People often misunderstand who a refugee is, thinking that they are migrants looking for economic opportunities. That is not necessarily the case.
Refugees are people just like you and me – mothers, fathers, students, farmers, or lawyers – living their normal lives every day. But then, something happens to them that changes everything. Their homes are perhaps ravaged by war or a natural disaster, or they are faced with serious human rights abuses and persecution. Suddenly, their home is no longer safe. And so they have no choice but to run to save their lives and the lives of their children.
Unlike migrants, they have lost the protection of their Governments and are unable to return home safely.
There are over 150,000 refugee men, women, and children in Malaysia alone. They may have no legal status in the country and there are no laws that define what their rights are. Because of this, refugee families in Malaysia live in fear of being arrested for immigration offences. They are also unable to find legal work to support their families. Instead, they must look for work in the informal sector where the work is dirty, dangerous and difficult, and where they are often subject to exploitation.
Children aren’t able to attend proper school, and many are unable to complete basic schooling.
Healthcare is expensive, and it is difficult for families to afford basic care and treatment when anyone falls ill.
Helping refugees cope with urgent medical and welfare needs is one of the greatest challenges for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and dozens of NGOs working to help refugees in Malaysia.
And so, in order to support these unfortunate souls, the Refugee Welfare Fund was created.
What is the Refugee Welfare Fund?
The Refugee Welfare Fund, run by UNHCR and its partner the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, was established to help extremely vulnerable refugees.
It benefits the emergency medical and welfare needs of refugees in Malaysia, particularly in the area of life-saving medical assistance.
UNHCR receives dozens of emergency medical cases each month, of refugees requiring urgent, life-saving medical attention. It is impossible for most refugees to afford these treatments without assistance, which is why UNHCR and their NGO partners cover a part of the treatment cost, while the remaining cost is covered by the Refugee Welfare Fund.
Why they do what they do?
To put it simply, the Refugee Welfare Fund was set up out of compassion. Seeing the condition Refugees were in and the difficulties they faced on a day-to-day basis, UNHCR and the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation decided to take the first step towards helping those who needed it most, in providing financial assistance for those in need of life-saving medical help or welfare assistance.
To give a better idea of why this fund is so badly needed, let us explore:
The Life Of A Refugee
We introduce Jainabbi Sadek. Jainabbi is arguably one of the oldest Rohingya women in Malaysia. She can’t remember how old she is, but we can estimate her age to be well over 90 years by now. She has been in Malaysia since she was 20 years old. She fled Myanmar after her losing her family, and after her husband died.
“I came by boat when the British ruled in Malaysia. My husband was a soldier in Myanmar. I remember he was a very nice person – it was a very long time ago,” she said. “When I came to Malaysia I always carried a picture of my husband in my pocket. Before he died he asked me to keep it with me whatever happened, and so I did.”
All alone in Malaysia now, with no family, and too old and ailing to work, Jainabbi relies on the support of neighbours and friends for her daily food and needs, and relies on the care of NGOs like Tzu Chi Foundation for financial assistance. The Refugee Welfare Fund was set up to help people like Jainabbi Sadek who are in need of life-saving medical help or welfare assistance.
How the LoveRun Will Help Them
LoveRun will be helping the Refugee Welfare Fund by raising funds for them, which in turn will help enable many vulnerable refugees to obtain the care they need.
There also many other ways you can help refugees, through the smallest of gestures. Simply show understanding for who they are and why they had to flee; extend compassion and friendship to them.
The life of a refugee is filled with challenges. In spite of this, they find the courage, strength, and determination to hold on to hope, and never give up. All they need is support and a safe place where they can rebuild their lives.
Play a part in helping the refugees in Malaysia. Come and run with us, join the LoveRun.