Operation: Opération: Indonesia



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
3,101 households received COVID-19-related cash assistance
396 Rohingya refugees, who were disembarked in June and September 2020, were provided access to territory and multi-sectorial assistance. This assistance included basic needs (food, health service, water, education), hygiene kits, WASH facilities, temporary shelters, livelihood training activities
100% people of concern had access to primary health care
100% targeted households were able to meet basic needs with multipurpose cash assistance
100% of registered unaccompanied children in alternative care received regular monitoring visits
65.4% of refugees who were submitted for resettlement departed to third countries
2021 planning figures
100% of targeted refugee households’ basic needs will be met with multipurpose cash assistance
100% of refugees will have access to primary health care
100% of identified children of concern at heightened risk will have their protection needs addressed through identification of alternative care arrangements, provision of psychosocial support, health, education, vocational and recreation activities, and overall case management
100% of the community will be active in gender-based violence prevention and survivor-centred protection
100% of primary school-aged refugee children who live outside IOM accommodation will be enrolled in primary school

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 13,912
2019 13,657
2018 14,016


[["Refugees",10134],["Asylum-seekers",3608],["Others of concern",170]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[7.40017998,7.20039384,9.190916690000002,8.22934808,9.94774756,17.90530922],"expenditure":[4.408326929999999,4.33737673,8.35396237,4.79238325,7.79777261,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[7.2704553,7.17389384,4.984048690000001,7.86224101,9.58617065,17.384833309999998],"p2":[0.12972467999999998,0.0265,0.0315,0.36710707,0.36157691,0.5204759099999999],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,4.175368,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[4.3650075,4.33604959,4.18597482,4.72950928,7.7946911100000005,null],"p2":[0.04331943,0.00132714,0.00485877,0.06287397,0.0030815,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,4.16312878,null,null,null]}
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  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

While Indonesia has neither signed the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees nor its 1967 Protocol, a Presidential Regulation on the Handling of Refugees was enacted in December 2016 and serves as the overarching legal framework for refugee issues in Indonesia. In 2020, UNHCR continued to advocate for and support the work of the Government towards full implementation of the regulation.

In 2020, 735 asylum-seekers were newly registered, which is lower than in 2019 when some 1,000 asylum-seekers were registered.  The Indonesian political landscape continued to be diversified in relation to the stay of refugees in the country and the rights accorded to them. Most did not consider Indonesia as a country where refugees can settle down on a longer-term basis and enjoy a broader range of rights, including right to livelihood. Pro-refugee voices were largely found with civil society organizations and NGOs. The pledges made by the Indonesian delegation headed by members of the Parliament at the Global Refugee Forum in December 2019 were positive, and UNHCR worked towards engaging with the Government to plan for the implementation of the pledges. The office engaged with new stakeholders in the business community and the private sector, which provided new pathways of engagements for the well-being of refugees. The Office will continue to work towards improving the conditions for refugees’ stay in Indonesia and expand their access to education, livelihood opportunities, self-reliance and other sectors. UNHCR took active part in the development of the UNSDCF (United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Form), 2021 HCT (Humanitarian Country Team) Action Plan and MSRP (Multi Sectoral Response Plan). 
The pandemic meant that the planning assumptions were replaced by a scenario consisting of unprecedented policies and procedures in response to containing the virus, and keeping refugees and personnel safe, while continuing to be present and ensure protection and assistance programmes were maintained. The economy has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, and this severely impacted the refugees, who still do not have access to any means of livelihood.
Refugees had access to testing at the local health centres and have been cared for at Governmental quarantine facilities. For the vaccine, UNHCR and the UN enhanced advocacy to ensure access to vaccines for vulnerable groups, including refugees. The expansion of UNHCR’s cash programme supported the refugees during the last six months of 2020, and it is the intention of the Office to innovate and diversify its cash programme.

Population trends 

At the end of 2020 the total population of concern to UNHCR in Indonesia stood at 13,916 individuals from 50 different countries of origin, including 10,121 refugees (72%), 3,622 asylum-seekers (26%), 874 stateless (6%) and 173 others of concern (1%). This shows a continued trend of stable population figures over time with an increase in total population of just 86 individuals compared to 2019, even with 396 new arrivals by boat in 2020.  Some 3,825 people of concern were children, including 215 unaccompanied or separated children.
Arrival rates in 2020 were impacted due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions implemented in March 2020. Some 735 refugees and asylum-seekers were registered during the year, reflecting a 28% decrease in new registrations compared to 2019, continuing a downward trend from 2018.   
Of those newly registered in 2020, 340 were male while 395 were female. While individuals from 32 different countries were registered in 2020, the largest group registered were Rohingya originating from Myanmar (56%), followed by Afghanistan (12%), Somalia (6%) and Sri Lanka (5%). 
As a result of implementation of Presidential Regulation 125/2016, and the Office’s efforts to promote alternatives to detention, the number of persons remaining in detention was significantly reduced by more than 50% from 15 at the beginning of 2020 to 6 asylum-seekers and refugees, with no children in immigration detention, at the end of the year. 

Key achievements

In 2020 UNHCR made significant progress towards achievement of priority objectives:
  • Throughout 2020 UNHCR ensured access to quality registration and documentation and pursued joint registration and data sharing with the Government.  735 refugees and asylum-seekers were registered, while 5,285 documents were issued. 140 interviews for 232 individuals were conducted, while decisions were reached in 104 cases for 275 individuals at all instances.
  • UNHCR distributed three rounds of COVID-19 cash relief to 5,823 individuals (3,653 male and 2,170 female).
  • UNHCR continued to work with partners to promote inclusion and self-reliance, which consisted of providing vocational training to 113 refugees.  Activities were conducted remotely and on-line, including business coaching sessions for the entrepreneurship program with ILO and local partners, as well as the first ever Business Forum with private sector in late 2020.
  • 616 refugees were submitted for resettlement and 403 departed to third countries, while 139 returned to their countries of origin voluntarily.  In addition, 27 refugees departed Indonesia on private sponsorship opportunities.
  • UNHCR Indonesia provided emergency response for Rohingya refugees disembarkation in June and September 2020. UNHCR and partners constructed toilets, washing areas, handwashing stations, waste collection systems, connections for potable water, as well as additional shelters. 
  • UNHCR and its partner also conducted peaceful co-existence activities in Aceh, providing constructions and donations that benefited both the refugees and the local communities such as construction of latrines, provision of road lamps and equipment to the local school and health clinic. 

Unmet needs 

  • With COVID-19 pandemic impacting the modality of the implementation, many of the planned activities either were not implemented as planned or had to be reprogrammed to adjust to the situation. The unmet needs for 2020 were around US$ 1.9 million, which is comprised of both regular programme and COVID-19 emergency response. The COVID-19 emergency response was launched in April 2020 to address the difficult situation faced by people of concern in Indonesia following the large-scale movement restrictions in the country. The emergency assistance was neither sustainable nor sufficient as these refugees are still in need, and the funds available only allowed for ad hoc assistance. The funding gap caused severe difficulties for refugees, especially due to reduced economic means and the additional cost they need to bear to follow COVID-19-related hygiene protocol. 
  • Many refugee children are still not enrolled in any formal education due to language barriers, national regulations around ID cards and limited spaces in the national public schools. For higher education, access for refugees is limited since there is currently no specific regulation for refugees to access universities. Due to the lack of specific regulation for refugees, no formal or national diploma is issued upon completion of studies, and refugees can only obtain a local diploma. 
  • Access to safe house for gender-based violence survivors in 2020 was quite limited due to COVID-19. It is crucial to include survivors of gender-based violence in education and livelihood activities, as it will contribute to their healing processes and to become self-reliant. 

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

In 2020, Indonesia received US$ 6.9 million as unearmarked or softly earmarked. These funds were mostly used to cover the COVID-19 emergency response to assist more than 5,000 refugees with cash assistance, who were living without any support in Indonesia. This funding also allowed UNHCR to provide education to children who had to study from home due to closure of schools and learning facilities due to the pandemic.
Flexible funding also provided UNHCR with budgetary space to address the emergency needs of nearly 400 Rohingya refugees disembarked in June and September 2020 and had spent more than seven months at the sea.  UNHCR and partners provided documentation, protection of children, gender-based violence response, temporary shelters, education and livelihood activities and vocational training to these people of concern in the span of six months.

Working environment

Although full implementation has not yet been achieved, Indonesia’s 2016 Presidential Regulation on the Handling of Refugees provides the legal framework for the development of UNHCR’s programmes in Indonesia. The increased number of vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers in need of assistance, the significantly decreased opportunities for resettlement, and the need for longer-term in-country solutions for people of concern, including access to education and livelihoods, are major factors influencing the multi-year protection and solutions strategy in Indonesia for the period 2020-2021.

Key priorities

In 2020, UNHCR will focus on providing expertise and support to government ministries responsible for implementing the Presidential Regulation to ensure protection is provided to refugees in line with international standards. This will include advocacy for a range of temporary stay measures noting the limited availability of resettlement. Although UNHCR will continue to advocate with States for increased resettlement places, more work and advocacy will be done to expand access to education and livelihoods opportunities. UNHCR will build on the considerable progress already made with government counterparts towards conducting joint registration and issuance of documentation.
To provide effective protection for refugees, support to the Government will focus on registration and documentation, two areas that are specifically provided for under the Presidential Regulation, including promoting joint registration and documentation with the Government. UNHCR will continue to use RSD strategically to address the Government’s concerns, including by prioritizing those who may not be in need of international protection, and will identify resettlement opportunities for the most vulnerable while promoting access to livelihoods opportunities that benefit both refugees and host communities. Community-based protection mechanisms will be strengthened to promote mutual support and self-reliance, and the operation will continue to focus on addressing the needs of the most vulnerable among the population, particularly women and children, in the areas of basic assistance, healthcare, and education. 
Following the pilot Ready 4 Business entrepreneurship training programme in 2018-2019, UNHCR will continue to partner with ILO to collaborate with Atma Jaya University and Dompet Dhuafa to organize an improved community-based entrepreneurship training programme. The aim of the training programme is to improve refugees’ self-reliance, promote economic empowerment, and foster mutual understanding between refugees and members of host communities. UNHCR will establish partnerships with private sector organizations to provide on-the-job training opportunities and internships for refugees. 
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