Operation: Opération: Malaysia



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Key Figures

2017 year-end results
74,000 new UNHCR identity cards were issued
22,600 people were registered
5,470 merged registration and RSD decisions were taken 
3,290 refugees benefited from resettlement
3,000 people of concern were released from immigration detention
133 community learning centres were supported, enabling more boys and girls to access education at different levels, particularly primary education
2018 planning figures
100% of targeted households’ basic needs will be met through multi-purpose cash grants
98% of people of concern will be registered on individual basis
75% of school-aged children will be enrolled in primary education
15,500 status determination decisions will be issued
8,500 people of concern will be released from immigration detention

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2017 241,438
2016 239,505
2015 246,270


[["Refugees",102849],["Refugee-like situation",990],["Asylum-seekers",47531],["Stateless",10068],["Others of concern",80000]]
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2017 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[20.14792774,18.700609605,19.68385869,18.52558777,16.59339717,17.94919554],"expenditure":[9.27775765,9.22236626,8.25204939,8.06779698,null,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[18.91642575,17.462795085,18.71080951,18.00827372,15.84174178,17.08860191],"p2":[1.23150199,1.23781452,0.97304918,0.51731405,0.75165539,0.86059363],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[8.89931743,8.40919325,7.57517327,7.72566217,null,null],"p2":[0.37844022,0.81317301,0.67687612,0.34213481,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
More than 161,000 refugees and asylum-seekers are registered with UNHCR in Malaysia and, in addition, some 10,000 stateless persons reside in West Malaysia.
UNHCR conducts all activities related to registration, documentation, status determination and solutions of and for refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia, with an increasing focus on community-based protection.
Most refugees are integrated into the urban community as part of a larger migrant economy of an estimated 3 million people. Despite de facto socio-economic opportunities for refugees, the absence of domestic legal status puts them at risk of arrest and detention and subject to exploitation and abuse in the workplace, with poor health and education outcomes as a result of poverty.
The new Pakatan Harapan Government has provided renewed optimism for policy and law reform. In particular in its March 2018 ‘Manifesto’, the Government committed to signing the 1951 Refugee Convention and legitimise the status of refugees registered by UNHCR by ensuring their legal right to work at par with locals. Discussions are also ongoing with the Government on adopting a status agreement for UNHCR.

Key priorities

In 2019, UNHCR will focus on:
  • Assisting refugee communities to become more resilient and self-reliant to shape solutions for themselves in alignment with the 2017-21 Strategic Plan;
  • Building resilience through the mainstreaming of community-based protection into all protection and assistance interventions, as well as training staff and partners on community-based protection approaches and models;
  • Engaging service providers to deliver cash-based interventions in alignment with UNHCR’s global policy;
  • Prioritizing the identification of children at risk and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence to enable access to lifesaving and recovery services, as well as strengthening inter-agency cooperation including refugee community organizations to ensure mainstreaming of child protection and SGBV prevention, mitigation and response;
  • Strengthening relationships with stakeholders to widen access to education, particularly the Ministry of Education to complete registration and licensing of learning centres and promote inclusion of refugee children in the national education system;
  • Prioritizing identification and support to individuals and groups with the highest protection needs and vulnerabilities including registration in detention, unaccompanied and separated children, SGBV survivors, LGBTI and trafficking victims;
  • Increasing registration coverage and issuing timely refugee status determination decisions;
  • Expanding medical insurance to cover all UNHCR persons of concern;
  • Implementing a comprehensive solutions strategy in line with the regional strategy combining voluntary return, local solutions, including temporary stay arrangements through legal migration options and promoting legal work rights and resettlement;
  • Maintaining technical support in resolving the situation of stateless persons and continued advocacy and cooperation with the Government to streamline policies and practices.