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Rohingya in Malaysia: Kairul Feature Story
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In Malaysia, refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless people are criminalised by domestic law and thus are unable to access healthcare, education or work due to their irregular status.

Our teams provide general healthcare and mental health support to the Rohingya and other communities through our clinic in Butterworth (Klinik Mewah 6), our mobile clinics in Penang, and our activities in detention centres.

We refer patients for specialised healthcare and support an increasing number of sexual violence survivors, including victims, both men and women, of human trafficking. 

Our teams have also established a community-led advocacy group to support refugees in acquiring skills to tackle issues concerning community relations, arrests and detentions, and resettlement.   

Our activities in 2023 in Malaysia

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2023.

MSF in Malaysia in 2023 In Malaysia, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides medical and humanitarian support to refugees, mainly Rohingya people, who face multiple barriers in accessing healthcare and protection in the country.
Malaysia IAR map 2023

More than 4,400 Rohingya refugees attempted to make perilous boat journeys from Bangladesh or Myanmar to Malaysia in 2023, an increase of over 20 per cent in comparison to 2022*.

The Malaysian government continued its deterrence-based policies against refugees, such as immigration raids and arrests, detention, discrimination and deportation. Many children are still held in immigration detention centres with adults, in spite of calls for alternative accommodation. Some have been transferred to dedicated detention centres for mothers and children, but to date there is no alternative to detention.

MSF teams work with refugees in urban settings and immigration detention centres, and through fixed and mobile clinics in Penang, offering general healthcare, mental health support and patient referrals to other health providers and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. Due to our efforts, hepatitis C treatment is now provided free of charge to all refugees registered with UNHCR in Malaysia.

In the three immigration detention centres where we work, we provide medical and psychosocial care and distribute essential hygiene items, such as soap and sanitary pads. We also conduct training on medical and mental health topics for immigration officers. In 2023, our teams saw a high demand for antenatal care and family planning services.

Advocacy is a key part of our programme in Malaysia, primarily through engagement with government stakeholders. We continue to oppose the detention of refugees in immigration centres, and call for them to be issued with identity documents so that they can obtain healthcare insurance and greater protection in the country. We also advocate for free access to vaccinations for all children in Malaysia.



In 2023
Ultrasound scan

Lack of maternal healthcare puts refugee women at risk in Malaysia

Project Update 19 Apr 2023
Drawing (4X3) Give Me Hope: Depicting Rohingya Crisis Animation

MSF ready to support the government of Malaysia with safe disembarkation of people in distress at sea

Open Letter 7 May 2020
Drawing (16X9) Give Me Hope: Depicting Rohingya Crisis Animation
Rohingya refugee crisis

Rohingya refugees left to starve at sea

Voices from the Field 22 Apr 2020
Rohingya in Malaysia: Context (Construction Site)
Rohingya refugee crisis

Healthcare for struggling refugee communities in Malaysia

Project Update 20 Sep 2019
The “big road” in Cox’s Bazar
Rohingya refugee crisis

ASEAN should show true leadership on Rohingya, Myanmar

Op-Ed 13 Sep 2019
Kutupalong megacamp
Rohingya refugee crisis

Two years on: No solutions in sight for the Rohingya

Project Update 20 Aug 2019