UNHCR did not extend cooperation for refugee identification

The Home Ministry has not received the appropriate cooperation from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to implement the Proof of Concept (POC) programme to vet 150,000 UNHCR refugees in the country, according to Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

He said as a result, the ministry had decided to obtain biometric information directly from refugees without going through UNHCR.

“At the Proof Of Concept level, we did not get the due cooperation from UNHCR. So we made the decision to obtain biometric information from those seeking asylum directly,” he told reporters after opening the Immigration Department’s Sports Convention and Council in Sintok today.

He said the POC programme which began on April 1 among others was aimed at assessing the actual number of UNHCR refugees in the country to facilitate monitoring.

Nur Jazlan said under the programme, the biometric data of each UNHCR cardholder such as facial, thumbprint and iris recognition would be taken before being issued a digital identification card.

“So the programme will be for our own usage and for national security, as we have to make sure they have biometric data in digital identification cards and not in the form of letters,” he said.

Nur Jazlan said the programme was also to obtain the identification of the refugees involved in violence and cross-border crimes for further action.

“For example, after Islamic State’s defeat in the Middle East, they will be looking for places to seek refuge and now they are focusing on the southern Philippines and will likely to pass through Malaysia to obtain UNHCR cards, and that is why their biometric data is important so that they cannot move around freely in the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, Immigration director-general Mustafar Ali said 5,537 illegal immigrants had been held under operations conducted from June 30 to date in the country.

Of the total, 1,633 were Indonesians, 1,590 (Bangladeshis), 446 (Myanmar), 255 (Thais),…

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