Give Refugees the Right to Work in Malaysia

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There are approximately 177,800 refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, currently registered with UNHCR; 25% of which are below the age of 18.

This is a significant community in the country, many having experienced great hardship in their countries of origin, from war to violent and extreme persecution at the hands of their own government, militant groups or local communities. Some have endured long and perilous journeys in search for safety and refuge, thus ending up in Malaysia, where they are able to escape the violence and terror back home. 

Some countries are undergoing war and terrorism, affecting those such as the Myanmar ethnics, Pakistanis and Yemenis; while some governments blatantly refuse to acknowledge communities as their own, such as in the case of the Rohingyas.  With such conflicts and injustices occurring all across the globe, millions of people are displaced, due to no fault of their own.

As such, the rest of the world is called to compassionate task, including Malaysia, where a large population of those in need of our humanitarian consideration currently reside.

Till today, Malaysia does not legally recognise refugees or asylum seekers, thus deeming them as undocumented (or less humanely labelled "illegal").

By recognising the rights of refugees, Malaysia will also increase refugees' access to justice, and will contribute to ending gendered violence of refugee women and girls, especially in the workplace. 

Apart from this lack of documented status creating a huge security risk for all refugees and asylum seekers, this also robs them of nearly all of their human rights. 

One of these most pertinent rights, include the right to work (Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 23.1). 

A hopeful news is that the Malaysian government has annouced it will be making a decision, between the 10th and 15th of December 2019, on whether to recognise the right of refugees to work.  As such, this petition has been created to call upon this government to recognise the plight of refugees, in establishing the refugee community's right to legal employment. 

Should the final decision be unfavourable and in neglect of the welfare of refugees, extreme labour exploitation will continue to persist in Malaysia, towards a community who have exhibited great resilience and perseverance despite their struggles. 

Help sign this petition and #standwithrefugees, urging the Malaysian government to recognise their right to work, which would allow them to contribute legally to the country and to provide for their families while sustaining their livelihoods and survival.