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UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

08/07/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/07/2020 07:55

Media and Communications with indigenous peoples in the pandemic

The Secretariat of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019) has created the dedicated web page 'COVID-19 Pandemic: Language Matters'(link is external). It includes a collection of resources in and about indigenous languages related to COVID-19 prevention (public health messages and recommendations), as well as statements and policy-guidelines issued by other UN agencies and other organizations, and information about relevant initiatives that aim to tackle the negative impact of the pandemic on indigenous communities worldwide. These resources, links and other material is shared daily on the related IYIL2019 social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), followed by thousands of indigenous language users from all over the world, who often repost the information in their relevant local networks, either on social media or different communications tools, such as radio, television, and other. Active indigenous media and youth organizations also reach out to the Secretariat to share relevant resources, regularly updated on the dedicated page.

UNESCO dedicated one of its Social and Human Sciences webinar series 'Inclusion in the time of COVID-19' to indigenous peoples (on 5 June 2020). Through testimonies from different actors, including the new UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, José Francisco Cali Tzay, the webinar brought forth diverse perspectives on the ways the pandemic has adversely affected the enjoyment of basic rights by indigenous peoples. The webinar highlighted issues of access to information, on consultations between government and traditional authorities, on economic and health vulnerabilities, on indigenous values of solidarity and intergenerational care, and on issues of cross-border movement for herders. The series highlighted the role of the International Coalition of Inclusive Sustainable Cities. The webinar promoted international dialogue and the promotion of good practices of successful interventions that could be replicated or serve as source of inspiration.

In connection with the UNESCO Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Alliance COVID-19 Response, one webinar focused on MIL for Indigenous Peoples. The webinar gathered indigenous actors from Australia, Brazil, and Costa Rica and highlighted the challenges faced by indigenous communities and case studies of initiatives that seek to ensure the accessibility of credible information and knowledge in local languages and enhancing their media and information literacy capacities to combat misinformation and disinformation and to tackle racism and discrimination by mobilizing more inclusive online and offline indigenous communities.

Through partnerships with the UNESCO-led MIL Alliance (GAPMIL) Youth Committee, the MIL Alliance Youth Ambassadors developed the Health Information Literacy Alliance. Verified COVID-19 and MIL related was translated and distributed in 70 languages including indigenous dialects from Brazil India and the Arabe Region.

To counter the spread of disinformation connected to the new coronavirus, UNESCO produced a series of audio and video messages as well as MIL learning resources. These resources were translated and adapted in 45 languages, including indigenous languages from Africa and Asia. In Myanmar, for instance, to reach the maximum audiences, the UNESCO resources were translated and adapted in 19 local languages. The same was done in Africa. UNESCO, with its partners (Radio France International and France Media Monde), made available the resources in Fulfulde, Mandingue, Swahili, and Wolof. UNESCO is committed to further support the Member States with new audio, video, and MIL graphics resources for indigenous communities.

Within the framework of the project « Youth as Researchers », in partnership with UNESCO Chairs (NUI Galway ; Penn State University), knowledge and data are being collected on, with and by young women and men from different regions, including indigenous youth, around a set of important questions emerging from the pandemic crisis, such as the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), rising inequalities, mental health, intergenerational relationships, the impact of school closures and as well as their consequences (positive or negative) on the resilience capacity.