Deaths among detainees afflicted by an unknown disease continue in the KLIA detention camp near the Kuala Lumpur International airport in Malaysia.
Malaysian authorities detain illegal foreigners in detention camps before they are deported to the migrant’s country of origin. There have been deaths among detainees since the end of August this year.
Ngaung Sapaung (45), died on December 9 in the camp of the unknown disease, a detainee said.
"Ngaung Sapaung was critically ill. He could not get up. They sent him to a hospital. He was in the hospital for a day. The next day at 9 p.m. he died. Seven inmates died in the camp in four months," he added.
His legs were swollen and he could not have any food for a week before he died. He also suffered from constipation and retention of urine. Though other inmates informed camp authorities about his deteriorating health, camp authorities did not send him to hospital on time.
Most detainees were moved from the Samongnyin camp because they demonstrated demanding better health care facilities since early July. There is lack of health care facilities and medicines cannot be brought from outside.
"Old inmates moved from the Samongnyin camp have not been taken to doctors or given medicines. We requested for medicines from our friends, who are outside but the authorities do not allow us to take these medicines," he said.
"The old detainees moved from the Samongnyin camp have their names deleted from the UNHCR's list. Therefore, the UNHCR cannot bring them back.
"If we want to see officials from the UN, the officials come to the camp but they cannot call out our number. There is no list of names in the detention camp. Even though the UN has submitted a list of names, ours have been deleted because there is no list here. So, we cannot meet the UN officials. I have been in the camp for a year, where there are lots of difficulties," he added.
Though the authorities have attempted to investigate the cause of the disease but there are no answers yet. The Burmese Embassy has attempted to send them back to Burma but they don't have enough money for the return trip. So they continue to be in the detention camp.
"If I had the money, I would have gone back. Now I don't have enough money and I cannot get any money from home. So, I have to stay in the camp," the inmate said.
If a person wants to go back to Burma, he has to pay about 1,500 ringgit. Even though an official from the Burma Embassy managed to send some of them back with only 500 ringgit per person, now it has stopped.
There are a total of 130 Burmese in the camp. Among of them, about 30 are suffering from the unknown disease.
Detainees said there is lack of light; improper ventilation system in the camp, unclean water for drinking and bathing, and lack of fresh food. Therefore the disease is spreading in the camp, inmates added.
Jimmy Leow is a Citizen Journalist trained by Malaysiakini through the CJ.MY project. He is an environmentalist who loves the outdoors and is always on the lookout for issues affecting the public. He believes social justice is achieved through mediation and not through extremism.