There are around 150 662 refugees that have registered with UNHCR Malaysia at the end of April 2017; there are over thousands more still waiting to be processed.
However, Malaysia has still not enacted any concrete policy to help manage the situation. This video gives a summary of the current context in Malaysia and the policies it uses to deal with refugees in the country.
In the past, Malaysia has had very ad hoc policies pertaining to refugees. Often as an act of political solidarity with certain minorities being persecuted. However, without a change in laws in the country, refugees will continue to live in fear of being detained and will have no way of legally earning a living.
A few weeks ago, I got to know a community member in Wollongong who had lived as a refugee in Malaysia. She got to Malaysia after fleeing from Myanmar and was there for three and a half years before being resettled to Australia by the UNHCR. Here is a glimpse of her life while she was in Malaysia.
Right now, the people refugees can turn to are NGO’s and other private bodies working to help them. The Malaysian government has recently agreed to investigate the numerous deaths in immigration detention centres over the past two years. For more information on how to help you check out Tenaganita, UNHCR Malaysia or find the closest refugee community near your area.