Lone Passage

Fleeing war, persecution, abuse and other dangers, hundreds of children have made perilous journeys by sea, air and land to reach Malaysian shores - all on their own.

Many are aged 13 to 17, but some are as young as five.

A number of them have relatives or family friends waiting on the other side but about 800 of them are completely on their own, according to UNHCR’s records.

They are left to fend for themselves in a country many of them never heard of until they were bundled off, in hopes of safety.

Vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, they are a population of asylum seekers whose existence remains unknown to most Malaysians.

The children have few avenues for formal schooling, become child labourers and risk detention by immigration, because under the Malaysian law, asylum seekers are no different from undocumented migrants.

The luckiest of them find their way to aid organisations who help them find shelter, education and foster families who care for them until they reach 18 or are resettled by UNHCR in another country. Due to resource constraints faced by NGOs, not all will have these opportunities.