IPOH, Sep 6 — Children of refugee families here should be given the same treatment and opportunities as Malaysian youths, said Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku Zara Salim.
She said the children were blameless for their current predicament and should not be further victimised.
“They have to be treated equally and fairly especially when it comes to education opportunities and health care facilities,” she said in her speech at the Malaysian Paediatric Association annual congress in Ipoh Convention Centre here.
She noted that Malaysia has about 150,000 refugees from Burma, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Of these, around 25,000 are minors but only a third have access to education, she added.
“We need to ensure that all the children have equitable access, especially to health care at our public hospitals at affordable fees and adequate access to our educational facilities,” she added.
Zara said socioeconomic support for the marginalised children in Malaysia still lagged behind those in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.
She added that becoming a developed nation should not only be measured in terms of wealth, but also for how the country treats the less fortunate.