The United Nations refugee agency has urged Malaysia to let tens of thousands of foreign refugees legally work in the country to help ease a nationwide labor shortage.
The representative in Malaysia of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Volker Turk told participants in a U.N. refugee conference in Kuala Monday that since the country has a refugee population that cannot be deported, Malaysia should use that population to fill the void.
Kuala Lumpur recently allowed 100,000 refugees to leave the country in return for freedom from prosecution. The action created a labor void that has left crops rotting in the fields, and understaffing at construction sites and factories.
Many of the 40,000 refugees in Malaysia registered with the U.N. refugee agency are from Indonesia and from Burma.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.