Provide jobs to refugees, urges UN rights rep

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet says Myanmar is still not safe for refugees to return home.

KUALA LUMPUR: Visiting United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Michelle Bachelet today hoped Malaysia would help provide jobs for refugees in the country.

She said jobs, proper healthcare and education were important for UN refugees while waiting for repatriation to other countries willing to accept them or to return to their homes.

At the same time, Bachelet hoped Putrajaya will ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention, which is meant to protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.

She is currently on a four-day visit to Malaysia. Bachelet is the first UN high commissioner for human rights to visit Malaysia and formerly served as Chile’s first woman president.

In a statement two days ago, the foreign affairs ministry had termed the visit as an important milestone in Malaysia’s achievements in improving human rights standards.

Bachelet told a press conference today that there have been no specific commitments made by the Malaysian government thus far in her meetings.

“We have spoken about the situation of refugees, migrants and illegal migrants, and the challenges they pose to Malaysia,” she said.

“Yesterday, I visited a learning centre for Rohingya refugees. I hope the legal recognition of refugees can be strengthened and the right to education and access to the job market can be ensured for all refugees.”

The UNHCR has been insisting that the Myanmar government ensure the conditions in that country are safe for the refugees to return home.

She did not think the conditions in Myanmar right now are ready for the return of these people.

Orang Asli rights

Regarding the rights of indigenous people, Bachelet said transparency is of utmost importance.

She hoped the community is consulted and their consent obtained before the government decides on any new policy affecting them.

Bachelet admitted she did not really understand the legal situation here but hoped indigenous people’s rights are respected.