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UN chief pleads with armed militants to embrace ceasefire amid Coronavirus pandemic

By World affairs desk , Garowe Online
FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for countries to “put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives”

Armed militants should embrace ceasefire, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, Monday, to give room for the nations to battle with Coronavirus pandemic.

The entire world is almost in a lockdown, with countries such as South Africa and Britain announcing curfews, as one of the measures to curb the rapid spread of the COVID-19, whose vaccine is yet to be established.

China was the first country to report the virus in December last year, but it has since spread across the world, almost grounding all economic activities, and threatening possible global recession.

“It is time to put the armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives,” Guterres told journalists via a video press conference during Monday's address.

Most countries in Africa and the Middle East are embroiled in unending conflicts, which have left thousands dead despite the UN's effort to broker peace among the warring parties.

For instance, Boko Haram has terrorized West Africa residents, while Al-Shabaab has made East Africa a battle zone, and they're no signs of ceasefire despite the latest COVID-19 outbreak.

In the Middle East, ISIS militants have made the region a battleground with the Taliban also unleashing in Afghanistan. Also, many countries are also involved in inter-clan skirmishes, which threatens peace and stability.

As of Monday, there were more than 350,000 confirmed cases worldwide of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. More than 15,000 people have died.

But the UN chief called for the silence of guns, airstrikes in almost the similar version AU lobbied for last month, adding that ceasefire would create humanitarian corridors and open windows for diplomacy.

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

In North Africa, the Libya crisis is on its tenth year, while Somalia has been the hotbed of Al-Shabaab training and recruitment, with the group leaving thousands dead.

The United Nations has expressed concern recently about the escalation of inter-communal violence in parts of the country. Meanwhile, tens of millions of people are internally displaced and refugees from violence across the globe.

So far, Africa has recorded over 600 COVID-19 cases, with South Africa recording the single highest cases. President Cyril Ramaphosa called for the total lockdown to avert further spread, local media reported.

Italy has recorded over 4,000 deaths, surpassing the figure in China, although details about the situation in the Communist state still remain scanty. Over 90,000 infected people have since recovered, WHO said.

With most countries closing their borders and shutting down pivotal sectors, the UN has also sent the entire staff home as one of the preventative measures, VOA reports.

The secretary-general has been meeting virtually with senior staff from around the U.N. system, in order to keep humanitarian, peacekeeping and COVID-19 response operations going while protecting staff and the people they are assisting.

ISIS militants announced travel bans for their members early this month but most other terror groups or tribal militias are yet to issue such directives, as the world continues to battle with the pandemic.


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