Sunday, May 16, 2010

Formation for Myanmarese/ Chin Refugees

A team of 3 Myanmarese pastoral workers from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur came down to Seremban today to give a talk to 38 Myanmarese/Chin refugees to create awareness of and provide ways to cope with the problems related to displacement, physical and mental health issues.

Refugees are no different than any other person in that they are equally vulnerable to the diseases that affect local communities. But where they differ is that refugees often find local healthcare facilities difficult to access due to costs, fear of travelling to reach those facilities and language barriers.

Refugees know that their safety and wellbeing depend on their accurate reading and careful negotiation of different spaces and landscapes in urban areas.

There are over 28 million people living in Malaysia. Among the three to four million non-citizens are around 100,000 asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons.

Malaysia is signatory neither to the 1951 Refugee Convention, nor to its 1967 Protocol. It has not enacted domestic legislation recognising the legal status of asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons. However, it permits UNHCR to register, determine status and provide assistance to these populations. There are no refugee camps in Malaysia. Most reside in urban areas – the largest numbers in Kuala Lumpur, the Klang Valley and Penang.

Unreliable income, exploitation at work (in particular, in the form of unpaid wages), extortion by law enforcement officers, robbery by local gangsters, the high cost of rent, health services and education, as well as the need to support those unable to find work make poverty endemic amongst refugees in Malaysia.

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