By Jupiter Kalambakal

Sydney, Australia

Australia's plan to send asylum seekers to Malaysia got an unexpected vote of confidence from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who says the proposed plan is safer and better for asylum seekers.

The deal, according to the UNHCR, offers better protection for asylum seekers in Malaysia than being held in indefinite mandatory detention in Australia.

The UN refugee agency said it found Australian mandatory detention prevents asylum seekers from working or living in the community,. Moreover, the agency said, Australia denies asylum seekers the right to lawfully stay in the country.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian government plans to extend legal work rights to all refugees, not just those sent from Australia, assuring refugees access to insurance and health schemes.

''In the context of the Malaysian arrangements, the assurances of legal stay and community-based reception for all transferees can be seen as a more positive protection environment than protracted - and in some cases indefinite - detention that many face here in Australia, provided the assurances are carefully monitored,'' the UNHCR's regional representative, Richard Towle, wrote in response to a parliamentary inquiry.

The Australian Parliament will vote on Thursday on the legislation to bypass a High Court ban on the transfer of asylum seekers to Malaysia.


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World - Australia's Malaysia Refugee Swap Deal Gets Support from UNHCR | Global Viewpoint