Alternatives needed to avoid overcrowding in depots, NGOs ready to collaborate

20 Apr 2022 08:50pm
Heidy (left) and Glorene (Source: Facebook)
Heidy (left) and Glorene (Source: Facebook)

SHAH ALAM - Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and independent bodies are ready to work hand-in-hand with the government to find other alternatives as opposed to detaining undocumented migrants for long periods.

Refuge for Refugees’ Chief Heidy Quah said many groups were ready to collaborate and assist the authorities in finding a solution to caring for them in a bid to avoid overcrowding in detention centres.

“There is so many NGOs and bodies who wants to help in providing alternatives but it is such a challenge where there is no transparency here, only Suhakam (Human Rights Commission Malaysia) are allowed to enter the depot but they only get limited access.

“If the officials can’t control the number, let’s work hand-in-hand. We can look into the matter together.

“I feel that there has to be an alternative to detention. Instead of cramping them, think about how do we regulate them.

“Yes, they are detained but how do you make safe for them to live in,” she told Sinar Daily today.

Quah said people were placed in detention centres for various reasons, questioning as to why undocumented individuals were detained for such a long time with no specific objectives.

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She said there needed to be a timeframe as to how long should those arrested as illegal immigrants or alleged refugees be detained in the Immigration depots.

Keeping them for long periods of time does serve anyone any good, she said, adding that it neither benefits the public or refugees.

Tenaganita executive director Glorene A Das shared similar thoughts on the matter, stating that alternative solutions were vital to avoid a massive backlog in the depot centres nationwide.

She said there were only two things that could be done when it comes to the undocumented migrant, either to allow them to stay continue working here or send them back to their country of origin.

The easiest answer, she said, would be sending them back home and because they were caught without papers, automatically they would be blacklisted from returning for the next few years.

She said as for the Rohingyas, it was clear they cannot be sent back to where they came from thus they should be given access to assistance in getting the correct papers and be released back into society.

“It isn’t a surprise that this has erupted in such a manner. There has been many issues happening the camps for years especially when the Covid-19 pandemic, things just got worse.

“NGOs and independent bodies do not have access to those detained thus we could not help them. The only communication we get from their family and community members,” she said.

Glorene also highlighted instances where detainees go missing and untraceable.

She said authorities were never given an explanation as to where they went or what happened to them.

“They just go missing. Are they dead? Have they been sent home?

“Just because they are undocumented does that mean their lives do not matter?” she asked.

Earlier this morning, a total of 528 Rohingya detainees fled from the Sungai Bakap Immigration Detention Depot, with six of them killed in the accident at KM168 PLUS.

This follows after just last week Sinar Daily reported the National Security Council director-general Datuk Rodzi Md Said assured that all Immigration depots were in good and sanitary conditions where their welfare were well cared for and “better compared to other countries”.

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