The Rohingya Case in Aceh: Indonesia’s Role as a Destination for Refugees



Volume LIII – Number 2

Lindsay Robbins

Abstract: Across the globe, states are enacting increasingly anti-migrant policies in the face of growing refugee crises. Indonesia is a prominent example of a country that denies permanent settlement to refugees within its territory. Nonetheless, when Rohingya refugees who fled violence and religious persecution were stranded in the Adaman Sea, fishermen from Indonesia’s Aceh province intervened to rescue the refugees when nearby governments, including Indonesia, refused to act. Local Acehnese villagers and NGOs then acted to provide critical emergency shelter and aid to the refugees. This analysis will examine the reasons that motivated the Acehnese to welcome the Rohingya despite the anti-refugee policies of the Indonesian government, and whether these motivations could have been extended in the long term. It will also analyze how Indonesia can use the example set by the Acehnese to expand its own refugee policies and become a more welcoming and open country for the long-term resettlement of refugees. 

Keywords: Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migration, Rohingya, Indonesia 

About the Author: Lindsay Robbins has a B.A. in International Studies from Towson University. She is currently a Master of Public Policy student at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy specializing in international development. 

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