The UN Secretary General General Antonio Guterres on Saturday expressed deep concern over the ‘unleashing of a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering’, and assault on journalists during the ongoing corona outbreak.
“Anti-foreigner sentiment has surged online and in the streets. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have spread, and COVID-19-related anti-Muslim attacks have occurred” he said in a statement.
“And journalists, whistleblowers, health professionals, aid workers and human rights defenders are being targeted simply for doing their jobs” added Guterres.
He also called for the need of every ounce of solidarity to tackle COVID-19 together.
The UN official noted, migrants and refugees have been vilified as a source of the virus -- and then denied access to medical treatment. With older persons among the most vulnerable, contemptible memes have emerged suggesting they are also the most expendable.
He calls upon the media to ‘do much more to flag and, in line with international human rights law, remove racist, misogynist and other harmful content’.
Antonio Guterres appealed to civil society to strengthen outreach to vulnerable people, and religious actors to serve as models of mutual respect.
Urging all for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally, he said, ‘We must act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate’.
“I call on political leaders to show solidarity with all members of their societies and build and reinforce social cohesion”, said Mr Antonio.
“I call on educational institutions to focus on digital literacy at a time when billions of young people are online – and when extremists are seeking to prey on captive and potentially despairing audiences”, he added in the statement.
He urged all to shun hate and instead treat each other with dignity and take every opportunity to spread kindness.
“As we combat this pandemic, we have a duty to protect people, end stigma and prevent violence. Let’s defeat hate speech – and COVID-19 – together” he said in conclusion.
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