Friday, March 18, 2016

MALAYSIA : UN body open to sharing database

KUALA LUMPUR: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is open to having a database for those whose presence here it had sanctioned, that is accessible to the authorities who have been calling for one to be set up. 

In a statement, the Malaysian chapter of the UN body said it shared Kuala Lumpur’s concern about the use of fake UNHCR cards among asylum seekers. “We are convinced that the best way to manage the issue of criminality is to find a common registration system, where UNHCR and the government can identify the protection needs of refugees.

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 “We believe that a scheme allowing genuine refugees to be registered in Malaysia, including the opportunity to work lawfully, will have a remarkable and positive impact on both the quality of protection for refugees, and help the government address its legitimate concerns about criminality and security that pervade the lives of all undocumented migrants in Malaysia,” it said. 

The world refugee organisation, in a statement issued to the New Straits Times, said on its part, it had made a huge investment in tightening its procedures and ensuring the integrity of its documentation, including issuing cards with biometric security features. It added that its new cards, introduced two years ago, allowed law enforcement officers and health authorities to verify their authenticity through “well-established and agreed procedures”. 

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The UN body said in the statement that it had engaged with the relevant ministries and enforcement agencies, such as the police and Immigration Department, in finding ways to work closely “on common issues of security and humanitarian protection”. Adding that it was unhappy with NST’s frontpage headline “UNHCR Card Scandal”, which quoted senior government officials, a minister and deputy minister saying the issue of fake UNHCR cards was a major bane to the country, it said, “UNHCR finds the coverage of today’s articles on UNHCR’s processing grossly inaccurate and misleading. “UNHCR’s responsibility to protect refugees in Malaysia is derived from its authority under the United Nations.

 Unlike many other parts of the world, the government is not involved in the active processing and protection of refugees in this country,” it said. The UNHCR added that for more than 40 years, it had been actively working in Malaysia and had helped find protection solutions for hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced by war and conflict in this region. 

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This, they said, included the resettlement to a third country for some 100,000 refugees, as part of its solidarity and burden-sharing agreement with Malaysia. “The UNHCR has a robust processing system to determine those who are genuinely in need of international protection, as it was part of its protection responsibility, and only those found truly in need received their UNHCR identity documents,” it said.