President-elect Prabowo says Indonesia willing to receive 1,000 refugees from Gaza to study in Java

by Admin
President-elect Prabowo says Indonesia willing to receive 1,000 refugees from Gaza to study in Java

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s President-elect Prabowo Subianto said the government is prepared to bring in some 1,000 Palestinian refugees from Gaza and send them to Islamic boarding schools in East Java to further their education.

The proposal, first brought up by the former governor of East Java Khofifah Indar Parawansa, would be submitted to President Joko Widodo for consideration, Mr Prabowo – who is the current defence minister – was quoted as saying by Antara news agency on Jun 7. 

It is not yet known how the technical implementation of accepting refugees from Gaza will be, but Mr Prabowo said he would coordinate with the secretary-general of the United Nations and other state leaders regarding the proposal.

According to Mr Prabowo, apart from East Java, several public figures in West Java have also expressed their readiness to accept refugees from Gaza and place them in Islamic boarding schools – also known as pesantrens – for their education.

There are over 39,000 Islamic boarding schools in the country, according to 2023 data from the ministry of religious affairs.

Mdm Khofifah, who is also chairperson of the women’s wing of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), said that she has coordinated with Islamic boarding schools in East Java to care for and educate children from the Palestinian territories.
NU is considered to be the world’s biggest Islamic organisation.  

In addition, Mdm Khofifah also said that several universities in East Java are also ready to provide scholarships to these refugees. 

“We have communicated with the Palestinian ambassador, and this university (Universitas Islam Malang/Unisma) is ready to provide 50 undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral scholarships for Palestinian students,” she said on Sunday (Jun 9).

Indonesia has been providing educational scholarships to Palestinian students and in November last year, Mr Prabowo welcomed 22 of them who received scholarships at the Defense University in Jakarta.

Providing scholarships for Palestinians is one of the ways the international community has been helping the people from the war-torn region. 

Arab News reported that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is collaborating with universities in Pakistan which have pledged to provide 5,000 fellowships for Palestinian students.

In addition to providing educational assistance, the Indonesian government also plans to evacuate over 1,000 Palestinians injured by Israeli attacks in Gaza to be treated in Indonesian hospitals. 

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said that evacuating the Palestinians would be a long-drawn affair, and may only be realised during the new administration of the Prabowo presidency.

“Because the first question is how they can get out of Gaza and so on. So maybe at the time of implementation it will be under the administration of the elected president,” Mdm Retno said as quoted by Republika media recently. 

According to Mr Prabowo, Mr Widodo also plans to send medical workers to war-torn Gaza and set up a makeshift field hospital to help Palestinians injured by the ongoing Israeli military campaign.

Speaking at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore, Mr Prabowo also stated Indonesia’s long-standing position that the only solution to achieve lasting peace and security for both Israel and the Palestinian territories is the two-state solution.

“Why is this important for us? Because Indonesia is part of the Islamic world. Although physically, we are not of the region, but what happens in the Middle East, in Gaza it affects and concerns … the Indonesian people,” he said.

Hamas’ attacks on Israel on Oct 7 – which precipitated the devastating war – killed some 1,200 people, according to Israeli authorities. 

Israel’s subsequent bombardment and invasion of Gaza has killed at least 36,801 Palestinians, according to an updated tally by the territory’s health ministry on Jun 8, Reuters reported. 

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