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We are facing a global compassion deficit, reports Civicus

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Civil society organisations providing humanitarian assistance to migrants and refugees are being targeted as the world faces a crisis of global compassion.

The alarming trend was one of the findings of the State of Civil Society Report 2019 by the global civil society alliance Civicus.

In a statement, Civicus cited an example in which the Italian government purportedly prevented a medical NGO-operated boat from docking in Italy, leaving it stranded at sea for a week with more than 700 passengers including unaccompanied minors.

It also claimed that the organisations in the United States were prevented from leaving water supplies for immigrants making the journey across the desert from Mexico.

“Civil society, acting on humanitarian impulses, confronts a rising tide of global mean-spiritedness, challenging humanitarian values in a way unparalleled since the Second World War,” said the Civicus secretary-general Lysa John.

“We need a new campaign, at both global and domestic levels, to reinforce humanitarian values and the rights of progressive civil society groups to act,” added John.

Civicus stressed that across the globe, right-wing populists, nationalists, and extremist groups are mobilising dominant populations to attack vulnerable groups, including organisations which support the rights of women and LGBT, as well as those who fight for labour rights.

Formed in 1993, Civicus is based in Johannesburg, South Africa and has a  membership alliance of more than 4,000 organisations in more than 175 countries.

It raised concern on powerful states such as China, Russia, and USA which it claimed to have refused to play by the rules.

"Borders and walls are being reinforced by rogue leaders who are bringing their styles of personal rule into international affairs by ignoring existing institutions, agreements and norms," it said.

The Civicus report lead author Andrew Firmin has also raised concern on the threat against democratic values.

“Democratic values are under strain around the globe from unaccountable strong men attacking civil society and the media in unprecedented - and often brutal - ways,” he said.

However, Civicus said that some global movements were able to break through, citing the successes of the women's rights movement #MeToo and the gun reform movement by the high school students in the United States.

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