UN: 11 countries considering global cease-fire

A vendor wearing a protective mask walks past a church in suburban Quezon city, in Manila, Philipines on Saturday March 14, 2020. Parties in conflict in the Philipines have expressed acceptance of global cease-fire suggested by the United Nations to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. (Source: AP Photo/Aaron Favila/AP)

UNITED NATIONS — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says warring parties in 11 countries have responded positively to his appeal for a global cease-fire to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

But there are enormous difficulties in turning words into peace. Fighting has escalated in major conflicts including Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan.

Guterres called on all governments, groups and people with influence “to urge and pressure combatants around the world to put down their arms.” He called the need is urgent because COVID-19 is now headed to all conflict areas.

Guterres told a briefing at U.N. headquarters in New York on Friday that his appeal 10 days ago was rooted in the recognition that “there should be only one fight in our world today: our shared battle against COVID-19.”

The U.N. chief cited a growing number of endorsements for the cease-fire from 70 countries, civil society, religious leaders including Pope Francis, and more than one million people in an online appeal.

He said parties to conflicts in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen have also expressed their acceptance.

But Guterres said: “There are enormous difficulties to implementation as conflicts have festered for years, distrust is deep, with many spoilers and many suspicions.”

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