Fake WhatsApp message creating distrust of refugees, says UNHCR

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says refugees had been informed they will be able to get tested and treated without charge like everyone else should they display symptoms of the disease. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has denied sending a WhatsApp message alleging that certain refugees are unwilling to be tested for Covid-19.

UNHCR Malaysia said the message only served to create fear and distrust of refugees among the people. It also prevented the displaced community from getting access to aid when needed.

“Please be advised that this message is fake and has not been issued by UNHCR.

“It is important that we all act responsibly and in solidarity with those who are in a weaker position than us, no matter the reason, in this challenging situation,” it said in a statement today.

UNHCR added that it had been working closely with the health ministry to ensure refugees were included in Putrajaya’s response measures to the current Covid-19 crisis.

It also said refugees had been informed they would be able to get tested and treated without charge like everyone else should they display symptoms of the disease.

An online portal had also been set up for refugees to obtain information on the virus.

“UNHCR is also prepared to assist the government with contact tracing efforts in cases involving refugees.

“Most importantly, all our essential protection, health and assistance services will continue for refugees during this movement control order.”

Earlier, a Reuters news report stated that some Bangladeshis who attended the tabligh gathering at the Sri Petaling Mosque late last month had gone for screening by the health ministry.

It quoted Salman, a Bangladeshi construction worker who lives near the mosque, as saying his coronavirus test was negative but the hospital had been calling him daily to check if he had developed symptoms.

“When I went for testing, they didn’t ask for my passport or work permit, or any documents. They just asked for my name, age and address.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST DATA ON THE COVID-19 SITUATION IN MALAYSIA