A number of Afghan refugees in Indonesia have sewn their lips shut to draw attention to what they claim is the failure of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to address their problems and process their asylum-seeking cases.
Some of the refugees said they have been stranded in Indonesia for nearly a decade, adding that no one is listening to them or addressing their problems.
“The protesters have no other demands except resettlement,” said Aman Shafahi, an asylum seeker.
The refugees staged several sit-in protests in various cities of Indonesia. They called on the UNHCR to help them with their asylum-seeking cases.
“The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a double standard with the Afghan refugees. It has been 7 to 10 years that Afghan refugees are living in Indonesia,” Asif Rahimi, an Afghan refugee in Indonesia said.
According to the figures of a refugee association in Indonesia, around 4,000 Afghan refugees have been stranded in Indonesia for resettlement in a third country. They said that the officials of Jakarta have not allowed them to work legally in the country.
In the meantime, some civil society activists expressed their concerns over the problems of Afghan refugees in Indonesia, stressing that Afghan refugees must be treated properly.
“They are in a very bad condition and they are not allowed to do anything as a human being," said Fardin Fedayee, a civil society activist said.
"We call on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help Afghan refugees who have been living in dire conditions for more than a decade," said Lal Gul Lal, head of the Afghan Human Rights Organization.
In recent years, at least 14 Afghan refugees have committed suicide in Indonesia and six others attempted suicide. AFP recently reported that an Afghan refugee set himself on fire in front of the UNHCR office in Indonesia in protest of a seven-year wait for resettlement in a third country.