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Don't stigmatize people with COVID-19

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Don't stigmatize people with COVID-19

UN officials call for Solidarity, Compassion and Unity
26 March 2020
Passenger screening at Maya Maya international airport, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.
Passenger screening at Maya Maya international airport, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Photo credit: WHO

The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, Miguel Moratinos, and the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, have expressed their grave concern over the increase in stigma, hate speech and hate crimes targeting individuals and groups wrongfully vilified and perceived to be associated with the coronavirus across the globe.

“We are all facing the same enemy, one which is invisible, rapidly advancing, taking lives away and causing havoc indiscriminately. But allowing it to tear apart the fabric of our societies is perhaps one of the most serious upheavals that the COVID-19 pandemic is inflicting upon our world,” the High Representative and the Special Adviser stated.

As much as the pandemic poses a global threat to peace and security, it also presents an opportunity to demonstrate unity and join hands. As the pandemic affects everybody, we should all be reminded of our common humanity, and that our lives are inter-connected and our survival depends on reciprocal support.

In this time of physical distancing, we call for social solidarity and building bridges of kindness and compassion that transcend man-made walls. We also call for the protection of the most vulnerable, including the elderly, who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic.

More than ever, it is imperative to stand up against stigma, hate speech, xenophobia, racism and all forms of discrimination that are an affront to universal human values and rights. Beating the pandemic involves effective international cooperation and implementing an all-of-society approach, one that includes national governments, civil society, media, private companies, faith actors, youth and women.

Miguel Moratinos and Adama Dieng commend the Global Humanitarian Response Plan COVID-19 launched by the Secretary-General to ensure that no one is left behind in the fight against this pandemic. They also commend the leadership shown by some governments in promoting messages of global solidarity and unity, and in implementing measures against the spread of COVID-19.

Miguel Moratinos stressed that the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations continues to work on fulfilling its motto of “Many Cultures, One Humanity” by fostering intercultural and interfaith dialogue, building bridges of understanding and countering stereotyping and polarization.

Adama Dieng emphasized that his office is stepping up its efforts to implement the UN strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech globally and nationally to counter hate speech and the related stigmatization and discrimination.

“If we want societies to be inclusive, cohesive and peaceful, this is the time to foster an alliance between cultures, civilizations, and people. There is no time to lose,” the High Representative of Alliance of Civilization and the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide added.

Mr. Miguel Moratinos is the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, while Mr. Adama Dieng UN Special Adviser on The Prevention of Genocide

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