April 13, 2021

Malaysian govt urged to allow refugees to work legally

KUALA LUMPUR, 20 June 2016 – Refugees in Malaysia are going to contribute RM152 million (US$37.4 million) annually to the country’s economy if they are allowed to work legally, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The UNHCR in Malaysia sees a win-win situation for both the refugees and the host country if the government allows them to earn their living.

It has urged the government to make use of the upgraded UNHCR card, which comes with biometric data, to identify genuine refugees and allow them to work legally in the country.

UNHCR Representative Richard Towle said that although refugees were willing to work and Malaysian employers were delighted to hire them, they had to work illegally as they were not currently allowed by the government.

“By allowing refugees to work legally, it will help to stop exploitation by employers,” he said.

“Refugees will be able to live independently, and they can learn skills that might be useful after they return to their home countries,” he was quoted by a Malaysian Chinese daily, China Press.

Meanwhile, Towle said that the UNHCR was going to launch an upgraded identity card for refugees in Malaysia.

He said that the latest UNHCR card came with biometric data, including 10 fingerprints and iris recognition, to prevent forgery.

Towle said that the Malaysian government, therefore, could make use of the card to identify genuine refugees, and allows UNHCR cardholders to work legally in the country.

He assured that the UNHCR would work together with the Malaysian government to set up an effective registry system to ensure only genuine refugees were going to be registered.

More than 90 percent of the registered refugees in Malaysia are from Burma with the majority of them being Chin and Rohingya. – Reporting by Thomas Chong

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