UNHCR deplores continued deportation of Myanmar asylum-seekers from Malaysia
25 October 2022
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is seriously concerned over the continued deportation by Malaysia of asylum-seekers from Myanmar back to their country, placing lives at risk.
UNHCR has received multiple disturbing reports of these forced returns of Myanmar nationals from Malaysia, since April this year, including people seeking international protection. In the last two months alone, hundreds of Myanmar nationals are reported to have been sent back against their will by the authorities.
Such deportations of refugees and asylum-seekers amount to refoulement.
The latest incident is reported to have happened over the weekend. According to information received by UNHCR, an asylum-seeker from Myanmar was deported on 21 October from detention despite UNHCR interventions.
UNHCR continues to call on Malaysia to immediately stop the forced returns of Myanmar nationals seeking safety from serious harm.
Sending them back to Myanmar exposes them to harm and danger.
People fleeing Myanmar must be allowed access to territory to seek asylum and be protected against refoulement. Myanmar nationals already abroad should not be forced to return when seeking international protection.
The principle of non-refoulement is a cornerstone of international law and is binding on all states.
The situation in Myanmar is forcing people to flee to seek safety within the country and across borders.
UNHCR appeals to the Malaysian authorities to abide by their international legal obligations and ensure the full respect for the rights of people in need of international protection.
We reiterate our call on states in the region to continue offering protection to Myanmar nationals fleeing for safety. This also includes ending the practice of indefinite detention of asylum-seekers and refugees from Myanmar.