SINTOK: The Home Ministry (KDN) has not received the appropriate cooperation from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to implement the Proof of Concept (POC) programme to vet 150,000 UNHCR refugees in the country, says Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed.
He said, as a result, KDN had decided to obtain biometric information directly from refugees without going through the UNHCR.
“At the Proof of Concept level, we have not got the due cooperation from the UNHCR. So we have made the decision to obtain biometric information from those seeking asylum directly,” he told reporters after opening the Immigration Department’s Sports Convention and Council here today.
He said the POC programme, which began on April 1, among others, was aimed at assessing the actual number of UNHCR refugees in the country to facilitate better monitoring.
Nur Jazlan said under the programme, the biometric data of each UNHCR cardholder, such as facial, thumbprint and iris recognition, would be taken before they were issued a digital identification card.
“So the programme will be for our own usage and for national security as we have to make sure they have biometric data in digital identification cards and not in the form of letters,” he said.
Nur Jazlan said the programme was also to identify refugees involved in violence and cross-border crimes so further action could be taken.
“For example, after Islamic State’s (IS) defeat in the Middle East, they will be looking for places to seek refuge. Now they are focusing on southern Philippines and will likely pass through Malaysia to obtain UNHCR cards, and that is why their biometric data is important so that they cannot move around freely in the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Immigration director-general Mustafar Ali said 5,537 illegal immigrants had been held under operations conducted from June 30 to date in the country.
Of the total, 1,633 were Indonesians, 1,590 (Bangladeshis), 446 (Myanmar), 255 (Thais), 285 (Vietnamese), 299 (Filipinos) and 929 of other nationalities.
Also arrested were 117 employers over various Immigration offences.