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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

COVID-19 may bring mistrust in state authorities, inequality among citizens

COVID-19 threatens peacebuilding in conflict areas

MANILA – The International Labour Organization today said the ongoing COVID-19 crisis complicates peace and reconstruction efforts in conflict-affected countries, endangering public health responses and threatening peacebuilding efforts.

In a joint statement datelines Geneva, Switzerland, the ILO, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Interpeace, and the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (DPPA/PBSO) calls for tailored and coordinated responses to building and sustain peace in countries affected by conflict.

The publication entitled “From Crisis to Opportunity for Sustainable Peace - A Joint Perspective on Responding to the Health, Employment and Peacebuilding Challenges in times of COVID-19”, offers was to respond to the possibility of exacerbating grievances, increase mistrust, discrimination and the perceptions of injustice over access to health services, decent jobs and livelihood. The report was released at 8:33 P.M. Manila time Thursday.

“The COVID-19 crisis has worsened already fragile situations… The ILO is more aware than ever of its responsibility to promoted peace and resilience in the time of this global pandemic,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said.

The report said pandemic can erode trust in state authorities and have a disproportionate impact on certain segments of the population, especially women, migrants, and displaced, marginalized and vulnerable groups.

“Conflict often arises from the absence of decent work,” said ILO Director General Guy Ryder. He added the COVID-19 crisis has indeed worsened already fragile situations and requires stakeholders to work together in partnership to address the root causes. The ILO is more aware of its role to promote peace and resilience in the time of the global pandemic.

According to the report, emergency measures in response to the public health crisis should part of a wider, long-term vision for recovery. Ways to build resilience in societies to both conflict and the challenges posed by the current and potential future pandemics include scaling up existing public employment programs and social protection schemes and increasing investment in productive infrastructure the same report underscored.

These measures can help lay the foundation for more structural changes that build and sustain peace over time. Emergency public work schemes can mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic and support the health response by upgrading infrastructure for primary health care and access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.

“Equitable health services strengthen community trust, which in turn contributes to strengthening health systems and peacebuilding efforts,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

In a wider health and more inclusive socio-economic responses may be an opportunity to give recognition to local actors in the decision-making process and encourage local responses, “which could contribute to increased trust in government institutions and among groups.”

According to Oscar Fernández-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General of Peacebuilding Support, COVID-19 has exacerbated existing grievances and inequalities.

“Building back better requires integrated health, humanitarian and socio-economic responses that must be conflict-sensitive and do no harm,” he further explained. (Melo M. Acuña)

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. (Photo from ILO Website)

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