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Malaysia: Over 100 Rohingya flee migrant detention center

February 2, 2024

One of the migrants who fled the immigration center was killed in a road accident. Persecuted Rohingya often illegally flee to Muslim-majority Malaysia to escape discrimination in Myanmar.

Myanmar refugees from ethnic Rohingya are seen at wet market near their house in conjunction with World refugees day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on June 21, 2018.
Many Rohingya go to the Muslim-majority Malaysia to flee persecution in MyanmarImage: Samsul Said/Nipponnews/AFLO/IMAGO

A group of over 100 migrants, mostly Rohingya, fled an immigration center in Malaysia late on Thursday, with one member of the group getting killed in a road accident.

A total of 131 people escaped from the Bidor immigration center in Malaysia's western Perak state, Immigration Department director-general Ruslin Jusoh said in a Friday statement.

They included 115 Rohingya. The rest were all also Myanmar nationals.

The migrants, all men, escaped when a riot broke out at the center. Some 400 personnel were deployed to look for them, Jusoh said.

Why do Rohingya go to Malaysia?

The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority who were mainly based in Myanmar's Rakhine province before hundreds of thousands fled military persecution in 2017 to neighboring Bangladesh.

Many prefer to flee instead to the Muslim-majority, affluent Malaysia, though in recent year, the country has turned away Rohingya refugee boats and locked up thousands in crowded detention centers.

Malaysia does not recognize refugee status, and often cracks down on undocumented migrants.

Over 100,000 Rohingya are believed to live in Malaysia, existing on the margins of society and working illegally in low-paid jobs.

Malaysia: Rohingya on the margins of society

rmt/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)