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Ministry of Human Rights & UNDP launch report on Covid-19 and Disaster Vulnerability in Pakistan

The Ministry of Human Rights in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan launched a detailed report on “Covid-19 and Disaster Vulnerability in Pakistan: A Human Rights Based Analysis” in Islamabad today. The report presents a comprehensive framework to analyze and strengthen Pakistan’s official response to the Covid-19 pandemic. A panel discussion was held to commemorate the occasion. The session was moderated by Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari. Panelists included Asad Umar, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives; Dieter Wolkewitz, UNDP Chief Technical Advisor in Pakistan; and Ms. Aliona Niculita, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative.

In the report, Pakistan’s national Covid-19 response has been analysed according to the eight key thematic priority areas identified by the UN Secretary General in April 2020 Guidance Note, “Covid-19 and Human Rights: We are all in this together”. These priority areas are health; livelihoods and unemployment; education; food; security; gender-based violence; child rights protection; refugees and migrants; and prisons and detention centres. The report outlines government initiatives in each thematic area; gaps and opportunities; and rights-based recommendations to facilitate and ensure a human rights-based approach to Covid-19 and disaster vulnerability in Pakistan.

Each chapter identifies population groups that face a high degree of risk and vulnerability. It also offers a set of short and medium-term recommendations for relevant Pakistani authorities at both national and provincial levels to prioritize and protect human rights. The report also attempts to examine the methodologies and practices of developed nations in order to perform a comparative analysis and provide a robust roadmap and strategy to address potential gaps and shortcomings.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari said, “The Government of Pakistan is cognizant of the multifaceted impacts of Covid-19 on the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the country and across the globe. Our report approaches the crisis through a human rights lens to encourage and facilitate a people-centred approach to the pandemic. The proposed recommendations are integral not only in terms of ensuring that human rights are protected during the current pandemic, but have the far-reaching potential to serve as a roadmap for protecting human rights in a plethora of future emergency situations that Pakistan could face.”

Federal Secretary for Human Rights, Mr. Inamullah Khan said, “Our research report highlights integral achievements, unintended impacts, and short-comings of Pakistan’s national response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It adopts a medium to long term perspective for guidance and recommendations that seek to ensure that the rights of the vulnerable, based on their sex, socioeconomic status, geographic location, age and disability, are protected.”

Speaking at the panel discussion, Asad Umar, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, said “We need to document the learnings of the Covid-19 pandemic so we can develop a national policy that can mitigate the shortcomings of our current response and ensure more effective response to possible emergencies in the future.”

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Ms. Aliona Niculita said at the occasion that, “UNDP is pleased to have supported the Ministry of Human Rights in undertaking this groundbreaking research on Covid-19 and disaster vulnerability in Pakistan from a human rights perspective.

We hope that the recommendations outlined in this report will guide the Government of Pakistan, UN Agencies, and other development partners in their response to Covid-19, including the roll out of the vaccination campaign, and future emergencies, with the aim of ensuring that no one is left behind in emergency response and recovery.