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Covid-19 and our work with the UN

Covid-19 and our work with the UN

Jillian Abballe

07 April 2020 1:56PM

The Advocacy Manager and Head of New York Office for the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations (ACOUN), Jillian Abballe, and ACOUN’s New York-based Administration and Research Assistant, Marla Teixeira, explain how the office is being impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The recent global Covid-19 outbreak is undoubtedly changing our global landscape. Not only is it shifting how the ACOUN team approaches our work, but it is reminding us that inequalities and injustices faced by the most marginalised in our world are only further exposed and compounded in times of crisis. Our hearts go out to any and all who are being affected directly or indirectly by this tragedy.

Before these recent events, our team was gearing up to engage in a very full year of critical fora at the United Nations, including the 64th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, and the 19th Session of the United Nation’s Forum on Indigenous Issues, among others. These and many other conferences held at the UN this year have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely.

As such, it is an important moment for us – as the ACOUN, as a global community – to step back and take stock. While our original plans may have been thwarted and the Covid-19 has rightly taken precedence in many arenas, we also know that issues like gender injustice, oppression of indigenous communities, and the impact of climate-related disasters persist.

As the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutterres said recently: “we must tackle the devastating social and economic dimensions of this crisis, with a focus on those most affected:  women, older persons, youth, low-wage workers, small and medium-sized enterprises, the informal sector and vulnerable groups, especially those in humanitarian and conflict settings.”

As such, our work towards these issues can’t stop.

Extensive measures have been implemented by global organisations working within the United Nations’ mandate to help attenuate the impact of Covid-19 in their communities. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been monitoring the global situation closely, providing critical science-based evidence from experts around the world and providing guidance to organisations and communities on best practices. For example, the WHO has been working with UNICEF and the International Federation of the Red Cross to publish guidance materials on improving access to handwashing.

The United Nation’s Development Programme has responded to this crisis by working with its partners to support the most affected countries where health systems are weakest and people are at their most vulnerable. UN Women is providing up-to-date guidance on how and why gender considerations matter in Covid-19 response to governments, municipalities and civil society responsible for protecting women and girls’ rights.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) is expanding cash assistance and interventions for those who are already displaced from their homes or living in refugee camps, including supporting authorities to increase their water and sanitation capacity.

We are deeply committed to continuing our work both internally within the Anglican Communion, and externally with other international organisations to keep pushing forward issues that cannot be forgotten. Now, more than ever, it is important to strengthen the ties between the local and the global, between Anglican voices and United Nations bodies. If you are interested in our work and want to participate, please visit: Please be in conversation with us and follow us on Twitter at @AnglicanUN, and stay in touch with resources on faith-based responses to Covid-19 that are being compiled by the Anglican Alliance.

Our global family will come out on the other side of this forever changed. It is our hope that our communities, churches, and partners take conscious action to address the pain, suffering, and violence that many are increasingly facing, and that we will be radically transformed and determined to continue our work for a truly inclusive and sustainable world.