UNHCR assesses South Thai Muslim arrivals in Malaysia

Briefing Notes, 13 September 2005

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 13 September 2005, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR staff in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, are currently preparing a preliminary overall assessment of a group of 131 southern Thai Muslims after completing initial interviews with the group at an immigration centre in Kelantan, in north-east Malaysia, last Friday.

The interviews were conducted over an intensive period of four days by a team of 11 UNHCR staff deployed from Kuala Lumpur to the Tanah Merah immigration centre. The UNHCR team sought to establish the circumstances behind the flight of the group to Malaysia on 30 August, and to assess their humanitarian and protection needs.

The material gathered during the interviews is now being compiled, assessed, cross-checked and reviewed an essential process which may take about 10 days. At the earliest, the preliminary findings may be ready at the end of next week.

The group of 61 men, 21 women and 49 children ranging in age from five months to 17 years comprising 64 cases, are still being held at the Tanah Merah immigration centre.

Following in its humanitarian tradition, Malaysia is cooperating fully with UNHCR, respecting our mandate as well as complying with international law and standards.