Over 500 Rohingya refugees fled their detention centre in Malaysia today (April 20).
The Immigration Department said 528 of them escaped after breaking a block door and barrier grill at a temporary detention centre in northern Penang.
However 362 of them have been rearrested by police and other agencies who were deployed immediately to look for them.
“The search for the remaining detainees is continuing,” said the Immigration department in a statement.
Details on what sparked the breakout are still unknown.
According to Penang police chief Mohamad Shuhaily Mohamad Zain six detainees were killed while trying to cross the highway. Two men, two women and two youngsters, a boy and a girl.
Although Malaysia doesn’t grant refugee status, the country currently houses 180,000 refugees and asylum seekers accredited with the UNHCR, including more than 100,000 Rohingya and other Myanmar ethnic groups.
Many of these Rohingya who unfortunately have no official status stay within their own communities and work cheaply for local businesses without much assimilation with the locals.
Despite all the hardship and risk, many Rohingya seem to prefer Malaysia rather than its neighbour Indonesia and continue to arrive in droves illegally by sea, remaining undocumented.