REFUGEES have no official existence in Malaysia. This is because Malaysia, along with Libya, Saudi Arabia, Mongolia and most of our Southeast Asian neighbours, has yet to sign the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention.
As a result, there is no legal distinction between refugees and economic migrants or undocumented workers. This is unjust as refugees often have no recourse but to escape their home countries due to persecution, and require extra protection. Refugees, for example, could face torture, even death, if deported to their home countries.
To highlight the courage of refugees in rebuilding their lives despite the horrors they face, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and their partners celebrated World Refugee Day at KL Sentral on 19 and 20 June 2010. Commuters and tourists at KL Sentral encountered exhibits, cultural performances and market stalls by UNHCR and the refugee community in Malaysia.
All photos by Mark Leo and are courtesy of him.
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