“The new poor in Malaysia are the 8.2 million excluded from social assistance and the 21 million who live on subsidies. The new poor make up 20 percent of the population, including stateless people in Sabah and Semenanjung, foreign workers, refugees, indigenous communities, and the undocumented, the homeless. In this context, the Church in Malaysia intends to make material and spiritual resources available, to offer humanitarian aid to the poor and the suffering in the midst of the health crisis marked by the spread of Covid-19”. This is what Charles Bertille, Executive Secretary of Caritas Malaysia, told Agenzia Fides, describing the commitment of this new organization, an expression of the Catholic community in Malaysia, which wants to show the multi-ethnic nation the face of a Church “field hospital”, which takes care of the most humble and contributes to the well-being of society.

“Various social emergencies are affecting Malaysian society. It is time to see the face of the new poor, affected by the pandemic, as a priority issue within the Church’s aid mission”, remarked the Secretary. After a national assembly held online, the church organization decided to identify and reach out to the most marginalized groups in each region, both in Peninsular Malaysia and in Malaysian Borneo (the regions of Sabah and Sarawak). Citing social research entitled “Making the Invisible Visible: Faces of Poverty in Malaysia”, published in April 2020, Caritas members noted that more than 60 percent of Malaysians depend on subsidies to live, benefiting from government social assistance.

Another priority identified by the Catholic organization is to intensify relations and collaboration with non-governmental groups and organizations, operating in a virtuous network to make use of the respective skills and resources. In this way, it is stated, the effectiveness of the interventions will increase, responding more quickly and expanding the range of action, also developing a mentality in favor of pluralism and sharing.

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