The United Nations in Zambia held a series of outreach activities in various educational institutions from January 26 to 28 January 2015 namely Lake Road School, University of Zambia, Copperbelt University, and a public display at the UNIC Lusaka premises. The International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, is an important reminder of the universal lessons of the very dark and sad period in human history.
The Holocaust was a unique evil in the 20th century which cannot simply be consigned to the past and forgotten especially at a time in the 21st century when in some parts of the world, similar atrocities are being committed of indiscriminate killings of defenseless people mostly women and children.
Inspired by the theme “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors”, this year’s observance coincides with two milestone events: the 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s end and the founding of the United Nations. First and foremost a testament of our respect to those who survived and a tribute to the memory of the victims, this International Day also was an opportunity to recall the commitment of the international community to taking action against anti-Semitism and racism, and to preventing similar violence from occurring in the future. It was a time to reflect on how deeply the Organization was shaped by the experience of the Holocaust, the principle of human rights for all was enshrined in both the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In the video shown during the discussions one of the survivors, Gilbert Schie recalls memories of the journey taken during this dark period, from deportation to incarceration to freedom. A story of pain and suffering, yet ultimately also of triumph and renewal, serving as a guiding force for future generations.
In order to put the discussion into perspective, Charles Nonde from UNIC Lusaka, gave a brief background of the Holocaust during the Second World War and gave insight on the theme for this year. He shared with the audience present that the purpose of Holocaust Memorial Day is to remember and learn from the lessons of the past by looking at different themes every year, as was the case with this year whose focus was on “liberty, life and the legacy of the holocaust survivors”. He further added that it also provided a way to discussing difficult issues such as racism, xenophobia, discrimination and bigotry among different faiths and diverse communities within a country.
Besides the presentations done at various schools, there was a public display of panels exhibiting the stories of some of the survivors. Social media tools such as bulk sms were used to reach out a further 20000 people around the country - in 10 provinces, with the following messages sent out;
1. 2. Today's is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. More information at https://www.un.org/en/holocaustremembrance/
2. Do you know about the Holocaust? Visit the UN Information Centre to learn more
During the question and answer session, the major concern that was raised was the senseless killings that were perpetrated because of ethical differences, there was a plea that outreach activities must not be restricted to commemorative days such as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was agreed that there is need for the outreach to be done on a regular basis so that people were continually reminded of the dangers associated with intolerance and the consequences thereof..