UNHCR probes allegations of fraud in processing refugees

2014-11-21 22:11

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Kuala Lumpur - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Friday it was investigating allegations of fraud in the processing of asylum seekers in Malaysia.

"These allegations are being treated very seriously," said Yante Ismael, a spokesperson for the UNHCR Malaysia Office.

The Al Jazeera show 101 East reported that some asylum seekers have paid between 1 700 ringgit and 3 500 ringgit (500-1 000 dollars) for a refugee card that legitimises their stay in Malaysia.

The show's reporter went undercover, posing as a priest during a visit to an immigration detention centre in Kuala Lumpur.

Ismael said she could not provide details about the UNHCR probe because it was "an ongoing investigation".

At least 150 000 refugees and asylum seekers are registered with UNHCR in Malaysia, of which 93% are from Myanmar, including members of the Muslim Rohingya minority, the UN agency said.

Yante acknowledged that UNHCR's current mechanism to process asylum seekers in Malaysia "is no longer viable due to the high numbers seeking asylum in the country".

"[For] several months, we have started to adjust some of the processes to make them more effective," she said.

Read more on:    unhcr  |  malaysia  |  refugees

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