Governments normally guarantee the basic human rights and physical security of their citizens. But when people become refugees, this safety net disappears. Refugees fleeing war or persecution are often in a very vulnerable situation. They have no protection from their own state - indeed it is often their own government that is threatening to persecute them. If other countries do not let them in, and do not protect and help them once they are in, then they may be condemning them to an intolerable situation where their basic rights, security and, in some cases their lives, are in danger.
The protection of nearly 100,000 refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia is the core mandate of UNHCR.
The agency does this in several ways: it ensures that refugees will not be returned involuntarily to a country where they could face persecution. Longer term, the organization helps refugees find appropriate durable solutions to their plight, by repatriating voluntarily to their homeland, integrating in countries of asylum or resettling in third countries.
As there are no legislative or administrative provisions in place for dealing with the situation of refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia, UNHCR conducts all activities related to the protection of refugees namely the reception, registration, documentation and refugee status determination of asylum-seekers and refugees.
UNHCR also promotes or provides legal and physical protection, and minimize the threat of violence which many refugees are subject to, even in countries of asylum. As part of its humanitarian support for refugees, UNHCR cooperates with various partners including government agencies, donor countries, Non-Governmental Organisations and volunteers to:
- provide assistance for refugees in a variety of areas including healthcare, education, financial support for vulnerable individuals, shelter, counseling and other welfare needs,
- provide outreach and community development support to refugee communities,
- carry out detention monitoring and intervention,
- provide legal representation in court for offences under the Immigration Act,
- carry out advocacy, capacity-building, training with the refugees, Government, media and civil society partners,
- mobilize resources including corporate and public fundraising, and
- support durable solutions for refugees, including resettlement to countries comprising, among others, the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.