Diversity a richness, not a threat: UN Secretary-General

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Secretary-General António Guterres shakes hands with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev during their meeting at the Ala-Archa state residence in Bishkek. UN Photo/Vyacheslav Oseledko

Across the world, societies are becoming more diverse which must be viewed as a “positive thing,” the UN Secretary-General said on Sunday.

António Guterres was speaking in the city of Osh in Kyrgyzstan, where he laid a wreath in memory of those who died during ethnic violence in June 2010.

Dianne Penn reports.

The clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities seven years ago left hundreds dead and forced thousands to flee their homes.

At the time, Mr Guterres was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and he recalled his visit to Osh in the aftermath.

He said the city’s people have demonstrated “a remarkable resilience, an enormous patience and a capacity to recover,” which should be praised.

He laid a wretch at a monument which commemorates the tragedy, known as the Mother's Tears.

"And the Mother’s Tears should remind all of us that societies in the world are becoming multiethnic, multi-religious, multicultural, and that must be seen as a positive thing. It is a richness, not a threat. Diversity needs to be cherished, not to be condemned."

However, for diversity to thrive, the UN Secretary-General said investments must be made in the political, economic, social, cultural and religious sectors.

He also pointed out that it was the holy month of Ramadan, a time that should remind people everywhere that peace and tolerance must prevail “because that is the true face of Islam.”

While in Kyrgyzstan, the Secretary-General met with the President in addition to addressing a forum on a high-tech public service project known as Taza koom.

The country is the latest stop on the UN chief’s six-day visit to Central Asia, which began on Thursday.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'42″

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