Associated Press

Associated Press 22 May 2020

Religious leaders divided on return to services


President Donald Trump deemed churches and other houses of worship "essential" and called on governors across the country to allow them to reopen this weekend, even as some parts of the nation remain under coronavirus lockdown. (May 22)

António Guterres (United Nations Secretary-General) Special Appeal to Religious Leaders - 11 April 2020

Today, I want to make a special appeal to religious leaders of all faiths to join forces to work for peace around the world and focus on our common battle to defeat COVID19.
I do so at a special time on the spiritual calendar.
For Christians, it is the celebration of Easter. Jews are marking Passover. And soon, Muslims will begin the holy month of Ramadan.
I extend my warmest wishes to all those observing these important MOMENTS.
We have always known these occasions to be moments of community. Of families coming together. Of hugs and handshakes and the gathering of humanity.
But this is a time like no other.
We are all seeking to navigate a strange, surreal world.
A world of silent streets. Shuttered storefronts. Empty places of worship.
And a world of worry.
We are worried about our loved ones who are equally worried about us.
How do we celebrate at a time like this?
Let us all take inspiration from the essence of these holy occasions as moments for reflection, remembrance and renewal.
As we reflect, let us spare a special thought for heroic health workers on the frontlines battling this awful virus - and for all those working to keep our cities and towns going.
Let us remember the most vulnerable of the vulnerable around the world. Those in war zones and refugee camps and slums and all those places least equipped to fight the virus.
And let us renew our faith in one another and draw strength from the good that is gathering in troubled times as communities of diverse faiths and ethical traditions unite to care for one another.
Together, we can and will defeat this virus - with cooperation, solidarity, and faith in our common humanity.
Actos including Anna Kendrick, Jessica Alba and Tracee Ellis Ross share their concerns about going back to work after lockdown. (May 29)
Dr. Bob Lahita joined CBSN to discuss the spike in COVID-19 cases in Georgia and the new CDC guidelines for American offices as the U.S. looks to get people back to work.
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

- Afghanistan
- COVID-19: Telecommuting at UNHQ
- Role of Religious Leaders
- Iraq
- UN Environment Programme
- UN Women
- Yemen
- Venezuela
- Ukraine
- Moldova
- Mozambique
- South Sudan
- Malawi
- Cyprus
- Mali
- International Nurses Day

The UN country team expressed its shock and revulsion at today's attacks at a Kabul maternity hospital as well as a funeral in Nangarhar. 
The UN Mission there said that the attacks caused significant civilian casualties. The UN in Afghanistan calls for those responsible to face justice and offers condolences to victims and families. 
The Secretary-General obviously joins this condemnation but we expect a more formal statement from him later today.  
Also today, the Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, Toby Lanzer, said that he is outraged by the attack on the Sad Bistar Hospital in Kabul. Mr. Lanzer said that it beggars belief that such a heinous act could be committed when Afghanistan is being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Mr. Lanzer emphasized that civilians receiving care in hospitals, health workers, medical infrastructure and aid workers are protected under International Humanitarian Law; violations must be investigated and those behind the attacks brought to justice.

The Secretary-General wrote to UN staff yesterday evening, noting how he has been inspired by how our work has been able to continue uninterrupted for the past two months. This, he said, has enabled the UN not only to stay open, but also to play an active global role in helping people cope with the emergency. He informed staff that, after consulting with senior management and our medical services, he is extending the current telecommuting arrangements at the Headquarters complex through June 30th 2020.  These arrangements will continue to be reviewed. The Secretary-General said that a plan is also being finalized for a gradual and phased return to the building whenever it is considered safe for us to do so. The staff's health and safety are the priorities guiding this process. 

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