Our teams provide medical screenings and outpatient consultations in government shelters for victims of human trafficking. We have set up a primary healthcare clinic in a Penang neighbourhood where migrants from many countries have settled, and have developed a strong network with fishermen communities and local authorities in Langkawi, a known migrant disembarkation site.
MSF also provides medical and mental health services to refugees, particularly Rohingya people, who are effectively excluded from work, healthcare and other social services.
MSF teams are currently responding to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia.
Our activities in 2020 in Malaysia
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2020.
MSF has delivered medical assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia since 2015. Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and refugees are effectively criminalised by domestic law. They risk arrest and detention, and have limited access to healthcare and protection.
In 2020, we worked closely with refugee communities to support the needs they identified. Although COVID-19 temporarily interrupted some of our services, we continued to support refugees, focusing on those affected by the pandemic by distributing food and supplying medicines. We provided general healthcare, health education, psychosocial support and counselling via mobile clinics and a fixed clinic in Penang, in partnership with the local NGO ACTS. We also collaborated with local clinics and public hospitals to refer patients with specialised needs.
In partnership with MERCY Malaysia and SUKA Society, we work in several immigration detention centres. As well as offering general healthcare and mental health support, we distribute hygiene and relief items, such as soap, sanitary pads and nappies, for the detainees.
Through our advocacy and liaison activities, we assist refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection. We refer asylum seekers to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, for assessment of their refugee status and continue to appeal for safe disembarkation of Rohingya refugees in distress at sea.
In June, we provided medical care and counselling to Rohingya boat refugees on the island of Langkawi. Publicly, MSF called on the authorities to introduce a ‘healthcare for all’ response to COVID-19 and update laws so that no refugees or asylum seekers are penalised and detained for seeking medical care, including COVID-19 testing and treatment.
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