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‘Turning a blind eye’: the policy response to Rohingya refugees in Malaysia

Published by: ODI


About

At the end of October 2016, there were 150,669 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia; 54,856 of whom were Rohingya. Estimates suggest tens of thousands more Rohingya refugees remain unregistered in Malaysia. This working paper considers the institutions, organisations and policies that affect the lives and livelihoods of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia. It begins by describing the stakeholders involved with refugees in Malaysia: their roles, constraints, interactions and key policies (such as registration) as they pertain to Rohingya refugees. Subsequent themes explored in the working paper include refugees and employment – such as potential advantages and concerns regarding the introduction of work permits for refugees – and interactions between refugee community-based organisations, aid actors and Malaysians.

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General Information

SDGs Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth Goal 10: Reduced inequalities
Published
2016
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Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

Over the past 25 years the number of workers living in extreme poverty has declined dramatically, despite the long-lasting impact of the economic crisis of 2008/2009. In developing countries, the middle class now makes up more than 34 percent of total employment – a number that has almost tripled between 1991 and 2015.

However, as the global economy continues to recover we are seeing slower growth, widening inequalities and employment that is not expanding fast enough to keep up with the growing labour force. According to the International Labour Organization, more than 204 million people are unemployed in 2015.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to encourage sustained economic growth by achieving higher levels of productivity and through technological innovation. Promoting policies that encourage entrepreneurship and job creation are key to this, as are effective measures to eradicate forced labour, slavery and human trafficking. With these targets in mind, the goal is to achieve full and productive employment, and decent work, for all women and men by 2030.

Decent work is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 8.

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Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

Over the past 25 years the number of workers living in extreme poverty has declined dramatically, despite the long-lasting impact of the economic crisis of 2008/2009. In developing countries, the middle class now makes up more than 34 percent of total employment – a number that has almost tripled between 1991 and 2015.

However, as the global economy continues to recover we are seeing slower growth, widening inequalities and employment that is not expanding fast enough to keep up with the growing labour force. According to the International Labour Organization, more than 204 million people are unemployed in 2015.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to encourage sustained economic growth by achieving higher levels of productivity and through technological innovation. Promoting policies that encourage entrepreneurship and job creation are key to this, as are effective measures to eradicate forced labour, slavery and human trafficking. With these targets in mind, the goal is to achieve full and productive employment, and decent work, for all women and men by 2030.

Decent work is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 8.

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The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund supports initiatives that tackle inclusive growth from a multisectoral perspective and address the following dimensions:

  • Create opportunities for good and decent jobs and secure livelihoods
  • Support inclusive and sustainable business practices
  • Promote better government policies and fair and accountable public institutions

For example:

  • In Cote d’Ivoire, the SDG Fund programme to reduce poverty in the region of San Pedro is working to avoid the worst forms of child labour. Young people (all at least 15 years of age and thus legally permitted to work under local law) have received vocational training and are engaged in income generating activities including aquaculture and chicken rearing, both of which rely on traditional know how and are considered to be very low risk activities. The activities take place with the full support of parents and avoid exploitation of young people in cacao plantations.
  • In Honduras, the SDG-F will support income generation through the revitalization of the Lenca culture and the development of sustainable tourism micro businesses in the area, led by youth and women.
  • In Peru, the SDG Fund is contributing to establish an inclusive value chain in the production of quinoa and other Andean grains, so that the increased demand in the international market can convert into economic and social improvements of currently vulnerable producers.
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The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund supports initiatives that tackle inclusive growth from a multisectoral perspective and address the following dimensions:

  • Create opportunities for good and decent jobs and secure livelihoods
  • Support inclusive and sustainable business practices
  • Promote better government policies and fair and accountable public institutions

For example:

  • In Cote d’Ivoire, the SDG Fund programme to reduce poverty in the region of San Pedro is working to avoid the worst forms of child labour. Young people (all at least 15 years of age and thus legally permitted to work under local law) have received vocational training and are engaged in income generating activities including aquaculture and chicken rearing, both of which rely on traditional know how and are considered to be very low risk activities. The activities take place with the full support of parents and avoid exploitation of young people in cacao plantations.
  • In Honduras, the SDG-F will support income generation through the revitalization of the Lenca culture and the development of sustainable tourism micro businesses in the area, led by youth and women.
  • In Peru, the SDG Fund is contributing to establish an inclusive value chain in the production of quinoa and other Andean grains, so that the increased demand in the international market can convert into economic and social improvements of currently vulnerable producers.
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  • Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries
  • Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors
  • Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead
  • By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
  • By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training
  • Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms
  • Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment
  • By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products
  • Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all
  • Increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries
  • By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization
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  • Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries
  • Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors
  • Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead
  • By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
  • By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training
  • Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms
  • Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment
  • By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products
  • Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all
  • Increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries
  • By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization
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Reduce inequality within and among countries

It is well documented that income inequality is on the rise, with the richest 10 percent earning up to 40 percent of total global income. The poorest 10 percent earn only between 2 and 7 percent of total global income. In developing countries, inequality has increased by 11 percent if we take into account the growth of population.

These widening disparities are a call for action that require the adoption of sound policies to empower the bottom percentile of income earners and promote economic inclusion of all regardless of sex, race or ethnicity.

Income inequality is a global problem that requires global solutions. This involves improving the regulation and monitoring of financial markets and institutions, encouraging development assistance and foreign direct investment to regions where the need is greatest. Facilitating the safe migration and mobility of people is also key to bridging the widening divide.

Reducing inequalities is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 10.

[format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Reduce inequality within and among countries

It is well documented that income inequality is on the rise, with the richest 10 percent earning up to 40 percent of total global income. The poorest 10 percent earn only between 2 and 7 percent of total global income. In developing countries, inequality has increased by 11 percent if we take into account the growth of population.

These widening disparities are a call for action that require the adoption of sound policies to empower the bottom percentile of income earners and promote economic inclusion of all regardless of sex, race or ethnicity.

Income inequality is a global problem that requires global solutions. This involves improving the regulation and monitoring of financial markets and institutions, encouraging development assistance and foreign direct investment to regions where the need is greatest. Facilitating the safe migration and mobility of people is also key to bridging the widening divide.

Reducing inequalities is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 10.

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The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund programmes undertake situation analysis to understand what inequalities underpin the challenges in the communities and countries where we work. By doing this, the programmes pay special attention to inequalities suffered by women, girls, indigenous people, older people, youth, and those living in geographical isolated communities. Our initiatives take inequalities into account and put into practice solutions to address them, responding to the 2030 Agenda’s mandate of leaving no one behind.

For example,

  • In Tanzania, the SDG Fund is working with the national government to scale-up one of its existing national programmes to reach all the extreme poor living below the food poverty line. In particular, it’s targeting women, children, youth, elderly, people living with disabilities and people living with HIV and AIDS. The programme employs conditional cash transfers, promoting employment through public works programmes, family planning awareness and primary and secondary school education.
  • In Bangladesh, the SDG Fund is working with ultra-poor women, particularly with those who are widowed, divorced or abandoned.  The programme is supporting the most vulnerable households to move out of poverty through public works jobs, education and financial literacy.
  • In Paraguay, the SDG Fund is supporting the government’s efforts to find integrated solutions to undernutrition and to address other health problems faced by indigenous and vulnerable rural households, particularly female-headed ones, to produce nutritious and diversified food production.
[format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund programmes undertake situation analysis to understand what inequalities underpin the challenges in the communities and countries where we work. By doing this, the programmes pay special attention to inequalities suffered by women, girls, indigenous people, older people, youth, and those living in geographical isolated communities. Our initiatives take inequalities into account and put into practice solutions to address them, responding to the 2030 Agenda’s mandate of leaving no one behind.

For example,

  • In Tanzania, the SDG Fund is working with the national government to scale-up one of its existing national programmes to reach all the extreme poor living below the food poverty line. In particular, it’s targeting women, children, youth, elderly, people living with disabilities and people living with HIV and AIDS. The programme employs conditional cash transfers, promoting employment through public works programmes, family planning awareness and primary and secondary school education.
  • In Bangladesh, the SDG Fund is working with ultra-poor women, particularly with those who are widowed, divorced or abandoned.  The programme is supporting the most vulnerable households to move out of poverty through public works jobs, education and financial literacy.
  • In Paraguay, the SDG Fund is supporting the government’s efforts to find integrated solutions to undernutrition and to address other health problems faced by indigenous and vulnerable rural households, particularly female-headed ones, to produce nutritious and diversified food production.
) ) ) [field_targets] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] =>
  • By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average
  • By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard
  • Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality
  • Improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions and strengthen the implementation of such regulations
  • Ensure enhanced representation and voice for developing countries in decision-making in global international economic and financial institutions in order to deliver more effective, credible, accountable and legitimate institutions
  • Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies
  • Implement the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, in accordance with World Trade Organization agreements
  • Encourage official development assistance and financial flows, including foreign direct investment, to States where the need is greatest, in particular least developed countries, African countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their national plans and programmes
  • By 2030, reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent
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  • By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average
  • By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard
  • Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality
  • Improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions and strengthen the implementation of such regulations
  • Ensure enhanced representation and voice for developing countries in decision-making in global international economic and financial institutions in order to deliver more effective, credible, accountable and legitimate institutions
  • Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies
  • Implement the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, in accordance with World Trade Organization agreements
  • Encourage official development assistance and financial flows, including foreign direct investment, to States where the need is greatest, in particular least developed countries, African countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their national plans and programmes
  • By 2030, reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent
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United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia; 54,856 of whom were Rohingya. Estimates suggest tens of thousands more Rohingya refugees remain unregistered in Malaysia. This working paper considers the institutions, organisations and policies that affect the lives and livelihoods of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia. It begins by describing the stakeholders involved with refugees in Malaysia: their roles, constraints, interactions and key policies (such as registration) as they pertain to Rohingya refugees. Subsequent themes explored in the working paper include refugees and employment – such as potential advantages and concerns regarding the introduction of work permits for refugees – and interactions between refugee community-based organisations, aid actors and Malaysians. [format] => [safe_value] => At the end of October 2016, there were 150,669 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia; 54,856 of whom were Rohingya. Estimates suggest tens of thousands more Rohingya refugees remain unregistered in Malaysia. This working paper considers the institutions, organisations and policies that affect the lives and livelihoods of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia. It begins by describing the stakeholders involved with refugees in Malaysia: their roles, constraints, interactions and key policies (such as registration) as they pertain to Rohingya refugees. 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