UNTANGLING THE NEEDS OF REFUGEES IN MALAYSIA: THE WAY FORWARD
Background and Purpose: NGOs have become the most vital actors in meeting refugees’ needs in Malaysia; alas, most of these concerns cover basic needs such as food, health care, and education. In this regard, this study investigates other forms of NGOs assistance that ought to be provided to Malaysia's refugee communities to enhance living standards.
Methodology: This study employs a qualitative approach consisting of semi-structured interviews with Somalian, Rohingya, Pakistani and Syrian refugees. Data were collected during observation trips in Penang, Kedah, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Johor to comprehensively understand these diasporic communities, notably regarding the challenges refugees face in Malaysia.
Findings: The data indicated that refugee communities are significantly in need of proper and accessible channels through which they might share their grievances, temporary shelters, mental health care, and language classes. The team concluded that these forms of assistance ought to be made available to all refugee communities in Malaysia. Without such forms of assistance from NGOs, refugees' lived realities are made invariably more difficult; this is in addition to their vulnerability to forces that threaten their security.
Contributions: This paper provides insights into the needs of refugees in Malaysia based on interviews and observations conducted with them. Based on the findings, this research provides recommendations to NGOs to ameliorate life necessities for refugee communities.
Keywords: Humanitarian assistance, Malaysia, NGOs, refugees, UNHCR.
Cite as: Nazri, A. S., Talib@Khalid, K. A., Sulaiman, N., & Gidah, M. E. (2022). Untangling the needs of refugees in Malaysia: The way forward. Journal of Nusantara Studies, 7(1), 196-220. http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/jonus.vol7iss1pp196-220
Ahmad, A. A., Rahim, A. Z., & Mohamed, B. H. M. A. (2016). The refugee crisis in Southeast Asia: The Malaysian experience. International Journal of Novel Research in Humanity and Social Sciences, 3(6), 80-90.
Akinyemi, O. O., Owoaje, E. T., & Cadmus, E. O. (2016). In their own words: Mental health and quality of life of West African refugees in Nigeria. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 17(1), 273-287.
Ali, N., & Sehu Mohamad, Z. (2014). Cabaran-cabaran pelarian Rohingya Muslim: Kajian kes di Pulau Pinang. Universiti Sains Malaysia.
Almoshmosh, N., Mobayed, M., & Aljendi, M. (2016). Mental health and psychosocial needs of Syrian refugees and the role of Syrian non-governmental organizations. BJPSYCH International, 13(4), 81-83.
Al-Natour, A., Al-Ostaz, S. M., & Morris, E. J. (2018). Marital violence during war conflict: The lived experience of Syrian refugee women. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 00(0), 1-7.
Beamon, M. B., & Balcik, B. (2008). Performance measurement in humanitarian relief chains. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 21(1), 4-25.
Brandsen, T., Trommel, W., & Verschuere, B. (2015). The state and the reconstruction of civil society. International Review of Administrative Article Sciences, 83(4), 676-693.
Byman, D., Lesser, I., Pirnie, B., Benard, C., & Waxman, M. (2000). Strengthening the partnership: Improving military coordination with relief agencies. RAND.
Creswell, W. J. (2013). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Sage Publication.
Edwards, A. (2005). Human rights, refugees, and the right “to enjoy” asylum. International Journal of Refugee Law, 17(2), 293-330.
El-Khani, A., Ulph, F., Peters, S., & Calam, R. (2018). Syria: Refugee parents’ experiences and need for parenting support in camps and humanitarian settings. Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 13(1), 19-29.
Elshazly, M., Alam A. M., & Ventevogel, P. (2019). Field-level coordination of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar. Intervention, 17(1), 212-216.
Enh, M. A. (2017). Sumbangan dan peranan Malaysia dalam konflik Bosnia-Rerbia 1992-1995. Sejarah, 17(17), 177-193.
Fleay, C., & Hartley, L. (2016). 'I feel like a beggar': Asylum seekers living in the Australian community without the right to work. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 17(4), 1031-1048.
Freedman, J. (2016). Sexual and gender-based violence against refugee women: A hidden aspect of the refugee “crisis”. Reproductive Health Matters, 24(47), 18-26.
Galtung, H. (1986). A new era for non-governmental organization in the UN? Transnational Association, 3(1), 183-186.
Gilbert, J. (2009). Power and ethics in psychosocial counselling: Reflections on the experience of an international NGO providing services for Iraqi refugees in Jordan. Intervention, 7(1), 50-60.
Hakovirta, H. (1993). The global refugee problem: A model and its application. International Political Science Review, 14(1), 35-57.
Hammerstad, A. (2015). The international humanitarian regime and its discontents: India’s challenge. The Round Table, 104(4), 457-471.
Hamzah, S. I., Daud, S., Idris, A. N., & Shamshinor, A. S. M. (2016). Migrasi rentas sempadan etnik Rohingya dan implikasi terhadap Malaysia. Sains Insani, 1(1), 36-43.
Harkins, B. (2012). Beyond “temporary shelter”: A case study of Karen Refugee resettlement in St. Paul, Minnesota. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 10(2), 184-203.
Irrera, D. (2011). Civil society and humanitarian action - NGOs' roles in peace support operations: Review of central European affairs review of central European affairs. Perspectives, 19(1), 85-106.
Kersch, A., & Mishtal, J. (2016). Asylum in crisis: Migrant policy, entrapment, and the role of nongovernmental organizations in Siracusa, Italy. Refugee Survey Quarterly, 35(4), 97-121.
Khairi, A. (2016). Pelarian Cina Indonesia dan pelarian Moro di Sabah: Penelitian dari aspek pensejarahan. Jurnal Sains Sosial dan Kemanusiaan, 8(1), 68-75.
Khalid, T. A. K. (2010). Masyarakat sivil di Malaysia: Isu dan strategi. Journal of Asian and International Bioethics, 1(1), 219-244.
Kleinmann, H. H. (1984). Understanding refugee second language learning. Japan Association for Language Teaching, 6(2), 209-219.
Krause, S., Williams, H., Onyango, A, M., Sami, S., Doedens, W., Giga, N., Stone, E., & Tomczyk, B. (2015). Reproductive health services for Syrian refugees in Zaatri Camp and Irbid City, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan: An evaluation of the minimum
initial services package. Conflict and Health, 9(1), 1-10.
Kumssa, A., Williams, J. H., Jones, J. F., & Des Marais, E. A. (2014). Conflict and migration: The case of Somali refugees in Northeastern Kenya. Global Social Welfare, 1(1), 145-156.
Larkin, E. (2007). Burma’s forgotten refugees. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 63(6), 32-39.
Li, G., & Sah, K. (2019). Immigrant and refugee language policies, programs, and practices in an era of change: Promises, contradictions, and possibilities. In S. J. Gold & S. J. Nawyn (Eds.), Routledge international handbook of migration studies (pp.
Lindencrona, F., Ekblad, S., & Hauff, E. (2007). Mental health of recently resettled refugees from the Middle East in Sweden: The impact of pre-resettlement trauma, resettlement stress and capacity to handle stress. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric
Epidemiology, 43(2), 121- 131.
Lindert, J., Ehrenstein, O. S. V., Priebe, S., Mielck, A., & Brähler, E. (2009). Depression and anxiety in labor migrants and refugees - A systematic review and meta-analysis. Social Science & Medicine, 69(2), 246-257.
Loescher, G. (2002). Blaming the victim: Refugees and global security. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 58(6), 46-53.
MacTavish, E. (2016). Barriers of reporting sexual violence in Syrian refugee camps. (Unpublished master dissertation). Royal Roads University, Canada.
Maguire, M., & Delahunt, B. (2017). Doing a thematic analysis: A practical, step-by-step guide for learning and teaching scholars. Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 8(3), 3351-33514.
Mestheneos, E., & Iqannidi, E. (2002). Obstacles to refugee integration in the European Union Member States. Journal of Refugee Studies, 15(3), 304-320.
Mollica, R. F., Wyshak, G., & Lavelle, J. (1987). The psychosocial impact of war trauma and torture on Southeast Asian refugees. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144(1), 1567-1572.
Mollie, G., & Gerver, M. (2016). Refugee repatriation and the problem of consent. British Journal of Political Science, 48(1), 855-875.
Nazri, S. A., Khalid, T. A. K., & Sulaiman, N. (2019). Syrian Muslim refugees in Malaysia: The narratives and survivability. Islam Realitas, 5(2), 130-144.
Ong, C., Chai, J. M., Tan, C. S., & Tan, S. M. (2018). Communicative readiness and motivation among UNHCR refugee teachers of English in Malaysia. Journal of Social Science, 4(1), 1-9.
Renner, W. (2009). The effectiveness of psychotherapy with refugees and asylum seekers: Preliminary results from an Austrian study. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 11(1), 41-5.
Rose, J., Phil O'keefe, P., Jayawickrama, J., & O'brien, G. (2013). The challenge of humanitarian aid: An overview. Environmental Hazards, 12(1), 74-92.
Sahak, S., Nordin, R., & Ishak, K. M. (2020). The plight of refugees in Malaysia: Malaysia as a transit country in protecting refugees’ rights. Journal of Nusantara Studies, 5(1), 378-394.
Sim, R. (2016). Into the mind of the refugee: Unpacking modern refugee mental health. Harvard International Review, 37(4), 46-48.
Soares, A. A., & Tzafalias, M. (2015). Europe gears up to attend to refugees' health. World Health Organization. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 93(12), 822-823.
Tran, V. T. (1990). Language acculturation among older Vietnamese refugee adults. The Gerontological Society of America, 30(1), 94-99.
UNHCR Malaysia. (2020). UNHCR glance. https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance-in malaysia.html.
UNHCR. (2018). Protection in Malaysia. https:// www . unhcr .org /en -my / protection -in - malaysia 591401344.html.
Wahab, A. A. (2018). The colours of exploitation: Smuggling of Rohingyas from Myanmar to Malaysia. Akademika, 88(1), 5-16.
Yassin, N., Taha, A. A., Ghantous, Z., Mia, M. A., & Forgione, F. (2018). Evaluating a mental health program for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 20(2), 388-398.