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NEW YORK, Sept 22 — Developed countries should help bear the costs of managing refugees in countries like Malaysia to help ease the burden of the problem.
This was stressed by Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in a meeting with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which was part of the programmes during his working visit to the city.
Muhyiddin said he had explained to the IOM that Malaysia needs to give priority to many of its people who still needed government assistance, but at the same time had to deal refugee issues, including the Rohingya ethnic groups from Myanmar.
“I have proposed to the IOM to bring the matter to the United Nations’ (UN) attention so that developed countries can share with countries like Malaysia the costs of providing healthcare facilities, education and others to the refugees.”
Muhyiddin said this to Bernama yesterday after concluding his visit to Washington DC and New York, which began on September 15 and aimed at strengthening security cooperation between Malaysia and the United States.
Muhyiddin said the IOM should take into account the burden borne by Malaysia to manage immigrants and refugees, and the fact that it was done to avoid the accusation of being an irresponsible country.
He noted that although Malaysia did not join the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), it still offers help to the refugees on humanitarian grounds.
Malaysia is reported to have a total of 180,000 refugees, and the number was reported to be on the rise.
Muhyiddin observed that many developed countries that had previously provided shelter to refugees were now reducing their number of refugee intake.
He said that Malaysia would also study the appropriateness for the country to join the IOM as mentioned during his meeting with IOM director Ashraf El Nour.
“The matter has been voiced in the past but has yet to be approved by the Malaysian government. So, we will look deeper into the appropriateness for us to do so,” he said.
Meanwhile, Muhyiddin said he was satisfied with his working visit to the United States which he described as successful.
The visit included a meeting with top officials of US Homeland Security, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and US Department of Justice.
Muhyiddin also visited the US Customs and Border Protection agency, the US Terrorist Screening Center and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).
He had also been the centre of attention at the leadership forum organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and interacted with the Malaysian diaspora in Washington DC and New York.
“It can be concluded that the US is keen to not only continue its cooperation with Malaysia’s new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, but also to take it to greater heights,” Muhyiddin said.
Muhyiddin said it was also a sign that the US was keen to strengthen cooperation in areas such as security, defence, economy and etc.
“There was also a suggestion that visits from Malaysia should be organised more frequently to explain the government’s policies and standpoint,” Muhyiddin said, adding that he was able to do so during the meeting with the Malaysian diaspora in the two cities.
“Among others, I have explained to them of the PH government’s goals, the future of the country and the concept of Shared Prosperity.
“They appeared interested and have expressed their support including in the efforts to fight corruption and power abuse,” he added. — Bernama