Hazara Refugees Push Forward With Frozen Life in Indonesia

by Krithika Varagur VOA
CISARUA, WEST JAVA, INDONESIA –
The notion of refugee life evokes many associations: destitution, duress, scarcity. But the overwhelming fact of many refugees’s daily lives is boredom.Like the Hazara refugees of West Java, whose days bleed into months into years. They can’t work, enroll in school, or travel; ignored by Indonesia’s government, which does not recognize refugees, they wait their turn on backlogged UNHCR lists to be resettled somewhere like Germany or the U.S.

There’s a sizable population of Hazara refugees — a Persian-speaking ethnic minority — in the small town of Cisarua, near Bogor. Hundreds of them came to Indonesia via plane and boat in the last five years, fleeing persecution in Afghanistan — where they make up the country’s third-largest ethnic group — Pakistan, and Iran.

Indonesia was initially conceived as a pit stop en route to Australia, but since that country cracked down on asylum seekers who arrive by sea, Indonesia has become sort of a purgatory. The Hazara chose Cisarua because its climate, in the Javanese hillside, is cooler and more tolerable, and they can rent houses cheaply instead of adjusting to cramped apartments in Jakarta.

After they realized the magnitude of their wait, several refugees created an ad hoc school for the children, the Refugee Learning Center (RLC), in 2014. Starting as an informal class, it has expanded into a six-room schoolhouse with classes for adults and children, including a library, English classes, and an indoor football league.

“We asked the UNHCR to help us with some kind of educational program for three months, but after getting no response, we decided to just go for it and started a class on our own with 18 kids,” said Asad Shadan, the founder of the RLC. “Within six months we had 100 children …read more

From:: Hazara People