BANGKOK, Thailand – The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are partnering in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic to help curb the spread of the virus and mitigate the impacts among the most vulnerable populations in Thailand, such as migrants and their families, and stateless ethnic minorities.
USAID has provided UNICEF grants totaling $700,000 to address the pandemic in Thailand. The COVID-19 crisis is upending the lives of the most vulnerable populations in Thailand, such as low-income populations, migrants, ethnic minorities, and transient workers, who often have limited access to critical health and hygiene information, as well as quality and affordable health services.
“Migrants and other vulnerable groups were already facing a number of challenges even before the pandemic because of their status, language barriers, social stigma and discrimination,” said Thomas Davin, UNICEF Representative for Thailand. “The fight against COVID-19 must not leave anyone behind, young or old. Ultimately, this support protects the whole society. It is our collective responsibility to support the most vulnerable, regardless of their legal or ethnic status, and ensure that they are safe and have access to services to survive and stay healthy. The generous contribution from USAID is helping us reach more children and families who need support the most so that no one falls through the cracks.”
"Beyond the immediate health impact, the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening the livelihoods and social wellbeing of communities across Asia,” said Peter A. Malnak, Mission Director of USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia. “These burdens can be particularly acute on our most vulnerable populations, with disruptions to youth and adolescent education. USAID is pleased to partner with UNICEF and the Royal Thai Government in providing immediate assistance to mitigate the pandemic's social and economic impacts on the most vulnerable communities across Thailand. Together, working in solidarity, we will forge a new path to resilience, health, and wellbeing in the months ahead."
Under the USAID-UNICEF partnership, UNICEF is working with stakeholders including the Migrant Working Group, civil society organizations, international organizations, as well as the Royal Thai Government to provide coordinated and impactful support and ensure that adequate and timely assistance reaches children and families in migrant and non-Thai communities.
Among several initiatives under the USAID-UNICEF partnership, UNICEF is working with Raks Thai Foundation and World Vision to conduct community outreach and disseminate information materials on health and hygiene practices to some 120,000 migrants and ethnic minorities living in 22 provinces across Thailand. The materials are available in Burmese, Khmer, and Lao. Program partners are also providing psychological support and guidance for parents and caregivers to promote mental health and wellbeing in these communities.
Program partners also trained migrant youth to support their communities on COVID-19 prevention and anti-discrimination and are establishing emergency grants to help such young people continue their education and skills development.
The grant from USAID will help UNICEF and the Royal Thai Government in mitigating the short and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children by providing social services in the health and education sectors.
UNICEF is also distributing digital thermometers to 3,000 institutions, including early childhood development centers and schools in the southern border provinces, as well as residential care facilities and youth training centers nationwide.
USAID will support UNICEF in promoting increased access to essential services including mental health and social service hotlines. USAID will also support UNICEF’s efforts to strengthen child protection at the community level, through increased capacity to detect, report, and refer cases of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of children which may increase during COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions.