On whose behalf is the IOM acting? Tamil-speaking refugees face food shortage

Tamil-speaking refugees face food shortage

On whose behalf is the IOM acting?

According to the website of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the “IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all”. But given the IOM’s recent behaviour in Indonesia this must be questioned.

Tamil Solidarity has learned that the IOM has closed its base at Merak harbour, Indonesia, near the boat holding 255 Tamil-speaking refugees fleeing the repression of the Sri Lankan government.

The IOM, while previously helping the refugees with food and clothes, insisted that the refugees should get off the boat. The refugees maintained that they would only get off the boat if their basic human rights demands were met. Unfortunately the refugees also felt that while the IOM continued to pressure for refugees to get off it was not acting in their interest. With more than thirty people suffering diarrhoea and one elderly person so severely ill that they had to be taken to hospital, the refugees have complained that the food they were given was not adequate.

But now the refugees face serious food shortage problems. The Australian government has so far refused to listen to the refugees’ demands and has used Indonesia, a country that has not signed the UN refugee convention, to deal with its ‘so-called refugee problems’. This disastrous policy has claimed several lives already. Now they appear to be refusing to negotiate with the refugees in Merak harbour and trying to starve them out. Denial of food and medical supplies and of entry to media personnel, and other techniques, are being used in an attempt to force the refugees to abandon their very basic demands that their basic human rights be respected.

Despite the harsh conditions, the refugees are very determined to carry on fighting for their rights.

  • Tamil Solidarity urges the IOM to return immediately and to improve the quality of the food they supply.
  • We demand that the Australian government brings about a resolution of the situation in favour of the refugees as soon as possible.
  • We also demand that UNHCR gets involved in the negotiations as soon as possible.