Endless wait for Afghan family stuck in Indonesia

Lauren Farrow – AAP

2 minute read

Mohammad Baqir Bayani and his family were full of hope when they paid people smugglers to get them out of Afghanistan but they now face an uncertain future stuck in Indonesia.

JAKARTA, Indonesia: When Mohammad Baqir Bayani and his family fled Pakistan in June 2015, he had just buried his father. 

A militant group had attacked the family's spice shop and the businesses of other Hazaras, a widely persecuted minority Shi'ite ethnic group, killing five people including Baqir Bayani's father, who was shot seven times.

The family, fearing for their lives, returned to their home country of Afghanistan, but threats from the Taliban soon had them on the run again, in a desperate search for safety.

They put their fate in the hands of faceless people smugglers, at a cost of about $US50,000. The people smugglers gave them fake passports and paid off airport officials to get the family into Indonesia by plane, via India and Malaysia.

Their journey was highly organised and Baqir Bayani tells of phone contact only with his smugglers and of waiting in transit lounges for airport workers who'd been paid to act as cogs in the trade.

"There were employees of the airport ... we are just sitting (on) the chairs and they would come to us and take our luggages (sic) and we would follow."

Smugglers had told the family they could expect to wait a year or so in Indonesia before they'd be resettled in a new homeland.

But almost two years on they remain stuck in Indonesia, which does not resettle refugees, without recourse to any form of financial help from the government and without the right to work.

Their money is dwindling and as the family waits, more nations are closing their doors to refugees amid the migrant crisis sweeping the world.

Baqir Bayani fears he and his family may have to resort to moving from the cheap apartments they've called home into Indonesia's overcrowded detention centres to ensure they at least have food.

The family now knows the reality of their wait for a new homeland could be more like four or five years and as each day passes, their fears grow over how they will survive.

"The future is completely uncertain for us. We had hope in the early days. But as we pass the time, our hopes are no longer with us."

MINDS/aap