. According to Nosratullah Karimi, one of the protesters interviewed, two of the group's friends died because they did not receive proper health care. "A few months ago, there were even refugees who committed suicide because of their frustration of living for years in Makassar City without any clarity on their fate, when they were sent to the destination country," he said. There are thought to be thousands of refugees in Indonesia but the country is not a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol so permanent resettlement there is prohibited. Instead, refugees may stay in the country until a move to a third country is approved. Meanwhile, they are unable to work, study at university or even drive a car, leaving them dependent on financial handouts from the IOM, which refugees complain are insufficient to live on.

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