seekers and refugees are registered with the UNHCR in Malaysia
Rohingyas have found refuge in Malaysia
refugees and asylum seekers are women
The migratory situation in Malaysia
Since 1978, the Rohingya people -a Muslim ethnic minority living primarily in the state of Rakhine in Myanmar- have experienced decades of systematic discrimination, statelessness, and targeted violence. The upsurge in violence beginning in August 2017 in this western state of Myanmar has forced thousands to flee the violence and seek refuge in neighboring countries.
Nearly 25,000 Rohingyas are fleeing wars and persecutions.
In 2017, the United Nations have designated the Rohingyas as “one of the most persecuted communities in the world.” Thus, the crisis affecting the Rohingya population is impacting the entire Asia subcontinent.
The crisis affecting the Rohingya population affects the whole Asian subcontinent
The Rohingya are now the largest stateless community in the world: estimates put the number of Rohingya in Bangladesh at nearly one million, in Malaysia at just over 100,000 -102,350 are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)- in Pakistan at 350,000, in Saudi Arabia at 200,000 and thousands more in Indonesia.
In total, some 178,710 asylum seekers and refugees are registered with the UNHCR in Malaysia, of whom nearly 25,000 people are fleeing wars and persecutions in Pakistan (6,610 people), Yemen (3,250 people) and Syria (3,230). Most of them are now living in urban areas, among host communities and other migrant groups, especially across Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley.
Many difficulties in accessing health services
As it turns out, Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. By law, refugees and asylum seekers are therefore considered undocumented migrants. Academics and refugee organizations in Malaysia estimate that half of the refugee population is registered with UNCHR, which gives them de facto status to remain in the country, but without any official protection from the Malaysian authorities.
Medical care that is too expensive
This ambiguous situation of mixed migration adds a great deal of complexity to refugee protection and, in the absence of legal frameworks, the population lacks formal access to basic services and suffers much discrimination. For example, the public health system, which is inexpensive for Malaysians, imposes a high fee for foreigners seeking medical support.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Health and the UNHCR stipulates that all refugees recognized by the UNHCR receive a 50% discount on the fees charged to foreigners in public health facilities. However, these health costs still represent exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses for refugees and asylum-seekers, severely limiting their access to basic health services.
In addition, access to more specialized services, such as sexual and reproductive health or mental and psychosocial health, is almost impossible, even for people who are registered with the United Nations and entitled to receive these services.
Our humanitarian work in Malaysia
Exploration and intervention in Malaysia
After an exploratory mission launched at the beginning of March 2020, Médecins du Monde has decided to open a mission in Malaysia to respond to the regional crisis affecting the Rohingya, but also to support the most precarious populations in Malaysia, including refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
Since October 2020, MdM has been in constant dialogue with associations and organizations working in Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur with these key populations to develop the most appropriate response possible.
By staying as close as we can to the forgotten ones...
We respond to the humanitarian crisis in malaysia
In Malaysia, Médecins du Monde aims to improve access to health services for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Kuala Lumpur: these populations face many obstacles in accessing health services adapted to their needs.
In partnership with local organizations, MdM is planning to set up a project to guarantee access to primary health care, and more particularly access to sexual and reproductive health, or to specialist care for gender-based violence as well as mental and psychosocial support.
Corbetts Consulting supports Médecins du Monde in its intervention in Malaysia.
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