KUALA LUMPUR: The Home Ministry may go directly to refugee communities in the country if it does not get to register the 150,000 refugees holding United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards.
The registration is meant for the Tracking Refugees Information System (TRIS).
“We don’t want to have ‘ghosts’ in our country, which is a problem today. We don’t know who they are,” said Deputy Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed.
He added that there was an informal agreement between UNHCR and the Government to respect the card.
“The problem is the UNHCR registration process does not include biometric data, so it’s useless to us,” he said at a press conference after visiting the TRIS registration centre in Bangsar South here yesterday.
Nur Jazlan urged UNHCR to direct its cardholders to register under TRIS as the Government planned to complete the process within six months.
He added that if it failed to provide its full cooperation, the Home Ministry would have to track down the refugees themselves as they were known to reside in, among other areas, the Klang Valley, Cameron Highlands and the west of Pahang.
While UNHCR has provided data to the Government that it had around 150,000 people seeking asylum in Malaysia, the TRIS registration rate has been slow for the past month. Only some 300 registered.
The decision to carry out the programme was made during a July 20, 2016 Cabinet meeting after which the Home Ministry appointed Barisan Mahamega Sdn Bhd to conduct the registration, based on proof of concept, beginning April 1 until Sept 30.
“All registered refugees will be given an identity card (MyRC), which consists of personal and biometric data, similar to the information recorded in TRIS.
“This is to help the authorities such as the police and the Immigration Department identify those who genuinely have refugee status,” Nur Jazlan said.
“The programme is also very important to cover any loopholes that certain parties might take advantage of, especially in the form of transnational crime.”
While Thailand also faced similar problems, he added that focus was placed on Malaysia, coupled with pressure from international communities such as the United States’ annual Trafficking of Persons’ report.
“Every year, we have to answer to the US. It’s not good for us.”