The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate ceasefire of all conflicts taking place throughout the world, urging the global community to focus its efforts on the coronavirus outbreak instead.
Guterres said: "It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives." He stressed that the world is facing "a common enemy – COVID-19" which does not discriminate between "nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith."
Those caught up in conflicts raging throughout the world – including women, children, marginalised minorities, the disabled, and the displaced refugees – are, he said, the most vulnerable and "are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19."
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The outbreak of the respiratory virus should, according to Guterres, be the catalyst to unite the global community and presents the opportunity to cease all acts of military conflict, create peace corridors to transport aid, and open pathways for diplomacy. "The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war," he stated.
He added that the current goal of humanity should be to "end the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world," which would be achieved only "by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever."
Guterres' call for the global ceasefire comes amid the continuation of long-lasting conflicts, particularly in the Middle East, such as the ongoing nine-year-long Syrian civil war and the five-year-long civil war in Yemen.
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He told reporters of a recently agreed truce between the opposing parties in the Libyan civil war – the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) – but said yesterday that it "is not holding very well, and this is one of the reasons why I believe we need a global ceasefire."
He gave a warning that if the global ceasefire is not implemented, the virus is not tackled by a united front, and that "if the fighting goes on, we might have an absolutely devastating spreading of the epidemic."