In the current difficult situation, Merhrom urges source, host and receiving countries of refugees to push aside greediness and selfishness for the sake of vulnerable refugees. Their legal status, employment, health care and education remain as significant issues and must be given priority.
This year, 2009, all refugees around the world live in a most critical situation. The ongoing suffering of refugees is heightened by the global economic crisis. While people around the world are facing retrenchment, it has been worse for refugees. In some host countries, refugees are not recognised. Therefore, they are not allowed to work. They are not able to feed themselves and their families. Those who are working are not paid for months and they are cheated. This has become the second biggest issue for refugees besides their legal status in host countries.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, has expressed his anxiety over the possible decrease in funding from donor countries due to the current global economic crisis. What more for us, the refugees? The anxiety among refugees without a job and legal status is indescribable.
At the end of 2008, the number of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced peoples (IDPs) around the world stood at 47 million. Though the number decreased from the previous year, the number of IDPs has risen in 2009. This issue must be addressed urgently by the relevant agencies before it becomes worse and forces people to flee their countries and become refugees.
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In the current difficult situation, we urge the source, host and receiving countries of refugees to push aside greediness and selfishness for the sake of vulnerable refugees. Their legal status, employment, health care and education remain as significant issues and must be given priority.
The United Nations agencies, especially the UNHCR and UN Security Council must increase their dialogue and active interventions with the source, host and receiving countries for the protection of Refugees. Realising that 80 per cent of the host countries are developing countries, the United Nations agencies and the developed countries must work hand in hand with the host countries to reduce their burden.
The Burma issue is not an internal issue. It is a world issue that needs the world’s intervention. The change cannot come from inside as the people of Burma are oppressed by the junta. Now, it is the responsibility of the international community and world leaders together with the UN Security Council to resolve the longstanding humanitarian crisis in Burma .
Everyone has a significant role to play. We applaud the Malaysian government for working together with the UNHCR to stop the deportation of Burmese refugees to the Thai border. However, we hope that the Malaysian government will also stop the arrest of refugees and allow us to work to continue living. By doing this, we could contribute to the country economic growth.
We hope for the UNHCR and the resettlement Countries not to exclude Rohingya refugees in the resettlement program. At the moment, only a very small number of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia are resettled in third countries.
We urge non-governmental organisations that work on the refugees issue to genuinely work for the cause of refugees and not to discriminate and practice double standards toward refugees from different ethnic groups. All refugees must be treated equally regardless of race, religion, and ethnicity. All refugees must have the right to seek a permanent solution and not just a temporary Solution.
We seek better treatment for refugees around the world. We hope tragic incidents such as the bad treatment by the Thai government of Rohingya boat people in December 2008 will never happen again.
We search for a better future from the current darkness and uncertainty.
Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani
Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia (Merhrom)