Mizzima:UNHCR rescued 106 Burmese refugees from Malaysia’s Lang Geng Camp Demonstrators

Mizzima:UNHCR rescued 106 Burmese refugees from

Malaysia’s Lang Geng Camp Demonstrators

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Officers from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) rescued 106 Burmese refugees yesterday from Malaysia’s Lang Geng Camp, according to refugees.

After administering interviews, the UNHCR recognized 300 detainees in the camp as refugees following a hunger strike begun on February 22nd. The hunger strike was in response to the lack of a UNHCR visit for the previous two months.

A leader of the refugee hunger strike who had been detained for seven months told Mizzima 106 Burmese refugees who passed the interview may now be taken to Kuala Lumpur and freed.

“All of the Burmese refugees had a hunger strike from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. the day before (February 22nd). But they stopped the originally planned four-day hunger strike after being informed by the camp officer that UN officials would pay a visit to the camp,” he said.

There are a total of 1,400 prisoners from various countries, including 600 Burmese refugees, in the Lang Geng Camp.

The UNHCR in Malaysia used to pay a monthly visit to the camp, but December had been the last time they came, according to refugees.

“It is good news that the UNHCR has rescued some Burmese refugees who are being detained in the camp but we demand that the UNHCR rescue many more Burmese refugees that have been waiting for the UNHCR to intervene on behalf of their problems and suffering in various camps in Malaysia,” said Than Oo, Vice-President of the Malaysia-based Arakan Refugee Rescue Committee.

Although refugees from other countries are assisted by Malaysia-based staff from their own country’s embassies, there is no such help forthcoming for Burmese refugees, leaving the UNHCR as the principle mechanism of available assistance for refugees from Burma.

For those in detention in Malaysia, life in the camps can be very difficult.

“We are provided nothing in the camp except a set of clothes, with some lucky people getting two sets. And we even do not receive a bed sheet and blanket. We must purchase the blanket ourselves, 80 ringgits (1 USD = 3.4 ringgits) for one blanket. Only 30 prisoners out of 300 can afford to have a blanket. There is also no adequate medicine or proper care for the sick. Only those who get a serious sickness are sent to the clinic. So, three prisoners passed away in the prison while I was there in the camp. Since we are not fed well, many prisoners frequently get sick,” explained one Burmese refugee.

From 300 to 600 refugees are kept per building in Lang Geng Camp, with only four toilets and a small 3 feet by 2 feet tank. Maximum capacity in each building is supposed to be 200.

There are more than 10 camps established by Malaysia’s Immigration Department spread across the country similar to Lang Geng Camp.

Burmese refugees, numbering 61,500, comprise the largest bloc of refugees in Malaysia recognized by the UNHCR, according to UNHCR statistics.

Source: Mizzima


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