Monday, June 24, 2013

Myanmar immigrant workers wait for UN refugee status in detention centers

Most of Myanmar migrant workers currently held in Malaysia detention centers are seeking UN refugee status because many are hoping to resettle to a third country, according to the resources. Myanmar migrant workers have been sent to detention centers after sentenced to prisons for violating Malaysia’s immigration laws, such as illegal border crossing, over staying and working without permit. “They have been sentenced to 3 or 4 months due to Malaysian immigration law. After their sentence, they were sent to detention centers. The respective embassies bought air tickets and sent them home. Most workers informed their homes and bought air tickets. After that the embassy issued a confirmation letter to identify as citizen. But most workers said they don’t want to return home,” said an aid worker who are helping Myanmar workers in Malaysia detention centers. The reason not to return home is that they are waiting for UN refugee status. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) interviewed the migrant workers in detention centers. If they are satisfied, they can have the certificates issued by UNHCR. The workers can stay in Malaysia or can go to third countries with the certificates, so they are waiting the certificates, according to the sources. At present, The UN has issued more certificates to Bengalis than ethnic races such as Chin, Mon and Rakhine. Although non-ethnic migrant workers from Myanmar who are at detention centers have a little chance to recognize as refugees, they are still waiting for it. “We are urging them to go home. No country is enjoyable like their country. They can stay what they like but they don’t want to go home,” said Yusoff Khan, Deputy Director of Semenyih detention center. Malaysia kept migrant workers in detention centers if they don’t want to go back to their countries after released from prisons. Malaysia has nine detention centers to keep migrant workers. Among the migrant workers, most are being arrested while crossing the border from Thailand to Malaysia, working illegally, having argument with their boss and having informed by someone from neighboring area. As the arrangement made by Myanmar embassy, 12,882 migrant workers being kept in detention centers are being deported by Malaysian immigration department between 2009 and 2013.