Our mental health team conducted individual counseling sessions, around a quarter of them by phone due to COVID-19 restrictions. The team identified an increasing number of victims of sexual and gender-based violence, including men, women, and children who had been trafficked. We also distributed essential hygiene items, such as soap and sanitary pads, as well as milk powder and clothes, to vulnerable families and several immigration detention centers.
In March, we launched our community-led advocacy initiative, the Penang Refugee Advocacy Group, consisting of five female and thirteen male participants aged between 16 and 70 years, from the Rohingya, Myanmar Muslim and Mon communities. MSF facilitated training sessions with several external organizations, including an independent journalism academy, to help the group acquire skills for advocacy.
In November, we started health screening in temporary detention centers in Sungai Bakap and Bidor, where the detainees were mainly Rohingya. Most of them expressed a sense of hopelessness about their futures, as they were locked up indefinitely without any prospect of release.