An Indonesian Model? Civil Society and Refugee Protection in Indonesia

Conference: The Asian Conference on Asian Studies (ACAS2022)
Title: An Indonesian Model? Civil Society and Refugee Protection in Indonesia
Stream: South-East Asian Studies (including Thailand/Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos)
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Max Walden, University of Melbourne, Australia


Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s most populous nation, is home to approximately 13,700 refugees and asylum seekers – around half of whom are from Afghanistan. Because Indonesia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, refugees face lengthy ‘transit’ while they await resettlement in third countries, with limited access to basic rights such as healthcare, education and livelihoods. Civil society organisations, particularly those that are refugee-led, play a vital role in service provision and advocacy towards advancing the human rights of refugees, in what is an increasingly illiberal political environment under President Joko Widodo. The difficult conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic have further illustrated the role of civil society organisations in providing for refugees’ basic needs in Indonesia. This paper will summarise the empirical findings of my research to date and interrogate the research question: can civil society help establish an effective ‘Indonesian model’ of refugee protection, which could set an example for the region?

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