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UN chief deplores lack of ceasefire during virus

Since the call by Antonio Guterres in March for ceasefires, announcements backing the end of fighting have been made in countries including Afghanistan, the Philippines and Cameroon, but conflicts have continued to rage in Libya, Yemen and elsewhere.

FILE: UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres. Picture: AFP

UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday bemoaned the failure to heed his call for a ceasefire in conflicts around the world to aid the fight against COVID-19.

"A global ceasefire would create conditions for a stronger response to the pandemic and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable people," he said.

"I am encouraged by expressions of support. However, this support has not been translated into concrete action.

"In some cases, the pandemic may even create incentives for warring parties to press their advantage, or to strike hard while international attention is focused elsewhere."

Since his call in March for ceasefires, announcements backing the end of fighting have been made in countries including Afghanistan, the Philippines and Cameroon.

Conflicts have continued to rage in Libya, Yemen and elsewhere.

Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, told reporters Wednesday that "new and more deadly weapons (are) coming on the battlefields".

"This has been a trend which we have observed over the last couple of years," he said, citing a sharp drop in the price of weapons.

The latest UN report on civilian casualties recorded more than 20,000 were killed or injured in 2019 in just ten conflicts: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

Guterres said the figure, which only included verified numbers, was a fraction of the real total.