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Between a rock and a hard place: Afghan refugees, asylum seekers in Malaysia

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A report just out highlights the chronic multi-dimensional deprivation experienced by displaced Afghans now in Malaysia, says Health Equity Initiatives.


Kuala Lumpur, 8 June – Afghanistan has been the source of one of the world’s largest and most enduring protracted refugee situations. However, Afghan refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia are a relatively recent phenomenon.  

Health Equity Initiatives (HEI) today released the report of a study on the situation of Afghan refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia.  Through 73 interviews with Afghan refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, data from its case management and mental health services, and interviews with UNHCR and other non-profit organisations providing educational services to this population, the report highlights the chronic multi-dimensional deprivation experienced by this population.  

The report also provides insights into the refugees’ dilemmas, especially with regard to the way in which global events and developments related to Afghanistan and Afghan refugees intersect with their daily lives, influencing the decisions they make and sometimes even dangerous options they consider in their quest for effective refugee protection and more sustainable life solutions.

The report calls on:

  • countries hosting refugees from Afghanistan including Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran, India to recognise refugees and accord them the protection required under international law including the right to work and access to health care services and education;
  • countries of resettlement to increase resettlement quotas for Afghan refugees;
  • countries of transit and destination of Afghan refugees to recognise and integrate the special protection needs of refugees and asylum seekers within the enforcement of border control and anti-trafficking strategies;
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The report can be accessed here.
An executive summary of the report is also available here.

Health Equity Initiatives (HEI) is a Malaysian NGO committed to advancing the right to health of disenfranchised populations. Its programs include community-based health interventions with refugees and asylum seekers; mental health services; research and advocacy related to monitoring the right to health; and, internships on health and human rights for students of medicine.

Contact: Sharuna Verghis, Executive Director, Health Equity Initiatives, 26-1A, Jalan Vivekananda, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Email:[email protected]

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