UNHCR: Only genuine refugees receive UNHCR cards, not automatic for all who come to its office
Kuala Lumpur, 20 September 2022 - UNHCR’s documentation is only issued to individuals who are verified to be refugees or asylum-seekers and in need of international protection – regardless of which country they are from, or how they arrived in Malaysia.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency was responding to recent news reports alleging that asylum-seekers pay human smugglers to deliver them (asylum-seekers) to the UNHCR office in Kuala Lumpur in order to receive the Agency’s documentation.
UNHCR asserted that individuals presenting themselves at its office do not automatically receive documentation. All asylum-seekers must first undergo a rigorous procedure and fulfil the refugee definition.
UNHCR clarified that a refugee is defined as someone who has fled their country due to war and conflict, or who has fled due to a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country on the grounds of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. Refugees have lost the protection of their own countries and are unable to return home safely.
A person can only be verified to be a refugee and in need of international protection if they fulfil these criteria.
News reports also alleged that asylum-seekers were charged sums of money to be taken to UNHCR in order to receive its documentation.
In response, UNHCR emphasised all its services are free, including the issuance of its documentation to asylum-seekers and refugees.