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Equitable Crisis Response

United Nations Association in Canada Statement on Equitable Crisis Response

The United Nations Association in Canada stands for the universal protection of human rights. Our staff, volunteers, and partners work every day to equip Canadian youth to build a better world. We are constantly reflecting on our work and recent events have focused that reflection on crisis response.

We acknowledge that Canada's response to Ukraine is an example of how Canada should respond to the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and other countries experiencing conflict. The Canadian response demonstrates that the measures the Afghan community has called on are possible. We reemphasize our unequivocal support for the measures being implemented to assist Ukrainian nationals, but there is an undeniable inequality in which refugees of non-European descent are welcomed.

In being reactive during the Afghanistan crisis we didn’t adapt our response to account for some basic truths. We disregarded the fact that our press release on Afghanistan garnered much less interest than our press release on Ukraine. We disregarded the fact that our social media campaign had fewer engagements. We disregarded the fact that there were fewer empowered voices raised in defense of Afghan refugees. As a result, we left a community behind and hurt them. We disregarded the systemic racism in which we operate and in doing so, we became part of the problem.

The first step is accountability, the next is action. That is why we commit to reaching out to the Afghan community in Canada to identify pathways forward. We commit to leveraging our convening power to give voice to Afghan youth in Canada. We commit to doing more to reach the furthest first.

Seven months ago we publicly stated, ‘Collectively we cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan. Now is the time to reaffirm our humanity by helping those most in need. It is a time to show absolute respect for the rights of others: especially the vulnerable, and the displaced. This is surely the litmus test of a society’s commitment to the protection of human rights.’

Today and moving forward we fulfill that commitment.

As a national civil society organization, UNA-Canada continues to raise awareness, concern and empathy on international issues that affect us all. A major focus of our programmes is to support youth as they gain empathy-based skills that enable them to live and serve as caring global citizens. For more information please visit our website at www.unac.org

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