SIK: Eighty-two ethnic Rohingyas from Myanmar at the Belantik detention depot, here, was today handed over to officials from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
The 82, all male aged between 13 and 70 years, each received a letter from the UN agency which confirmed their status as refugees after almost 10 months of being detained at the Immigration depot.
Today is the beginning of their lives as refugees in Malaysia.
"I am so happy and delighted to receive the letter from the UNHCR. I am not afraid and worried anymore. I want to look for a job," said Zaid Hussin Nobi Hussin, 20, one of the refugees.
Hailing from Arakan in Myanmar, the youth will be going to Bukit Mertajam to meet his younger brother who is there before looking for work.
Another refugee, Korim Mullah Abu Tahir, 26, said he would be going to Butterworth to find a job to fend for himself in this country and his family in Myanmar.
"What is important is after receiving the UNHCR letter, I can look for a job without worry or fear. I am so happy today," said Korim, whose wife and three children are in Myanmar.
The 82 Rohingyas were taken out of the Belantik detention depot in two buses which were accompanied by a van carrying the UNHCR officers from Kuala Lumpur.
Kedah Immigration director, Mohamad Yusri Hashim said the 82 immigrants had been screened and selected for release from the detention depot based on the criteria set by the UNHCR to enable them to receive assistance from the international agency.
He said Malaysia was not a party to the Geneva Convention 1951 which recognised and gave protection to refugees, and they were not recognised as permanent residents under the law in this country.
He added that action would be taken against them for any violation of the country's laws