KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 — Malaysia’s United Nations Agencies in collaboration with Malaysian Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have distributed 5,000 “Dignity Kits” to underserved refugees and migrant women living in Malaysia.

The collaborative effort was in a bid to alleviate some of the current economic and social hardship faced by refugee and migrant communities in Malaysia amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The agencies involved in the worthy cause were the United Nations Population Fund Malaysia (UNFPA), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP).

The Basic Dignity Kits provided include items for 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 International Organisation for Migration (IOM), focuses on providing information on gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as 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 kits and the booklet, UNFPA Malaysia representative Marcela Suazo said as the refugee 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 stigmatise 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,” she added.

The booklets are translated by UNHCR and IOM into five different languages along with audio recordings for those who have difficulty reading or are differently-abled.

Participating CSOs & non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been briefed and guided on the process of effectively distributing these kits to ensure their optimum usage and effectiveness.

The event was held today at the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot in Shah Alam (UNHRD), with a signing ceremony between UNFPA and UNHCR to officiate the handing over of the kits for distribution.

UNHCR will be working with established CSOs & NGOs who are already interfacing with refugee and migrant communities to effectively distribute these kits.

The event was officiated by United Nations resident coordinator for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Stefan Priesner and attended by representatives from Malaysian organisations such as Mercy Malaysia and Rohingya Women Development Network.

Also present was UNHCR’s Malaysia representative Thomas Albrecht and UNHRD Malaysia and WFP head Carlos Melendez.