Biometric Registration for Refugees Commenced in Malaysia
23 August 2011: Malaysia has started registering thousands of refugees, who hold the UNHCR registration card, at the Putrajaya Immigration Office in Kuala Lumpur today.
About 5,000 refugees turned up to have their fingers scanned under the new biometric system believed to be introduced for monitoring foreigners entering the country.
David Nun Tho, Coordinator of Falam Refugee Organisation (FRO), said: “We went to the Immigration Office at 7am in the morning but it was full of people already. Only about 2,500 were registered due to inadequate equipment and facilities.”
Only 200 people from each of the Chin refugee communities will be allowed to go to the office a day and it is important that the refugees give their names to their respective communities, according to David Nun Tho.
David Nun Tho also stressed the registration will not be carried out on an individual basis but via their representing communities for Chin refugees in liaison with the UNHCR.
One of the Chin refugees said: “We didn’t even have a place to stand as it was too crowded. But it was good that women and children were given priority during the registration process.”
There was an unconfirmed report that a 10-month-old baby died while waiting in the queue at the Immigration Office.
Malaysian government announced earlier this year that foreigners entering the country would have to go through the new procedures under a biometric system starting from 1 June 2011.
Under the new system, all foreigners at the age of 12 and above are required to undergo the biometric registration when entering Malaysia and the database will be used for verification process upon leaving.
There are more than an estimated 45,000 Chin refugees currently stranded in Malaysia after fleeing repression in Chin State, Burma by the ruling military-turned-civilian regime.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang