In a year in which the coronavirus pandemic has marked the present, with its millions of infections and more than a million deaths and the enormous socio-economic impact it is having, there has also been some good news, starting with the signs of solidarity that at a time of crisis like the present they have been repeated all over the world.
One of the consequences of the pandemic is that the vast majority of children were temporarily left without class. For this reason, says the director of Aid in Action campaigns, Alberto Casado, “2020 has helped us to give much more importance to education, especially in emergency situations like the one we are experiencing.” “We must promote the school as a resilient space, recognize the work of teachers and respond to global challenges such as conciliation or the need to reduce the educational digital divide,” he claims.
“COVID-19 has highlighted the importance in terms of public health of the work of community health agents and severe acute malnutrition has come to be considered a priority disease to be treated at the community level, something that from Action against Hunger we have been working since 2014, “highlights the coordinator of the NGO project in this area, Pilar Charle.
Severe acute malnutrition kills more than 3 million children under the age of 5 each year, hence the commitment of ACH to train health workers so that they can diagnose and treat this disease in their own community. In the Sahel alone, the NGO has managed to reach 450 communities between 2019 and 2020, providing care to more than 4,000 children thanks to them. “The work of these health agents has meant that fewer families have abandoned treatment and therefore has made it possible to save the lives of children in the community”, celebrates Charle.
Regardless of the pandemic, on the health level there has been some good news this year. The first one, the declaration of the eradication of polio in Africa on August 25, and secondly, that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has ended the two outbreaks of Ebola it was facing.
This is undoubtedly one of the good news of the year for Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The outbreak affecting North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri ended on June 25. As Luis Encinas, an MSF Ebola expert, explains, one of the main challenges was to gain the trust of communities, in an area where Ebola had never before occurred, where there is persistent conflict and a high number of displaced people.
Therefore, in addition to fighting Ebola, MSF opted to support primary care services in health centers and hospitals in the region, as well as mass vaccination campaigns against other diseases, such as measles, which in less than a year it had claimed twice as many fatalities as Ebola itself. “The one in the Ecuador region, decreed on June 1, lasted barely five months. With the lesson learned, says Encinas, MSF opted for its Congolese workers and for small structures medical, for better community acceptance.
SUDAN PROHIBITS GENITAL MUTILATION
From World Vision Spain, its director, Javier Ruiz, celebrates that Sudan joined the countries that have banned female genital mutilation in May. “It is an important starting point to put an end to a tradition based on false rites and beliefs,” she highlights, betting on carrying out information and awareness campaigns now.
“In addition to applying the legislation and ensuring its compliance, it is necessary to empower girls and women; provide economic support and incentives to them and their families; change attitudes and beliefs through the mobilization of families and communities, including leaders and provide response and support services. Ending ablation requires mutually reinforcing work in all of these areas, “Ruiz emphasizes.
Save the Children highlights as a step forward for the comprehensive protection of girls and adolescents in the Dominican Republic the unanimous vote in the Chamber of Deputies to eliminate the dispensations that allow child marriage in the country’s Civil Code.
“We ask that this legal step be accompanied by public policies for the elimination and prevention of this problem, and above all with actions aimed at assisting and socially reintegrating girls and adolescents,” says Michela Ranieri, an expert in Foreign Policy at Save the Children.
In terms of Human Rights, Amnesty International welcomes, among other things, Somalia’s decision to establish a prosecutor’s office in charge of crimes against journalists, the extension for two more years of the investigative mission on Venezuela after denouncing that the Government of Nicolás Maduro could having committed crimes against humanity, or that in Denmark the Government has agreed to reform the Penal Code to include that sex without consent is rape.
ARGENTINA LEGALIZES ABORTION
In addition, the organization highlights, the year ends with Argentina on the verge of legalizing abortion, after the Chamber of Deputies approves the bill for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, which must be ratified on December 29 by the Senate. Amnesty maintains that the Senate cannot “turn its back” on Argentine women since “legal abortion is an imperative of social justice, reproductive justice and Human Rights.”
Following in Argentina, for Oxfam Intermón another of the good news of 2020 has been that the Government of Alberto Fernández has approved a tax on large fortunes with which it hopes to raise funds to face the consequences of the pandemic. According to the NGO, Latin American governments could raise up to 14.2 billion dollars thanks to a tax of this type in a region where inequality is persistent. “The great fortunes owe a huge debt to our societies and it is high time that they pay their fair share,” claims Oxfam.
The NGO also values the fact that the G-20 has agreed to a moratorium on the payments of the bilateral external debt for the poorest countries. Thus, 46 of them have been able to redirect 5.7 billion dollars to combat the pandemic and its consequences. However, “the measure falls short, first because it is a suspension of payments and not a definitive forgiveness, so the savings are temporary, and second because private creditors have not suspended or forgiven a single cent.”
The year that is ending has also been a year of mobilizations. “The protests triggered by the death at the hands of George Floyd Police have been inspiring, because they have generated a movement and a transformation in the United States on racial justice,” highlights the deputy director of the program for this country of Human Rights Watch (HRW ), Laura Pitter.
“People have awakened to the way in which laws and policies have been used to perpetuate inequalities, not only in police and criminal justice, but also in access to education, housing, health and opportunities. of employment, which impacts on the ability to accumulate wealth, “he explains. “It will take time for this movement to bring about real change but it seems that something has really changed,” she adds.
There have also been demonstrations in Belarus in which, recalls Rachel Denber, HRW’s deputy director for Europe, women have played a leading role. “Before, women were hardly visible on the political scene” and the president, Alexander Lukashenko, had been “patronizing of female leadership.” However, it was a “triumvirate” of women who led the opposition in the August elections and it is they who “continue to lead many peaceful and creative protests,” she says.