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Malaysia: jungle camp registration to start

Briefing notes

Malaysia: jungle camp registration to start

10 December 2004

On Monday, 13 December, UNHCR in Malaysia will start sending mobile registration teams to the jungle camps on the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur in an effort to provide documentation to hundreds of refugees and people of concern to us ahead of an expected crackdown on illegal migrants early next year. UNHCR has already completed a mobile registration exercise on the island of Penang for refugees from the Indonesian strife-torn province of Aceh, and plans to send its mobile teams to other parts of the country where asylum seekers are known to be living in dire conditions but unable to contact UNHCR directly for registration.

Amongst the 28,000 refugees and people of concern to UNHCR in Malaysia are some 10,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar. In early November, in a welcome humanitarian gesture, the Malaysian government said it would grant temporary stay permits to the Rohingyas, easing their fears about being caught up in the crackdown and bringing the prospect of access to education and health care closer. However, conflicting comments this week by Malaysian government ministers over whether a final decision on this group has been made, is creating great anxiety amongst the Rohingyas.

UNHCR was officially informed by a minister from the Prime Minister's Department that the policy decision on the Rohingyas had been taken and now it is just a question of implementation. We believe the government will not backtrack on its announced commitment but consider that a quick implementation of the new policy will be in the best interests of the refugees, allaying their fears and providing protection ahead of the crackdown.