UNHCR Indonesia Criticized After Clash Between Rohingya Refugees and Locals, Jakarta - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Indonesia is criticized by the Immigration authority for avoiding the responsibility in taking care of Rohingya refugees. The criticism came after a recent clash between the refugees and locals in Aceh.

Aceh Province is located in the northern Sumatra Island where hundreds Rohingya refugees came over the years. At first, the locals were eager to help, but Immigration has received reports of an increasing social tension.

On Tuesday (24/11), there was a clash in northern Aceh between locals and Rohingya refugees. More than 100 newly-arrived refugees were involved in the incident.

UNHCR is criticized for just handing out certificates instead of real helps for the refugees. International Organization for Migration (IOM) is also receiving rebuke from Immigration.

"UNHCR and IOM must take part in managing refugees who come from abroad. Do not escape from responsibility by only giving refugee certificates with which the refugees can behave as they like here, and become social problems in Indonesia," said the acting General Director of Immigration, Widodo Ekatjahjana, in his official statement, Friday (25/11/2022).

Widodo elaborated that the Immigration authority has the duty to compile the data from the refugees, including their documents and identities. But the UNHCR as the representation of the UN also has responsibility to help in the Imigration Detention House.

"Providing the basic rights of the refugees at the shelter of Community House, such as clean water, foods, drink, and clothing, health service, and praying facility are completely the responsibility of the UNHCR and IOM," said Widodo.

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Clash with the Locals

Immigration authorities said the locals in northern Aceh clashed with the Rohingya refugees who said the refugees came to their region without permission. 

The refugees are supposed to be housed in the Immigration buildings in Puenteut. The building is formerly used as an Immigration Office. 

The clash then happened because the Rohingya refugees wanted to get into the building, but the locals firmly rejected them.

There were 110 refugees who came to Puenteut. The refugees just came to Indonesia this week by boat after escaping from Myanmar.

Associated Press reported that 67 of them are adult men, 27 women, and 18 children. One of the refugees said he wanted to reach Malaysia.

After the clash, the refugees were eventually unable to stay in the building. The locals also guard the Immigration Office to fend off the incoming Rohingya refugees. As of Friday, the authorities still do not have information on where to house the refugees. 

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