UNDEF projects take action against Covid-19 misinformation and hate speech

A range of UNDEF civil society projects have responded to UNDEF’s call for action against falsehoods, conspiracy theories, disinformation and hate speech -- what UN Secretary-General António Guterres has described as “a dangerous epidemic of misinformation”:

Gambia:  An UNDEF project with Gambia Press Union works for free and responsible journalism in response to the Covid-19 crisis, amid a dearth of local media expertise in fact-checked, in-depth coverage of health issues, even more so in a public health emergency. This includes training journalists to report on the impact of the crisis, whether remotely or in person while staying safe on the front line. Capacity-building workshops train journalists in techniques and methods of investigative journalism, advocacy campaigns and writing extensive series of articles.

Guatemala: An UNDEF project with Cooperación Mesoamericana para el Desarrollo y la Paz works with young and indigenous people against discrimination and stigmatization of returning migrants forced back by the Covid-19 economic crisis. An information and awareness programme with youth groups using WhatsApp disseminates a message of prevention against hate speech and discrimination blaming migrants for infections. A community radio and television programme promotes solidarity, respect and community coexistence in times of crisis, as well as verified guidelines for precautions and mental health.

Mali: An UNDEF project with Journalists for Human Rights works with local community-based reporters to build accurate reporting and combat disinformation about the pandemic. The reporters are using skills and credibility they developed while covering Mali’s series of armed conflicts for the past eight years. The project draws on lessons learned from previous epidemics in conflict zones: keep the public health messaging as clear as possible, while acknowledging that, as information about the virus changes, understanding evolves. Share community concerns about how pandemic responses are affecting lives and human rights, and ensure officials respond to those concerns. The project also builds capacity of local media to report on good governance and human rights issues, and help journalists and civil society actors work together on data projects.

Mexico: An UNDEF project with Nosotrxs, pictured, works to collect data from student and resident doctors in hospitals on the frontline against the pandemic on working conditions. The data helps to inform a dialogue with media and the federal government on challenges to safety conditions and the need for better protection. The project also engages with domestic workers who face insecure employment during the pandemic, or need better information on coronavirus precautions.