By Anna Chibamu
UNITED Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator for Zimbabwe Maria Ribeiro has bemoaned the impact of Covid-19 in the country where over 4.6 million learners failed to attend school as the scourge ravaged communities and learning institutions countrywide.
The disease that was seemingly slowing down in some regions across the world, has resurfaced with warnings from health experts that the second wave was deadlier than the first.
This has led to some governments imposing strict lockdown measures during the Festive Season.
As the world celebrated the 72nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights last week, the global roadmap for protecting the social, economic, political and cultural rights of every individual, Ribeiro in a statement, noted that measures taken by authorities to curb the spread of the disease had impacted negatively on the human rights issues in the country and elsewhere.
“The negative impact of the pandemic ranges from the heightened risk of gender-based violence, unmet needs for sexual and reproductive health rights to loss of jobs, livelihoods, access to education and increased burden of unpaid care work.
“For example, we know that due to school closures, 4.6 million learners in Zimbabwe could not enjoy their right to education.
“Service delivery has been impacted and many, especially in the informal economy have found it hard to make ends meet,” said Ribeiro.
Some schools and universities across the country were recently closed after learners tested positive to the virus that has seen over 306 deaths and over 11 000 people contracting the disease since its inception this year.
Government has since announced that schools will open next year in phases as has been happening to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The UN Coordinator expressed concern over the human rights abuses that have been caused by the onset of the disease world over; Zimbabwe not spared.
“2020 has been a difficult year for the world, and for Zimbabwe. The devastating impacts of Covid-19 pandemic have been felt by every country. That is why the theme for this year is: “Recover Better: Stand Up for Human Rights.
“It focuses on the need to build back better by using human rights and the Universal Declaration for Human Rights as the roadmap for the recovery efforts,” she highlighted, adding that the measures designed to halt the spread often had adversely impacted the whole spectrum of human rights’ civil, political, economic and social.
“Very often, it is the people who are already vulnerable that are most affected. The pandemic has also eroded the hard-won achievements on gender equality.”
In response to the pandemic, the UN has worked with the government and partners to address not only the immediate public health challenges, but also to support innovative ways to mitigate against the secondary impacts of the pandemic.