ASEAN CARES programme is set to support refugees, migrants, lactating women and other vulnerable communities in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand amidst the pandemic.
The COVID-19 has triggered a devastating health and socio-economic crisis across the region, putting marginalised people at a higher risk of poverty and food insecurity. The International Labour Organization estimates that the pandemic has threatened the livelihoods of 218 million informal workers, which represents 67% of the total employment in the region. Furthermore, in a worst-case scenario, the World Bank projected that the pandemic will push an additional 11 million people into poverty.
ASEAN CARES is a programme implemented by the ASEAN Foundation and United Way Worldwide with the support of 3M and Community Chest of Korea that aims to strengthen the awareness and resilience of the marginalised and vulnerable communities in ASEAN affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In its pilot stage, the programme will provide access to food and basic hygiene for vulnerable individuals and groups such as families with children, people with disabilities, women headed household, elderlies, refugees, migrants and pregnant and lactating women in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. In partnership with local civil society organisations (CSOs), the programme will also roll out region and nationwide awareness campaigns to educate the public about the danger of COVID-19 and how to prevent it from spreading.
In Malaysia and Thailand, a total funding of USD 160,000 from 3M has been pledged to support over 5,000 underprivileged communities in each country. In Myanmar, the programme implementation will be strengthened with USD 30,000 relief fund from Community Chest of Korea. In collaboration with seven local CSOs, food packages, hygiene kits and COVID-19 educational materials will be delivered to over 11,000 people who are struggling amidst these unprecedented times.
ASEAN CARES serves as the embodiment of the outcomes from the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 and the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 on 14 April 2020, which puts emphasis on the importance of a coherent, multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder and whole-of-ASEAN Community approach in combating the pandemic.