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Malaysia: UNHCR extremely concerned by deportation of Acehnese

Briefing notes

Malaysia: UNHCR extremely concerned by deportation of Acehnese

5 September 2003

UNHCR is extremely concerned after learning that Malaysian authorities this morning deported seven asylum seekers who originated from the Indonesian province of Aceh, despite a request from the High Commissioner this week for a moratorium. You may have seen the press release we distributed yesterday on this issue expressing our alarm over persistent reports of imminent deportations. Our office in Kuala Lumpur reported that seven people were deported this morning by boat from Malaysia's Perak state. Although we tried, UNHCR was not given access to the seven, all of whom had been interviewed two weeks ago and who had expressed a desire to seek asylum.

The deportation is most unfortunate, particularly coming shortly in advance of a high-level mission from UNHCR which is due to arrive in Kuala Lumpur next Wednesday to discuss ways in which this specific issue can be addressed in a way which meets protection needs.

Over the past two weeks, several hundred asylum seekers were rounded up and arrested outside our Kuala Lumpur office and remain in detention, effectively barring them from exercising their right to seek international protection. Again, we appeal to Malaysian officials to work with the agency in providing safety in Malaysia.