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Malaysia to repatriate 1,200 Myanmar migrants; won’t include Muslim Rohingyas

Malaysia’s government to deport 1,200 Myanmar migrants next week. The decision comes despite a military coup in their home country. The government has also assured that they won’t include minority Muslim Rohingya refugees. Malaysia’s immigration chief, Khairul Dzaimee Daud said that the detainees will be repatriated on Feb. 23 in Myanmar navy ships.

“There are no UNHCR cardholders or ethnic Rohingya involved in the repatriation. It is just part of a usual program to deport immigrants in our detention depots,” Khairul Dzaimee said. He added that those 1,200 were detained for offenses including not having valid travel documents, overstaying and violating their social visit passes.

The department estimates showed that Malaysia repatriated 37,038 migrants last year, including 3,322 from Myanmar. As many countries shut their borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this was down from 59,114 in 2019.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees expressed concern that there may be vulnerable women and children in the group. The UNHCR said it has been barred from accessing Malaysia’s immigration detention centers since August 2019. Therefore they were unable to verify who needs protection.

“We are concerned that there remains in detention in Malaysia a number of people, including vulnerable women and children, who may be in need of international protection but whose claims have not been verified and thus do not have the requisite UNHCR documentation,” the UNHCR said.

More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar since August 2017. This befell when the military launched a clearance operation in response to attacks by a rebel group. These security forces are accused of mass rapes and killings. Aung San Suu Kyi Myanmar’s leader, was detained as the military seized power on Feb. 1 and this have led to a widespread protest in the country. In a nutshell the country is going through a tough phase in terms of security and co-existence.

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