Any decision to allow hiring of refugees to work will be based on Home Ministry data, says Saifuddin

PUTRAJAYA: Any decision to allow refugees to work in selected sectors will be based on data obtained by refugee registrations conducted by the Home Ministry, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

The Home Minister, when met at the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Hari Raya open house at its headquarters here Tuesday (May 9), said that the decision to put the Home Ministry in charge of the registration and data collection was made by the Cabinet "recently."

"There are 185,000 refugees registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) but, previously, under the government’s Tracing Refugees Information System (TRIS) programme, there were only 30,000 that registered.

"So the gap is large and now the National Security Council has also determined the Home Ministry’s new job is to register them," he said.

He added that there were economic sectors that require manpower and that before any decisions were made to allow refugees to work in selected sectors, granular data must first be obtained from these registrations.

"On one side, we have the agriculture, construction sectors requiring workers. These sectors are asking for workers and to approve the arrivals.

"And on the other side, we have refugees that have left their country and for us to consider them for employment we first need granular data.

"We are not a signatory to the refugee convention so there are certain restrictions," he said, adding that there were no data sharing agreements with UNHCR.

Once the data was obtained, any decision to aid refugees in obtaining jobs could be made based on the policy set by the government.

"How can we set anything when we don’t even have the complete data," he said, saying that without facing the main issues, certain sentiments from locals would emerge.

In an unrelated matter, the minister, via a press statement, said that MMEA is urged to increase international partnerships to strengthen border security.

He added that the existing partnership with the Australian Border Force (ABF) was a good example, specially with their joint operations under Op Redback that was aimed at crimes such human trafficking and contraband smuggling.

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