UNFPA Malaysia allocates 5,000 basic dignity kits to refugees & migrant women and girls in Malaysia
21 August 2020
- Malaysia’s United Nations Agencies (UNFPA, UNHCR & WFP) Collaborate with Malaysian CSO’s To Distribute Hygiene and Basic essentials to Refugee & Migrant Women & Girls in Need.
To alleviate some of the current economic and social hardships faced by Malaysia’s refugee & migrant communities in Malaysia, the United Nations Population Fund Malaysia (UNFPA) in collaboration with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP) have prepared 5000 Basic Dignity Kits for distribution.
The event was held on Friday at the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot in Shah Alam (UNHRD), with a signing ceremony between the two United Nations agencies to officiate the handing over the of the Basic Dignity Kits for distribution. UNHCR will be working with established Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) & Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who are already interfacing with refugee & migrant communities to effectively distribute these kits.
In his opening speech, Stefan Priesner, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei, touched on how the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted refugee & migrant communities in Malaysia, as economic hardships and social circumstances have curtailed their access to primary essentials especially with regards to hygiene and personal items.
“These dignity kits are a small contribution to all the essential needs of vulnerable groups in Malaysia. Just like the hashtag #kitajagakita, the road to recovery is not just the work of the Government but by everyone – private sector, CSO and each and every one of us. But more work needs to be done. The economic and socio-economic recovery will only be achieved with inclusivity as its goal and a spirit of solidarity with those most in need. We are only as strong as our weakest link.”
The Basic Dignity Kits provided will include basic sanitary needs including soaps, oral health kits, reusable sanitary pads, flashlights, washing powder as well as an information booklet for women and young girls of reproductive age.
The information booklet, developed by UNFPA, UNHCR and IOM, focuses on providing information on Gender Based Violence, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Mental Health and Psycho-Social support. They are complete with illustrated explanations and guidelines for women and girls to identify and understand threats, manage them as well as ways to prevent and safely remove themselves from volatile situations.
Elaborating on the Dignity Kits & booklet, UNFPA Malaysia’s representative Marcela Suazo explained that as these populations were left to fend for themselves, it leaves the women and girls in these communities vulnerable to instances of violence, emotional abuse and much more. “If you take into consideration their current limited access to essential hygiene and sanitation, it can stigmatize women and girls and further erode their state of mind, which in turn creates a potential chain reaction of trauma and mental anguish. The booklet gives them the knowledge and avenues they need to overcome and protect themselves and their loved ones.”
The booklets are translated by UNHCR and IOM into 5 different languages along with audio recordings for those who have difficulty reading or are differently abled. Participating CSOs & NGOs have been briefed and guided on the process of effectively distributing these Dignity Kits to ensure their optimum usage and effectiveness.
In his welcome remarks, Carlos Melendez, Head of World Food Programme & UNHRD Malaysia, remarked “Usually we distribute these Basic Dignity Kits at times of extreme duress and national crisis such as war or natural disasters, but the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in its speed and fallout and these kits will play an essential role in alleviating despair and keeping hope alive – especially for migrant and refugee women and young girls”.
Apart from a select few members of the media, the event was also attended by representatives from Malaysian organizations such as Mercy Malaysia, Rohingya Women Development Network, all of whom will play a key role in the distribution of the Basic Dignity Kits.
Thomas Albrecht, UNHCR’s Malaysia representative commended UNFPA, saying that “We wish to express our deep appreciation to UNFPA for including refugees in their efforts on making feminine hygiene items accessible to communities in need. In any emergency, sexual reproductive health rights are often the most neglected basic need. These Kits will be distributed to refugee women and girls in Malaysia to ensure they have access to hygiene items and safe sanitary practices. As an additional step, UNHCR has recorded instructions on how to use the Kit in audio files on an MP3 player, and in five languages most commonly spoken by refugees”.
The event concluded with a signing ceremony between UNFPA and UNHCR signifying the handing over of the Dignity Kits along with distribution commitments.