In India and Malaysia, refugees from countries including Myanmar, are facing barriers to integration and rebuilding their lives as a result of enduring crises that have severely impacted their mental health and access to essential services. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has partnered with the European Union to support refugee-led advocacy groups in Malaysia to advocate for their needs to host country governments.

Although Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the country has a rich and longstanding history of providing asylum to people fleeing conflict. The absence of a legal framework distinguishing refugees from asylum-seekers, stateless persons, and undocumented migrants creates unpredictability for these groups. Without formal legal status, they face barriers to fundamental rights, including education. Meanwhile, research shows that children are at particular risk of experiencing severe mental health issues, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety. 

The IRC has worked alongside the Asia Displacement Solutions Platform to implement the Supporting Humanitarian and Refugee Protection in Asia (SHARP-Asia) Project. SHARP-Asia seeks to support national and regional level advocacy initiatives for improved rights and protections for refugees across Asia,  with the emphasis on refugees from Myanmar. Funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the project has implemented research, advocacy, and capacity-strengthening initiatives. 

The financial support from the European Union has enabled refugees in Malaysia and India to speak out on the enduring effects of living through crisis. The refugee-led advocacy groups in partnership with the IRC and ADSP Asia have supported people to champion their rights, amplify unheard voices, and weave a safety net for the newly arrived. Rooted in empathy and resilience, these groups bridge gaps that official channels often overlook. 

“The studies and publications created through this project highlight the problems caused by language barriers, lack of resources and overall lack of support for third country nationals in Malaysia. It is imperative that the world shifts its focus from policy discussions among decision makers to tangible action, centering on the experiences and perspectives of those directly impacted. Without refugee participation in high level meetings, their needs cannot truly be represented. Refugee-led advocacy groups are powerful advocates for their own needs at both the national and global levels. 

About our work with the European Union

The International Rescue Committee partners with the European Union to provide life-saving support to people caught in conflict and disasters around the world. Our work funded by the EU enables people to survive, recover and rebuild their lives.