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COVID-19 FPCC Faith Guidance Documents

In February 2020, in response to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, the FPCC partners agreed to immediately shift focus of its joint workplan to
respond to the international crisis through a new global multi-religious Faith-in-Action initiative to provide coordinated and evidence-based inter-faith support for the protection and well-being of children and their communities. 

The FPCC initiative mobilized religious leaders, faith communities, women of faith, and youth networks within Religions for Peace through its Inter-Religious Councils at country level to support COVID preparedness and response.

The key objectives of the initiative are to:
1. Manage communication, address misinformation and rumours.
2. Dispel fear, stigma, discrimination, and promote social harmony.
3. Promote adaptation of religious gatherings, practices, rituals, handwashing and hygiene.
4. Address specific needs of vulnerable groups.
5. Promote the prevention of violence against children and women.
6. Promote the participation of children and young people and their active engagement in the initiative.
7. Promote and support the recovery of social services, resilience and return to normalcy.

This package of thematic Guides aligned with and supported the achievement of each of the 7 objectives of the Multi-Religious Faith-in-Action
COVID-19 global initiative as outlined in the background. 

Communicating to End Misinformation, Discrimination and Instill Hope
In the context of health outbreaks such as COVID-19, religious leaders had an important role in tackling stigma and discrimination resulting from misinformation and from targeting specific individuals or groups of people associated with the disease. In order to carry out this important role, religious leaders used this guide to equip themselves with a better understanding of some of the contributing factors and negative effects of misinformation, rumours, fear, hopelessness, stigma, and discrimination.

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Addressing Violence Against Children

Violence against children and women increases during emergencies, conflicts, and health crises. The COVID-19 pandemic was no exception. Infection prevention measures that required staying at home brought on a wave of increased violence for many children and women who found themselves confined in restricted spaces for long periods of time with their abusers. The stress caused by the pandemic led to an increase in violence in homes, pushing more people to violent behaviour. This Guidance Document was designed specifically for use, updating and adaptation by religious leaders,
faith communities and FBOs at country and community-level with support from UNICEF and other humanitarian and development partners to support activities that prevent and address violence against children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Adapting How We Gather, Pray and Practice Rituals
During a global crisis people tend to turn to their religious leaders and faith communities for social, emotional, spiritual, and material support. During COVID-19 National and global institutions, including religious, political, and health institutions, put forward detailed guidelines for how we interact, congregate, worship and perform religious rites, including death and mourning rituals. Religious leaders used their authority and the trust and respect they command to promote these guidelines among their faith communities to ensure the continued safety and well-being of their communities.

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Helping People Who are at Risk 
Certain groups of people are at greater risk of complications and death. These include the elderly and those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. People with disabilities or weakened immune systems and those in nursing homes or long-term care facilities are also at risk. People living in crowded spaces with limited sanitation facilities like migrants, those living in poverty or in urban settlements, displaced populations, refugees, and people affected by humanitarian emergencies are also at risk and may not be able to practice the recommended preventive behaviours, especially physical distancing. Referred to as groups at risk or facing vulnerabilities, these people often are likely to suffer more negative consequences when crises occur. This guidance document was important in helping religious leaders reach out to intervene on behalf of people at risk during COVID-19.

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