We’re not here to steal jobs, take over country, says Rohingya group

We’re not here to steal jobs, take over country, says Rohingya group

We are victims of war, genocide, conflict, says MERHROM.

AN influential body representing the Rohingya people who escaped persecution in Myanmar has appealed for other countries not to look upon refugees as dangerous, and to harmoniously accept them into mainstream society.

“As refugees, we are not threats; we are victims of war, genocide, and conflict who fled our countries to seek refuge and protection,” said Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, president of the Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation in Malaysia (MERHROM).

“We don’t come here to steal locals’ jobs or take over the country.

“We are here to seek protection temporarily until the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) finds a durable solution for us.” He said that the theme chosen for Human Rights Day 2023, which falls on today, clearly calls upon everyone to ensure freedom, equality and justice for all.

“We really hope more can be done to ensure the safety of everyone,” he said.

Human Rights Day is meant to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948. Over the past weeks, several boats carrying Rohingya people have been attempting to land on the coast of Aceh province on Indonesia’s Sumatra island.

Some have been driven away by the authorities and local communities.

Last week, the UNHCR said that two damaged boats with an estimated 400 Rohingya people were believed to be adrift without food or water in the Andaman Sea. The agency warned that these boat people faced death if no help, like supplies or rescue efforts, was forthcoming.

International pressure on genocide perpetrators

Based on statistics from the UNHCR, there were 182,990 refugees and asylum seekers from 59 countries in Malaysia as of December last year. Of that number, the majority are the Rohingya, numbering 106,129 people, Harian Metro reported last week.

Besides the Rohingya, there are 6,750 refugees and asylum seekers from Pakistan, 3,750 from Yemen, 3,230 from Somalia, 2,860 from Afghanistan, 1,640 from Sri Lanka and other countries. In May, Putrajaya had said it would set a limit for the duration of the stay of Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali had said that the government, through the platform of the joint Malaysia-UNHCR task force, has requested that the resettlement process for refugees to a third country – or return to the country of origin which allows refugees to return – be sped up.

Therefore, he said, the UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are urged to provide more cooperation and increase their commitment and efforts in increasing the rate of resettlement of this group to third countries or return to their country of origin.

Zafar said that while refugees are grateful that global citizens are rendering humanitarian assistance to the victims of conflict, war and genocide, it is not a permanent solution to conflict, war and genocide.

“The root cause of the problem must be addressed and solved through collective and ongoing dialogue, international pressure, sanctions, and finally legal actions through International Criminal Court (ICC) and International Court of Justice (ICJ),” he said.

He also stressed on how crucial it is to use technologies to prevent human rights violations towards anyone.

“MERHROM urges all UN member states, the civil society and the global citizens to work together to ensure freedom, equality and justice for all.”

– The Vibes, December 10, 2023

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