UN calls for ‘global ceasefire’ in response to COVID-19

Aleppo ruins

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is calling for warring parties across the world to lay down arms in support of the battle against COVID-19. “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” he said in a March 23 statement. “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… Silence the guns, stop the artillery, end the air-strikes. It 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.” (UN News, PBS News Hour)

David Miliband of the International Rescue Committee added: “It is tough enough to beat COVID when you have got the best public health systems in the world. We’re talking about places where there isn’t the hand-washing facilities, there aren’t the health facilities.” He especially cited the systematic destruction of hospitals in the Syrian war. “In Northwest Syria…85 health facilities have been bombed by its own government and their Russian supporters.” (PBS News Hour)

Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, whose forces have for months been besieging Tripoli, declared a “humanitarian” ceasefire in response to the pandemic on March 21. However, the Tripoli government says artillery and rocket attacks on the outskirts of the city have continued. (Libya Observer, Libya Observer)

Photo of Aleppo ruins from UNHCR