The Malaysian government has called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to share its database of approximately 150,000 refugees and asylum seekers registered in the country, which includes their biometric information, according to a report by Channel News Asia.
Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan said that the authorities are worried that some Islamic State (IS) militants may have entered Malaysia and obtained a refugee card issued by UNHCR in an effort to move freely within the country.
“They [UNHCR] have issued cards but the home ministry is not involved in the process of vetting at all,” Jazlan said. “They don’t collect biometric data. So it doesn’t help our enforcement effort especially on transnational crime, human trafficking and terrorism. So we want to know whether any IS links have penetrated, their numbers.
“But the refugee numbers reported by UNHCR keeps increasing. And since the Malaysian public now is very concerned about the presence and high numbers of foreigners, it’s time the government identifies and closes all loopholes where they can enter. And the UNHCR route is one of them.”
Jazlan said that organized crime organizations smuggle in IS suspects over the Thai border in trucks, which is why the Malaysian government is especially concerned with tracking individuals coming from Thailand.