Asia / Pacific
Photo: Carol Fouke
Protecting Urban Refugees Through Empowerment
At the end of 2013, there were over 2.5 million refugees from Afghanistan in camps and urban locations around the world. This represents the largest refugee population in the world. Many of those who fled Afghanistan are now housed in camps in Pakistan, the Middle East and Central Asia, but some continue their journey in search of a better life. For many the thought of a better life leads them to Australia, facing many trials and tribulations along the way.
Indonesia is often one of the stopping points for refugees on their journeys elsewhere. Since January 2008, CWS has supported those in flight with the Protecting Urban Refugees through Empowerment Program. As part of a partnership agreement with UNHCR, CWS currently provides two shelters in Jakarta. The shelters are exclusively for refugee children, 90 percent of whom are from Afghanistan. These children left their war-torn homes in Afghanistan, searching for a way to make it to Australia on their own. Many traveled by boat and along the way were either shipwrecked near Indonesian shores or taken into custody by Indonesian immigration officials after arrival on Java island. They then on average spent months, if not years, in a prison, waiting for the notice that they were given refugee status and could be transferred to a shelter.
In FY 2014, CWS was able to house 80 unaccompanied minors at two shelters in Jakarta. The CWS shelters provide an opportunity for the children to have a more stable life after the harrowing journey that many have taken. With a staff of 25 for the program, CWS also provides health services, education and monthly subsistence allowances for vulnerable urban refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia. Altogether, CWS was able to assist around 340 individuals, including the 80 unaccompanied minors. CWS is helping the most vulnerable refugee populations begin to create a new life after years of violence and persecution.