It is difficult to find who in the world has not been affected by COVID-19. To control contamination, Malaysia has established the MCO since 18 March, which has closed most stores, all schools, and has generally restricted urban mobility.
With commercial establishments closed, many people were left without jobs. Among them, some of the most vulnerable groups are formed by refugees. Malaysia, in 2017, already had more than 177,000 refugees or asylum-seekers. Without work, many of them are in serious difficulty to be able to pay their bills, or even buy food.
“Due to MCO, we are staying at home and can't go for work. We have no money to pay our house rent and utilities, our children, school fees, fulfill our medical needs and food for our family. If MCO will extend again we will be really in trouble.” said Mrs Ansa Shakil. She is a Pakistani refugee who works at the Lady Ayyaz Sewing Center. Another refugee interviewed is in a similar situation: “The MCO affected us badly. As a refugee, we have no saving money because the wages we earn per month is not enough. Enough only for 1 month.” Said Muang I, a refugee from Myanmar, who works at Mang Tha, an empowerment center Women to rebuild Lives through handicraft.
The absence of legal documentation makes it even more difficult to get help from the government, as government assistance often only serves native residents. The biggest concern is housing. Muang I said: “For us, we wish the Malaysian will help us at least to free our rentle. Not working 3 months, make us survived hardly. We are afraid that, if we cannot pay the rentle, the owner will drive us out, if they do like this, where we will go and stay? So please help us to stay at the house safely. This is one of my serious wishes that we have in mind.”
Mrs Ansa Shakil also mentioned the importance of free access to food and medical treatment, essential to maintaining the health and life of refugees during the MCO.
Going through the process of fleeing your own country to start a life in a distant land is already a painful and difficult process. With the pandemic, everything becomes even more complicated for these groups. And you can help. Publicize our cause, make a donation.
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