Canada funds study on Chinese shaming over COVID 19 in Nairobi and Toronto

By Gatonye Gathura

The Canadian Government has funded a two-year study on discrimination of Chinese residents in Nairobi and Toronto over COVID 19.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the country’s federal funding agency for health wants the University of York, to investigate how COVID 19 discrimination is affecting the Chinese community in Nairobi and Toronto.

Canada has a big Chinese community in excess of one million while unofficial estimates indicate about 40,000 Chinese live and work in Kenya.

The two-year project, a statement from the university says aims to understand the consequences of COVID-19 as experienced by Chinese communities in the two cities.

“This will include the social impacts of discrimination and Sinophobia on personal well-being and their livelihoods.”

The study, Destigmatizing Chinese Communities in the face of 2019-nCoV: Emergency Management Actions to Address Social Vulnerability in Toronto and Nairobi, to be led by Aaida Mamuji of the York University, Toronto, will also develop an anti-stigma educational campaign targeted at the host communities.

“The project will develop a culturally specific public education campaign and knowledge-sharing events to counter misinformation, disinformation, stigma and fear, and to promote community cohesion,” says the university.

It will also try to de-stigmatize Chinese communities during the ongoing COVID 19 and similar outbreaks in the future.

“The findings will be used to educate the broader community on the true impact of misinformation, disinformation, stigma, and fear at the targeted community,” said the statement.

Earlier in March the Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, had warned Kenyans against discriminating Chinese nationals in the country over the coronavirus outbreak.

Kibicho had pleaded with Kenyans to be tolerant and treat all foreigners with respect.  But he had also warned that punitive action would be taken against offenders.

“This virus is now worldwide, and we have people from different countries here. Therefore, we must be humane and treat everyone with love and respect,” said Kibicho.

Kibicho was reacting to a clip that had gone viral on social media showing a group of Kenyans mocking a Chinese couple and referring to them as corona in Kibera slums.

He said if such a habit was allowed to continue the Chinese could retaliate on the about 3,000 Kenyans living or studying in China.

“It is worrying that some Kenyans are mishandling Chinese nationals because of this outbreak. I am asking them to be careful because this is disrespectful,” he said.

In February the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi had advised Kenyans against racist remarks directed at their nationals over the coronavirus disease.

“We call upon a rational and scientific approach towards Chinese communities, firmly object any irresponsible and even racist remarks as seen from one of the MPs today,” tweeted the Embassy.

Mavoko MP Peter Makau had asked residents to isolate themselves from Chinese after a group landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

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