Rarely known by public, Indonesia is one destination to be a transit country for international refugees who hope to find a settlement and asylum in a third country through United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Assisted by several international non-governmental organizations, refugees who transit in Indonesia live among the locals in urban areas of Indonesia such as Jakarta, Bogor, Makassar, and Medan. Indonesian law, however, forbid the asylum seekers and refugees to find employment or earn a living in the country. Without adequate income to support daily expenses, refugee families struggle to provide appropriate education to their children. More so, cultural differences, language barriers, and bureaucratic obstacles hinder young asylum seekers and refugees from entering Indonesian schools, both in public and private schools. This situation has made young asylum seekers and refugees, aged between 5 and 18 years, grow up without formal education while transiting in Indonesia for years. Some concerned refugees, with the help of international and local non-governmental organizations, established learning centers to provide education for those young refugees in some spots in Kabupaten Bogor and Jakarta. Albeit in modestly, those informal school/learning centers have made a big difference for the young refugees and asylum seekers for they can receive education and knowledge.
Children and youth issues are included in the CSWH, one of the study clusters of RDI. Since refugees and international migration have become one of important issues on resilience studies, problems of young refugees and asylum seekers also become critical to be studied. To answer the calls, RDI will soon started its Refugee Research Group that will be focusing on the issue of young refugees and asylum seekers, in connection with development in Indonesia's urban areas.
On 28 November 2018, an RDI researcher, Dr. Nino Viartasiwi, in collaboration with researcher from BDSG (Bandung Disaster Study Group) Risye Dwiyani, conducted a preliminary assessment on two refugee learning centers at two villages in Kabupaten Bogor. They visited Refugee Learning Nest and Cisarua Refugee Learning Centers to assess the possibility of conducting further research in the two learning centers. The two researchers also paid courtesy visit to local government leaders; village head of Desa Tugu Utara, and village secretary of Desa Citeko. At the occasions, thanks to the hospitality and willingness of the two village leaders, preliminary interviews were also conducted and data regarding refugee in the two villages were obtained. Another preliminary research will be conducted in Makassar by Dr. Akino Tahir. We hope this small step will lead us to meaningful steps in contributing to the studies of refugees and international migration in urban areas in Southeast Asia.
During Interview with Tugu Utara Village Head