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UN calls for global ceasefire to combat the ‘common enemy’ of COVID-19

23 Mar 2020

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Humanitarian agencies are expressing concern for the 100 million people living in war zones and other emergency settings who depend on the UN for assistance. Credit: OCHA/Iason Athanasiadis

As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today called for an immediate global ceasefire to combat the “common enemy” of COVID-19.

“It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives,” the Secretary-General said.

“To warring parties, I say: Pull back from hostilities. Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the air strikes,” he added.

The Secretary-General said the global community could take inspiration from coalitions and dialogue slowly taking shape among rival parties to enable joint approaches to COVID-19. But he noted that much more needs to be done.

“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.”

Underscoring that the coronavirus is indifferent to nationality, ethnicity, faction or faith, the Secretary-General said that as armed conflict rages on around the world, the most vulnerable people – including women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced – are paying the highest price, and are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.

“Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19,” he said, noting that health systems have collapsed in war-ravaged countries, and health professionals have often been targeted. Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are “doubly vulnerable”, he said.

“The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” the Secretary-General stressed. “That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.”

“This is crucial, 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.”