Australia’s Response to COVID-19 in RMI through partnership with IOM

Media release: Australian Embassy, Pohnpei (Federated States of Micronesia)

Left to right: IOM Chief of Mission, Mr Nathan Glancy, Charge d’ Affaires, Ms Vy Duong and a/g Deputy Head of Mission Mr Takuro Steele. Photo credit: Australian Embassy, Pohnpei.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia has committed USD150,000 to support the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) in improving access to essential products and services for women and girls.

Statistics in the Pacific are showing that lockdowns, quarantine, school shutdowns and other COVID-19 pandemic responses, especially those resulting in financial hardship, increase rates of violence within families and communities. The project will fund more than 700 dignity kits to be assembled in RMI, with the large portion of the contents to be locally produced by Marshallese women. The dignity kits will be distributed to non-profit and community-based organizations that offer services to victims of gender-based violence (GBV) in Majuro and Ebeye. The initiative is the result of a new partnership between the International Organization (IOM) and the Australian Embassy in Pohnpei. Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) will be providing additional technical support.

Many of the products in each dignity kit will be hand-made locally by women in the RMI to provide entrepreneurial opportunities for women and support women’s economic empowerment. Each dignity kit contains reusable menstrual hygiene pads, CDC approved cloth masks, and pineep (coconut oil) that will be locally made in RMI and other essential hygiene products for women and girls. IOM will work with local entrepreneurs and non-government organisations (NGOs) to support the sourcing, compiling, and distribution of each dignity kit.

Australia is also pleased to have supported RMI’s COVID-19 preparedness through Phase 1 of the WHO’s COVID-19 response in the Pacific. This provided RMI with assistance on incident management, surveillance, risk communication, laboratory testing, infection prevention and control, as well as PPE including gloves, gowns, surgical masks, eye protection and infrared thermometers. 600 GeneXpert testing cartridges will also be provided to RMI under a jointly funded initiative with WHO, New Zealand, PIHOA and SPC, with a number of shipments already delivered. Australia is committed to assist the RMI government and communities to respond to the needs of vulnerable populations, such as women and girls.