CWS Asia

Refugee and Migrant Protection

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Baking course for the group of 14 unaccompanied asylum-seeking boys from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Somalia in south Jakarta. Photo: CWS


The boy in the yellow shirt was arriving by a complicated route from Afghanistan to join the others in their new home. Photo: CWS

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A 56-year old man, refugee from Afghanistan, gets over the daily language barrier by starting learning English and computer skills. Photo: CWS

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 three 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 three 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.

Countries: Indonesia

Latest News

The Reason We Are Here in the First Place

CWS Indonesia | April 17, 2018

For unaccompanied refugee children living in CWS-hosted group homes in Jakarta, Indonesia, soccer means something different than in many places. Played most by boys seeking asylum and safety from war-torn countries around the world, soccer represents a real kind of freedom – if only momentary freedom from worry and fear about the future. While all […]

A Place To Live, Learn, And Play

CWS Indonesia | February 18, 2018

On a rainy Jakarta afternoon Mohammad* and Ahmad* (*not their real names), who are asylum-seeking teens from Darfur, Sudan, are sitting on the balcony of their CWS-hosted group home passing the time by drawing in their sketch books. Ahmad is a very talented sketch artist and he is teaching Mohammad. They both have lived in […]

Exploring Alternatives to Detention for Unaccompanied and Separated Refugee Children

CWS Indonesia | February 16, 2018

In support of the 200+ asylum-seeking and refugee children CWS hosts in Jakarta, PURE Program Manager Andi Juanda recently joined an EU-funded / UNHCR-organized Alternatives to Detention Learning Program, which convened program experts from the UNHCR and a variety of organizations involved in campaigning and advocating for alternatives to detention for children; and, like CWS, […]

Making the Best of a Bad Situation … and Finding Joy in the Bargain

CWS Indonesia | December 19, 2017

Shawqi is a Sudanese refugee who reached Indonesia six years ago seeking refugee only to find himself homeless and scavenging for food. He had Dengue fever for a while, too, but survived and found his way to the protection of the CWS-led initiative to care for the most vulnerable of asylum seekers in Jakarta. And, […]

Community Centers: A Safe Space for Children to Learn Lessons of All Kinds

CWS Indonesia | November 16, 2017

In two Jakarta neighborhoods, Community Centers have for some years offered welcoming and safe spaces for refugees and asylum seekers to meet and work together to improve their daily lives – despite the many challenges they and their families and neighbors face. The Centers offer all who are interested a chance to access information, to […]

A Safety Net for Yasmin

CWS Japan | October 16, 2017

Earlier this year, Yasmin returned to Afghanistan from refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan with her husband and seven children. Her refugee experience started when she was a child herself – just five years old! And, the conditions she faced through the years were horrific, including terrible living environment and forced early marriage due to her […]

A Five-Year Journey Toward Hope

CWS Indonesia |

With support from the Australian government, CWS continues a group home for refugee and asylum-seeking girls and young women in Jakarta; and one of the girls is Fatima (not her real name) who was 9 when she lost her parents as war engulfed the part of Somalia where they lived. After staying with strangers and […]

Refugee Teens from Somalia Join Their Neighbors to Celebrate Indonesian Independence Day!

CWS Indonesia | September 7, 2017

Across their vast and diverse nation, Indonesians gathered recently to celebrate their Independence Day with parades, sports competitions and games and, of course, celebratory speeches. In Jakarta this year, there were some unfamiliar faces in the celebrating crowds as many refugee children joined their neighborhood Independence Day parades. Among the refugees were 16-year-old Said, who […]

Celebrating Diversity and Harmony Alike

CWS Indonesia | August 17, 2017

In a first-ever partnership for World Refugee Day, Indonesia’s Directorate General of Immigration joined the CWS PURE team and the UNHCR to co-host a two-day celebration for refugees and asylum seekers in Jakarta. Activities were as diverse as a discussion of a Presidential Regulation that reaffirms the Indonesian government’s commitment to protect asylum seekers and […]

Fostering a Culture of Foster Caring Among Refugees

CWS Indonesia | July 24, 2017

As part of an ongoing effort to find suitable foster parents for unaccompanied and separated refugee children (UASC) in Jakarta, CWS recently hosted a one-day Good Parenting workshop for potential foster parents. Also joining the workshop were couples who are already foster parents as well as some of the children they have welcome into their […]

Somali Sisters Safe and Secure in Jakarta To Observe Ramadan with Their Countrywomen

CWS Indonesia | June 10, 2017

When the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, began in May this year, 19-year-old Somali native, Zaenab, who lives in a CWS-managed group home for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Jakarta, was among those who joined the fast. Like thousands of others in the Somali Diaspora in Yemen, Zaenab and her younger sister fled the violence and […]

It Was a Long and Difficult Journey … I Feel Much Safer Now

CWS Indonesia | May 7, 2017

Aziz* is from Afgooye in Somalia, and his story echoes that of many other boys who flee their country to get away from a militia trying to make them join their ranks. Also, like many others, after a long journey through Malaysia, he arrived alone in Indonesia and found his way to the United Nations […]

“I hope to build my good future”

CWS Indonesia | April 11, 2017

Feisal* has no memory of his parents and siblings because he was barely one year old when they were killed in their Somali home, and his grandmother fled with him to safety and to raise him on her own. Then, a few years ago, when he was 20, tragedy struck again. “One day, the only […]

A New Home in Jakarta Opens for Refugee and Asylum-Seeking Girls

CWS Indonesia | March 18, 2017

Protecting Urban Refugees through Empowerment – PURE – efforts in Jakarta have grown again with a fifth group home exclusively for girls and young women recently opened. With support from the Australian Department for Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and in partnership with the UNHCR, the home opened with a festive ceremony on February 21st […]

A Profile in Courage, and Hope: A Somali Refugee Girl’s Story

CWS Indonesia | March 14, 2017

Nafyar* was 12 when men from the Al-Shabab militia entered her hometown in Somalia, killing her parents and older siblings. Nafar survived by hiding until the militia left, and then a kind-hearted neighbor helped her escape to Kenya. After living in Kenya for two years, and after a long journey by ways of Malaysia, Nafyar […]

Two journeys, 25 years apart

Leslie Wilson | March 8, 2017

Recently, I spent a few energizing hours with two dozen teenage girls who, after an astoundingly circuitous journey from East Africa to Indonesia, have found themselves in the care and protection of Church World Service. The girls each left home on their own in search of safety and asylum, and none of them has relatives […]

Ingredients for a new life

CWS Indonesia | January 25, 2017

Toward the end of December 2016 a group of 14 unaccompanied asylum-seeking boys from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Somalia gathered in a large kitchen in south Jakarta for an intensive, three-day baking course. This was a welcome break from the long, routine days and weeks the boys spend in their CWS-supported group homes. Since […]

An Afghan Refugee Makes the Most of His Time While Waiting for Onward Asylum

CWS Indonesia | December 28, 2016

Muhammad* and his bicycle are a familiar sight around the CWS-UNHCR Refugee Center in Jakarta. Twice a week for the last two years the 56-year old has been attending English and computer classes at the Center – though most of his classmates are not older than 20. To save what little money he has, Muhammad […]

An Afghan Asylum Seeker Volunteers Her Time and Talent To Help Others

CWS Indonesia | December 1, 2016

Zakera, who is one an asylum seekers whom CWS supports in Jakarta, studied mathematics at Kabul University and taught at a private school there. As a woman of Hazara ethnicity, Zakera was not completely surprised to receive death threats in her homeland because her Hazara people are greatly persecuted there. After another Hazara colleague and […]

16-year-old Somalia native boy, Fahal, finds his new home in Jakarta

CWS Indonesia | November 16, 2016

The entire course of Fahal’s life changed in an afternoon. He was playing football with friends at home in Somalia when a terrorist group – he still doesn’t know exactly who they were – attacked his village. His father and two brothers were killed and his mother was abducted. His uncle decided that Fahal must […]

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