World Refugee Day 2013

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), as of June 2013, there are more that 100,000 refugees and asylum seekers registered  in Kuala Lumpur.  Most of them  are forced to flee their homeland because of war and persecution and many have found their way here to Malaysia by either trekking overland or by sea.  The bulk of the refugees in Malaysia are from Myanmar, with smaller numbers  coming from Sri Lanka, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afganistan.

For this year’s World Refugee Day Celebration, the UNHCR is holding an exhibition of images taken by Malaysian professional photograhper, Ted Adnan to highlight the dilemma of having to flee one’s homeland and the plight and survival of refugess once they land in another country.

Members of Coalition of Burmese Ethnic Malaysia (COBEM), which comprise of refugees from all the 7 ethnic states in Myanmar put up a cultural,  music and dance show for the public at the lobby of Sentral Station.

Women and children are the most innocent and vulnerable group in all such situtations and their future hangs in the balance of the UNHCR and countries where are in now.  Malaysia is not a signatory to the UNHCR Refugee Charter and as such these refugees and asylum seekers are here illegally and subject to the whims and fancies of the enforcement agencies on immigration and security.

Those refugees who have been registered by the UNHCR have some minimal form of recognition and protection.  The ones at great risks of human rights violations and trafficking are those who are not registered by the UNHCR  and according to COBEM may amount to 50% of those registered.  Refugees fleeing Myanmar and entering into Malaysia make a beeline to the many COBEM offices all over Kuala Lumpur seeking assistance and information on survival issues in a new environment.

The following images are taken at the exhibition and cultural presentation in the lobby of Sentral Station on 23rd June,2013.    They mainly portray refugees and asylum seekers who are women and children.

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UNHCR KL celebrating World Refugee Day at the lobby of KL Sentral

 1Unesco Refugee-3343Children in Mon traditional costume manning their stall at the lobby of KL Sentral o World Refugee Day, 2013

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Some of the handicrafts made by refugee women and children which were for sale to the Malaysian public on World Refugee Day, 2013
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In conjunction with the photo exhibition by Ted Adnan, a booth was set up for anyone who wants to show their solidarity with refugees on World Refugee Day
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A Mon refugee wearing a traditional straw hat at the booth
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A young Kachin refugee manning one of the stalls at the lobby of KL Sentral on World Refugee Day 2013
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This mother and daughter fleeing from war and persecution in Sudan exhibits their henna painting skills which is widely practiced in Sudan.
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3 cutie girls from the Mon ethnic group eagerly waiting for the chance to perform at the lobby of KL Sentral
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This message from a young Sudanese boy sums up the important thing for those who have fleed their homeland.
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This shy and young Pakistani girl manning one of the many handicraft stalls on World Refugee Dya 2013
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The Mon children in their traditional harvesting costume were quite a hit, posing together with commuters and visitors to the World Refugee Day 2013
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Four young girls performing a dance from the Shan State in Myanmar.
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Commuters and visitors at the KL Sentral enjoying the performances put up by the Myanmar refugees.