PETALING JAYA: The government must accept the right of refugees to seek asylum and allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to continue their work, said Tenaganita director Aegile Fernandez. "I do not understand why the government has issued a statement on refugees not being able to obtain cards on a 'walk-in basis' because the UNHCR has a stringent vetting system. It is a body that is a protector of refugees. "We have received refugees previously and advised them that the process is long which can take up to two years before they are even issued a card. It also takes a year for them to reach up to the interviewing stage. Their background information will also be checked thoroughly," she told theSun today. Meanwhile, UNHCR's Associate External Relations Officer Yante Ismail said it has yet to receive any official communication from the government on the matter. "We are currently seeking early contact with the government on the matter," she said in a statement today. They were responding to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim's statement on Wednesday that the Cabinet had decided that UNHCR will no longer be able to issue refugee cards on a walk-in basis at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur with immediate effect. He said that refugees who wish to obtain the card must go through the Home Ministry or the immigration detention depot. Currently, Malaysia is not a party to the 1951 Convention and its Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.