KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — Malaysia has to tread on the issue of refugees carefully so that it does not become a big burden in the future, said Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said that even though Malaysia was not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the matter had to be handled prudently.
Muhyiddin had conveyed this during a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi in Geneva yesterday.
The outcome of the 45-minute meeting was made available to the local media. Among the matters discussed were on cooperation between Malaysia and the UN entity on various aspects of handling refugees.
Muhyiddin had also stressed on the need for the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) and Malaysian Immigration Department to be involved in the process of issuing UNHCR refugee cards.
Among the commitments given by UNHCR was to assist Malaysia to access funding from the Qatar Development Fund with a view to reducing the nation's burden in handling refugees.
Malaysia is reported to have some 180,000 refugees from various countries.
Muhyiddin is expected to hold intra-agency meetings on his return to Malaysia to look into the matter of refugee handling further.
Among the agencies that will be involved are the National Security Council, RMP, Foreign Ministry, Home Ministry and the Immigration Department.
In Geneva, Muhyiddin had also attended a luncheon with the Malaysian diaspora in Switzerland. — Bernama