Malaysia accepts first of 3,000 Syrian migrants

Malaysia's landmark Petronas Twin Towers (R) and commercial buildings are seen on a clear day in Kuala Lumpur on 29 October 2015. Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Malaysia and the Philippines said earlier this year they would accept Syrian migrants

Malaysia has received the first batch of Syrian migrants out of a total of 3,000 it plans to allow into the country.

The eight people have relatives working in Malaysia who appealed to authorities for help, reports said.

Malaysia and the Philippines said earlier this year they would accept Syrian migrants.

Europe faces a crisis in which hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Syria and other countries are seeking asylum.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has said Malaysia, a majority Muslim country, would accept 3,000 migrants from Syria over the next three years to help ease the strain.

Authorities have said that temporary visiting passes will be issued to the Syrians who arrived on Wednesday evening.

They are family members of Mohamed Ibrahim and Ali Abdul Nasser, two Syrians who have been working as hairstylists in Malaysia since 2012, according to The Malaysian Insider.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Mr Najib said Malaysia would accept the migrants to ease the strain of the humanitarian crisis on other countries

The news portal quoted deputy home minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed as saying that the eight were not yet considered refugees as they had yet to be recognised as such by the UN.

Malaysia is not a signatory of the UN convention on refugees.

A spokesman from the UN's refugee agency told the BBC that it was not involved in the selection of the first batch, but the agency is currently in discussions with the Malaysian government on receiving migrants in the future.

"Any resettled refugees must have the right to enter and remain in the country lawfully, be able to work legally, and have access to education and other social service support as families may need," she said.

Australia began receiving the first of the 12,000 Syrian migrants it has agreed to accept in November.

Philippine media reported in September that the country was also open to accepting migrants, quoting President Benigno Aquino and government officials.

The Philippines is a signatory of the convention. But it has not yet said how many Syrian migrants it will take in, citing the need to assess its resources first.

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