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International Day of Peace

In the humanitarian sector, few days are more momentous than the International Day of Peace. Originally established in 1981 by the United Nations, it occurs annually on the 21st of September. This year marks the 39th time the International Day of Peace has been observed across the globe. The International Day of Peace dedicates 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire, and represents the ideal of peace – which, especially in the year 2020, is an ideal that is needed more than ever.

Worldwide, 2020 has been a crisis-filled start to the new decade, and accentuates the necessity for world peace. From the persistent presence of the 2019 coronavirus, to other traumatic events like the explosions in Beirut, Lebanon, billions across the globe have been negatively affected. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic has been classified by many international bodies and organisations as a threat that challenges world peace. In fact, the United Nation’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that:

[it is] critical to mitigate the peace and security implications of the COVID-19 pandemic… [because it is] potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease.”

COVID-19 has not only been a health hazard, but an issue in terms of global security as well. Both international and domestic conflict resolution efforts have been hindered, with some countries potentially risking militants seeing this pandemic as an opportunity to strike. Conversely, the pandemic has also affected a country’s ability to recover, such as in Lebanon. After the explosions last month in early August, almost 200 people are dead, 5000 injured, and over 300 000 are displaced and homeless. Yet, recovery has been slow, partially due to the social restrictions in place to prevent citizens from contracting COVID-19. In times of dire strife, the International Day of Peace 2020 serves as a reminder for solidarity.

However, those in the humanitarian sector have persisted in fulfilling their duties, no matter the cost. For instance, the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar resulted in at least 723 000 Rohingya peoples taking refuge in Bangladesh. Extensive action has been taken by international humanitarian organisations collectively for the sake of securing peace for the Rohingya refugees. Good Neighbors Bangladesh, partner base of Good Neighbors Australia, is one of those organisations. They have distributed emergency relief under the Rohingya Emergency Response (RER) to 5960 Rohingya peoples, over four phases. More than 300 children, and 4000 girls and women have also been receiving aid as per the local projects Good Neighbors Bangladesh has implemented.

Such projects aimed to create a positive environment for children to learn, play and develop, and so the Child Friendly Space (CBS) project was launched. Plenty of activities are held, including psycho-social support, case management, games, physical exercise, community-based child protection and education.

Similarly, Women Friendly Spaces (WFS) were also initiated, and is a supportive community for females affected by gender-based violence. In this project, home visits were conducted if necessary, but like the CFS activities mainly consisted of education on health and safety, as well as providing psycho-social support. A total of 3 Child Friendly Spaces and 2 Women Friendly Spaces have been established in Ukhia, Bangladesh this year. Good Neighbors Bangladesh has a blog post dedicated to these projects, which you can read here for further information.

With the world in shambles right now, the message of the International Day of Peace this year reiterates and emphasises the need for solidarity, and for nations to be united in their stance in remedying the pandemic. It is a day to remember that we are all human, and part of one large international community. Join Good Neighbors Australia this year as we observe the International Day of Peace, and work towards a world of peace.

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