UNHCR and partners bring essential services to vulnerable refugees outside KL through outreach centre

UNHCR Malaysia News   © UNHCR Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, 30 July 2020 - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today announced an initiative to strengthen the delivery of essential services to vulnerable refugee communities living outside of the country’s capital, through the establishment of an outreach and community centre outside of Kuala Lumpur.

This pilot phase will begin with the opening of an outreach centre in Johor on Monday, 3 August 2020, with future plans of expanding similar outreach centres to other parts of Malaysia, such as the north. 

The Johor Outreach and Community Centre (JOCC) will be managed by UNHCR’s NGO partner Cahaya Surya Bakti, in close collaboration with the Agency, and will bring critically-needed services to more than 16,000 refugees living in the south.

“There are some 180,000 refugees in Malaysia registered with UNHCR in Malaysia. The majority of refugees in Malaysia live in the greater Klang Valley region of the country. However, several thousand live outside this region and need to travel distances to visit UNHCR for services,” said Thomas Albrecht, UNHCR Representative.

“This has created many practical challenges and expenses for refugees from other States who have to travel long distances for routine matters such as the renewal of UNHCR cards prior to the card expiry dates.”

The opening of outreach centres outside of Kuala Lumpur will eliminate the need for vulnerable refugees to travel hundreds of kilometers for access to vital services. 

“This is particularly timely given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, where it is crucial to reduce the movement of individuals and to avoid the gathering of large crowds,” said Albrecht. 

At this early stage, the JOCC will prioritize the renewal of UNHCR cards for vulnerable refugees, including women and children, persons with disabilities, elderly persons, and persons with medical needs; provide essential and accurate information related to protection, and provide counselling on available services for refugees. UNHCR plans to expand the types of services provided at the centre at later stages.

“UNHCR is pleased to continue our engagement our long-time NGO partner, Cahaya Surya Bakti, who, for many years now, has provided community-based support and education services for refugees in Johor,” said Albrecht. 

“We also wish to acknowledge and thank leading global logistics provider and UNHCR global corporate partner Agility for its funding support to this initiative that will not only enhance the delivery of essential services for vulnerable refugee, but also strengthen the capacity of our NGO partners.”