Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to be offered jobs in Malaysia

Author: PM editorial | Date: 8 Feb 2017

Government project will protect refugees from exploitation as forced or illegal labour

A pilot project has been launched to allow Rohingya refugees from Myanmar to work in certain jobs in Malaysia.
The deputy prime minister of Malaysia, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, announced the project would begin from March 1 with jobs for an initial 300 refugees who have fled the reported persecution of the Muslim minority Rohingya people in Myanmar.
Those chosen for the programme will be placed with employers in the plantation and manufacturing industries. No comment was made on whether other industries would also be brought on board to provide jobs.
“They will be able to gain skills and income to make a living before being relocated to a third country,” Zahid told Channel NewsAsia. He said the new project would prevent the exploitation of Rohingya refugees as forced or illegal labour in Malaysia.
In December, Myanmar temporarily banned its citizens from heading to Malaysia for work after the Malaysian prime minister criticised its treatment of Rohingya Muslims.
To be eligible for the jobs, an individual’s refugee status must be validated by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and they must undergo a health and security screening.
UNHCR statistics state that Malaysia is currently home to around 55,000 Rohingya refugees.
The non-governmental organisation Humanitarian Aid’s Rafik Shah Mohd Ismail told The Sun Daily: “The Rohingya entered Malaysia without any official travel documentation. They have to do odd jobs for survival, and earn RM1,000 a month if they are lucky. They have commitments to their family and have to pay rent. How can they survive if they are not given job opportunities?”
Glorene Fernandez, executive director of migrant rights group Tenaganita, told the International Business Times he welcomed the decision to let the refugees work but that it should not be limited to Rohingya. “We should not discriminate against other refugees. The project should be opened to all,” he said.