Published: Tue, March 24, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

United Nations chief virtual stakeout on COVID-19

United Nations chief virtual stakeout on COVID-19

"Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world", Guterres said, adding that health networks in "war-ravaged countries" have collapsed and now is the time for talk not hostilities.

"It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives", Guterres said.

According to the report, Syria has reported its first case of the COVID-19 virus, in a country already torn by 10 years of war, and other cases have emerged in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan.

Guterres spoke as the Syrian conflict has entered its 10th year, the conflict in Yemen is in its fifth year and Libya's rival governments have been fighting for almost a year.

"'End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world", he said. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere.

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.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, Switzerland on 17 December 2019. 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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The UN will seek $2 billion as part of the global plan, he said, and is asking the G20 leading governments to help coordinate the response.

The United Nations headquarters in NY closed because of the pandemic.

He said that Coronavirus is the common enemy that is now threatening all of humankind.

He also encouraged countries to waive sanctions to allow delivery of food, health supplies, medical equipment and support for the COVID-19 crisis, saying: "This is the time for solidarity not exclusion".

Echoing calls by the United States and other world powers, he urged a "complete cessation of hostilities" so health authorities could ensure unhindered access to aid and boost protective measures.

Also Monday, the head of the International Monetary Fund said the International Monetary Fund was ready to do its part, suggesting that if needed it would deploy all of its US$1 trillion (NZ$1.76bn) in lending resources to countries in need.

Group of 20 countries will hold a virtual meeting this week about the coronavirus, with Guterres expected to attend.

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