As part of a new partnership with UNICEF Malaysia, HOST International will strengthen community-based protection for refugee children in Kuala Lumpur through our innovative partnership and capacity building approach.

In February 2020 there were 46,520 refugee children of concern registered with UNHCR in Malaysia, of whom 52% were Rohingya children. Out of the total number of children of concern, 3% (789) were unaccompanied and separated children (UASC), who due to their unaccompanied status are at increased risk of harm. Lack of legal status and minimal access to sustainable income further disadvantages refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia and places children at increased risk of harm or exploitation.

The impact of displacement on children has been heightened by the recent COVID-19 pandemic which has further isolated communities and increased social anxiety. As a result, HOST International has partnered with UNICEF to implement an innovative approach that will build sustainable child protection capacity within the Rohingya refugee communities living in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor districts of Malaysia.

“It is important to us that refugee and host communities are linked together to encourage increased awareness and collaboration on matters of child protection and to create capacity that will last beyond the project’s life-time.” said HOST International CEO, David Keegan.

“This partnership with UNICEF and local refugee and Malaysian organisations will allow us to create lasting impact by strengthening local protective factors, training and mentoring local child advocates within the refugee community and by building capacity of local services.”

This new program will strengthen and expand HOST’s existing partnership with the Malaysian Council for Child Welfare (MKKM) working with the refugee community to provide child protection interventions to unaccompanied and separated children. Through this new project we will: further develop community-based child protection case managers; provide training and engagement to child protection community workers; build the child protection capacity of Rohingya community-led organisations; and strengthen referral pathways to existing Malaysian NGO and government child protection services.

In keeping with our commitment to co-design, HOST has worked closely with our local partners to identify and design a suitable and localised approach to these issues. We acknowledge and appreciate the support of MKKM, the Rohingya Women’s Development Network (RWDN) and ELOM Empowerment Community Centre who will play an essential role in this project and ensure sustainable impact.