Monday, March 21, 2016

Govt to check refugee card machine

THE Government will inspect a new machine used to issue cards to refugees by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the machine was meant to ensure cards issued to refugees were tamper-proof and could not be reproduced by syndicates.

“We are aware of cases where illegal immigrants managed to buy fake cards for RM120 each.

“We have reported the matter to the police and UNHCR,” he said in response to Tan Kok Wai (DAP-Cheras) in Parliament.

He added that as of February, Malaysia had records of 158,516 refugees and asylum seekers with UNHCR cards. Of these, 133,388 were from Myanmar, mostly Rohingya.

Shahidan said he would raise the Government’s concerns on the issue during a meeting with UNHCR representatives next week.

“It is a serious matter because we are not sure who the cardholders really are. We are concerned that the cards may be issued to those involved in terrorist activities like the Islamic State group,” he said.

Shahidan reiterated that Malaysia was not responsible for refugees and asylum seekers as the country was not party to the UN convention and protocol on refugees.

“UNHCR is responsible for housing the refugees and attending to their daily needs. We have asked them to speed up the process of repatriating them to a third country,” he said.

He acknowledged calls by several quarters to let refugees work.

“We are considering this request and the matter is under discussion. A decision will be announced soon,” he said.