Protecting Urban Refugees through Empowerment

Jarkarta, Indonesia

Photo: Lisa Hayes/CWS

Photo: Lisa Hayes/CWS

Key Partners

Government of Indonesia Ministry of Social Affairs; Jakarta Municipal Department of Social Welfare; Public and Private Hospitals; Health centers


340 refugees and asylum seekers, including 80 unaccompanied minors

Indonesia is a transit country for those seeking refuge. The majority of refugees are from Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Palestine and Ethiopia. The number of registered refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia has increased significantly over recent years — from hundreds of individuals in 2008 to 13,188 individuals in June 2015, including the recent disembarkation in Aceh of approximately 1,000 highly vulnerable Rohingya asylum seekers following an extensive period stranded at sea.

CWS ensures protection, provides access to basic services including health, education and psychosocial support and leads life skills development and vocational training courses for vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers in the greater Jakarta area. Indonesia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and refugees are not allowed to work, making support even more critical. CWS staff ensure that asylum seekers and refugees receive basic services in health, education, protection, including safety/security monitoring and psychosocial support. CWS staff also provide a monthly allowance for those unable to afford food and accommodation for themselves and their families.

Support for unaccompanied minors is a key part of CWS work in Jakarta. Many minors are referred to CWS after their release from immigration detention. They are initially detained by the Department of Immigration for violating immigration laws, but released once authorities establish that they are minors traveling without family and that there is an alternative to detention for them, namely a shelter. CWS is therefore filling a critical gap in the protection of refugee minors in Indonesia. The two CWS shelters are among the very few alternatives to detention for minors. There still remains an unmet need for additional shelter space; as of June 2015, 512 minors were still held in immigration detention. Upon release they are placed under the supervision of guardians in one of two shelters in Jakarta operated by CWS. There, the CWS team members devote significant time and energy to ensuring their protection and psychosocial well-being, which can be a daunting task with up to 40 adolescent males in each shelter community.