Mon, Aug 22, 2011 - Page 4 News List

FEATURE: Fear fuels Australia dreams of refugees in Malaysia

AFP, KUALA LUMPUR

Most Afghan refugees in Malaysia are Shiites, looked down upon in a Sunni Muslim country where the Shiite faith is banned.

They also are often wrongly viewed as linked to Afghanistan’s militant Taliban, making it difficult to rent accommodation and find jobs, Verghis said.

Akhbar knows many who have attempted the voyage to Australia, exasperated by a resettlement wait that can take years. Last year, just 8,000 of Malaysia’s registered refugees were resettled elsewhere.

Some of Akhbar’s acquaintances obtained asylum, but others — including families — never made it because their rickety boats sank.

Akhbar stands ready to take that risk if his family is not resettled and if they can scrape up enough money for the illicit passage.

“I wish to go to a place with respect for humans. Then I will be there forever,” he said.

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