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22 April 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

UN accuses world leaders of “social Darwinism“ over coronavirus response

By Samuel Horti

The United Nations has issued a scathing attack on world leaders’ responses to the coronavirus crisis, accusing them of overseeing a “moral failing of epic proportions” by prioritising the wealthy over those that need help most.

“The policies of many states reflect a social Darwinism philosophy,” the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, said today. “Despite often far-reaching policy reversals and huge financial support packages, the most vulnerable have been short-changed or excluded.”

Governments have shut down their countries “without making even minimal efforts to ensure people can get by”, Alston said. “In a moral failing of epic proportions, most states are doing all too little to protect those most vulnerable to this pandemic.”

He said that policies such as direct cash payments to citizens, the suspension of evictions and paying the wages of furloughed employees had mostly been “utterly inadequate”, and that the “most vulnerable populations have been neglected”.

“This is cruel, inhumane and self-defeating, since it forces them to continue working in unsafe conditions, putting everyone’s health at risk.”

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