A community of Rohingya refugees living in a village in rural Penang were driven from their homes by locals ahead of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration, in an incident which the United Nations' refugee body described as "a completely avoidable tragedy".
Over 50 refugees including children and senior citizens were made to leave the village "with no warning" by a small group of locals, UNHCR Malaysia said in a Facebook post accompanied by a picture of an empty house.
"This house in a rural village in Penang was home to a Rohingya refugee family. One week shy of the Eid celebrations, this home should have been loud with children excitedly awaiting the festivities, families preparing for the end of Ramadan.
"Yet, this house now lies silent and vacant, together with homes of a dozen other Rohingya refugee families in this village," it said.
Adding that it was working with NGO partners to understand the situation, UNHCR said the Rohingya community had lived in the area for nearly a decade.
"Neighbours told us that the Rohingya community had lived here for nearly 10 years and caused no problems, had integrated well, and even spoke Malay in the local dialect.
"More often than not, this is the typical experience for many Malaysians living close to refugees," it said.
Malaysia is said to be home to more than 100,000 Rohingya from Myanmar fleeing the crackdown at home.
Concerns were recently raised about anti-Rohingya sentiments circulating online, with rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) urging the government to intervene.
"The Rohingya are a truly vulnerable group. They are refugees forced to flee their country for fear of their lives, undocumented with no financial stability due to being unable to work, who now not only have to deal with harassment from unscrupulous enforcement authorities, but must also deal with the rising xenophobic sentiment from the populace.
"There is a risk that if this sentiment is not quelled, they will face real threats of harm by people who mistakenly view them as threats to Malaysian society," LFL said on April 13.
UNHCR said the community in Penang had been forced from their homes "without provocation", expressing shock that such a thing had happened during the month of Ramadan.
"This tragedy was completely avoidable with dialogue and understanding. These refugees are the unfortunate victims of ignorance and intolerance," it added.
"As Muslim families all over the world prepare to celebrate Eid, our hope for these Rohingya refugee families, and for refugee families everywhere, is that they find a place of safety and compassion to call home."