Despite not signing UN treaty, there will be focus on helping refugees, says Saifuddin


  • Nation
  • Monday, 30 Dec 2019

PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): Despite Malaysia's decision to not ratify the 1951 International Convention on Refugees, 2020 will see efforts to improve assistance to refugees here, including in health services, work permits and education for the children, says the Foreign Minister.

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said some of the ideas include having a proper guideline and accreditation for the children of refugees attending classes offered by civil society organisations in Malaysia.

“We are working very well with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and I have had several meetings with them. They understand perfectly and they are not pushing us to sign (the treaty).

“In fact, it is well documented that even though we have not yet signed it, we have not ratified it, but we have done quite a bit – in fact, we have done more than some countries that actually ratified the international convention, ” he told Bernama in an interview at his office here recently.

Touching specifically on the Rohingya, Saifuddin said Malaysia would soon have to decide whether the operation of its hospital in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, would be extended after 2021.

“(If yes), for how many years? Because this involves a budget and you can’t plan ahead unless you have a proper projection, ” he said, adding that the extension is decided annually.

Saifuddin said the Foreign Ministry has also lined up four activities for next year in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, including the ones related to the reform of the UN and its veto system as well as active participation at the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

“What we plan to do is to talk to like-minded countries as much as possible, either to co-host a resolution or a side event, in conjunction with the UN General Assembly, in the third week of September 2020, ” he said.

The minister said Malaysia will also actively participate in the UN2020, a civil society initiative that regularly consults with government representatives, UN officials, and other stakeholders.

He added that Malaysia would also be engaging in the Beijing+25, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

All of these, he said, is part of Malaysia's efforts to be more proactive in the decision-making process at the international platform to make the world a better place to live in, as outlined in the Foreign Policy Framework of the New Malaysia launched September this year. – Bernama

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