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United Nations Headquarters

Calling for immediate global ceasefire - UN chief on COVID-19

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Streamed live on Mar 23, 2020

Watch LIVE @UN Secretary-General @antonioguterres will hold a virtual stakeout on #COVID19.

23 March at 12:15PM (EDT, New York time)

Learn more: http://un.org/coronavirus

UN chief António Guterres called for “an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world” appealing to warring parties to “end the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.”

In a remote press briefing, Guterres said the world face a “common enemy” in COVID-19 adding that the virus “does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith.”

The Secretary-General said, “Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world” adding that the most vulnerable, women, children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced, “pay the highest price” and are also at “the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.”
Guterres noted that in war-ravaged countries, “health systems have collapsed,” and health professionals, “already few in number, have often been targeted.”

He said, “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. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”
In a message to warring parties, Guterres said “Pull back from hostilities. Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes. 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. Let us take inspiration from coalitions and dialogue slowly taking shape among rival parties in some parts to enable joint approaches to COVID-19. But we need much more. 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.”

Guterres said his special envoys would be working with parties to different conflicts for this global call to a ceasefire to translate into concrete action and to create the conditions so that the response to COVID-19 can be much more effective. He said the capacity to respond in conflict areas is very limited and if fighting goes on, it could lead to a devastating spread to the pandemic.

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