Over the past two years, very little effort has been made to address the underlying causes of the discrimination that the Rohingya face, and to enable them to return home safely'
The condition of Rohingya people living in Malaysia is precarious. Lack of legal status pushes them, and other refugee and asylum seekers towards an uncertain life.
Unable to work legally, they often disappear into Malaysia’s urban black market economy, where they are vulnerable to exploitation, debt bondage, or work accidents. Walking down the street or even seeking medical care can result in refugees being sent to detention centres, says MSF press release.
Iman Hussein, 22, a Rakhine who fled in 2015, spent time in Thailand before arriving in Penang, Malaysia. Like many refugees, he also eked out a living by working in Penang’s booming construction industry.
His employer has not paid him his salary for the past 10 weeks, but he has no choice, but to keep working, as he lives on the site, and would become destitute if he leaves the job.
“Over the past two years, very little effort has been made to address the underlying causes of the discrimination that the Rohingya face, and to enable them to return home safely,” says Benoit de Gryse, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) operations manager for Myanmar, and Malaysia.
“If the Rohingya are to have any chance of a better future, the international community must redouble its diplomatic efforts with Myanmar, and champion greater legal recognition for an incredibly disempowered group.”