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Minister appears to be in the dark when quizzed on refugee evictions

PARLIAMENT | Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh today sought answers from Parliament on what the government is doing to handle the refugees in Kuala Lumpur after the City Hall barred landlords from renting homes to undocumented migrants. However, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun appeared to be in the dark on the situation – saying only that there are transit centres for refugees. On Sunday, The Malaysian Insight reported that at least 700 Rohingya refugees have lost their dwellings in Kuala Lumpur last week. DBKL had ordered landlords not to rent out to undocumented migrants from late May, according to FMT. Malaysia is not a signatory of the UN refugee convention, leaving refugees in a legal grey area in the country. Yeoh said the issue of homelessness among refugees in the City Centre could become a security issue if the National Security Council, and the Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry don’t coordinate with UNHCR. Rina responded by saying that her ministry had been working with the Home Ministry regarding the refugees including during the movement control order (MCO) period. “On the ministry’s side, not just now but during the MCO, there were several refugees including Rohingyas and others and we have worked together with the Home Ministry. “On issues involving migrants, we have to take the views and opinions of not just the Home Ministry but also the Foreign Ministry. “This will be looked at from time to time but what’s important is that for children, under the Child Act, we will ensure their safety,” she said. Yeoh, who is former women, family, and community development deputy minister, however, interjected and said her question was unanswered. Yeoh: My question hasn’t been answered. I want to ask, what is the immediate plan because they (refugees) have already been evicted and this will cause a homelessness problem and the numbers will go up. If we’re still discussing but the local council has already decided to evict them- Rina: YB, you said they were going to be evicted? Meaning they haven’t been evicted? Yeoh: Messages have gone viral, NGOs are trying to find places (to house them). They don’t know where to go. The government says they can’t stay at home, they can’t go out which is why- Rina: We have transit centres for these refugees. Yeoh: Have you met the UNHCR? Deputy speaker Rashid Hasnon then ruled that the minister need not give an answer as this was not a debate and that any answers given during oral questions are sufficient. When contacted, Yeoh reiterated that this could lead to bigger problems if not resolved. “This will eventually be a security, health and safety issue if not discussed with UNHCR,” she told Malaysiakini. – Mkini

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