Looking out Looking up
Suffering Foreigners in our Midst
This issue, we focus prayers on the 2 million migrants and refugees living in our midst, many of whom live in destitute conditions with little to hope for. The contents are extracted from the prayer guide "Disappointed By Hope" jointly produced by YWAM Penang and Raise Their Voice Against Injustice (Canada).
Women from China, Vietnam and other Asian nations arrive in Malaysia with valid work contracts, expecting to work as domestic workers, in factories or in the food industry. In some cases, they discover that their agent has lied and are forced into a life of prostitution that is difficult to escape.
Crime syndicates boldly entrap women and use loopholes in the legal system to meet the demand for prostitution. There are insufficient law enforcement resources to combat trafficking effectively.
Women who have been rescued are kept in shelters while their cases are investigated. Some victims want to go home immediately. Others fear return because of reprisals by the gangsters who brought them to Malaysia or those who owned them while they were here.
Once they are confirmed as victims, the women must remain at the shelter for a minimum of three months. They are isolated with occasional visits from social workers. There are few programs or resources available to keep the women occupied. Many battle boredom, fear and depression.
- For the release of the many women who are "kidnapped" into prostitution;
- For more women counselors to be trained to minister to these women rescued from trafficking; and
- For improved cooperation among the Malaysian police and local NGOs to help the trafficked women and for increase in resources for the police Anti-Trafficking Unit.
As of Jan 2010, there are 79,284 refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia. Of these, 73,287 are from Burma, comprising some 17,712 Rohingyas from the Northern Rakhine State.
The Rohingyas are particularly vulnerable in Malaysia. Stateless for nearly three decades, the political junta revoked their citizenship in 1982.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have left Burma, most of them seeking refuge in Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia where they are. heavily taxed, denied the publication of literature, violently treated, subjected to forced labour.
During their stay in Malaysia, many Rohingyas have been detained, deported, whipped and sold to traffickers on the Thai border. Others regularly face arrest and extortion from irresponsible personnel in the police and RELA.
Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world that has yet to sign the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 Protocol and therefore, does not offer Burmese refugees protection or legal status while in the country.
- The government will ratify the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol and work together with local NGOs to provide aid to the Burmese refugees;
- The government will allow the Burmese refugees here to work so they can have a better life;
- For awareness among Malaysian Christians on the plight of the Rohingyas and other Burmese refugees and more churches will step forward to support the UNHCR's work in providing vocational skills training such as sewing and carpentry; and
According to a Suaram press statement issued in Aug 2009, the total number of detainees in Malaysia's 13 Immigration detention centres from 2004 to 2008 was 235,397.
Of these, 3,675 were children - 2,652 boys and 1,023 girls. Detainees often suffer from overcrowding, poor nutrition, insufficient clothing and inadequate access to health services.
Refugee children endure the trauma of being smuggled out of their nations into their country of refuge only to endure long days of boredom, punctuated by fear as they hide inside apartments.
- Malaysia has ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Pray the Government will uphold its obligation to protect all children, including the migrant, asylumseeking and refugee children;
- For His comfort on those children presently in Immigration detention centres or separated from parents who are detained in these facilities; and
- God to protect the refugee children left alone all day and for more churches to step forward to minister to the children by starting day-care centres, schools and crèches.