UNHCR to interview Thai Muslims detained in Malaysia

  • Nation
  • Monday, 05 Sep 2005

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - The U.N. refugee agency said Monday its officers will interview 131 Thai Muslims detained in Malaysia last week after they entered the country illegally to flee violence in southern Thailand. 

The Muslims, including 43 children, were taken into custody Wednesday by Malaysian police in the border state of Kelantan. 

They say they fear persecution from Thai security forces, who have been accused of targeting Muslims in their bid to quell an insurgency in the south. 

Volker Turk, the Malaysia representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement that a few officers will be sent to Kelantan this week to meet with the Thais in cooperation with local authorities. 

"It is standard practice for UNHCR to have access to, and to interview any group of people who claim refuge in a particular country,'' he said. 

Malaysia says it is investigating the claims of the Thais while they remain in immigration detention. 

Turk said the UNHCR will help Malaysian authorities gather background information and assess general needs of the Thais, but gave no further details. - AP 

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