UNHCR banned from issuing refugee cards

20 Jul 2016 / 23:54 H.

PUTRAJAYA: The Cabinet has decided that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will no longer be able to issue refugee cards on a walk-in basis at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur with immediate effect.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the decision was made due to the increasing uncontrolled and unmonitored UNHCR card issuance, which has led to social unrest in the country, including issues of illegal settlements by cardholders.
He said since May last year, over 151,000 cards have been given out, with 137,000 of them to Myanmar citizens.
Following the Cabinet's decision this morning, Shahidan said refugees who wish to obtain the card must do so through the Home Ministry or the immigration detention depot.
"With immediate effect, UNHCR will not be allowed to issue cards out through walk-in. The problem is that many of them enter the country without proper documents, and we are afraid they might have criminal backgrounds.
"We will take stern action if anyone is found to be issuing the cards without going through the ministry. There's no two ways about this," he told reporters after attending the Prime Minister's Department Hari Raya celebration, here today.
"We have informed UNHCR several times before not to issue the cards indiscriminately. We will inform them again on the Cabinet's decision," he added.
Shahidan said he was also annoyed by United Nations' attitude of not providing the necessary food and shelter to the refugees that was required of them.
"When we asked them why, they said they have financial constraints. They only care about their problems, but what about ours?" he said.
Shahidan also chided and criticised the authorities for their lack of action against refugees who used their UNHCR cards as a means to earn extra cash in the country.
"They don't have passports or driving licenses, and yet they are not arrested. But if our people, our school children do the same, they are arrested.
"The police should do their job and arrest these refugees as they are not allowed to work or drive and ride any vehicles with their UNHCR cards," he said.


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