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|2019 year-end results|
|40,000||people benefited from health services, and over 1,000 people received treatment for HIV/AIDS|
|27,300||asylum-seekers were registered, and 4,200 refugee status determination decisions were delivered|
|2,500||people were submitted for resettlement, and more than 2,800 people departed to third countries|
|1,500||children received protection responses and benefitted from care arrangements|
|500||survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) received assistance, including psychosocial counselling, shelter accommodation and legal assistance|
|44%||of primary school-aged children were enrolled in learning centers|
|2020 planning figures|
|98%||of asylum-seekers will be registered on individual basis|
|80%||of SGBV survivors will receive case management and appropriate support through a referral pathway|
|60,000||refugees and asylum-seekers will receive work permits|
|14,000||children aged 3 to 17 years old will be enrolled in education|
|7,500||refugee status determination decisions will be issued|
|3,000||refugees and asylum-seekers will be released from immigration detention|
People of Concern
Operational contextUNHCR continued to work closely with the Government in 2019, providing technical support for the drafting of a directive addressing temporary stay, legal work, health and education for refugees.
In 2019, Malaysia hosted some 178,600 refugees and asylum-seekers and a much larger undocumented migrant population. In the absence of a national asylum system, UNHCR conducted registration of asylum-seekers and refugee status determination under its mandate. Some new arrivals were recorded in 2019, however, most asylum-seekers registered during the year had been residing in Malaysia for some time. UNHCR prioritized the registration of those with heightened protection risks and vulnerabilities.
From August, UNHCR’s access to immigration detention centers was suspended, however the Office continued to advocate for access to asylum and protection in detention. People of concern who held refugee cards enjoyed relative protection from arrest and detention.
Polpulation trendsMalaysia had a total of 178,600 registered people of concern (69% men and 31% women) in 2019. Children and adolescents accounted for 26% of the total number of persons of concern, and 18% were young adults (18 - 24 years). Some 7,500 people (4%) had specific needs, of whom 64% were women. Some 86% of registered refugees and asylum-seekers were of Rohingya and Chin ethnicity from Myanmar.
The size of the stateless population in Malaysia was not established, although at the end of 2019, almost 13,100 individuals affected by statelessness were known to UNHCR to be residing in Peninsular Malaysia. The number of individuals or groups affected by statelessness outside of Peninsular Malaysia was unknown.
- Nearly 1,000 stateless persons were granted Malaysian nationality.
- Access to health care was increased with the opening of a third primary care clinic. With support from UNHCR and the Government of Qatar, the Government of Malaysia started a health programme for refugees through three NGOs.
- 1,500 people of concern were sensitized on SGBV through positive parenting and financial budgeting skills support. Sensitization of 30 community leaders and over 50 teachers resulted in 250 children being informed of their rights and how to report abuse, neglect and exploitation.
- Training on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) policies, reporting mechanisms and support services were conducted for more than 100 UNHCR staff and nearly 70 partners.
Unmet needs2019 funding was significantly less than that which served a population half the size ten years ago. This hampered the Office’s capacity to fully support the Government in developing a refugee policy.
- The Office was also unable to establish a presence in, and outreach to, refugee communities in key areas of the country in order to provide counselling and services.
- Meaningful cash-based interventions could not be implemented.
- Support for secondary education could not be provided.
- Support for legal practitioners to assist stateless persons with their nationality submissions was deprioritized.
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.
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.