COVID-19: UN calls for an immediate global ceasefire

26Mar 2020
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
COVID-19: UN calls for an immediate global ceasefire

THE United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres has urged military parties across the world to lay down their weapons in support of the bigger battle against COVID-19; the common enemy that is now threatening all of humankind.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

In an appeal issued on Monday, Gueterres noted that the virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly. Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world.

“The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war”, he said. “That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

The ceasefire would allow humanitarians to reach populations that are most vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19, which first emerged in Wuhan, China, last December, and has now been reported in more than 180 countries.

So far, there are nearly 300,000 cases worldwide, and more than 12,700 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Guterres further called attention to the fact that “the most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalised and the displaced — pay the highest price” in times of armed conflict, combined with a global health crisis.

Furthermore, health systems in war-ravaged countries have often reached the point of total collapse, while the few health workers who remain are also seen as targets.

The UN chief called on warring parties to pull back from hostilities, put aside mistrust and animosity, and “silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes”.

This is crucial, he said, “to help create corridors for life-saving aid. To open precious windows for diplomacy. To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.”

“The UN must fully assume its responsibilities first doing what we have to do our peacekeeping operations, our humanitarian agencies, our support to the different bodies of the international community, the Security Council, the General Assembly but, at the same time, it’s a moment in which the UN must be able to address the peoples of the world and appeal for a massive mobilisation and for a massive pressure on governments to make sure that we are able to respond to this crisis, not to mitigate it but to suppress it, to suppress the disease and to address the dramatic economic and social impacts of the disease”, he said.

He added; “And we can only do it if we do it together, if we do in a coordinated way, if we do it with intense solidarity and cooperation”.

Meanwhile, in his message to mark the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Guteress called on the World to raise voices against all expressions of racism and instances of racist behaviour.

Commemorated in every year on 25 March, the International Day offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system.

“We urgently need to dismantle racist structures and reform racist institutions,” he said.The theme for this year’s International Day of Remembrance is: “Confronting Slavery’s Legacy of Racism Together.”

The UN chief said that racism is the reason why, outside Africa, people of African descent are often among the last in line for health care, education, justice and opportunities of all kinds.

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