Click here to see the numbers and origins of refugees hosted by Malaysia.
For Malaysia country of information (COI) experts, reports, commentaries and relevant documents, please click here.
As UNHCR statistics generally rely on data from host countries, statistics on refugees alone can give an insufficient account of refugee numbers, as some host countries will not grant refugee status to certain groups. Including statistics for individuals in refugee-like situations is an attempt to account for unrecognised refugees and does not include internally displaced persons. Statistics for stateless refugees are included if available.
Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention on Refugees not its 1967 Protocol. Under the Malaysian Immigration Act 1959/63 (Act 155), refugees and asylum seekers are designated as “illegal migrants” and may be subject to arrest, detention, punishment, and deportation. UNHCR continues to advocate for Malaysia to accede the Refugees Convention and its Protocol.
In the absence of national legislation on asylum, the UNHCR in Malaysia is conducting all activities related to the protection of refugees namely the reception, registration, documentation and refugee status determination of asylum-seekers and refugees.
The Refugee Status Determination Process (RSD):
- Firstly, the refugee applicant is required to fill up in the RSD application form and provide their personal details together with supporting documents (for instance, identity documents) at the UNHCR’s office. The UNHCR officer will then conduct a registration interview to record, review and verify the applicant’s reason to leave his country.
- Secondly, the RSD interview will then be conducted by the assigned UNHCR officer in charge. The applicant has to make a complete and detailed disclosure of the facts relevant to his or her claim.
- Thirdly, the applicant will be informed of the RSD result. For a negative RSD decision, the reason for rejection would be clearly stated in writing and the applicant must be informed that he or she has the right to appeal against the negative decision.
- Fourthly, the application to appeal must be done within 30 days after receiving notification of the RSD decision.
- Lastly, should the rejected applicant fail to exercise their right to appeal, the application will be closed permanently unless they apply for re-opening of claims, which is only allowed in exceptional cases.
Archdiocesan Office for Human Development
AOHD is the official arm of the Catholic Church (in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur) in matters pertaining to Charity; Intergal Human Development; and Justice and Peace. AOHD is at the service of the poor and marginalised people in society.
The activities of organisation are varied, including a Ministry of the Urban and Rural poor and a Ministry for Migrants, which caters to the Pastroal care of migrant workers; building basic communities of Filipinos, Mynamarese, Vietnamese and other groups.
Asylum Access Malaysia (AAM)
Asylum Access Malaysia (AAM) is a Malaysian-registered NGO and part of the Asylum Access network of organizations. Launched in 2014, Asylum Access Malaysia’s on-the-ground operations include direct legal services for refugees and asylum seekers, Know-Your-Options trainings, and engagement with UNHCR and other stakeholders in Malaysia’s refugee rights movement.
AAM’s refugee legal aid program assists refugees and asylum seekers to successfully navigate the UNHCR Refugee Status Determination (RSD) process, thereby improving their chances of living safely and moving freely in Malaysia.In addition to direct legal services, AAM offers Know-Your-Options workshops to provide basic legal and practical information to help refugees navigate the RSD process and avail themselves of other legal protections that may prevent detention and deportation and help them acclimatize to life in Malaysia. AAM has also begun capacity building activities with lawyers, universities and civil society organizations to develop a refugee legal aid network in Malaysia.
Bar Council Legal Aid Centre
Migrant and Refugee Clinic, 9th Floor Wisma Kraftangan, 50100, Kuala Lumpur
Contact Person: Ms. Renuka T Balasubramaniam, Advocate and Solicitor
Since the early 1980s, funded by members of the Malaysian Bar, the KL LAC, has been coordinating and mobilising lawyers for the provision of pro bono representation to clients who cannot afford to pay for these services. The KL Legal Aid Centre seeks to contribute to achieving equality and equal protection before the law, which is guaranteed by the constitution. In 2007 alone, the centre served approximately 18,000 clients.
The LAC Migrant and Refugee Clinic provides free legal advice, representation and assistance to refugees and Migrant workers. Apart from representation in Court, through its volunteers, it facilitates liason between its clients on the one hand and the police, labour, immigration and other departments for the resolution of criminal persecutions and civil disputes.
Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility (CARAM) Asia
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8th Floor, Wisma MLS, 31 Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, 50100 Kuala Lumpur
Contact Person: Mr Christopher Pearman, Information and Communications Officer
Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and mobility (CARAM)Asia is an NGO with special consultative status on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is an open network of NGOs and CBOs. The CARAM Asia network is involved in action research, advocacy, coalition building and capacity building with the aim of creating and enabling environment to empower migrants and their communities to reduce all vulnerabilities including HIV and enhance their health rights globally.
CARAM Asia currently has four active programmes (1) Empowerment for positive people-TFEM; (2) Migration, health and Globalisation – MHG; (3) State of Health – SOH; (4) Foreign Domestic Workers- FDW. CARAM Asia is a member of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and a member of the Migration Working Group (MWG).
Chin Human Rights Organization
The Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) is a non-governmental, non-profit advocacy organisation legally registered in Canada. It was formed in 1995 on the India-Burma border by a group of Chin activists committed to promoting democracy in Burma and raising international awareness of previously unreported human rights abuses being perpetrated against the Chin people by the Burmese military regime.
CHRO activities include:
- Documentation of violations of Human Rights in Western Burma and conducting necessary advocacy in that regard
- Making relevant reports about the situation depending on how important the need to response
- Human rights education to the people of China in Burma (see website for further information)
In terms of refugee work:
- Refugee protection (advocacy works for the local and central government to stop deportation in Mizoram, India)
- Providing humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable refugee families in India and Malaysia
- Providing financial assistance to the refugee children education
- Providing capacity training to refugee organisation.
The Geutanyoe Foundation (Yayasan Geutanyoe)
Aceh, Indonesia office
Jl. Ilie, Lr. Tgk. Abdullah, Desa Lamglumpang, Kec. Ulekareng, Banda Aceh – Indonesia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia office
641, Jalan 10, Taman Ampang Utama, 68000 Ampang, Selangor, Malaysia
The Geutanyoe Foundation (Yayasan Geutanyoe) is a non-profit humanitarian and advocacy organisation registered in Indonesia and Malaysia. Geutanyoe seeks to assist and empower the most vulnerable and marginalised communities, including conflict- and disaster-affected communities, internally displaced persons, refugees, stateless persons, victims of trafficking, ethnic andreligious minorities, persons with disabilities, and isolated communities in Southeast Asia region. Geutanyoe Foundation seeks to harness local and global knowledge to find sustainable and durable solutions to some of the region’s most intractable humanitarian and social challenges. Like its name, Geutanyoe, meaning ‘All of Us’ in Acehnese, Geutanyoe Foundation is founded on principles of dignity, inclusiveness, equality, and peace for all, and believes that people affected by crisis are the best placed to lead change in their own communities.
HAKAM – The National Human Rights Society
5th Floor, Wisma Harwant, Jalan Tuanku Adbul Rahman, 50100 Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia
Tel: +60 (3)2 69 38 828
Fax: +60 (3)2 69 32 868
Persatuan Kebangsaan Hak Asasi Manusia (HAKAM) campaigns for the abolishment of laws that are inconsistent with human rights, takes up complaints about human rights violations and lobbies the government to ratify international and regional human rights instruments. An important focus of HAKAM is its campaign to abolish the Internal Security Act and to free political prisoners in Malaysia. It is a member of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and a member of the Migration Working Group (MWG).
Health Equity Initiatives (HEI)
26-1A, Jalan Vivekananda, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel/Fax: +60-3-22724957; +60-3-22724854
Contact Person: Ng Tze Yeng
Health Equity Initiatives (HEI) is a Malaysian non-government organisation committed to advancing refugees’ and asylum seekers’ health rights. HEI’s core program includes community based health interventions, such as the training of community health workers in mental health; counselling, psychological and psychiatric services and research and evidence-based advocacy. HEI also undertakes a number of smaller interventions to support refugees in Malaysia. Such initiatives include medical clinics for refugees and a community centre, where refugees receive mental health services. HEI is also involved in case handling and referrals relating to detention, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV); trafficking and appeals with regard to UNHCR RSD rejections. Health Equity Initiatives is a member of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and a member of the Migration Working Group (MWG).
International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) South East Asia
Jl. Tebet Barat XA No. 51, Selatan, 12810 Jakarta, Indonesia
Contact Person: Emi Erawati
ICMC was created in 1951, with a mission to serve the needs of uprooted people: refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants. ICMC is engaged in protection and advocacy for durable solutions for uprooted people. Specific interventions include refugee resettlement; emergency care for the extremely vulnerable (including female-headed households and GBV survivors) and trauma recovery; conflict transformation, community development and economic activity for reintegration of displaced persons; as well as capacity building for local NGOs and government. ICMC has managed projects in nearly 45 countries. Currently, ICMC works in 11 countries directly, and through its network of members in 85.Currently ICMC is running two projects in trafficking and refugees in Malaysia (KL and Sabah). ICMC has been working in South-East Asia for over 25 years and has had its regional headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia since 1999.
Malaysian Social Research Institute (MSRI)
1A, Tingkat 1, Jalan Mamanda 7,
Tel: (+603) – 4252 8699; 4266 3409
Fax: +60 (3)4 25 28 709
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday: 09:00-17:00
Material assistance to refugees in the form of basic necessities.
MSRI also runs the SAHABAT programme which matches local people in a one-to-one or in a group mentoring relationship with refugees with the goal of making refugees feel more at home in Malaysia.
MSRI also runs sponsorship programmes of Palestinian children in Gaza and Palestinian kindergartens. MSRI is a member of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and a member of the Migration Working Group (MWG).
Rumah Nur Salam
No 24A-B, Jalan Chow Kit
Tel No: 03-4045 4021
Fax: 03-4045 4031
Raja Azizan: 017-300 9055
Runs programmes for refugee and other disadvantaged children. Programmes include the Under Twelve Centre (a drop-in centre for children to have access to food and shelter, as well as participate in educational, health and recreational programs, such as basic tutoring, computer classes, an educational “toy library” and help from play therapists. There is also a dormitory space) and KL Krash Pad (a centre for at-risk teens offering an onsite café, a computer lab, and various art and music projects, all focused on both skills development and possible income generation, as well as educational support). Nur Salem is a member of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network.
Shan Refugee Organization
5 R16, Pudu Plaza apartment, Jalan Landak off Jalan Pudu, 55100 Wilayah Persekutuan , Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: +60 16 96 78 532
The Shan Refugee Organization provides free legal aid and representation to refugees seeking asylum.They provide information, interview preparation and representation to UNHCR. They also provide social and material support such as health services, education and shelter.
SUARAM – Suara Rakyat Malaysia
SUARAM specialises in civil and political rights and campaigns for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. SUARAM is a member of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and a member of the Migration Working Group (MWG).
Although they do not provide general support or legal aid support for refugees and asylum seekers, they provide assistance to asylum seekers to facilitate their registration process with the UNHCR.
For emergency rescues and cases: +6012 3350512 | +6012 3395350
Tenaganita programs are focused on empowering, organizing and consolidating migrants, refugees and women workers not only in Malaysia but also regionally.
The major program areas are:
The core strategies for each program range from Case Management , Legal Aid Services , Information Sharing , Partnership Building, Advocacy Programs and Shelter for Trafficked Women and Children.