EU Bridges COVID-19 Fight and Human Rights

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The European Union (EU) says the fight against COVID-19 is a human rights issue that must consider every component and aspect of what involves the rights to life and health of every person.

“The inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” are among the opening words of the Universal Declaration of human rights, adopted just over 70 years ago. These are now the principles that drive the efforts of governments, international bodies, communities, families, and individuals all around the world. Most of all, they motivate the work of health-care and frontline staff, who are putting themselves at risk, every day, to save the rest of us,” says the EU.

As a result of the global pandemic raging the world, the EU in a loaded statement said countries’ dependence on one another is now clear and international solidarity and cooperation not been more important than now.

“International co-operation is no longer what governments and official bodies should do; it now belongs to the people. We are all now joined in a common enterprise, beyond borders, and across continents, because this deadly virus respects no boundaries or distinctions. Our best chance for survival and recovery is to fight the coronavirus together,” the statement notes.

Since the Coronavirus outbreak and the imposition of the state of emergency, there has not been enough done by the Liberian government to bring in personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies as hospitals and clinics struggle to cater to patients.  The lack of these supplies has led to many health workers contracting the disease.

Besides, the ordinary people continue to encounter agony from state security especially the Liberia National Police as attested by the recent beating of some Christians in Margibi County for allegedly going against the social distancing and avoidance of crowd protocols.

The EU noted that human rights protection is a struggle that everyone must be involved to protect, especially the right to life.

“Protecting and preserving life is the primary purpose of this struggle. Without the right to life, it is impossible to exercise other rights. To protect life, we must vindicate the right to health. The right to health, in turn, depends not only on access to health care but on rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, on adequate nutrition and on a safe and healthy environment. It also requires access to information, so that people are empowered to protect their own health and those of others. And in this health crisis, which requires a collective response, and the co-operation of people everywhere, respect for civil society is more important than ever. All human rights are interdependent and indivisible and must inform our response to the crisis. Human rights are at the core of the battle against COVID-19.”

Based on the significance attached to protecting life, the EU indicated:  “That is why the European Union is working closely with the United Nations, with other international organizations and with countries throughout the world, in the great global effort to overcome the virus and its consequences. On 8 April, the EU announced a robust and targeted global response of more than €20 billion from existing external action resources to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the pandemic. This ‘Team Europe’ package combines resources from the EU, its Member States and financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.  The current pandemic is a grave and immense threat to the health and life of humanity. The health of the whole world is only as strong as the weakest health system.”

This global pandemic is worrisome to the EU especially in some special cases which it said “We recognize that there are many people for whom this crisis, and sometimes the measures are taken to address it, will add even greater risks to their already fragile existence: refugees; the displaced; the homeless; minorities who are already victims of discrimination; children who are being abused or maltreated; women subjected to sexual or domestic violence; marginalized indigenous peoples; persons with disabilities, older people and the poor who are at greatest risk from the economic consequences. No one should be left behind, and no human right ignored.”

The EU has expressed support for, and taken action on the UN High Commissioner Bachelet’s call for special measures regarding prisoners and others in places of detention and closed facilities. We strongly support the UN Secretary General’s call for a ceasefire by all armed actors in the world today and for a coordinated humanitarian response. We will continue to play our part in the global effort.

The European Union further indicated that it recognizes how many governments have already taken steps, and introduced emergency measures, in response to the crisis.

“We believe that these measures should apply for this crisis only, be time-bound and be proportionate to what is absolutely necessary. This crisis should not become an excuse for the power-hungry to increase repressive measures, to weaken democratic checks and balances or to dilute the rule of law. Neither should fear over COVID-19 be exploited to spread disinformation or racist and xenophobic reactions.”

The European body concluded that “This is a time for solidarity and for human rights to be at the center of our endeavors. Since this crisis began we have seen millions of small acts of kindness and stirring solidarity across the world. The indomitable spirit of humanity is displaying its great generosity. Our global human family will come through these frightful days. The changing world, to which we will emerge, will be all the better for the care and compassion we show each other now. Let us not squander that future, give in to fear or our lowest inclinations.  Let us not forget that human rights define our very humanity.”

7 COMMENTS

  1. Liberia: in the age of COVID-19, “Flight of Knowledge and the Accumulation of Personal Wealth”.

    We often hear that Chinese and other Asians stole technologies and other blue prints from top universities and research institutions from the Western World and toke them back home. No African including any Liberian had ever thought of such. Even though there is no shortage of researchers of our kind, but we prefer to work for foreign institutions, make big salaries and died with knowledge and leave our people vulnerable to hand out and poverty.

    Big name institutions like MIT, Stanford Cornell, Oxford, etc, had graduated Liberian and African in research areas in the past, but we prefer staying there and provide our services to society that less need us, leaving our people to fend for themselves. We have embraced capitalism at our own detriment-comparing us with other developing nations that have socialism modules. We join forces with outsiders in condemning their make up of government, but they are far better than us. It is working for them, that’s the reason we are always to their door asking them for help. During our Ebola crisis, Cuba ,China and other nations sent us doctors.

    Cuban, Chinese and other (third world) nations researchers and doctors are in Italy treating COVID-19 patients. African Nations including Liberia, are on the edge and very jittery regarding the peak of COVID-19 spread. Resources -poor Cuba ( the size of Benin) in West Africa, is testing COVID-19 patients with Interferon alfa 2b. Due to its protein abilities to increase the body immune system, it slows the virus ability in sending the patient on ventilator. Herd immunity takes over, to prolong the individual life while surviving with the symptoms. It is still in an experimental stage.

    Some of our researchers could shoulder the task of helping our people. Are they listening? In this age COVID-19, this is the time to gather the best brains to help Liberia. Far too long we have been lagging behind.
    Mamadu Bah ( N/P)

  2. Bah,
    As always, I hope you are in good spirits. I certainly hope that the Aussies are treating you well. Be blessed. I had planned to refrain from making comments on this blog. Hopefully after this brief comment of mine, I will maintain an arms-length relationship.

    You made a comment about the fact that leading institutions such as MIT, Standford, Oxford, Cornell etc., have “graduated Liberians and Africans” in the past. Your major point of contention is that some of the people who were trained in the above named institutions have chosen not to go to their original countries of birth after their education has been acquired. You’ve also said that countries in which some educated Africans have chosen to live in “need” them less. You’re right. However, I am not an apologist for people who refuse to go back to their countries of birth. You seem to ignore the reasons involved.

    If I am not mistaken, this specific issue came up before. So let me throw my few pennies in the mix. Usually when educators decide against going to their countries of birth, circumstances force them into a quagmire. Usually, it’s not by choice. After your studies have been completed in Australia, I hope everything will be honky-dory for you to return to Liberia. But, mind you, it’s not as easy as you think!

    Would you like to return to Liberia, get employed for up to three or four months without being paid? Last year in Liberia, the issue of harmonization came up. What would you have done if you didn’t get a single paycheck in five months? Also, what happens if you do not have enough money to start a business?

    Bah, let’s hope that things improve. Every patriotic Liberian I have met would like to go home. Somehow, sometimes, family issues or a condition on the ground causes people to develop second thoughts! Try to empathize with people sometimes. It won’t hurt one bit if you get in someone’s position for a little while.

    Hang in there young fella.
    Peace

    • The ANC will bring such people home with a good job and decent salary. All we need from you is your support. We understand what you have said and taken note.

      Keep safe!

  3. Thank you Mr. Hney. When I visited Liberia in January 2019, I was astonished to find out that our people don’t not even have a basic preventive measures like blood pressure check, diabetes checked (glucoses monitoring), laboratory specimens storage, etc. As a nurse practitioner, I cannot do research, I can only write prescriptions and diagnose patient. My scope is limited. Master program offers practitioner( like mine). Another 36 months and at least 3 years of researching can qualify me. That starts from microbiology 4000.01 and above.

    Working to support extended poor family members is what killing some of us. If I have that qualification, I m willing to come back and contribute. Good science institutions is the solution. Cuba is very poor, but look at what they are doing with the little they have. They sent practitioners and doctors.

    I send remittances almost every other week in both Guinea and Liberia. You know how it’s. I have dual backgrounds- my mother’s people in Liberia, and Conakry, where she is with my her daughters ( my sisters and siblings).

    Thanks for your comments, it always appreciated as an “ uncle “.

    Mamadu Bah

  4. Bah,
    You’ve been fully understood. I know exactly what you are going through. Like you, I have been caring for my family a very long time ago.
    Example, a relative of mine wants a phone. I told her yesterday to go somewhere on the Bypass where the Orange telephone company sells phones. Right? She said to me (just yesterday) that she doesn’t have $1.80 x 2 (RT) to go there. What’s the implication of that? I have to send some money in order for her to get to the Bypass as well as provide for her roundtrip ticket.

    Caveat: If our relatives were in the diaspora, I bet some of them would not look back at you or me to help.

    Bottom Line:
    You can do it. Be strong. God chose you because he knows you can help

    There was a golden opportunity for the Republic of Liberia to stabilize economically, educationally, politically, etc., after the “uncivil war” ended. Without doubt, a lot of money went to Liberia (10 billion dollars by some estimates) in order for good things to happen. Unfortunately, the money ended up in the pockets of some people. Educationally, scholarships were not given in order for Liberians to study abroad, and schools were not structured. Before Obama’s presidency came to an end, he donated almost 20 million US dollars. Up to date, there’s no accountability.

    In political terms, nothing has changed. In America, they call it “same old same old”. You have a bunch of lawmakers and a slew of beauracrats who get mega bucks in pay, but the rest of the country suffers beyond measure. Example, given our complex situation, why should a lawmaker earn over $175, 000 per year, while students do not have textbooks. Does that make sense to a parasite? It’s all noise in the ears of a mosquito.

    I am sorry if I am boring you. I hope you return in order to fulfill your development quota. Good luck. However please note that some Liberians prefer not to go home on a permanent basis because of a lot of issues. Personally, I can go tomorrow if I am offered a job, even if it means for me sweep around the Mansion.

    Enjoy yourself. Take care of yourself. Keep looking at them, but study hard.

    As always, peace.

    • We will bring you back home with a decent job, don’t worry. That’s our fight, an altruistic fight. All we need is your support and votes of your people back home.
      We will wipe the tears of all Liberians, believe me!

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