Our Justice Based Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 17, 2020

 

Like all humanitarian and health emergencies, the COVID-19 outbreak spreading across the globe requires extraordinary measures to save lives, prevent suffering, mitigate longer-term collapse and provide hope. We applaud the decisions taken by communities, governments, and organisations to uphold their individual and collective responsibilities to keep people safe.

 

We join the global community in recognizing our shared responsibility to follow practices that mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This includes closely monitoring the situation in each country where we work, following WHO and local government guidelines, planning contingencies for postponing events, and stopping the spread of injustice due to heightened misinformation, discrimination, fear and hatred.

 

We especially remember those most at-risk from this disaster, whose lives and livelihoods are not simply inconvenienced by the pandemic but rather actually hang in the balance. As always, this includes the elderly, young children, those with chronic illnesses, people living in poverty, those with little access to quality healthcare, people living with disabilities, minority communities, women and girls, families with less resilient assets, low-income urban communities, refugees and displaced peoples, undocumented and migrant workers -- in short, anyone who sits on the periphery of the purported promises of our current global systems.

 

COVID-19 is only unique because it is happening now, and much of the world has decided to take brave steps to stop it. But in other respects, it is like other crises. Although as a virus, it infects its hosts indiscriminately, the long list of those especially vulnerable are the same common cast of characters unjustly affected by every global emergency. 

 

What we are witnessing now are the lengths to which governments will go to when those with wealth and power are also at-risk. It is admirable that the world is capable of such bold action that places people over profit and safety over stock markets. It is deplorable that in the face of other pandemics, to which those same wealthy and powerful are immune, our countries seem only capable of denial, dither and delay. Yet, in the end, the most vulnerable will still suffer most.

 

This is not only a moment for action but also a moment for reflection. We have a choice: to protect our own interests and those like us or to deepen our compassion for the ones who live as if affected by a new pandemic every day, every month, every year of their lives. For them, COVID-19 is just another emergency that could threaten (or destroy) their hopes, dreams, ambitions, livelihoods, and lives -- one among the many they have already faced this year.

 

In the wake of COVID-19, we advocate for complete compliance to guidelines and practices that put less people at risk and curb the rate of infection. We will change our own business plans and take action to protect our staff, our event participants, and all those affected by our work. Although it greatly affects the viability of our social enterprise in the short term, it is -- quite literally -- the least that we can do to exercise our own accountability.

 

Our response does not stop there. This may not be a time for physical gathering, but it is a time for utmost solidarity -- first with the most vulnerable who will be affected by this pandemic long after the last case has closed. Then with all others who need drastic system change to secure their lives and livelihoods in the face of other, bigger clear and present dangers. 

 

Our Justice Based Approach to the COVID-19 pandemic not only requires specific actions now but renewed calls to action -- action against unjust systems and those who prop them up, action for people to have more power in the decisions that affect them daily, action in spite of fear and hatred, and action because we are one human family that will perish or flourish together.

 

 

To read the United Edge COVID-19 action plan click here.


 

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