The Asylum Seekers of Cisarua

Alex Ellinghausen

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The sun rises over the hills surrounding Cisarua – a small town just over an hour’s drive south of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. “It’s too early, they [asylum seekers] still sleeping”, an ojek driver tells me. The ojek (motorcycle taxi) is the easiest way to navigate through the narrow back lanes and the ojek drivers that loiter out the front of the supermarket on the main street know the back streets of their town better than most. Many of the asylum seekers that are in Indonesia have ended up here in Cisarua. Many are waiting for their cases to be processed by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), some are waiting to board a boat for Australia.

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Homes are built close to each other on the side of the hill and within the labyrinth of narrow alleys, there are pockets of asylum seekers, mostly…

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