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Country analysis

Malaysia


Malaysia hosts more than 185,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers. Nearly 90% of them are from Myanmar, including around 108,000 Rohingya who mainly live around the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, and the surrounding Klang Valley. The rest are from over 50 countries – including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen – and are seeking asylum and refugee status in Malaysia after fleeing war and persecution in their home countries.

Malaysia has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol. There is no domestic legislation in place that recognises the legal status of asylum seekers, refugees, or stateless people, who have limited access to healthcare, education, and livelihood opportunities in Malaysia. They face the risk of arbitrary arrest; detention in crowded migrant detention centres with poor hygiene and inadequate access to food, water, and healthcare; and exploitation, such as through human trafficking.

Most of the refugees and asylum seekers live in urban areas, which are often overcrowded, heightening the risk of sexual and gender-based violence. Others reside in ‘jungle sites’, where they lack access to clean water and sanitation and are at heightened risk of mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue and malaria.

(UNHCR accessed 04/02/2024, Togoo and Ismail 01/2021, MSF accessed 05/03/2023, Asylum Access Malaysia accessed 05/03/2023, CSIS 10/07/2020, MMC 11/2020)

Malaysia hosts more than 185,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers. Nearly 90% of them are from Myanmar, including around 108,000 Rohingya who mainly live around the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, and the surrounding Klang Valley. The rest are from over 50 countries – including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen – and are seeking asylum and refugee status in Malaysia after fleeing war and persecution in their home countries.

Malaysia has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol. There is no domestic legislation in place that recognises the legal status of asylum seekers, refugees, or stateless people, who have limited access to healthcare, education, and livelihood opportunities in Malaysia. They face the risk of arbitrary arrest; detention in crowded migrant detention centres with poor hygiene and inadequate access to food, water, and healthcare; and exploitation, such as through human trafficking.

Most of the refugees and asylum seekers live in urban areas, which are often overcrowded, heightening the risk of sexual and gender-based violence. Others reside in ‘jungle sites’, where they lack access to clean water and sanitation and are at heightened risk of mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue and malaria.

(UNHCR accessed 04/02/2024, Togoo and Ismail 01/2021, MSF accessed 05/03/2023, Asylum Access Malaysia accessed 05/03/2023, CSIS 10/07/2020, MMC 11/2020)

current crises
in Malaysia


These crises have been identified through the INFORM Severity Index, a tool for measuring and comparing the severity of humanitarian crises globally.

Read more about the Index

MYS001 - International Refugees

Last updated 26/01/2024


Drivers

Displacement

Crisis level

Country

Severity level

2.3 Medium

Access constraints

2.0