RSO delivers inaugural training workshop in Banda Aceh for Frontline Officials on Screening and Referring vulnerable migrants
The Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO) highlighted best practice around screening, referral and support for vulnerable migrants for 31 Indonesian frontline officers in the Indonesian province of Banda Aceh, North Sumatra. Almost 3,300 arrivals of Rohingya refugees were recorded in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in 2022 alone.
The RSO’s five-day Training Workshop for Frontline Officials on Screening and Referring Vulnerable Migrants was held over 10–14 July 2023, and covered topics including screening and referring of vulnerable migrants, mixed migration flows, international and national legal frameworks around smuggling by sea and trafficking in persons, children on the move, protection, and assistance.
Participants visited the Social Affairs Facility in Ladong, which served as a temporary shelter for Rohingya refugees when attempted crossings were at their peak earlier in the year, and visited the beach area where a boat carrying 87 male Rohingya refugees landed in Aceh. These field trips provided real-life insights into the challenges faced by migrants and victims of trafficking.
Expert knowledge and regional insights were shared by Indonesian colleagues including Pak Ade Harianto, Director of General Crime Investigation of Aceh Regional Police, Pak Misri, Sub-Division of Aceh Regional Law and Human Rights Department, and Pak Sepriady Utama, Head of National Commission for Human Rights for Aceh Region. The RSO was also grateful to Yesper Widell, Protection Officer of Mixed Movements and Dwita Aryani, Assistant Protection Officer from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) who presented the RSO and UNHCR Screening and Referral App, which has been developed to serve as an interactive learning resource for border officials as they build their capacity to screen and refer individuals with specific needs.
Participants actively participated in discussions and scenario analyses to distinguish between human trafficking and mixed migration, gaining valuable insights into the legal considerations involved in managing these issues. They also explored coordination efforts and the provision of assistance, the Do No Harm guidelines developed by Australia Counter Trafficking (ASEAN ACT), and created individual action plans for future work in addressing migration and trafficking challenges.
Interview with Pak Masrimin S.Sos. MM., Head of the Regional Refugee Task Force in Aceh
Pak Masrimin, Acting Head of the Regional Intelligence Agency and Head of the Regional Refugee Task Force of Aceh said:
“When we handle all these foreign refugees from overseas, we all must be in harmony with one another, and we have to have one common understanding, and this applies internationally too—not only in Aceh and Indonesia. What we are doing now is paving the foundation for the future, which means whatever mistakes we make today, we do not repeat these. This includes how we accept refugees arriving and also the manner in which we treat refugees on a daily basis when they are already here. As well as supporting understanding of the surroundings and local people in the area.
“The lessons and growing understanding for those involved through training workshops or social activities is useful and applicable. In doing so, we build mutual understanding of these people who are here as refugees, and as humans. The right humane thing to do is to accept them and then let the legal process continue. And to understand then what steps must be done and what is the next step after that.”
Rima Rehulina, a Coast Guard from Aceh said, “I am very happy to be able to participate in the five-day training workshop here in Aceh and I [have gained a lot of] knowledge, specifically the differences between refugees and migrants, and how to approach children. I learned a lot on how to handle and deal with children, especially in getting their attention. I hope the RSO can come back to Aceh to support learning directly with local people, and of course, we are eager to attend another training by the RSO. Thank you.”
The RSO is planning further training sessions at migration hotspots in neighbouring regions and Member States, to support officers in the field who are dealing with challenging situations, and to continue effectively building capacity in tackling migration and trafficking challenges in Aceh and beyond.
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The vessel in July 2023, still stranded on the beach.