Home Ministry looking for ways to check UNHCR cardholders' background

Rizalman Hammim

JOHOR BARU: The Home Ministry is currently in the process of determining the best methods to check the background of refugees who were given United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) cards in order to ensure that no criminals or terrorists entered the country.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said it is important for the government to know the background of the refugees that were granted with the UNHCR cards as it involves national security.

"We do not want those with criminal records or ties with terrorists to come to our country claiming to be refugees and then given the UNHCR cards.

"We do not want these people to use Malaysia as a base to plan terrorist attacks or to collect funds for such activities," said Nur Jazlan.

He said at the moment, anybody claiming to be a refugee can go straight to UNHCR to apply for the card.

"UNHCR will issue a card once they have verified the applicants' status. The refugees can then go to anywhere in Malaysia without having to inform their whereabouts to the UNHCR.

"We want these refugees to be vetted by us so that we can know their background. We also need to find a way to monitor them so that we can know where they are, their living conditions and whether they are working," said Nur Jazlan.

He said there are about 150,000 refugees currently in Malaysia, with the majority coming from Myanmar including about 56,000 Rohingyas.

"We are working with UNHCR to find the best way to do this. We are currently in the 'proof of concept' phase, which began on April 1 and would take about three months," said Nur Jazlan.

He was speaking to the media after the launch of the Pulai level Jelajah Tani Negaraku programme by the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

Also present were the ministry's secretary general Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Bakar and Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board chairman Datuk Samsolbari Jamali.