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UNHCR allays deportation fears

 | August 26, 2011

Its spokesperson says that the Home Ministry confirmed that it had no intention of deporting UNHCR card holders who register under the 6P programme.

PETALING JAYA: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today brushed aside fears that the Home Ministry intended to deport UNHCR card holders who register under the 6P amnesty programme.

“UNHCR has received confirmation that the government has no intention of deporting UNHCR document holders who register under the 6P programme,” its Kuala Lumpur spokesperson Yante Ismail told FMT.

“Malaysia has allowed refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR to remain in Malaysia for as long as they are in need of international protection and this will continue,” she added.

She was responding to the fiasco that happened on Tuesday where about 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers had turned up at the Immigration Department following an alleged eleventh hour order by the Home Ministry for them to register under the 6P amnesty programme.

A bulk of these UNHCR card holders were turned away as the Immigration Department was ill-prepared and said that they could only process 2,500 applications daily.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein yesterday said that no such order was issued.

Yante said the registration of UNHCR card holders under the 6P programme commenced on Tuesday by the Immigration Department with UNHCR’s cooperation.

She said due to the overwhelming number of refugees and asylum seekers who turned up for the exercise, a new system would be put in place immediately to enable a more systematic registration.

UNHCR card holders also expressed fear over possible deportation after registration.

The fear was sparked off by the “illegal immigrants registration slip” which contained a statement which read “Tujuan: Pulang Ke Negara Asal” (Purpose: Return to Home Country).

Responding to this, Yante reassured that this did not apply to refugees and asylum-seekers as they could have been issued the same documents meant for migrants workers.

She said when UNHCR learnt of the “return slips” on Wednesday, it contacted the government and the latter would now rectify the documents for UNHCR card holders.

Good for refugees

The 6P registration process was initially meant to register illegal migrant workers. However, the ministry later announced that legal foreign workers would have to register as well.

The move to register refugees and asylum seekers under the programme was criticised by those who argued that refugees were categorically different from migrant workers.

Yante defended the registration arguing that it was a “significant opportunity” to improve the status of this group as they would be documented within a national database.

“We see this as leading to greater protection for refugees, particularly against arrest and detention when their identities can be easily verified by law enforcement officials,” she said.

Yante added that there was a principle agreement with the government authorities that refugees would be allowed to work legally. However, the details would still need to be worked out.

Also read:

No order for refugees to register


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