Secure Land Rights Critical for Asia’s Rural Communities Threatened by COVID-19

le 16/04/2020

Land rights as human rights is facing new challenges in the time of COVID-19 and securing land rights mean resilience for rural communities in Asia in the face of the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the globe overwhelming health systems and causing distress among millions of people. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached almost 1.7 million as on 12 April 2020, with over 200,000 of  these (13 per cent) located in Asia and the Pacific. Over the past two months, governments have scrambled to address local manifestations of this pandemic through travel restrictions, curfews, community quarantines, and nationwide lockdowns. However, the implementation of these measures has been partially successful or we are yet to know the impact of the spread of the pandemic. In Asia, civilians and activists alike point out shared observations of increased militarisation and aggressive policing, government crackdown on dissent, insufficient support for the health sector, absence of mass testing, and the inadequacy of support and protection for disadvantaged groups.

The subsequent measures to quell the spread of COVID-19 have been disproportionately impacting the poor and marginalised. Vulnerable groups not only face greater risks of being infected by the virus, but they also have less resources that would allow them to cope with the disruption of socioeconomic normalcy. Among those rendered most vulnerable during these times are those with insecure land rights. In these circumstances, it becomes clear how land rights are unequivocally tied to the fulfilment of other human rights such as the right to shelter, food, livelihood and health.

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