This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Abandoning elderly at risk from coronavirus is ‘criminal’: OHCHR
The rights of all people and particularly the elderly and infirm need to be respected at a time of crisis such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, has said.
The development comes amid concerns that some countries are doing too little to look after their senior citizens.
Here’s Rupert Colville from the Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights, speaking via video conference in Geneva:
“Well, they’re in an extremely difficult position and it’s essential that the authorities – and I think very much that this is where community groups, human rights institutions, NGOs and so on play an absolutely vital role in flagging where these people are living…are getting the help they need and are not abandoned. And yes, it’s absolutely criminal to abandon somebody who’s infirm, helpless unable to move and so on.”
Mr Colville noted that many Governments had shown it was possible to support the vulnerable and that these “good practices” should be shared elsewhere. These measures include halting evictions, putting disused housing to use, and deferring mortgage payments on hold for people who would otherwise have nowhere to go if they were made homeless.
Asylum-seekers’ concern over #COVID-19 restrictions – UNHCR
Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency has said that it is looking to scale up assistance to camps and host communities as the COVID-19 pandemic closes in.
From Asia to Latin America, wherever there is a critical refugee situation, people are worried about staying safe, UNHCR’s Andrej Mahecic said in Geneva:
“There is a lot of concern about this among the displaced people because often they live in situations where there is little opportunity for preventive measures, there is very little
possibilities for social distancing, for basic hygiene and these are the area where the current preventive measures are being taken….we have a presence in 134 countries and as I said the focus is on developing nations where 80 per cent of refugees are hosted by those countries.”
The agency is calling on all Governments to consider the needs of refugees and the displaced when putting in place COVID-19 plans.
Earlier this week, it appealed for $250 million to boost refugee protection against the new coronavirus as part of a UN Global humanitarian appeal.
‘Social bomb’ could explode as those on society’s margins struggle under COVID-19
In northern Italy, such is the devastating impact of new coronavirus, health professionals are under extreme pressure in the war against COVID-19.
That’s the message of Francesco Rocca, President of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, after visiting the hardest-hit locations in the northern Italian region of Lombardy.
Speaking via video conference on Friday, Mr Rocca described how a lack of available staff has resulted in physiotherapists processing dead patients, and heart surgeons “working in the war” against the new coronavirus, instead of carrying out other lifesaving operations.
The Red Cross President also warned of “a social bomb” which could explode at any moment, as there were plenty of people whose daily subsistence wages are threatened by the crisis and who have no welfare protection:
“We have a lot of people who are living very marginalized in the so-called black hole of the society with daily jobs, or other ways to live. In the most difficult neighborhood of the biggest cities I am afraid that in a few weeks we will have social problems, this is a social bomb that can explode in every moment. Because they don’t have any way to have an income, or to find an income. People that normally live with 20 – 25 Euros per day, with these little jobs on a daily basis, and maybe they have two children or a family, and they have no income in this moment.”
To help the world’s most vulnerable communities to face the pandemic, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a revised $825 million appeal.
Daniel Johnson, UN News