Fighting racism and exclusion in the time of COVID-19


On Monday, April 20, 2020, the Staff of the AUB took part to the first edition of the International webinar on racism, discrimination and exclusion organized by UNESCO.


All through history, infectious diseases have always created fear. And we all know that fear is a key ingredient for social discrimination, racism and xenophobia to thrive.


Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 pandemic has exposed social and political fractures within communities, with radicalized and discriminatory responses to the fear.


Recent reports revealed the cases of African migrants, victims of social discrimination in the Chinese town of Guangzhou.


According to the Los Angeles Times, “Evictions from homes and apartments started when Guangzhou authorities announced that five Nigerians had tested positive for COVID-19. Within days, a campaign was launched to test and track all Africans in the port city”.


Earlier in January 2020 when people started getting sick in the town of Wuhan, China, discrimination towards Chinese people increased. This included individual acts of micro-aggression or violence, to collective forms, for example Chinese people being barred from establishments across the world.


In order to raise awareness on this burning issue, UNESCO organized on Monday, April 20, 2020, the first edition of the international webinar on Covid 19 with emphasis on racism and social discrimination.


This virtual meeting brought together broadcasters from across the world, among which the Staff of the African Union of Broadcasting AUB, national policymakers and stakeholders, international and regional organizations, academics, students and NGOs.

Speakers included global experts and city authorities from UNESCO’s International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR.


For close to two hours, they exchanged experiences and expertise on the measures to address racism, social discrimination and exclusion in the era of Covid19 at the global and local levels. Focus was placed on the social dimensions of “leaving no one behind” and on actions taken to fight against the growing incidents of racism and discrimination.


They also dwelled on actions of solidarity and assistance to vulnerable populations conducted by the cities, and items for discussion on how ICCAR and other city networks and actors could act as a crucial platform during this difficult time.


The panel was made up of Erias Lukwago, Mayor of Kampala City, Uganda (lead city of the Coalition of African Cities against Racism and Discrimination); Aida Guillén Lanzarote, Director of Barcelona City’s Service for Citizenship Rights and Diversity; and Benedetto Zacchiroli, President of the European Coalition of Cities against Racism.


This Wednesday, April 22nd 2020, there are currently 2,587,819 confirmed cases in 210 countries and territories and 180 000 deaths.


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