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UN chief warns against ‘tsunami of hatred’ amid pandemic

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Photo by AFP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns about “a tsunami of hate and xenophobia” and “anti-Muslim attacks” amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has exasperated the already difficult situation of refugees and minority groups across the globe.

Guterres said on Friday that the pandemic, which has so far killed more than 270,000 people worldwide, has also unleashed “a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering.”

He said that “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.”

The UN chief said migrants and refugees “have been vilified as a source of the virus — and then denied access to medical treatment.”

Guterres called on world leaders to show solidarity with all people.

“And I ask everyone, everywhere, to stand up against hate, treat each other with dignity and take every opportunity to spread kindness,” he added.

He said the respiratory illness, COVID-19, caused by the virus, “does not care who we are, where we live, what we believe or about any other distinction.”

His appeal came as minority groups are facing a greater risk in the face of the outbreak,due to health and economic differences, according to the Office of National Statistics.

“These results show that the difference between ethnic groups in Covid-19 mortality is partly a result of socio-economic disadvantage and other circumstances, but a remaining part of the difference has not yet been explained,” the ONS said.

Another research showed last month that minority groups faced the greatest risk from the outbreak.

The study by the Guardian, showed that areas with high ethnic minority populations in England and Wales tended to have higher mortality rates in the pandemic.

Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also highlighted racial disparities in the US, showing that African Americans are more likely to become infected and die of COVID-19 complications than their white counterparts.

Meanwhile, India’s Muslim population said they are being harassed by both the police and people in the streets across the country, as rumors, misinformation and videos on social media, accusing them of deliberately spreading Covid-19.

Muslims, who make up roughly 200 million of the country's 1.3 billion population, have long come under attack by India’s Hindu nationalists.

In Latin America, Brazil’s indigenous people are also facing a health crisis, as the far-right government of President Jair Bolsonaro has not included their communities, living in remote areas, in his national plans to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier this week, indigenous leaders wrote a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO), asking for an emergency fund for their people, who have no access to personal protective equipment and health services.

Dozens of public figures and groups also signed an open letter to Bolsonaro urging him to protect the country’s indigenous people.

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