In Malaysia, Arab refugees complain of “discrimination”

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PETALING JAYA-  A group of Arab refugees in Malaysia is crying foul, alleging that the Malaysian division of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees discriminated against and marginalized them (UNHCR)

The organization has submitted a petition to the UNHCR, accusing “deliberate and systematic neglect” of their rights.

Saying that in the process of resettlement, UNHCR Malaysia discriminated and marginalized Arab nationals, the petition also states that during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the health care needs of Arab refugees were not addressed.

The petition, signed by 3,177 Arab refugees in Malaysia, was submitted to Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and to Thomas Albrecht, UNHCR Representative for Malaysia, on 26 December.

“The deliberate and systematic neglect of the rights of Arab refugees by UNHCR Malaysia, the neglect of all their legitimate rights guaranteed by international law and the apparent discrimination in resettlement, is a flagrant violation of Article No. 2 of the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” they said.

In the process of resettlement, UNHCR Malaysia discriminated against Arab nationals and (has) greatly oppressed Arab refugees.

They also alleged that the department purposely postponed the early registration of newborns, which they claimed violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Preamble, Article No (25).

Furthermore, the refugees claimed that some of them had been in Malaysia for more than 10 years and that none of the privileges normally given by UNHCR in other parts of the world had yet been granted.

The refugees said that with most of them leaving their homes “with little to nothing” in their pockets, it was believed that UNHCR Malaysia and its partners would provide financial and necessary assistance, such as shelter, food and other critical help.

“As far as we are aware, no aid for any of the Arab refugees has come through UNHCR Malaysia,” they alleged.

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