UN chief voices concern about potential discrimination due to coronavirus

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at a press conference on UN work priorities for 2020 at the UN headquarters in New York, Feb. 4, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Jiangang)

UNITED NATIONS -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday voiced concern about the possibility of discrimination against certain groups of people due to the novel coronavirus epidemic.


"It's easy to move into ... perspectives in which there tends to be discrimination; there tends to be violation of human rights; there tends to be stigma on innocent people just because of their ethnicity," Guterres said during a press conference.


He appealed for "a strong feeling of international solidarity, a strong feeling of support to China in these difficult circumstances but also to other countries that might be impacted," and "a strong concern to avoid the stigmatization of people that are innocent and that might be victims of that situation."


Regarding China's efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus, he said China has mobilized enormous resources and enormous capacity to respond, something the UN fully recognizes.


He also underlined the UN agencies' support for China's fight against the epidemic, pointing to the work done by the World Health Organization (WHO), among others.


The WHO "has been very active trying to support China and to support other countries where cases have been developed," he said.


Moreover, the International Organization for Migration and the UN Children's Fund have also been quite active in responding to the epidemic.


In the meantime, Guterres acknowledged that the novel coronavirus is "something with a dimension ... that is sometimes difficult to fully respond," but he stressed that "we are trying to mobilize our best capacities and best resources."


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