Saturday, April 19, 2014

Committee formed for UNHCR card upgrade

ALOR GAJAH: A high-powered committee has been formed by the Home Ministry to address the problem of forgery involving the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) card among illegal immigrants particularly the Myanmars in Malaysia.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the committee which was led by the ministry's secretary-General Datuk Seri Mohamad Khalid Shariff will be formulating the best approach on how to upgrade the existing UNHCR card issued to refugees in the country.

He said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had ordered the committee to hold a meeting with the UNHCR officials as soon as possible.

"During my discussion with the UNHCR two months ago, they admitted that there are forgery cases involving the UNHCR card.

"In that regard, the ministry had decided that it is about time the existing card to be digitised," he told reporters after visiting the Machap Umboo Immigration Detention Centre near here today.

Wan Junaidi said the proposed new card will be fitted with electronic chip that will enable the authorities to determine whether the card is genuine or fake.

He said at present the authorities such as the police, immigration and national registration department personnel had difficulty to ensure the authenticity of the UNHCR card when conducting inspection in operations.

"In the ongoing operations to flush out illegal immigrants, the personnel had to rely on their naked eyes only to determine whether the card is genuine.

"This has became a problem for them," he added.

It was reported that during a crackdown against Myanmar nationals following clashes between Myanmar Muslims and their Buddhist counterparts in Klang Valley last year, it was discovered that 307 of the 1,054 Myanmar nationals rounded by the authorities had fake UNHCR
cards and documents.

On another matter, Wan Junaidi said the ministry was looking for ways to address the problems of infectious diseases involving foreigners in prisons and detention centers in the country.

He said a meeting to discuss the issue will be held early next month involving representatives from the Prison Department, police, immigration and Health Ministry.
"I also would like to advise Malaysian employers to avoid taking illegal immigrants as workers, especially in food-related industries.

"This to avoid infectious diseases such as tuberculosis being spread by the foreigners to the public," he added.