Six people die after more than 500 Rohingya flee migrant centre
by Steve Suwannarat

Police recapture more than 300 people who broke out early this morning, possibly because of tensions with camp guards. Four adults and two children died as they tried to cross a motorway.


Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) – At least four adults and two children, all ethnic Rohingya, have died during an attempted escape from a temporary detention centre in Sungai Bakap (Penang).

In the early hours of this morning, 528 migrants held at the facility broke through the gates and part of the fence; apparently, relations with camp guards had become tense.

Among those who fled, two men, two women and two children, a boy and a girl, were run over by cars and killed crossing a motorway about eight km from the camp.

Malaysian immigration officials reported that at least 362 Rohingya were recaptured, while the others are still on the loose. The facility held 664 refugees, including 137 children.

Police are investigating the reasons for the tensions that led to the mass escape attempt.

For Rohingya refugees, life in Malaysia is tough. To reach the country, they travel by sea for weeks, even months in some cases.

Malaysia opened its doors to the Rohingya who, like a majority of Malaysians, are Muslim.

About 103,000 have reached the Southeast Asian country fleeing military repression in Myanmar or discrimination in Bangladesh where they receive the strictest minimum and are not allowed to integrate.

In 2020 Bangladesh interned thousands of them in overcrowded detention centres, ostensibly to control the spread of COVID-19.

Some 181,510 refugees are present Malaysia as of last January, this according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. They include some 52,000 people from Myanmar from other ethnic minorities who fled Myanmar due to military persecution and the ongoing civil war that broke out after the coup of 1 February 2021.

Like other migrants who lack proper papers and are unable to obtain protection based on international standards, the Rohingya in Malaysia also end up being exploited as cheap labour, in the construction industry for example.