Refugees in Malaysia


So, what is a refugee? A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their home country for some reason, often times due to safety concerns. In Malaysia, there is a significant refugee population from a nearby Asian country called Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

What community need did I learn about?:

According to UNHCR Malaysia, the UN Refugee Agency, there are nearly 150,000 refugees from Myanmar in Malaysia. In my state of Kedah alone, there are 12,570 refugees living here (not all from Myanmar). This is a huge number of people seeking refuge in Malaysia! Therefore, there is a need to accommodate these asylum-seekers which is why nonprofit organizations for refugees exist here in Malaysia. Refugees often lack the same rights as citizens of the country to which they flee. In Malaysia, the government fails to have laws or protections for refugees, as they are not recognized by the government and are considered to be illegal immigrants. It’s an extremely complex legal issue, but the reality is that after arriving in Malaysia, refugees here live an incredibly difficult life as they are often discouraged from officially working or studying locally in Malaysia. It is also not an option to return to their home country, as it is fraught with violence and persecution; sadly, it is not safe for them.