Fraud Allegations Prompt UN Investigation of Chin Refugee Groups
19 June 2012: The UNHCR in Malaysia has since late last month taken investigative measures against some Chin communities in Kuala Lumpur over a fraudulent practice committed among member refugees.
Chin refugee communities are still going through a series of investigations after being accused of taking money from their member refugees during the UNHCR name-recording process, which was to be conducted free of charge.
A UNHCR staff member in Malaysia was quoted by a Chin newsletter as saying of their knowledge that some leaders of the Chin refugee communities had taken bribes for the name-listing programme, adding:”Only after we could identify those responsible for this kind of fraud will the name-recording resume.”
UNHCR’s new move called ‘Bio-Data Collecting Exercise’ was conducted in collaboration with members of COBEM (Coalition of Burma Ethnics, Malaysia) from 10 April 2012 in attempts to record details of ‘undocumented’ Chin asylum seekers ahead of a major crackdown planned by the Malaysian authorities.
The programme has been suspended since 25 May 2012 following the ‘bribery’ allegations after the UNHCR had completed the name-recording of Chin refugees staying outside of Kuala Lumpur and of refugees of other ethnic groups from Burma.
One of the Chin refugees, who returned from the Full Gospel Assembly Church where the name-listing was scheduled to take place, told Chinland Guardian: “When I got there, I was told that the name collection has been postponed because some Chin communities took money from their members.”
A Chin woman in her late forties complained: “All ‘undocumented’ Chin refugees in Kuala Lumpur have now suffered because of one or two money-loving leaders. They [community leaders] are to help but not to make us suffer like this.”
It is claimed that there are more than 10,000 undocumented Chin refugees and asylum seekers stranded in Kuala Lumpur alone, out of an estimated total of over 45,000 in Malaysia.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang