COVID-19: A threat to peace building in conflict-affected nations —ILO, WHO

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis uniquely complicates peace and reconstruction efforts in conflict-affected countries, jeopardising public health responses and threatening peacebuilding efforts.

A joint report co-authored by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), Interpeace and the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (DPPA/PBSO) has called for tailored and coordinated responses to build and sustain peace in countries affected by conflict.

It stated that humanitarian and development agencies should use COVID-19 crisis programmes to promote resilience and peace and help societies build back better.

The publication: ‘From crisis to opportunity for sustainable peace – a joint perspective on responding to the health, employment and peace building challenges in times of COVID-19,’ offered ways to tackle the health crisis, create decent jobs in a conflict-sensitive manner and contribute to peacebuilding.

In countries affected by armed conflict or where  the risk of an outbreak of violence is high, the COVID-19 crisis or the response to it can exacerbate grievances, increase mistrust, discrimination and perceptions of injustice over access to health services, decent jobs and livelihoods, the report said.

According to the ILO Director General, Guy Ryder, “the COVID-19 crisis has worsened already fragile situations. The ILO is more aware than ever of its responsibility to promote peace and resilience in the time of this global pandemic.”

He added: “It can erode trust in state authorities and have a disproportionate impact on certain segments of the population, especially women, migrants, and displaced, marginalized and vulnerable groups.

“Conflict often arises from the absence of decent work. The COVID-19 crisis has worsened already fragile situations and requires stakeholders to work together in partnership to address the root causes. The ILO is more aware than ever of its responsibility to promote peace and resilience in the time of this global pandemic.”

The report further stated that immediate measures in response to the public health crisis should be part of a wider, long-term vision for recovery.

It added: “Ways to build resilience in societies to both conflict and the challenges posed by the current and potential future pandemics include scaling up existing public employment programmes and social protection schemes and increasing investment in productive infrastructure.”

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