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JRS served asylum seekers and refugees in Immigration Detention Centre, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and Indonesia.


Fr Paul Pollock SJ, celebrates Mass in Bangkok’s Immigration Detention Centre.

Many refugees struggle to survive in Thailand. Even recognised refugees risk being arrested and held in detention. For the police, the UN document is not a visa. While these asylum seekers and refugees were fleeing conflict in their home country, they were arrested in Thailand for living here illegally. They will live in detention until the United Nations refugee agency resettles them, or they decide to return to their homeland.

Mariya returned home to Indonesia on 25 March 2013, after almost eight years in Bangkok’s Suanphlu Immigration Detention Centre.
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As part of our accompaniment of persons in need, JRS Indonesia provides direct services to asylum seekers and refugees in immigration detention centers.

About 1.000 Asylum Seekers and Refugees are held over many months in Indonesian Immigration Detention Centers suffering stress and depression during the long waiting in uncertainty, confinement, and without contact to loved ones. In the past, incidents of severe depression and self-harm occurred.

JRS accompaniment of asylum seekers and refugees in Immigration Detention Centers includes befriending them by listening to their concerns, needs, and hopes.

JRS aims to to facilitate communication between the detainees and immigration staff preventing the escalation of tensions between them. By being present JRS listens not only to detainees but also to immigration staff and helps clarifying and communicating concerns from both sides to each other. JRS communications is guided by an appeal for compassion, the promotion of humanitarian values and based in the rights of forcibly displaced people.

IDC Medan, in Belawan North Sumatera: since September 2009

JRS Indonesia team visits detainees on a regular basis providing psychosocial and sport activities in and outside the immigration detention center with the aim to improving physical and mental health of detainees. Despite the center currently running overcapacity, levels of stress and depression are low and recently no case of severe depression or self-harm occurred. Our program allows detainees to spend more time outside of their cells participating yoga or aerobic and even to leave the center for some activities including Soccer and Swimming.

IDC Surabaya, in Bangil-Pasuruan, East Java: since October 2011

JRS Indonesia team regularly visits detained asylum seekers and refugees, listens to their concerns, and facilitates meetings with staff of the center. It also plans to provide self-development training for IDC staff.

A JRS staff member talks with a refugee at the immigration detention centre in Medan, Indonesia. Listening to the unheard and soft-spoken is a cornerstone of accompanying refugees to ensure they are shown hospitality and are treated with dignity. (Photo: Lars Stenger)

A Rohingya refugee talks with two JRS staff members at the immigration detention centre in Medan, Indonesia. The Rohingya have fled their homeland only to be faced with inhospitable conditions elsewhere. JRS staff believes presence and listening count to rebuild dignity. (Photo: Lars Stenger)

Refugees react emotionally to the arrival of JRS staff who visited them at the immigration detention centre in Medan, Indonesia. Accompanying refugees and being there for them bears witness to our common humanity. (Photo: Lars Stenger)

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