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#CoronaSolidarity: how the City of Heidelberg partners with civil society and artists to address the pandemic

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has compelled cities to be on the front lines as they are forced to take quick action by the pandemic. UNESCO’s International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR, a unique city-level platform in the UN system, has pushed forward a wide range of initiatives from member cities calling for an inclusive and non-discriminatory approach to addressing the outbreak. One of its members, the City of Heidelberg in Germany has launched its newest social media campaign against COVID-19 called #CoronaSolidarity.

With the beginning of the spread of the coronavirus, a flood of news, handouts and explanatory videos has naturally emerged, leaving the public searching for a reliable source on facts about the virus and on available precautionary measures to combat it. In collaboration with a number of civil society organizations, the City of Heidelberg, through its Intercultural Center, established the social media video campaign #CoronaSolidarity that provides essential facts and information on health and safety mechanisms; it is available to the public in eight languages: Turkish, Albanian, Spanish, Portuguese, Tigrinya, Russian, Chinese and Arabic. Taking into consideration the struggles many residents, such as refugees or the elderly, have faced in absorbing information, the Intercultural Center of Heidelberg called upon civil society organizations to create short videos explaining hygiene and safety basics in their mother tongues. These associations include the Association E.V.A. e.V., the German-Brazilian association Rhein-Neckar Entre'guas, the German-African Association, the Confucius Institute at the University of Heidelberg, the Matryoshka - Association for Russian Culture and Education, and the Synergy Association - Syrian-German Association. 

The Intercultural Center of Heidelberg also launched the series of CoronaReadings and CoronaConcerts since the start of the outbreak. Offering a range of reading sessions and concerts from freelance artists, the online events have attracted a large public across Germany. Notable contributors include Dr Michael Blume, Commissioner of the State Government Against Anti-Semitism, as well as artists Julya Rabinowich, Hatice Akyün, Katja Zakotnik, Victor Funk, Berit Glanz, Nils Pickert, Düzen Tekkal, Carolin Emcke, Lena Gorelik, Imran Ayata, Sibylle Berg featuring T.Roadz, Faith Walters, Starzzy & Adotwiz, and Katja Zakotnik & Naila Alvarenga.

The videos of #CoronaSolidarity, as well as CoronaReadings and CoronaConcerts, have been made widely available through the City of Heidelberg’s IZ homepageFacebook page, and YouTube channel.

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The City of Heidelberg is a member of the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism (ECCAR), which is one of the seven regional coalitions of UNESCO's International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR. Launched in 2004, ICCAR is a city-level platform that undertakes a wide range of initiatives – from policymaking and capacity-building to awareness-raising. It advocates for global solidarity and collaboration to promote inclusive urban development free from all forms of discrimination.

The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of UNESCO. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout the article do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning its frontiers or boundaries.