I’ll say this for the conspiracists, they are nothing if not creative. The lies they spread to undermine vaccine confidence are getting weirder by the day. Now, in the latest cruel twist of the infodemic, they’ve pivoted to targeting the vaccinated and their loved ones.

All kinds of wild conspiracies have been circulating since the early days of the pandemic, but recently they have hit new heights of absurdity. I admit my jaw dropped at reports of people who had previously refused to wear masks putting them on to protect themselves from the vaccinated.

Let’s be clear, it is medically…

My job at the United Nations is to inform the public about the state of our world. That involves stories of ever-growing numbers of people suffering, wars erupting, a deadly virus spreading, economies collapsing and the planet taking revenge for being repeatedly abused.

This information matters. It is about the consensus of the science of climate change or guidance on protection from COVID-19. It represents the surging data of need — numbers of war refugees, girls forced to marry, fathers and mothers losing their incomes, families starving, children out of school, people trafficked, and workers exploited.

These are the statistics…

Grappling with guilt has been one of my biggest challenges in these unequal COVID-19 times. Here is how I am dealing with it.

I’ve been feeling guilty a lot lately. The feeling last hit me recently while out in a restaurant in New York with friends. I was happy, but then I suddenly thought of friends in Europe who hadn’t been to a restaurant in months and the smile kind of froze on my face.

Before I knew it, my thoughts were full of people suffering far worse fates than not eating out. I saw nightmare scenes in Indian hospitals

Pramila Patten consoling survivors in a Protection of Civilians site in Juba, South Sudan in 2018. Photo by OSRSG-SVC. More here.

Some people I meet in the course of my work just floor me with their drive and passion. For these people, their role isn’t just a job, it’s a legacy, and they’re willing to withstand trauma and hardship to improve the lives of the people they’ve vowed to help. The UN’s Pramila Patten is one of those people.

Pramila is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. I recently spoke to her for my podcast, Awake at Night, about her work to end rape as a weapon of war, what she calls “history’s greatest silence.”

Rape has been…

A refugee in Rwanda gets her first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

These are heart-wrenching days for all of us with an eye on global events. We are witnessing a shocking gulf widen between those with access to COVID vaccines and those without. WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus has called it grotesque. Looking at the figures, it’s hard to disagree.

The contrast is astounding. While a handful of countries celebrate, re-open, and reunite with loved ones, the rest of the world waits, watches, and suffers. This as the WHO reported more COVID cases in the past fortnight than in the first six months of the pandemic. Let that sink in for a second…

So, how are you? Let me guess. You aren’t thriving, but you aren’t exactly depressed either? Chances are you’re languishing, a state characterised by an absence of well-being. There’s a lot of it about. The term pre-dates the pandemic, but lockdown has likely driven millions into this dispirited mood.

The languishing struggle with focus and motivation. Not quite in crisis mode; they aren’t quite content. They just are, and they’re going nowhere fast. While this isn’t a mental illness, research suggests they risk falling more seriously ill further down the line. So, it’s worth taking seriously.

The good news is…

Every morning, over coffee, I check the news. I can’t say it’s exactly uplifting at the best of times, let alone in these dark days. But in my job, I can’t afford to stay blissfully ignorant about the world. I rely on good journalism to inform and enrich my work, just like millions of others around the globe.

My morning news scroll ritual.

But imagine if reliable news sources suddenly disappeared. Where could we turn for our information? Say a total news blackout happened right now, during the pandemic. Look at your social media feed. Who could you rely on to share reliable, potentially life-saving…

We’ve asked so much of young people in this pandemic. We demanded they forgo everything to keep the rest of us safe. We asked them to bear the brunt and we asked them to cope. Now, a looming mental health crisis makes me worry we might have overestimated how much they could take.

332 million. That’s the number of children and young people who have lived under stay-at-home policies for most of the last year. They need support. As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second year, UNICEF urges governments to increase investment in mental health services.

Lockdown has been hard on the young. As a mother to two young adults, I’ve seen first-hand how confinement has crushed hopes and ruined plans. Worse still, for the millions already struggling with mental health issues, the pandemic has delivered a devastating setback.

From a selfish point…

What would life be without sport? This pandemic has given us all a taste. During this year of confinement, players and fans around the world have had to do without it. Millions are itching to return to playing with or cheering on their teams in person. Let’s hope it won’t be long now.

So, let’s celebrate sport as we wait for its big comeback. Today we mark the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. …

Most people are counting down the days until they get vaccinated, but not everyone. In these unsettling times, it’s understandable that some people need a little more reassurance, a little more information, before they feel confident in saying yes to a jab.

Less understandable to me is that vocal minority who are seeking to undermine and derail the global vaccine roll-out. Hard to believe, right? That a few people out there are deliberately spreading lies designed to scare people out of accepting a potentially life-saving vaccine? But there it is.

The bottom line is we communicators are locked in a…

Melissa Fleming

Chief Communicator #UnitedNations promoting a peaceful, sustainable, just & humane world. Author: A Hope More Powerful than the Sea. Podcast: Awake at Night.

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