PETALING JAYA: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has denied claims made in a WhatsApp message on social media that the agency has been giving a daily allowance to refugees in Malaysia.
The WhatsApp message alleged that refugees registered under UNHCR are given RM35 a day and that this was the reason why they were in Malaysia.
“They get paid for nothing and also get paid for illegally working here. Everything is free for them. No need to pay taxes,” read the message.
A spokesman for UNHCR refuted the claim, stressing that their approach has always been to enable refugees to become self-reliant and not on cash handouts.
He said UNHCR partnered with NGOs and the private sector to enable refugees to care for their families through projects that generate income and vocational training.
“It is also untrue that refugees benefit from government assistance, such as public welfare and health subsidies.
“For highly vulnerable refugees, UNHCR provides time-limited financial support,” he told FMT, adding that these included those with life-threatening diseases, single women who are heads of households, the elderly and refugees with disabilities.
He said aid for these individuals was assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine if they required financial, medical or other forms of support.
“Regrettably, due to very limited budget allocations, such support can only be given to very few families.”
He said the UNHCR has always advocated for the government to legally allow refugees to hold jobs, adding that this would help them to be more self-reliant.
The WhatsApp message specifically mentioned the Rohingya refugee community, claiming that the RM35 daily allowance would see them earn RM1,050 per month.
“Singapore is smart in not accepting these Rohingya refugees,” the message added.
This message appeared to be part of an ongoing hate campaign against Rohingya refugees, with social media users flooding Facebook and Twitter with hateful remarks against the community.
Online petitions on the website Change.org had also been launched and gained some traction, before being taken down for breaching the platform’s policy on hate speech.
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