KUALA LUMPUR: As of May 31 this year, a total of 150,204 refugees and asylum seekers from 59 countries have been registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said from the amount, 94,361 were refugees while the remaining 55,843 were asylum seekers.
He added 10 countries made up the majority of refugees and asylum seekers, with the highest coming from Myanmar (133,725 people) ; Pakistan 3,548; Sri Lanka 2,328; Yemen 2,095; Somalia 2,062; Syria 1,980; Iraq 1,461; Afghanistan 1,082; Palestine 698; and Iran 440.
"The government is in the midst of implementing a policy to allow UNHCR cardholders (Rohingya's ethnic groups) to work in the manufacturing and plantation sectors within three years beginning March 1.
"The outcome of the pioneer project would present a true picture of the issue of employment among the ethnic Rohingya and those from Myanmar.
"The government also allows refugees and asylum seekers to have access to education at private schools or non-governmental educational centers," he said.
Shahidan further added that the government is not authorised to accept the applications or release any UNHCR refugee cards.
"UNHCR is the organisation responsible for accepting applications and identifying eligible foreign migrants based on the Convention on Refugee Status 1951 or Protocol 1967."
He was responding to questions raised by Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut), who wanted the ministry to state the number of refugee applications approved in Malaysia according to breakdown in country of origin and gender.
Lim had also asked about efforts taken by the government to help them work and provide education for their children.