Pope appeals for global ceasefire amid COVID-19 pandemic

Image - Vatican Media

Image - Vatican Media

Source: Vatican News

Pope Francis has joined UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in calling for an immediate global ceasefire as the world faces the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last Monday, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, urged warring parties across the world to "lay down their weapons" in support of the bigger battle against Covid-19. "The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war," he said. "It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives," he added.

From the Library of the Apostolic Palace, after the Angelus, Pope Francis said he joined all those who had made this call and he invited everyone "to follow it up by ceasing all forms of hostilities, encouraging the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, openness to diplomacy, and attention to those who find themselves in situations of vulnerability."

"May our joint fight against the pandemic bring everyone to recognize the great need to reinforce brotherly and sisterly bonds as members of one human family," the Pope said.

"In particular, may it inspire a renewed commitment to overcome rivalries among leaders of nations and those parties involved. Conflicts are not resolved through war."

Antagonism and differences, Pope Francis underlined, "must be overcome through dialogue and a constructive search for peace."

Several armed groups have responded positively to the appeal. Several armed groups in Cameroon, the Philippines, Yemen and Syria, have taken the first steps to reduce violence in recent days.

The five-year long civil war in Yemen has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. In Syria, a potential outbreak of Covid-19 poses a deadly threat to 6.5 million internally displaced people, suffering the effects of nine years of conflict.

Tensions remain, however, in many other areas of the world, including Afghanistan, Mali, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, and the Gaza Strip. In Mexico, drug traffickers battle for control of the narcotics trade, and North Korea recently launched two suspected ballistic missiles.

Around 70 states around the globe are currently engaged in some type of conflict, most of them in Africa and Asia. Many of these are forgotten wars. The Kurdish-Turkish conflict, for example, has been ongoing since 1984. The civil war in Somalia, since 1991.

A ceasefire would allow humanitarian aid to reach populations most vulnerable to the spread of Covid-19. In his appeal on Sunday, Pope Francis encouraged "the creation of humanitarian aid routes, openness to diplomacy, and attentiveness to those who find themselves in situations of grave vulnerability."

The UN Secretary General said: "women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalised, displaced and refugees, pay the highest price during conflicts." They are the ones most at risk of suffering "devastating losses" from the Coronavirus, he added.

"End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world," appealed Antonio Guterres. "This starts by stopping the fighting everywhere."

Tags: Angelus, Coronavirus , COVID19, Ceasefire, Pope Francis, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, War, Peace

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