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Canada to help world's poor cope with COVID-19, amid UN appeal: aid minister – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
International Development Minister Karina Gould says Canada will spend millions to help the world’s most desperate people fight COVID-19 because it is in the country’s long-term security interest as well as being the right thing to do.

Gould says that’s why Canada has earmarked $50 million, part of its response to today’s launch of the United Nations COVID-19 humanitarian response plan.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Gould rebutted criticism in some quarters that the government ought to be focusing instead on Canadians hunkering down at home to limit the spread of the virus.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to launch a $2-billion global appeal today, calling for a co-ordinated response to help the world’s war-torn, displaced and otherwise most destitute people who are facing new misery because of the pandemic.

Guterres has sent a letter to the G20 members, including Canada, urging them to spend more to prevent the virus from spreading like wildfire in developing countries burdened by poor health systems and massive refugee influxes.

Gould says the government needs to help Canadians at home with an $82-billion spending package, but it must also spend $50 million globally to protect Canada’s future security and economic prosperity from a virus that knows no borders.

“The world is connected … Whatever happens over there, far away, is something that can very easily come to our doorstep.”

Last week, Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole criticized the government for the overseas spending, saying on Twitter: “Foreign aid can wait. Right now, the Trudeau government should prioritize Canadians.”

Gould didn’t mention O’Toole by name, but she addressed the underlying sentiment of his tweet.

“Canada absolutely has to protect our own citizens, but part of protecting our own citizens is being part of that global response,” she said.

“It’s a bit of an enlightened self-interest,” Gould added. “We absolutely need to be thinking about the world’s poorest and most vulnerable because if we’re not thinking about them, we’re also putting ourselves at risk.”

The government has earmarked $8 million of the $50 million spending package to groups such as the World Health Organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help them fight the pandemic.

Gould said she is speaking with numerous UN agencies and other international organizations to target where the rest of the money should be spent.

There is no shortage of options, including from the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh where 700,000 Rohingya exiles from Myanmar are crammed into squalid conditions and where preventative hand-washing and social distancing are next to impossible. There are also overcrowded refugee camps on Greek islands and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, not to mention armed conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

One key message Gould is hearing is that there can be no backsliding in current aid spending. Otherwise, the world could face outbreaks of diseases that have already been contained such as polio, tuberculosis and malaria. She also doesn’t want to see money diverted away from helping improve the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women.

Gould noted that while the Ebola outbreak of six years ago killed 3,000 people in Congo, another 6,000 children died from a measles outbreak that couldn’t be contained at the same time.

Gould said she’s stressing the need for “a fierce commitment” to preserving development and humanitarian programs in all her international conversations.

“If we were to take a step back from those, the collateral damage and the generation of children that could be left behind because of this is even greater than the risk that we face with COVID.”

Gould said she’s worried about how isolation and quarantine measures can lead to an increase in domestic and gender-based violence.

Rema Jamous Imseis, the UN refugee agency’s Canadian representative, said Gould spoke with her organization’s High Commissioner Filippo Grandi Tuesday about doing more for the Rohingya in Bangladesh, and the need to scale up responses to sexual and gender-based violence.

“Canada has already done quite a bit and we hope to see more coming from them when the appeal is launched,” she said in an interview.

“We know that no matter what measures you take here, nationally, to prevent the spread of the virus, as long as you have situations around the world with weak health systems and an inability to cope with the demands that are placed on them with this pandemic, the virus knows no boundaries.”

David Morley, the president of UNICEF Canada, said millions of uprooted children in war zones are dying from preventable causes or not getting essential vaccines.

“With COVID-19 cases hitting Syria and Gaza, it is only a matter of time before we see the spread throughout refugee camps and these vulnerable populations,” Morley said.

UNICEF is concerned about the plight of refugee children on the Greek islands, where there are more than 41,000 refugees, including 13,000 children. A reception centre designed to hold 3,000 people has now swelled to 20,000, he said.

Though European borders are shut, Morley said UNICEF is stepping up its call to try to relocate children to Germany, Finland and other countries that have committed to take them.

“People in developing contexts care for their family members just like we do here,” said Michael Messenger, the president of World Vision Canada. “We can focus both on responses here at home, as well the world’s most vulnerable. That’s the Canadian way.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2020.

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The Gender War amongst Us

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The United Nations define gender-based violence as any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women and other persons, including threats of acts of violence, coercion and arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.

Gender-Based Violence is a global public health problem that challenges and affects the morbidity and mortality of women and the LGBTQ Community. It is estimated that 30% of women and 85% of The LGBTQ have experienced at least one form of GBV in their lifetime since the age of 15. The United Nations study among Women of reproductive age revealed that Intimate Partner Violence(IVP) ranged from 15% in Urban Regions(ie Japan) to 71% in Rural Regions (ie Ethiopia)Evidence reveals that this problem is most prominent in developing nations where socioeconomic status is low and education limited, especially in sub-Saharan Africa countries.
Gender Prejudice and Violence directed towards Women and The LGBTQ Community is globally widespread, even within the well-educated populations of the developed world.

Gender-Based Violence is a common practice in Africa, Asia and developing nations in Latin America. Most African Cultural beliefs and traditions promote men’s hierarchical roles in sexual relationships and especially in marriage. Almost two-thirds (63%) of the African population live in rural settings which increases the difficulty to access basic amenities and communities are isolated from the influence of central governments or the laws that prohibit GBV. Despite legislative advances, GBV remains pervasive and a daily reality for Women, Girls and THE LGBTQ Communities. Within Rwanda, many Women and Girls experience multiple and intersecting forms of violence and oppression including intimate partner violence, sexual violence, early and forced marriages, genital mutilation and human trafficking.

Gender Biased Violence directed towards The LGBTQ Community is high within African society, where their lifestyle may appear as a challenge to other males’ masculinity or gender understanding. Within the Latin Community, such violence exists but is far less felt than in areas within Africa. The Latin Worlds’ understanding of masculinity seems to vary, appearing to be more accepting of “the different”. Many Latin Males have multiple gender partners even within marriage. African attitudes are far more conservative and unyielding.

Gender Politics have shaped our world, moving from ancient acceptance of the power and influence of Womanhood to a place where religion became the excuse to oppress Women and other elements of society like the LGBTQ Community. Humanities’ move toward freedom and self-expression has been squashed by the manipulative, powerful masculinity of Mankind. Impressions of a controlling, protective society show us what we are to believe and how we are to live our lives.

Equality, self-determination and self-expression for Women and the LGBTQ Community still remain important aspects of the developed world’s policymaking and implementation. Within the continents of Africa, Central and Latin America, and some Asian nations government policymakers attempt to legally establish the necessary laws to protect their populations, but cultural, political and societal traditions and prejudices have entangled themselves within these nations’ evolutionary movement towards equal rights and gender democracy. A Gender War remains among us, within us, allowing prejudice, fear and hate to shape our society. Like all wars, there are many casualties, but with education, determination and the hand of justice applied, this war can be won.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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Journalists in Canada face 'alarming' levels of stress, trauma and harassment, report suggests – CBC.ca

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Members of Canada’s news industry are suffering “alarming” levels of work-related stress and trauma, a new report suggests, and researchers are calling for better supports to help journalists cope with covering COVID-19 and other crises.

The findings, based on 1,251 voluntary responses to an online survey conducted between Nov. 1 and Dec. 18, 2021, showed that media workers have dealt with high rates of mental health conditions over the past four years.

Sixty-nine per cent of respondents reported anxiety, 46 per cent said they had depression, and 15 per cent said they experienced post-traumatic stress injury.

The lead researchers on the project said the report underscores how the upheaval of a pandemic-accelerated news cycle has exacerbated the pressures of working in a profession steeped in competition and tragedy.

“Our findings confirm our worst fears and suspicions about the industry,” Carleton University journalism professor Matthew Pearson said at a news conference on Parliament Hill on Wednesday.

“The onus is now on all of us — from the front lines, to newsroom leaders, executives and journalism educators — to grasp the gravity of this situation and meaningfully address it to reduce the harms Canadian media workers are suffering on the job.”

Co-author Dave Seglins, a CBC News journalist and mental health advocate, said the information age has ramped up stress for journalists facing more demanding workloads and perilous job security, while also opening the floodgates for online misinformation and harassment.

More than half of participants surveyed said they had experienced online harassment and threats, and 35 per cent said they had encountered harassment in the field.

The harms of harassment were particularly pronounced among women, transgender and non-binary journalists, the report said. Black, Arab, South Asian and Filipino journalists reported higher rates of online harassment. Workers who were more identifiable as members of the media, such as video journalists and photographers, were more likely to be targeted in the field.

The survey also indicated that exposure to trauma is taking a toll on media workers, with 80 per cent of participants saying they’ve experienced burnout as a result of reporting on stories about death, injury and suffering. Some participants also reported experiencing other emotional and psychological side effects, such as suicidal thoughts or “numbing out” by using alcohol or other substances.

More than half of participants said they had sought medical help to deal with work stress and mental health, while 85 per cent of those surveyed said they had never received training on mental health and trauma at work.

The “suck it up” culture of many newsrooms deters journalists from seeking help to manage their struggles due to fears about how speaking up could impact their careers, Seglins said, and many employers lack the expertise, resources and benefits needed to support journalists’ well-being.

He urged news organizations to collaborate with workers to identify and redress these gaps to ensure the proper functioning of the Fourth Estate.

“All of this is having a profound impact on the health of people who work in the news industry — the watchdogs of our democracy,” Seglins said.

The Canadian Press provided images for the report, and the survey was distributed to Canadian Press employees.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Canadian Research Insights Council, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error.

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Canada donates $1 million to probe sexual violence by Russian troops in Ukraine

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OTTAWA — Canada is committing an extra $1 million to help the international community investigate sex crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Canada would give the extra funds to the International Criminal Court to help it investigate sexual violence toward women, and also crimes against children.

Ten RCMP officers, and Canadian civilian law enforcement experts, are helping to investigate war crimes in Ukraine, including sexual violence by Russian troops.

Global Affairs Canada said the extra money could be used to help fund specialist sexual violence investigations and to protect victims who may be witnesses in war-crimes cases.

The funds may also be used to provide psychological support for victims.

Joly said it was important that Russian troops who have used sexual violence against Ukrainians be brought to justice.

“Canada condemns in the strongest terms the use of conflict-related sexual violence and we will continue to work with partners such as the ICC to end impunity for these heinous crimes,” she said in a statement.

“Those who commit sexual violence in conflict situations must be held to account.”

At a meeting in Ottawa earlier this month with Ann Linde, Sweden’s foreign minister, Joly discussed the need to treat Russian troops using sexual violence as a weapon as war criminals.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Joly said 10 RCMP officers would help gather evidence of rape and sexual violence by the Russian military.

Linde said Sweden has also sent “experts on investigating sexual and gender-based crime” to help the ICC with its war crimes investigation. They are interviewing refugees — “mainly women and girls and children,” she said — as witnesses.

Ukraine’s ambassador designate to Canada told members of Parliament earlier this month that Russia is using sexual violence against women and children as a weapon of war.

Yulia Kovaliv told the House of Commons foreign affairs committee on May 2 that Ukraine is compiling “horrific documented evidence” of war crimes.

“The horror is that children are victims of these sexual crimes, which are done (before) the eyes of their parents,” Kovaliv said. “Sexual crimes is part of the Russian weapon (against) Ukraine.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published 26, May, 2022.

 

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

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