Sunday, November 23, 2014

UNHCR senior officers meet M'sian officials on refugee protection

KUALA LUMPUR: Senior officers from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) headquarters in Geneva and regional office in Bangkok visited Kuala Lumpur early this week and met with Malaysian ministers and government officials.

In Malaysia, some 150,000 refugees and asylum-seekers are registered with UNHCR, 93 per cent of whom are from Myanmar, including the Rohingya community who have been identified as having high protection needs, particularly among women and children.

According to UNHCR statement today, the high level delegation was in the region to assess the refugee situation in a number of countries, including Malaysia, and to explore the possibility of protection solutions.

During the meeting, they also discussed how to provide international protection for those groups most vulnerable, such as the Rohingya refugees, while looking at how best to manage other groups whose ongoing need for international protection is reducing, the statement said.

The delegation also explored possible options of transitioning some groups to labour migration schemes in the country.

Meanwhile, UNHCR Representative in Malaysia, Richard Towle, in the same statement said such arrangements would provide a win-win situation for all.

"The government would have the benefit of knowing who is in the territory and be able to reduce the criminality and exploitation associated with people in this situation, while the refugees would become more self-sufficient through employment, and the country would benefit from having a reliable and controlled workforce to fulfil foreign labour needs.

"UNHCR was encouraged by the positive and constructive discussions with the ministers and government officials, including Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi." – Bernama