Fri | Aug 7, 2020

UN demands halt to key global conflicts to tackle COVID-19

Published:Wednesday | July 1, 2020 | 4:24 PM
Libyan Ministry of Justice employees dig out at a site of a suspected mass grave in the town of Tarhouna Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Hazem Ahmed)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations Security Council demanded an “immediate cessation of hostilities” in key conflicts including Syria, Yemen, Libya, South Sudan and Congo on Wednesday to tackle COVID-19 in its first resolution on the new coronavirus.

The UN's most powerful body voted unanimously to adopt the resolution after the United States and China resolved a lengthy dispute over mentioning the World Health Organization.

Germany’s UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, the council president for July, announced the result, calling it “a sign for hope for all people currently living in conflict zones around the world.”

“It is now the obligation of the council – and all parties to armed conflicts – to implement this resolution in our work this month and beyond,” he said.

The resolution backs UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ March 23 call for global ceasefires to tackle the pandemic, and demands an “immediate cessation of hostilities” in all conflicts on its agenda which include key conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.

It calls on all warring parties “to engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days” to enable the safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid and medical evacuations.

The resolution, sponsored by France and Tunisia, states that these measures do not apply to military operations against the Islamic State and al-Qaida extremist groups and their affiliates.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the Security Council’s response to his appeal, saying the resolution “will send an important signal to conflict parties and may help change calculations on the ground,” according to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The UN chief again urged countries to redouble efforts for peace in conflicts where they have influence and said he looks forward to working with all parties “to advance efforts towards concrete cease-fires and durable peace,” his spokesman said.

Repeated attempts to adopt a Security Council resolution have been stymied over a reference to the World Health Organization.

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