In several countries across Southeast Asia, the absence of a proper legal framework for refugees means that they are often considered as 'illegal aliens', which puts them in a situation of extreme vulnerability. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are not signatory to the Refugee Convention and do not have specific laws for the protection of refugees. While the region’s economy is thriving and its population is booming, refugees and asylum seekers in these countries are forced into a life of invisibility.
Liaqat, his sister Rahilla and their family arrived in Indonesia as refugees from Pakistan. They wanted to go somewhere safe but were detained in an immigration centre. "I felt that I was no longer human," Liaqat recounts. After two years, Laiqat's family was granted refugee status. Reflecting on the ordeal, Rahilla adds, "We're older than our years, we have become adults."
The government of Indonesia and UNHCR are working together with the EU to find alternatives to detention.
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