Solomon Ayele Dersso, Honourable Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, has said the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified and reinforced the human rights challenges being faced in African countries.
Dersoo made this known while delivering his speech at the opening ceremony of the 67th Ordinary Session of the commission.
The Commissioner stressed that the human rights issues have been disregarded by most countries but the pandemic had exposed them adding that ‘business as usual’ approach would not deliver any positive change.
“In many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has served to amplify and reinforce the defining human rights issues of our time: massive poverty, widening inequality, gender oppression, the violence of racism, the democratic governance crisis and the climate emergency.
“2020 is also a year that has shown us why business as usual approach to the political, social, economic and environmental governance of our societies does not work and cannot deliver.
“That we cannot continue to neglect the critical issues of pervasive property – the lack of access to education, lack of access to water, lack of access to basic health care, lack of access to descent housing.
“We cannot continue to neglect the critical issue of deepening inequality. We cannot continue to rely on a neoliberal economic development model that emphasizes GDP growth rewarding more benefits for the wealthy while keeping the poor poorer.
“We cannot continue to neglect the critical issue of gender oppression and the abuse of the dignity and rights of women and girls,” he added.
He also noted that the pandemic has further pushed many people into extreme poverty, saying that, “in the course of 2020 it has become clear that the overall health impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic on the African continent may be less than in other parts of the world, but that the long-term socio-economic repercussions are likely to have far-reaching implications, as millions of people pushed to extreme poverty, millions others lose their jobs or livelihoods and many more face hunger and starvation.”