#UN; #Peace&Security; #HateSpeech; #Covid-19Pandemic
Geneva, May 8 (Canadian-Media): UN Secretary-General António Guterres is calling for concerted global action to quash the “tsunami” of hate speech that has risen alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, UN reports said.
A young girl holds a sign which says Zo Kwe Zo, Central African Republic's national motto, meaning all human beings are equal (file photo). Image credit: OCHA/Yaye Nabo Sène
“COVID-19 does not care who we are, where we live, what we believe or about any other distinction. We need every ounce of solidarity to tackle it together. Yet the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering”, he said.
Mr. Guterres listed examples of hate speech that have surfaced during the crisis, ranging from anti-foreigner sentiment, to antisemitic conspiracy theories and attacks against Muslims.
Migrants and refugees also have been “vilified” as a source of the virus and subsequently denied access to treatment, he continued, while “contemptible memes” suggest that older persons are the most expendable in the pandemic.
Meanwhile, journalists, health professionals, aid workers, human rights defenders and others have been targeted simply for doing their jobs.
“We must act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate”, the Secretary-General said, adding “that’s why I’m appealing today for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally”.
Mr. Guterres called on political leaders to build and reinforce social cohesion, while educational institutions were urged to focus on digital literacy at a time when billions of young people are online, where extremists are also lurking.
Social media responsibility
He said the media, and particularly social media companies, can also do more to flag and remove racist, misogynist and other harmful content.
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“I call on civil society to strengthen outreach to vulnerable people, and religious actors to serve as models of mutual respect”, Mr. Guterres continued.
“And I ask everyone, everywhere, to stand up against hate, treat each other with dignity and take every opportunity to spread kindness”.
The United Nations has been mobilizing against what has been described as a “groundswell” of xenophobia, racism and intolerance.
Last year, the Secretary-General launched the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech to enhance these efforts, which outlines commitments that include supporting countries in policy development.
#Conflict; #Violence; #ChildDisplacement; #Peace; #Covid19
Geneva, May 4 (Canadian-Media): A new UN report finds that some 19 million children were displaced within their own countries due to conflict and violence in 2019, more than in any other year, making them among the most vulnerable to the global spread of COVID-19, media reports said.
A young boy plays while his mother lines up at a water point in a camp for displaced people in Aden, southern Yemen. Image credit: UNICEF/Moohialdin Fuad
According to the “Lost at Home” report, published on Tuesday by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), there were 12 million new displacements of children in 2019: around 3.8 million of them caused by conflict and violence, and 8.2 million, due to disasters linked mostly to weather-related events.
Coronavirus intensifying suffering The COVID-19 pandemic is only making a critical situation worse, the agency says. Camps or informal settlements are often overcrowded, and lack adequate hygiene and health services. Physical distancing is often not possible, creating conditions that are highly conducive to the spread of disease.
“When new crises emerge, like the COVID-19 pandemic, these children are especially vulnerable,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “It is essential that Governments and humanitarian partners work together to keep them safe, healthy, learning and protected.”
When new crises emerge, like the COVID-19 pandemic, these children are especially vulnerable - UNICEF chief
The report looks at the risks internally displaced children face –- child labour, child marriage, trafficking among them -- and the actions urgently needed to protect them. It calls for strategic investments and a united effort by Governments, civil society, companies, humanitarian actors and children themselves to address the child-specific drivers of displacement, in particular, violence, exploitation and abuse.
Government investment key It also calls on Governments convening under the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement, established by Secretary-General António Guterres, to invest in actions that will provide protection and equitable access to services for all internally displaced children and their families.
Better, timely and accessible data -- disaggregated by age and gender -- is also critical to delivering on this agenda, the report says. “Internally displaced children and youth themselves must have a seat at the table,” it emphasizes, and offered the opportunity to be part of the solution.