The new United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein expressed alarm on Thursday over anti-African prejudices arising from the Ebola crisis, warning against what he described as ill-conceived quarantine enforcements and discriminatory travel restrictions.
The high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein expressed concern about their budget as well.
“I have to say I am shocked, shocked that just six weeks into the job I am already having to look at making cuts because of our current financial situation,” he said in his first news conference since formally taking over the job on Sept. 1st.
At a time when the United States and Europe are growing increasingly alarmed about the spread of Ebola from West Africa and seeking ways to minimize it, Mr. Zeid protested against restrictive actions, including criminal penalties, that he said could have the opposite effect.
“Only a response that is built on respect for human rights will be successful in quashing the epidemic,” he said.
“We must also beware of ‘us’ and ‘them,’ a mentality that locks people into rigid identity groups and reduces all Africans — or all West Africans, or some smaller, national or local group — to a stereotype.”
As the global response to the crisis accelerates, he said, “it is also vital that every person struck down with Ebola be treated with dignity, not stigmatized or cast out.”