Separated but united, let's ensure that no one is left behind
As the world is faced with the Coronavirus pandemic, the European Youth Forum calls for a response rooted in solidarity, cooperation and open-mindedness across borders and for all parts of our society.
The European Youth Forum expresses our deepest gratitude towards medical staff and all the essential workers that are keeping our societies together, often while not being acknowledged for their crucial work. In Europe and beyond, we must recognise those on the frontline for their commitment and resilience in tirelessly supporting those affected, and ensuring that assistance continues to be provided during this global crisis.
As the voice of young people and platform of youth organisations in Europe, we strongly urge young people and youth groups to lead by example not only by following the advice of health experts and public authorities to limit the spread of the disease but also by stepping up to support the most vulnerable in society, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions who stand to suffer disproportionately as a result of the virus outbreak.
At this critical time, we also cannot ignore the dangerous and precarious position that many young people and other social groups will find themselves in as a result of these emergency measures. While it is undoubtedly necessary to prioritise safe working conditions, social distancing and isolation during this period, some workers are at risk of falling through the gaps. Many young people who work in temporary, unstable and precarious forms of work without access to healthcare, employment benefits, or paid sick leave, are left without an important safety net. In this context, when young people’s labour rights aren't met, it intensifies the effect of the crisis for everyone. No one should be forced to make a choice between staying safe or maintaining financial stability.
The impact of COVID-19 is exposing existing failures and inequalities built into our economic, political and welfare systems. It is a stark reminder of the urgent need to address these deep-rooted issues, to stand up for human rights and fairer societies. It is during these times of crisis when we realise how both cooperation and solidarity are essential to protect the lives and rights of all people. In the longer-term, system change is the only way forward that will create a more equal and sustainable society, able to face global crises without giving into panic, suspicion and mistrust.
The European Youth Forum supports European leaders who are taking the necessary measures to protect the population and support all the sectors affected by this crisis including civil society organisations. We also strongly call on them to draw the necessary conclusions from this tragedy and ensure that no one is ever left behind.