Detained Rohingya pose no additional virus risks, says medical body

30-Jun-2020 Intellasia | FreeMalaysiaToday | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) today urged the government not to deport Rohingya refugees in the country, saying they pose no additional Covid-19 risks as they have already been tested for the virus and quarantined.

In a statement signed by its Malaysia head of mission Beatrice Lau, MSF said any move to send 269 Rohingya back out to sea once their boat has been repaired would also violate the principle of non-refoulement under which Malaysia is bound by international customary law.

Refoulement means the forced return of refugees to a place where they risk persecution in contravention of international humanitarian and human rights laws.

“Most concerning is that authorities remain fully aware that many of these men, women and children may die if they are pushed back out to sea, just as many did on the desperate journey to Malaysia.

“The Malaysian authorities should speak out publicly against these claims to prove that they are unfounded, and to show its respect for human lives, dignity and international law,” MSF said.

Reuters reported earlier this month that the government was considering a plan to send the Rohingya detained after arriving on a damaged boat back out to sea once the ship had been fixed.

Security sources said a plan had been drawn up but no decision made yet on the matter.

They also said the boat would be supplied with food and water if the plan was approved.

MSF said the reports were “another concerning development” in the government’s crackdown on migrants and asylum-seekers.

Adding that the plan, if given the green light, would mark “a new depth in cruelty towards people who are in need of protection”, it said its offer to support the authorities by providing the refugees with medical care remained.

Prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin said last Friday that Malaysia could no longer take in Rohingya refugees from Myanmar due to a struggling economy and dwindling resources as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also urged UNHCR to speed up the resettlement of Rohingya in Malaysia to third countries and called for more efforts to combat the trafficking of Rohingya, who he said were increasingly at risk for exploitation, slavery and recruitment by militants.

UNHCR estimates that there are more than 100,000 Rohingya in Malaysia although rights groups say the number is higher.


Category: Malaysia

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