IOM; #Racism; #Xenophobia; #Covd19Pandemic; #RightToHealth; #HumanRights
Geneva, May 22 (Canadian-Media): Few crises in our collective memory have had the global reach of COVID-19. Across our societies, communities have responded to this pandemic with strong cooperation and solidarity. Some, however, have found in it a pretext to scapegoat foreign nationals including migrants, and others living on the fringes of society, blaming them for the virus’ spread, IOM reports said.
IOM. Image credit: Twitter Handle
Racist and xenophobic incidents linked to the outbreak have been widespread. They include verbal and physical assaults, social exclusion, denial of access to goods and services, boycotting of businesses, discriminatory movement restrictions and quarantine policies, as well as xenophobic rhetoric from politicians, other public figures and the media, in what the UN Secretary General has described as a “tsunami of hate and xenophobia.”
As strict lockdown measures ease, we are concerned that incidents of xenophobia will further increase, exacerbated by social tensions created by the projected economic downturn. As countries around the world take the first steps towards re-opening their societies and returning their populations to streets, schools, shops, and workplaces, it is all the more important that the fight against xenophobia continue and that it is integrated into economic and social recovery efforts.
Fear and uncertainty in the midst of a pandemic is understandable, but this fear should not justify xenophobia and racism. Discriminatory attitudes and hate crimes grounded in fear compromise the rights of those targeted, affect the safety of all and undermine the complex recovery process. It is essential that accurate information about how the disease is spread is provided to the public. Continued misinformation regarding the role of “foreigners” or “outsiders” in spreading the virus wreaks havoc, endangers lives and prevents people from making sound choices to protect themselves, their families and the wider community.
The right to health is universal. Everyone should be entitled to seek and receive medical care if they suspect they have been exposed to the virus, and share information to prevent its spread. Migrants and their communities should not have to fear discrimination, reprisals or other adverse consequences for doing so. Many States recognize this and have granted migrants free access to COVID-19 testing and treatment regardless of their legal status, ensuring that those in an irregular situation are not reported to immigration authorities.
Economies and societies are strengthened by the rich contributions of migrants the world over. Where given the opportunity, migrants are already playing an essential role in scientific research, healthcare, and in supporting essential industries such as food production, transportation and the production of personal protective equipment (PPE). Migrants’ contribution will be essential as we recover from the impacts of the pandemic. To ensure migrants won’t be threatened by xenophobia and discrimination, IOM calls for: