The government will issue refugee cards to 137,770 Myanmar nationals who are registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in the country.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the cards which cost US$3.1 million (RM10.3 million) would be funded by the Australian Government and expected to be completed within three years.

"The cards will be issued based on names registered with the UNHCR. Those who are not registered with the UNHCR but enter the country are considered illegal immigrants.

"According to the Immigration Department there are an estimated 20,000 Myanmar nationals who are not registered with UNHCR but have these cards which may be fake," he said told reporters after receiving a courtesy call from the director of International Protection, UNHCR Geneva, Dr Volker Turk at his office, Monday.

Ahmad Zahid said, some long-term measures will be taken to find a solution to the issue of UNHCR card holders in Malaysia.

According to him, problems involving Myanmar UNHCR card holders include crime and murder, among others.

In addition, UNHCR is seeking to resolve educational issues faced by Myanmar children with the Ministry of Education, he explained.

Commenting on the 142 UNHCR card holders arrested for working in Cameron Highlands recently, Ahmad Zahid said the rules do not allow UNHCR card holders to work in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Turk said he hoped the issue of Myanmar nationals registered with the UNHCR can be addressed in the coming weeks.

"If you look at the Bay of Bengal some of the movements (from Myanmar) are to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. We very much believe in a regional cooperative framework to resolve this issue," he added.

Asked about the 4,000 Rohingya population in Cameron Highlands reported by the media yesterday, Turk said when it comes to Rohingya population it would be better to identify determine if they are actually from Myanmar or Bangladesh.

"We heard (about the Rohingya population in Cameron Highlands) yesterday and we are working with the Malaysian authorities on this particular issue. It is important to clarify who they actually are," he added.

Turk said, UNHCR is looking forward for a constructive and oriented dialogue session with the Malaysian government to solve the issue.

"There will obviously be regular dialogues following today's meeting," he said.