Kuala Lumpur/Bangkok, 23 June 2020: Nearly a million masks are being provided to migrant workers, village health volunteers and other frontline workers as part of a new initiative to protect people at risk from COVID-19 in Thailand.
An estimated 80 million migrant workers in Asia are particularly vulnerable amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with many missing out on support because they are undocumented and therefore largely invisible to authorities and humanitarian organisations.
Thailand is a significant regional migration hub in South-East Asia and currently hosts an estimated four million migrant workers. Most of these migrant workers come from neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Migrants work in a range of sectors including construction, fisheries, agriculture, hospitality, and domestic work.
Thai Red Cross Society will be supporting 400,000 people by providing protective equipment to migrant workers, including reusable cloth face masks, alcohol gel and information materials. Migrant workers under quarantine will also receive relief kits including food and personal hygiene items.
Mr. Pichit Siriwan, M.D., Deputy Director of the Relief and Community Health Bureau, Thai Red Cross Society, as Chairman of the project said: “This project is encouraging people to wear masks to protect themselves from the COVID-19 outbreak in Thailand. Cloth face masks can prevent wearers from transmitting or being in contact with COVID-19. The objectives are to protect and help migrants and their families in accordance with humanitarian principles and to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 in Thailand.”
Mr Christopher Rassi, Head of Delegation, Bangkok, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “Migrants, especially those who are undocumented, face daily challenges which are further exacerbated by the health and socio-economic impacts of this pandemic. Red Cross is supporting migrant workers, who are some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and it’s vital that everyone can be safe from COVID-19.”
Through this initiative the Thai Red Cross Society is working with IFRC, the Internatioanl Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), UNICEF, and the Migrant Working Group, Thailand. This major collaboration is being launched in Samut Sakhon province, where many migrants live and work south west of Bangkok.
IFRC is supporting Thai Red Cross to assist migrant workers and other COVID-19 initiatives through its Global Emergency Appeal.