With the lockdown of most organisations and the practice of social distancing bedding in across the globe, CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society, has been responding to the fast-moving emergency and arising needs across various locations in South Africa.

The official line from CIVICUS is that in times like these, solidarities and social compassion play the most important role. To that end, the organisation will collect information and resources to help connect and inform the members of its alliance during these times. CIVICUS also stated that there will be support for their staff during the Covid-19 pandemic and that an internal Covid-19 response team will be in place to ‘ensure that operational and people processes are responding to changing realities and supporting staff and partner needs in accordance with WHO guidelines for prevention and protection’.

CIVICUS admonished donors and their intermediaries to exercise flexibility and understanding as the Covid-19 outbreak will make lots of organisations, especially small and medium-sized organisations, make adjustments in their programming. They encouraged funders and supporters to work together to ensure that civil society stays strong and resilient as they deal with current and future crises and uncertainties, including in the social, political and economic spheres.

The statement from CIVICUS said, ‘[Many] in our networks are actively engaged in speaking truth to power and challenging power inequities, we are concerned about how emergency measures may be repurposed in some context to further close space for civil society. We understand that the exercise of civic freedoms, especially public mobilisations, will need to move online temporarily. This requires additional efforts to call out and control enhanced illicit surveillance. Attacks on civil society actors could also be ramped up as the attention of the world is diverted elsewhere. Political prisoners, arbitrarily detained human rights defenders, journalists and prisoners of conscience are extremely vulnerable in this context, and we join calls to immediately and unconditionally release these actors, dropping all charges against them in the face of overcrowding and limited access to healthcare already existing in prison systems’.

Source: CIVICUS

Photo source: One Village Initiative

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