UNHCR seeks moratorium on deportations from Malaysia
4 September 2003
GENEVA - U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers has conveyed his concern to the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs over persistent reports that preparations are underway to deport some 250 asylum seekers who originated from the Indonesian province of Aceh.
Lubbers noted that these reports were at odds with recent assurances from Malaysian authorities that persons fleeing the conflict in Aceh would not be returned to a situation which could endanger their lives and well-being.
The High Commissioner said today he hoped that following his telephone discussions on Wednesday with senior Malaysian Foreign Ministry officials that a moratorium on deportations of asylum seekers would be instituted. A high-level delegation from UNHCR is due to arrive in Kuala Lumpur next week to discuss ways in which asylum issues can be addressed in a manner which meets their protection needs.
UNHCR said that over the past two weeks several hundred asylum seekers were rounded up and arrested outside the agency's Kuala Lumpur office and remain in detention, effectively barring them from exercising their right to seek international protection. UNHCR has appealed to officials in Malaysia to work with the agency in providing safety in Malaysia.