As part of IOM’s wider regional response in addressing the needs of displaced Rohingya, IOM will contribute to joint efforts with Government, international and local partners to provide emergency and protection assistance to new arrivals to Indonesia, and will respond to the Government of Indonesia’s request for sustained, long-term support to Rohingya women, men, and children, with an emphasis on addressing concerns on health (including COVID-19 infection prevention and control) and protection.
This action will work in line with Presidential Regulation 125/2016, which sets a framework for the handling of refugees in Indonesia, specifically to achieve international standards in providing access to emergency life-saving assistance, services and protection for Rohingya arriving in Indonesia via sea.
Since August 2017, more than 708,000 Rohingya have left Myanmar for safe refuge in neighboring Bangladesh, and throughout 2020, Rohingya have started once again to traverse by sea onward towards Malaysia and Indonesia. In May 2020, amid growing indications of boats full of vulnerable women, men, and children at sea in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, in coordination with UNHCR and UNODC, IOM issued a joint statement calling for increased search and rescue efforts and safe disembarkation.
A total of 395 Rohingya women, men and children have disembarked in Aceh (Indonesia) during 2020 after arduous, dangerous journeys at sea, during which more than 30 persons have reportedly perished. In June 2020, fishermen identified a boat adrift off the coast of Aceh with 99 Rohingya men, women, and children on board. Then, on 7 September 2020, a larger vessel arrived carrying 296 individuals weakened by hunger and dehydration after having set off from a camp in Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh) up to seven months earlier.
At the request of the Local Task Force, IOM supported the District Health Office to conduct COVID-19 rapid tests for all individuals in the latter arrival, which were completed by 8 September, with all tests non-reactive. Awareness-raising on COVID-19 health protocols commenced upon arrival, including for both refugees and responders on-site and in the shelter areas. A range of increased measures to mitigate risks of COVID-19 spreading onsite are required, outlined in brief below.
In coordination with the national-level Joint Task Force for the Handling of Refugees, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Local Task Force, IOM’s response team was deployed in Lhokseumawe, Aceh, and has continued to provide humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya, including the provision of clean water, non-food items (NFI), emergency health, psychosocial and educational support. IOM has also facilitated the coordination and capacity building efforts on the ground, including through initiation of Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) training for on-site government and non-government responders. Among IOM’s team are Rohingya language interpreters, who have provided ongoing, critical support services to the government, international, and national partners. IOM teams are scaling up operations to provide urgently needed assistance to the new caseload, and for potential arrivals in the future.
Local actors on the ground continue to provide support; however, groups have signaled that they are facing budget and human resource limitations which could prevent sustained support to the additional arrivals. Support from the international community continues to be required for the mobilization of resources, advocacy for appropriate response standards, and addressing key gaps in assistance and protection. Thus, additional financial resources are required to meet the urgent humanitarian and longer-term protection, care, and maintenance needs of the Rohingya while adapting to the situation in Indonesia.
IOM has assumed the lead role in health coordination and is committed to continue working alongside local health offices, ensuring that appropriate care and cost coverage are provided for refugees within the local healthcare system.