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Amnesty International: Pregnant Refugee from Somaliland Deported at Soekarno Hatta Airport

pregnant refugee

Amnesty International Indonesia (AII) has revealed that a 35-year-old female refugee from Somaliland was held on arrival by immigration authorities at Soekarno-Hatta Airport (Soetta), Tangerang.

Immigration officials have decided to deport her.

“In the early hours of 9th January, a 35-year-old female refugee from Somaliland, who was pregnant, arrived at Soekarno-Hatta Airport. After arriving, she was detained at the airport immigration detention center until now,” said AII Executive Director Usman Hamid in his written statement on Friday 14th January 2022.

Based on the information he received, the refugee looked unwell and had swelling in her body. In addition, the refugee was also worried because she could no longer feel the baby moving. Hamid said the refugee started to feel labor pains but was never given access to hospital care by immigration officials.

International organizations that have a mandate to take care of refugees have also not been given access to meet the refugee and conduct direct verification of her situation.

In fact, the woman had previously been officially registered as an asylum seeker in Indonesia in 2016. She is also a survivor of sexual violence and left Somaliland due to unstable living conditions.

In December 2021, the woman returned to Somaliland because of pressure from her family. Whilst there, she experienced domestic violence that endangered her physical and psychological health as well as her pregnancy. Finally, the woman returned to seek asylum in Indonesia.

“In this regard, we urge immigration officials not to deport this refugee because there are allegations that she was a victim of forced marriage and domestic violence in her home country,” said Hamid.

In addition, he also urged that the refugee be given access to hospital and medical assistance along with other basic needs.

He reminded that Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to seek asylum in another country to avoid persecution. Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) guarantees the right to an adequate standard of living while Article 12 of the covenant also guarantees the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health, both physically and spiritually.

Not only that, but international law has also provided for the principle of non-refoulment, which as part of customary international law, stipulating that states may not send refugees and asylum seekers to places where their lives are threatened,” he said.

The Head of the Immigration Information and Communication Technology Immigration Class I Special Immigration Checkpoint at Soekarno-Hatto Airport, Habiburahman, stated via written message on Friday 14th January 2022 that his team would check the information submitted by AII.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Agency for Refugee Affairs (UNHCR) confirmed that a Somali woman who was pregnant has since been deported by immigration officials at Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

Unfortunately, the news is true, very unfortunate. We deeply regret the decision by the Indonesian immigration authorities to deport the female refugee from Somalia,” said the UNHCR representative office in Jakarta to CNNIndonesia.com, when asked for confirmation about the incident.

The UNHCR acknowledged that they did not get access to refugees who were victims, even though they had requested access to the relevant authorities.

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