Let's help the refugee kids by contributing small contribution that make a big difference to their life!
As of the end of the December 2021, there are around 180440 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia. There are around 155,400of refugees and asylum-seekers from Myanmar, the remaining individuals are refugees and asylum-seekers from 50 fleeing war and persecution, including 6,730 Pakistan, 3,720 Yemenis, 3,300 Syrians, 3,210 Somalis and others. Among them, there are 46170 children below the age of 18 (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Malaysia, n.d.).
From a refugee and activist from Myanmar, Htoon Htoon Oo, who is currently based in Malaysia now described a few issues faced by refugees in Malaysia:
1. Malaysia has not yet ratified the 1951 Convention Relation to the Status of Refugees. The absence of a legal framework for recognizing refugees and asylum seekers has caused problematic and exploitative conditions to them because they don’t have formal rights to work, no legal status, not benefiting from any legal protection and causes them to expose to the risk of arrest, detention, and refoulement.
2.They have limited civic freedoms. Although there are many different organisations of refugees available, however, when it comes to expressing their concerns and organising their struggles, the reality is that they are not able to do it freely. There is common fear among refugees regarding the consequences of speaking up about their struggle, expressing their concern, and claiming their rights.
Besides, Htoon Htoon Oo also mentioned the challenges that the refugees and asylum-seekers are facing under the pandemic:
1.Refugees are forced to work for underpaid wages, take unpaid leave or resign just because their refugee status. Loss of jobs is also one of the challenges that they are facing.
2.Fear of safety. They are fear of being targeted by the police and immigration officers due to a lack of clear policies and awareness among law enforcement officials on what a refugee is. They might be fined by the police, or even detained at the police station for several days.
3.Most of the refugees are also facing mental health issues such as depression because they are mentally exhausted through thinking of ways just to survive and remain safe (CIVICUS, 2021).
Based on the information above, we know that the lack of legal absence has caused the children who are below 18 could not enter public schools in Malaysia. They could not enjoy the same benefits as any Malaysian does – Equality Education in Malaysia. I feel so sad for them as they were excluded by the society. ‘All men are created equal’, refugee children should get access to the same education as all other Malaysians too! Hence, this is the reason why I join the Aiesec Malaysia Light A Refugee’s Dream Project during this January 2022.
To help them to reduce their burden on surviving in Malaysia, it is encouraged that you could donate to us so that we could have enough fund to purchase stationery items for all the children, and even buy food for the all the families.
Civicus (2021). MALAYSIA: ‘The government should have assisted refugees under the pandemic’. Available from: https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/news/interviews/5126-malaysia-the-government-should-have-assisted-refugees-under-the-pandemic [Accessed 13 January 2022]
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Malaysia (n.d.) Figures at a Glance in Malaysia. Available from: https://www.unhcr.org/en-my/figures-at-a-glance-in-malaysia.html [Accessed 13 January 2022].