KUALA LUMPUR (dpa) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Friday it was investigating allegations of fraud in the processing of asylum seekers in Malaysia.
“These allegations are being treated very seriously,” said Yante Ismael, a spokeswoman for the UNHCR Malaysia Office. The Al Jazeera show 101 East reported that some asylum seekers have paid between RM1,700 and RM3,500 for a refugee card that legitimises their stay in Malaysia.
The show’s reporter went undercover, posing as a priest during a visit to an immigration detention centre in Kuala Lumpur.
Ismael said she could not provide details about the UNHCR probe because it was “an ongoing investigation.”
Some 150,000 refugees and asylum seekers are registered with UNHCR in Malaysia, of which 93 per cent are from Myanmar, including members of the Muslim Rohingya minority, the UN agency said.
Yante acknowledged that UNHCR’s current mechanism to process asylum seekers in Malaysia “is no longer viable due to the high numbers seeking asylum in the country.”