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‘Speed Up Refugee Resettlement’

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NEW YORK – Malaysia has urged the international community to help resettle existing refugee populations in host countries to third countries.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the delays in resettling these refugees would inevitably result in economic, social, political and security hardships to the host country.

He called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and state parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its related Protocol to give serious attention and promptly act on the issue.

“While we are cognisant of the elements as contained in the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants, such initiatives should not unduly place non-signatory states to the relevant international instruments in a position inconsistent with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties,” said Dr Ahmad Zahid in his speech at the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday.

On Friday, Malaysia had sought Lebanon’s assistance in fulfilling its pledge to absorb up to 3,000 Syrian migrants fleeing their war-torn country.

Malaysia has so far received 79 Syrian migrants in two batches as of May, and is looking at receiving another 421 by year-end. Lebanon, with a population of over four million people, was currently hosting some 1.5 million Syrian refugees

Dr Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia’s rapid development and growth had attracted people within the region, either through legal or illegal means.

“Malaysia recognises the contribution of the foreign workforce to the country’s economic prosperity. Hence, it is equally important to look into their safety and welfare,” he said.

The Government, said Dr Ahmad Zahid, pays serious attention to cases involving labour exploitation including forced labour.

This is reflected in the definition of trafficking in persons under the Malaysian Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, which has been widened to include labour exploitation.

This, said Dr Ahmad Zahid, is also in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which requires immediate and stern measures to eradicate forced labour and end modern day slavery as well as human trafficking.

Malaysia, he said, also works with the international community to tackle and eliminate such heinous crimes, which have caused grave injustice and untold sufferings.

Bernama reported that Malaysia was also planning to host an international conference with a view to seeking a permanent solution to the presence of close to 60,000 ethnic Rohingyas in the country.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said leaders from Myanmar, as well as nine other Asean countries and representatives from UNHCR, IOM and other relevant organisations, would be invited to take part in the event. – The Star Online


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