UNHCR: Allow refugees to stay and work in Malaysia


  • Nation
  • Monday, 25 Jun 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has urged the newly appointed Pakatan Harapan Government to allow refugees to stay and work in Malaysia legally.

UNHCR representative Richard Towle said that this could be done even without ratifying international protocols that recognise refugees.

“If you know who the refugees are, then you can manage law and order and security issues better. Employers definitely need the kind of labour that refugees can provide,” he told reporters on Monday (June 25) on the sidelines of a forum that was held in conjunction with World Refugee Day.

In its manifesto, Pakatan said that it would ratify the 1951 International Convention on refugees so that refugees who escape from war-torn countries and arrive in Malaysia are given proper assistance.

Towle said that while this would be a marvellous aspiration, it could be done on a longer term.

"The most important thing is to regularise the rights of refugees, right here, right now, through executive orders and minor amendment to regulations," he said.

"There are many important practical things that can be done now without signing the convention," he added.

He said the fact that Malaysia has not signed the convention did not mean that the country has no responsibilities over the issue.

"Let's make sure that regulations are tidied up first and then having done that, if Malaysia feels comfortable about signing the convention, we would be delighted and support it," he said.

When asked if UNHCR officials would be meeting with the new government to discuss refugee issues, Towle said that they were hoping to meet the relevant ministries as soon as possible.

He said they would be meeting a minister on Monday and that the Home Ministry had indicated its interest in meeting UNHCR.

As of May this year, there are some 157,580 refugees and asylum seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia, and of the figure, 72,490 or 46%, are Rohingya refugees.

Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol. It lacks legal or administrative framework regulating the status and rights of refugees in Malaysia.

Refugees are considered undocumented migrants under the Malaysian Immigration Act, and are at risk of arrest, detention, and deportation.

While refugees are not allowed to work legally, many of them work informally.

Limited time offer:
Just RM5 per month.

Monthly Plan

RM13.90/month
RM5/month

Billed as RM5/month for the 1st 6 months then RM13.90 thereafters.

Annual Plan

RM12.33/month

Billed as RM148.00/year

1 month

Free Trial

For new subscribers only


Cancel anytime. No ads. Auto-renewal. Unlimited access to the web and app. Personalised features. Members rewards.
Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!
   

Next In Nation

Johor authorities seize 11 floor mats with images said to be of Kaabah
Raya rush: Traffic still slow on several major highways
Stranded in South Korea: Family seeking help to pay for sick brother's hospital bill, bring him home
Cops to record statements of three over suitcase containing RM500,000
USAS student killed in Kuantan car crash, three others injured
PM Anwar extends Tamil New Year, Vaisakhi, Vishu greetings
Penang's Little India centre of Chittirai Puthandu, Vishu preparations as Vaisakhi festivities in full swing
Ops Ihsan aid volunteers in Rafah injured in Israeli attack
Contractors may get blacklisted for failing to deliver Rumah Mesra SMJ on time
RM50mil fund to give Indian women micro-entrepreneurs a leg up on business

Others Also Read