Monday, November 7, 2011

Registration Of UNHCR Document Holders To Begin January Next Year

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 (Bernama) -- Plans are afoot to register asylum-seekers and refugees holding United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) documents in the country, beginning January, next year.

This follows an agreement reached between UNHCR and the Malaysian Government on the registration exercise that would be carried out progressively nationwide in major cities where refugees are located.

The UN agency said the exercise would be a joint effort involving officials of the home and foreign ministries, immigration department, National Security Council and UNHCR.

"UNHCR will communicate closely with refugee communities on the timing and location of the registration exercise. It will continue until all UNHCR refugees and asylum-seekers are registered," UNHCR representative Alan Vernon said in a statement today.

It said the agreement was the result of a series of meetings between UNHCR and the government, in which the issue of registration of UNHCR document holders, possibility of legal work for refugees and other issues of mutual concern were discussed.

Vernon explained that the exercise was separate from the government's ongoing 6P migration management programme focusing on migrants.

He said UNHCR viewed the matter as a significant opportunity to improve the situation of refugees.

He noted that the inclusion of their biodata within a government database would lead to greater protection for refugees, particularly against arrest and detention, as their identities could be easily verified by law enforcement officials.

"This will also help prevent prosecution of persons holding UNHCR documents for immigration offences and deportation. It'll also help address the problem of fraudulent UNHCR identification cards," said Vernon.

According to the statement, efforts would be made to ensure the confidentiality of biographical information that would be gathered from the UNHCR document holders.

It said that currently, about 95,000 refugees and asylum-seekers were registered with UNHCR in Malaysia, including those from Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.


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