News & Publication Unlocking the Economic Potentials of Indonesia's Refugee Community: A Survey on Labour Characteristics

Unlocking the Economic Potentials of Indonesia's Refugee Community: A Survey on Labour Characteristics

Posted By Sandya Institute On Friday, 13 December 2019


On December 12, 2019 - Sandya Institute shared with the public their research concerning refugees and their economic impact in Indonesia.The outcomes were presented to the Ministry of Manpower, the International Organization for Migration, and other government, local, and international stakeholders. The research, led by Matthew LoCastro, conducted a survey on the demographic, economic, employment, and educational characteristics of refugees in Jakarta, Medan, and Makassar. The survey captured over 16% of the national working-aged refugee population and the outcomes are being targeted to be used to inform government policy recommendations concerning refugees.

The research occurred from September 2018 and was completed in November of 2019 with the sponsorship and endorsement of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Jesuit Refugee Service, SUAKA, Refugee Learning Nest, Help for Refugees, and Hope Learning Center.

Below is an overview of the report. The full report can be found in English and Bahasa Indonesia by clicking on the below links.

[English] Sandya Institute Research Paper Series - Unlocking the Economic Potentials of Indonesia's Refugee Community: A Survey on Labour Characteristics

[Bahasa Indonesia] Sandya Institute Seri Kajian Ilmiah - Menjelaskan Potensi Ekonomi Komunitas Pengungsi Indonesia: Survei Mengenai Karakteristik Ketenagakerjaan dan Penghidupan 


As of September 2019, Indonesia has been the unintentional home to approximately 13,657 refugees. Most of these individuals from Afghanistan and Somalia left their home countries in search of safety and to escape life-threatening circumstances with the intention of seeking asylum in elsewhere. However, geo-political circumstances have led to refugee communities forming in other unintended destinations. The population of refugees currently residing in Indonesia proves to be one of the smallest groups of refugees on a regional level. With a limited policy framework in place, the looming threat of a decline in international assistance, and the small population of refugees, now is the ideal time to form and enact policies that allow for temporary but sustaining livelihood opportunities for the refugee community in Indonesia as they wait, often for years, for resettlement. In order to create policy concerning temporary livelihood activities, substantive and data-driven research is required to inform recommendations concerning potential employment, entrepreneurial, and educational opportunities best suited for the refugee community without disrupting Indonesian economic and education systems. By conducting literature reviews and collecting survey information on the labour and educational characteristics of refugees, a framework of action has been proposed. The proposed framework, which focus on actions Indonesian policymakers can take to advance the development of temporary livelihood opportunities demonstrates that refugees can obtain an independent and humane living while supporting Indonesian institutions and economic growth.