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JGC Supports the Emergency Response for Rohingya Refugees in Aceh Utara, Indonesia

January 2021/Rizqan Fadhillah for JGC


The people of Aceh, Indonesia, have been involved in rescue operations of refugees and irregular migrants stranded at sea since 2009, with thousands of Rohingya, Bangladeshi and Tamils being rescued by local fishermen and supported by local communities, local government, and local NGOs. On June 2020, 99 Rohingya refugees landed in Seuneudon, North Aceh after having been stranded at sea for more than 120 days (estimated departure from Cox Bazaar, Bangladesh, was the end of February). Local Acehnese fishermen found them and took initiative to help those people on the boat, mostly women and children, by transferring them to fishing boat on its way back to harbour. Later, 7 September 2020, another boat carrying 296 Rohingya refugees landed on Ujong Blang beach, North Aceh district. After seven months at sea, the refugees finally sought the safety of Aceh as a last resort.


Janine Grant Consulting (JGC) in collaboration with Geutanyoë Foundation – an International NGO with a strong mandate on refugee rights and advocacy - contributed to this emergency response with financial support for the provision of humanitarian supplies and basic needs for refugees as well as supporting the stakeholder coordination and communication to advocate for the rights of refugees and migrants recently arrived in Aceh.

Picture 1. Basic supplies donation distribution from Janine Grant Consulting

Basic needs supplies for refugee women and children who had arrived in the town of Lhokseumawe were distributed on 30 July 2020 as part of welcoming the Eid al-Adha holiday. Geutanyoë Foundation, through support from JGC, distributed new clothes for children, hygiene kits including menstruation supplies, medicine, and masks for all refugees at the BLK Camp.


JGC, through Geutanyoë Foundation, also supported efforts to strengthen the coordination and communication in refugee management by conducting the seminar on Refugees Rights on the 9 July 2020 and implementing training on Child Protection Policy (CPP) on 18 July 2020. The seminar and training aimed to provide basic knowledge on standards of service in humanitarian response, as the participants came from various organizations working on site, as well as provide opportunities for information and knowledge exchange and promote inter-organisational coordination of assistance.


On 28 September 2020, JGC and Geutanyoë Foundation facilitated a psychosocial workers’ cluster meeting to discuss the follow-up plans for existing cases managed by various organisations. This was a critical juncture in the humanitarian response as there was a sharp increase in newly arrived refugees in the BLK Camp, and existing cases in refugee mental health could not afford to fall through the cracks as logistical pressure accommodate new arrivals increased.


Picture 2. Clothes are distributed directly to refugee’s children

JGC’s contribution to the humanitarian response in Aceh in 2020 was a targeted effort to both support and raise awareness of the importance of coordination between government and civil society to reach the most vulnerable – whether migrants, refugees, the poorest, people with disabilities or the elderly. Multi-stakeholder coordination is critical to ensure that standards of service are met (for ‘regular’ development as well as humanitarian response) and that, in the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals, no one is left behind.