Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned that migrants, stateless people and refugees are at an “extra risk” of COVID-19 and has called on Malaysia took take actions to ensure healthcare services are readily available for these migrants without the risk of arrest or deportation.
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, warned that this was a matter of public safety stating;
“Malaysia can’t effectively combat COVID-19 if migrants, stateless people, and refugees are unable to get health care because they can’t afford it, face discrimination, or fear arrest and deportation […] With many living in crowded settlements with no running water and no ability to isolate those who get sick, they are especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 infection.”
HRW notes that Malaysia’s Ministry of Health has announced that it will make free COVID-19 tests for foreigners as well as Malaysians nationals but has not specified if said tests will be available for undocumented migrants or if free treatment will be available for foreign nationals. HRW has called on the abolition of fees for treatment.
Adam further stated;
“The Malaysian government needs to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic by making sure everyone, regardless of their legal status, can access health care without risk of arrest or other repercussions and is aware that they can do so, and that hospitals treat all those who come without discrimination”.
Read HRW full statement here.