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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 2022 in Malaysia

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2022.

MSF in Malaysia in 2022 In Malaysia, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides medical and humanitarian support for Rohingya refugees, who face multiple barriers in accessing healthcare and protection in the country.
Malaysia IAR map 2022

More than 3,500 Rohingya refugees attempted to make perilous boat journeys across the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal in 2022.* For many, Malaysia was the preferred destination.

The Malaysian government continued its deterrence-based approaches to the Rohingya, such as immigration raids and arrests, detention, cyberbullying, discrimination and deportation, aimed at making conditions hostile for them and presenting their presence as a national security threat, instead of a regional humanitarian crisis. In response, MSF has been implementing a community-based, person-centred approach to ensure refugees have access to healthcare and protection.

Working in urban refugee settings and immigration detention centres, and through fixed and mobile clinics in Penang, we provide general healthcare and mental health support. We also refer patients with special medical and protection needs for registration with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. In 2022, the most pressing needs our teams reported were related to antenatal care and treatment for non-communicable diseases. Hepatitis C incidence was also high; when we started testing and treatment activities in August, we found approximately 10 per cent of people were positive.  

In January, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and partner NGOs, we started running mobile clinics targeting women and children, where we offer childhood vaccinations, antenatal classes and family planning services. These clinics have also become a valuable entry point for the identification and referral of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) survivors.  Most of the SGBV we identify is related to child marriage.

In the five immigration detention centres where we work, including the Rohingya-only centres in Sungai Bakap and Bidor, we provide essential hygiene items, such as soap and sanitary pads, as well as medical and mental health care. We also organise referrals to local public healthcare clinics for people in need of follow-up and specialised care. Negotiations for continued access remained challenging at the end of 2022.



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