The Hardships of Refugees in Malaysia
Although Malaysia has long offered refuge to persecuted Muslim populations, Malaysian law does not distinguish between asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants. As a consequence, refugees experience high levels of legal precarity, severely limiting access to healthcare, employment, and educational opportunities. Immigration police frequently raid businesses in search of undocumented workers, and children are frequently pushed into work because of an educational system with limited resources to accommodate them. While more than 164,000 refugees in Malaysia are officially registered with the UN Refugee Agency, many more languish in the long registration queue. Today, activists are working to pressure the recently installed government to become a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol to improve protections and access to opportunity for those seeking life and livelihood in the wake of war and persecution.
“‘We have nothing’: A life in limbo for Malaysia’s Yemeni refugees” (Al Jazeera | March 2019)
“Inside Malaysia’s ‘Living Hell’ for Refugee Children” (NewsDeeply | February 2018)
UNHCR Figures at a Glance in Malaysia
Asylum-seekers increasingly attempt dangerous cross-Channel trek to the U.K.
- Patrol operations in the English Channel have led to the rescue of asylum-seekers attempting to reach the U.K. by small boats, which French and British officials claim is driven by organized smuggling.
- More than 200 have arrived in the U.K. by water since November, which represents more than a tenfold increase from last year.
- Migrants have begun turning to aquatic travel as the British and French governments have increasingly targeted land-based vehicles for inspection and closed shelter camps.
“More migrants and refugees try to reach UK via English Channel” (Al Jazeera | December 2018)
“Five migrant boats rescued in English Channel” (BBC News | December 2018)
“Migrants risk death at sea to reach Britain as prices spike on traditional routes” (CNN | December 2018)
Report indicates attacks on asylum-seekers down in Germany
- According to police, there were 704 cases of anti-refugee violence from January to June, down more than a third from 2017.
- The 2018 attacks included 77 on asylum shelters and 627 direct attacks on refugees, resulting in 127 injuries.
- The reduction has come as immigration debates continue to erupt along political fault lines, including the introduction of “anchor centers” for asylum-seekers awaiting judicial decisions and the limited restart of family reunifications.
“Fewer attacks on refugees and asylum shelters in Germany” (Reuters | August 2018)
“Germany opens refugee ‘anchor centres’ amid criticism” (Al Jazeera | August 2018)
“Family reunification for refugees resumes in Germany” (Deutsche Welle | August 2018)
The Transnational Oppression of Uyghur Chinese
Growing paranoia over terrorism by and radicalization of China’s Muslim Uyghur minority has led to the dramatic expansion of state surveillance activities in Xinjiang—where Uyghurs account for nearly half of the population—and abroad. Digital surveillance, travel restrictions, indefinite detention, “reeducation” camps, and the exploitation of intra-community and transnational relationships have dramatically expanded the crackdown on ethnic minorities perceived as threats to the integrity of the state. After fleeing China, Uyghur emigrants find themselves and their families (some of whom remain in China) subject to harassment by Chinese security forces in places as far flung as Istanbul and Washington, D.C. BuzzFeed News and The Globe and Mail have profiled a number of Uyghur Chinese in exile and the oppressive conditions they and their families face, including high levels of distrust and fear of advocacy.
“Spy For Us — Or Never Speak To Your Family Again” (BuzzFeed News | July 2018)
“How China is targeting its Uyghur ethnic minority abroad” (The Globe and Mail | October 2017)
“‘It is about Xi as the leader of the world’: Former detainees recount abuse in Chinese re-education centres” (The Globe and Mail | July 2018)
“One in 10 Uyghur Residents of Xinjiang Township Jailed or Detained in ‘Re-Education Camp’” (Radio Free Asia | June 2018)
Uyghur Human Rights Project
Hungary passes laws criminalizing support of asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants
- The Hungarian parliament passed legislation criminalizing the “organization of illegal immigration,” prohibiting individuals and organizations from providing aid to undocumented immigrants including support in asylum petitioning.
- Framed as retaliation against the pro-immigrant efforts of billionaire Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, the laws could subject those found guilty of providing support to asylum-seekers to imprisonment for up to a year.
- The passage comes amidst a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in the country, spearheaded by recently reelected Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
“Hungary passes anti-immigrant ‘Stop Soros’ laws” (The Guardian | June 2018)
“Hungary to criminalise migrant helpers in crackdown” (BBC News | June 2018)
“Hungary aims to criminalize aiding illegal migration in ‘Stop Soros’ bill” (Reuters | May 2018)
Upwards of 4,000 children taken from families as immigration crackdown continues in U.S.
- The implementation of a “zero-tolerance” policy for migrants and asylum-seekers seeking haven in the U.S. has led to nearly 4,000 children being separated from their families since October 2016, including 2,000 in less than a two-month period.
- The separations have resulted from the criminal referral and subsequent pretrial detention of all adults crossing the border without authorization, a misdemeanor.
- Although the Trump administration claims families seeking asylum at ports of entry are not included, several reports (including a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union) have indicated asylum-seekers have been separated or deterred from entering as well.
“DHS: 2,000 children separated from parents at border” (CNN | June 2018)
“U.S. govt says nearly 2,000 child separations at Mexico border in under two months” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation | June 2018)
“The Trump administration’s separation of families at the border, explained” (Vox | June 2018)
U.S. government loses nearly 1,500 children as administration directs separation of families at border
- Under direction from the Trump Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have begun separating children as young as 18 months old from their parents and shipping them to detention facilities at times more than a thousand miles from where their parents are held.
- The separation of children from their families effectively produces “unaccompanied minors,” who are then referred to the Office of Refugee Settlement (ORS) for placement.
- The head of the ORS reported to Congress that the office had lost track of some 1,475 children who had been placed in its charge.
“Testimony of Steven Wagner on the Care and Placement of Unaccompanied Alien Children” (Office of Legislative Affairs and Budget | April 2018)
“Federal Agencies Lost Track of Nearly 1,500 Migrant Children Placed With Sponsors” (The New York Times | April 2018)
“What Separating Migrant Families at the Border Actually Looks Like” (VICE News | May 2018)