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Arab refugees claim ‘discrimination’ in Malaysia

Arab refugees claim ‘discrimination’ in Malaysia

FMT Reporters FREE MALAYSIA TODAY Tue, December 29, 2020

Arab refugees in Malaysia claim that there has been no help forthcoming from UNHCR Malaysia.

PETALING JAYA: A group of Arab refugees in Malaysia are crying foul, saying that they have been discriminated against and marginalised by the Malaysian chapter of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Claiming “deliberate and systematic neglect” of their rights, the group has sent a petition to the UNHCR.

Saying that UNHCR Malaysia had discriminated and marginalised Arab nationals in the process of resettlement, the petition also claims that the health care needs of Arab refugees were not addressed during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The petition, signed by 3,177 Arab refugees in Malaysia, was sent to UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and UNHCR representative for Malaysia Thomas Albrecht on Dec 26.

“The deliberate and systematic neglect practised by UNHCR Malaysia against the rights of Arab refugees, and neglect of all their legitimate rights guaranteed by international law, and the evident discrimination in resettlement, represent a flagrant violation of the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article No. (2),” they said.

“UNHCR Malaysia has discriminated against Arab nationals in the process of resettlement and (has) significantly marginalised the Arab refugees.

“UNHCR Malaysia has failed to provide any health support before and during the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, refugees were left with no support and had to bear a huge cost for their health care needs,” they said in the petition.

They also claimed the agency deliberately delayed the early registration of newborns, which they said violated the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article No. (25).

In addition, the refugees alleged that some of them had been in Malaysia for more than 10 years and yet had not been granted any of the rights usually given by UNHCR in other parts of the world.

With most of them leaving their homes “with little to nothing” in their pockets, the refugees said that it was assumed that UNHCR Malaysia and its partners would provide assistance in terms of finance and essentials such as shelter, food and other vital aid.

“As far as we are aware, no assistance has come through UNHCR Malaysia for any of the Arab refugees,” they alleged.

The group also said UNHCR staff had deprived refugees of the basic right to accessing information or data related to the status of their files, adding that there was “completely no progress” in their asylum bids.

“This is completely unlike what happens in other countries of asylum such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and others,” they said.

Apart from urging for an increase in the resettlement quota to refugees from Arab nations, the group’s petition also called on the UNHCR to provide adequate and lasting health care support for people with chronic or emergency cases.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

SOURCE: FREE MALAYSIA TODAY, MALAYSIA Tue, December 29, 2020

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