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UNHCR staff bring Eid cheer for hundreds of refugees

Posted by MRS Thursday, August 27

Kuala Lumpur, 17 October (UNHCR) - Hundreds of refugees and asylum-seekers arriving at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) office in Kuala Lumpur today were pleasantly surprised. They had come to UNHCR for registration, refugee status determination and various other processes, and were unexpectedly greeted with cheery balloons and an appetising lunch spread.

The staff of UNHCR Kuala Lumpur had decided to throw a party for them in celebration of the Eid ul-Fitr, a Muslim holiday marking the end of the Islamic holy month of fasting.

“We wanted to do this for the refugees. We are fortunate to be able to celebrate festivities in a lavish manner, when the refugees have so little,” said Angeline Stephen, a staff of the Registration unit. “Staff contributed money to buy the treats and we are excited to be able to share this with the refugees.”

A refugee from Myanmar of Chin ethnic origin, Thawng Kin Sui was visibly moved by the gesture.

“In Myanmar we don’t have enough food, and people don’t share with us. We’re so thankful that someone gave us food,” she said. “We want to cry, we are so grateful.”

Being in the front line of UNHCR’s administrative processes, the Registration unit sees some 400 refugees and asylum-seekers every day.

“During the work day, staff are in close proximity with refugees, they hear the stories that the refugees tell and they are touched by the pain that the refugees have gone through,” said Mikaeel Abdullah from the Registration unit. “This is our way of giving something to the refugees to show them that we care, and that we appreciate them.”

“I was very happy and very surprised. Everyone was enjoying it. If it happened more often, everyone would be happy all the time,” said Bamis, a Myanmar Muslim refugee.

Currently in Malaysia there are some 42,800 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR. The majority are from Myanmar, having fled persecution and widespread human rights abuses in the country.

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First free clinic for refugee in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
MRS News : Feb/05/2009
More than 300 women lined up to see doctors on the opening weekend of a UNHCR-funded center for refugee women in Kuala Lumpur.

Volunteers turning up at dawn on Sunday to run the half-day clinic – organized by the UN refugee agency with funding from the private Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia (OGSM) and the IS Puvan OBGYN Foundation – were amazed to see dozens of women waiting for the medics.

One volunteer said, "We were taken aback. We'd never seen this before at any of our other clinics. It was only 6.00am and at least 50 refugee women were already there."

30 percent of the 37,000 UNHCR-registered refugees in and asylum seekers Kuala Lumpur are women.

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