PETALING JAYA: Every week, the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) receives many calls from businesses asking them to supply workers.
These requests can be from a small business requiring 50 people or even a big one that requires 1000 people said UNHCR Malaysia Deputy Representative Brian Gorlick.
They however can’t refer any refugees to those businesses added Gorlick.
“We say that we are not an employment agency. We can’t offer you people because its unlawful for these people to work here,” he said at a recent discussion on the Rohingya community that was organised by the Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham).
Gorlick said that many of the refugees want to work and can contribute to the economy as they come here with skills.
As of March this year, a total of 158,794 refugees have been registered with UNHCR, out of which 90% are from Myanmar.
Malaysia however does not legally recognise refugees, and they are forced to earn a living by working in the informal sectors.
Gorlick however said that everyday they work they risk being picked up by the authorities for breaking the law.
He pointed out that a World Bank report in December last year indicated that refugees could contribute to the migrant worker pool.
In recent times, various businesses have complained of labour shortages after a government decision to freeze the intake of foreign labour.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim had in March said the government 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 was reported as saying.