KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 661 unaccompanied minors are among illegal immigrants currently detained at Immigration detention centres, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.
"Of the 1,179 minors detained, 518 were detained with their respective parents or guardians.
"Whereas those detained without guardians were as many as 661," the Home Minister said.
Saifuddin said this in a written reply to a question raised by Syerleena Abdul Rashid (PH-Bukit Bendera) in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (March 21).
Of the total, he said that 656 of the minors were males and 523 were females.
Syerleena wanted to know the number of immigrants currently held at immigration detention centres, including unaccompanied minors.
As of Jan 29 this year, Saifuddin said 15,845 illegal immigrants were being held at Immigration detention centres nationwide.
Of this, he said 11,983 were male and 2,683 were female, excluding the 1,179 minors.
He said that Filipinos represented the highest number of those detained, totalling 5,138 (32.4%).
He said this was followed by those from Myanmar including ethnic Rohingya with 4,424 (27.9%) and Indonesians totalling 4,097 (25.9%).
Last month, Saifuddin said that children should not be detained at Immigration depots.
The Home Minister said discussions were being held with several agencies on how to resolve the issue, including the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.
On Feb 3, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) expressed concern over the fate of children who were among those detained during a recent raid at an illegal settlement in Negri Sembilan.
On Feb 15, Saifuddin said the children who had been detained in the raid would soon be removed from detention at Immigration depots and placed in the care of organisations that specialise in child welfare.