Child Protection in Malaysia



Unaccompanied and
separated children
(UASC) and 546
children with
heightened risks
registered with


Child protection assessments conducted since January 2017.


Children provided with targeted interventions and assistance since January 2017.


Children of concern placed in safe placements to date.


Children and family members received psychosocial counselling.

Child protection strategy

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. SDG Goal 16, 16.2 states, “End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children”. UNHCR’s Framework for the Protection of Children signifies commitment to protecting and realizing the rights of children of concern to the Office, through the achievement of these goals:

  • Goal 1: Girls and boys are safe where they live, learn and play
  • Goal 2: Children’s participation & capacity are integral to their protection
  • Goal 3: Girls and boys have access to child-friendly procedures
  • Goal 4: Girls and boys obtain legal documentation
  • Goal 5: Girls and boys with specific needs receive targeted support
  • Goal 6: Girls and boys achieve durable solutions in their best interests

In line with UNHCR Malaysia’s five-year strategy to build a resilient refugee community, the Child Protection Unit’s 2016-2020 strategy aims to mitigate protection risks faced by children of concern through:

  • Partnership with stakeholders to mobilise resources on child protection prevention and response activities. Enable and strengthen access and quality of services provided through joint coordination, assessments, programmes and advocacy.
  • Mainstreaming child protection into all sectors including legal, health, livelihoods, shelter, education and community based protection to minimize risks of harm and ensure well-being of children.
  • Capacity building of community based structures to enable and sustain access to community referral mechanism in order to identify, prevent and respond to child survivors.

Activities of the child protection unit

The Child Protection Unit reflects the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child’s (UNCRC) principles of survival and development, non-discrimination, child participation, and best interest by undertaking the following prevention and response activities:

  • Case management is achieved through interviews, home visits, monitoring, tracing, and referrals to life-saving interventions such as legal, psychosocial counselling, safe placements, health aid, education and livelihoods.  
  • Partnership with stakeholders to enable access, mobilise and maximise resources through active engagements with authorities and partners, and quarterly Child Protection Working Group meetings.
  • Community Based Protection is coordinated through sensitization and capacity building within refugee communities to strengthen multi-sectoral referral pathways in order to prevent and respond to child protection risks.                                           

Heightened risks faced by children of concern in Malaysia

  • Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
  • Child marriage, child parents and teenage pregnancy.
  • Trafficking, begging, exploitation and debt bondage.
  • Detention of children.
  • Neglect and abandonment.
  • Baby selling.
  • Child labour and begging.
  • Child headed households.
  • Children not attending school.
  • Health related concerns.

Main challenges in child protection in Malaysia

  • Poor implementation of CRC, CEDAW and other legal instruments relevant to the protection of refugee children.
  • Gaps in the dual legal system.
  • Inconsistent access to state services and systems.
  • Weak community support structures.
  • Traditional harmful practices within the refugee community.
  • Limited stakeholders and resources affecting delivery of services.

Priorities for 2017

  • Unaccompanied children and children at risk are identified, assessed, assisted and monitored through best interest assessments and determination, referrals for targeted support, tracing and monitoring. 
  • Capacity building of partners on child protection and children’s rights, including case management in order to maximize resources, enable access and increase quality of services delivered.
  • Mitigating harm and empowering children in institutional care through child friendly activities and awareness raising.
  • Awareness raising and capacity building activities with community focal points, parents and teachers to strengthen and sustain referral pathways and ensure children are safe in their care arrangements.
  • Advocating access of children of concern to state child welfare and social services