United Nations, March 24, 2020-
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has made an emotional plea to put all “armed conflicts on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives” against coronavirus.
Calling for a “global ceasefire,” he said at a news conference on Monday, “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.”
He was overcome by emotions as he started to speak and broke off and gathered himself to start again to speak to a world where conflicts rage even as it is engulfed by coronavirus.
In keeping with the UN headquarters directives and New York City regulations against gatherings, Guterres held the news conference via interactive teleconferencing.
He said, “To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, end the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now.”
Guterres also appealed for a coordinated international response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We need a much stronger coordination, coordination in suppression of the disease, coordination in making sure that not only the developed countries can respond effectively to the disease but that there is massive support to the developing world not to let the disease spread like wildfire in the developing world,” he said.
A “huge package” was also needed “to respond to the economic and social consequences,” he said.
But it should not be like the bailouts during the 2008 financial crisis which focused on financial centres and it should instead “make households be afloat, make businesses be afloat, keep societies afloat.” he said.
“A double-digit GDP (gross domestic product) support” is needed for the developing nations and the world has to “make sure that, when we recover, we recover in a more sustainable and a more inclusive economy,” he added..
The most serious conflict in the world using aircraft and sophisticated weapons is at the moment in Syria involving the government of Bashar al-Assad and Russia, which backs it; other rebels and Turkey, which supports them, and the Islamic State.
The UN has failed to stop the fighting there mainly because the Security Council faces vetoes from Russia or even China.
Yemen is yet another long-standing battleground where the Houthis backed by Iran are locked in a conflict with those backed by a Saudi-led coalition that is also backed by the West.
Libya is also facing civil war conditions with several factions confronting each other.
There are scattered hostilities of varying intensities in Africa in places like South Sudan, Cameroun and Central African Republic.
Guterres said that his special envoys were working with parties in the conflicts to “make sure that this global appeal is not only listened to but leads to concrete action, leads to a pause in fighting, creating the conditions for the response to COVID-19 to be much more effective.” (Agency)