Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rohingya Update

Progress Made on Rohingya RefugeesJakarta Globe 1 May 09

The verification team sent to determine the fate of 193 Burmese Rohingyas sheltered in Sabang, Aceh Province, finished the first phase of the verification process on Friday, Foreign Affairs spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said. The limited availability of translators, however, could mean that the processing of the 198 remaining asylum seekers in Idi Rayeuk, East Aceh, might be stalled. The verification team, consisting of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Organization for Migration and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, finished their work in Sabang on April 24 after beginning in early April. The asylum seekers were asked a series of standard UNHCR questions to determine whether they were economic migrants or genuine refugees. “The team has identified the pattern and have the numbers figured out,” Faizasyah said, although he could not disclose details until they were given proper access to consular services. “Some of them have expressed their willingness for voluntary repatriation and we will refer their names to their respective embassies, which could then conduct further verification.” Faizasyah said that the ad hoc working groups set up as a result of the Bali Process forum, which was co-chaired by Indonesia and Australia in April, to address the plight of the Rohingyas, have not yet set a date for a meeting. The formation of these ad hoc groups to help identify the root causes behind people smuggling and human trafficking in the region was announced by Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirajuda and his Australian counterpart, Stephen Smith, at the Bali Process forum with refugee source, transit and destination countries present. “Their presence made them morally bound to the statement,” Faizasyah said, adding that it was just as matter of setting out the terms of references before the ad hoc groups could meet. He said the meetings would take place as soon as possible because “this is an urgent matter.” Ismira Lutfia.

Indonesia repatriates Rohingya refugeesXinhua 1 May 09

Indonesia repatriated Rohingya refugees to their origin country after settling the verification program on refugees sheltered in Aceh province's Sabang, an official said here on Friday. The Indonesian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said that the voluntarily repatriation program is assisted by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). "The voluntarily repatriation is underway at the moment. We have contacted officials of recipient countries regarding this issue," he told a press conference. He added that refugees who wished to take part in the repatriation program were those who sheltered in Sabang. He said that verification on the remaining Rohingya refugees sheltered in Idi Rayeuk was underway at the moment. Indonesia provided shelters for 391 Rohingya refugees in Sabangand Idi Rayeuk in the northernmost province of Aceh. The refugees were found drifting over the sea off Aceh waters by Indonesian patrol boats in January and February this year. Rohingya people live in Myanmar, near Bangladesh border area. The Muslim ethnic group has been considered as illegal settlers by Myanmar government.

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