“Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19. The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly.
Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world. The most vulnerable – women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced – pay the highest price. They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19. Let’s not forget that in war-ravaged countries, health systems have collapsed. Health professionals, already few in number, have often been targeted. Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable. The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.
That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.
To warring parties, I say: Pull back from hostilities. Put aside mistrust and animosity.
Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes.
This is crucial: To help create corridors for life-saving aid. To open precious windows for diplomacy. To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.
Let us take inspiration from coalitions and dialogue slowly taking shape among rival parties in some parts to enable joint approaches to COVID-19. But we need much more.
End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.
It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.” •
cc. Since 2013, two years after independence, a war has been raging in the predominantly Christian Southern Sudan, which has so far left around 400,000 dead and about four million displaced persons. According to the UN Refugee Agency, 7.5 million people there are currently dependent on humanitarian aid for their survival. After numerous efforts, the first agreement in the peace process between opposition leaders in the alliance of the Southern Sudanese opposition movement and the government of the country was signed in Rome on 13 January 2020. This was the first time that all political parties in Southern Sudan had agreed on a ceasefire and a roadmap to stabilise unity and reconciliation in the country. The „Rome Declaration“ was made possible through the long mediating activity of the Rome based Community of Sant‘Egidio and Pope Francis, who together with Anglican Primate Justin Welby, among others, has long been working for a peaceful solution in Southern Sudan. Despite the continuing violence, the various steps are an expression of the political will present in Southern Sudan and nourish the cautious hope for peace. The following statement by the Southern Sudanese opposition also follows on from this.
The Leadership Council of The South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), comprising of The National Salvation Front (NAS), South Sudan United Front (SSUF), South Sudan National Movement for Change (SSNMC), The Real Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (R-SPLM), National Democratic Movement Patriotic Front (NDM/PF) and the United Democratic Revolutionary Alliance (UDRA), takes note of and welcomes the statement by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres of 23 March 2020, calling for global ceasefire in countries where there are armed conflict in order to fight coronavirus disease (COVID-19). SSOMA noted the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) that Covid-19 is a global pandemic affecting almost all countries across the globe. SSOMA has been monitoring the devastating effects of the pandemic on global Population and recognizes that a period of such catastrophe calls for humanity to unite and defeat the common enemy through solidarity and a shared response by all. SSOMA reiterates its concern for safety of the people of South Sudan at this critical moment and applauds the global efforts in response to the pandemic, including the work of humanitarian agencies and public health organizations mandated to facilitate access to medical care and humanitarian aid. In response to this situation, The South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) hereby resolves and affirms the following:
Source: https://www.nassouthsudan.com from 9 April 2020
For the Apostolic Vicar of South Arabia, the Swiss Bishop Paul Hinder, the first Covid 19 case in Yemen might paradoxically have a “positive effect” in resolving the conflict. In the recent past, international humanitarian organisations have raised the alarm over the catastrophic effects of a Covid-19 epidemic in the Arab nation, where there has been a war between the Saudis-backed government and the Houthi rebels since 2015. A conflict that has provoked the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world”. The new corona virus would have even greater devastating consequences on the population already struck by the conflict.
At the request of the Catholic news agency AsiaNews, Bishop Paul Hinder, responsible for the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen, said that “the present pandemic and its horrifying risks also for Yemen may bring people of all involved parties to reason.”. Therefore, the bishop added, “coronavirus could have indirectly a positive effect.”
(Translation Current Concerns)
While the corona pandemic claims thousands of victims worldwide, the plague could lead to peace in the worst humanitarian catastrophe today. UN mediator Martin Griffiths informed the UN Security Council that negotiations for a continuing nationwide ceasefire and humanitarian aid projects in Yemen were making great progress.
Saudi Arabia and its allies surprisingly announced a unilateral ceasefire of two weeks last week after UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a global cease-fire to fight Covid-19. A long-term ceasefire is now fundamentally supported by both sides – the Alliance and the Houthi rebels – said Griffiths.
“We expect them to agree and formally adopt these agreements in the immediate future,” Griffiths said about the state of negotiations between the warring parties. The ceasefire announced by Saudi Arabia was a “clear commitment to a peaceful, political solution to the conflict”.
The Saudi military alliance has been bombing targets in Yemen since March 2015. Many civilians were killed again and again. An estimated 112,000 people have died in Yemen since the end of 2014, including 12,600 uninvolved in targeted attacks.
The remaining differences of opinion should now be bridged with all their might. Griffiths thanked the hostile parties for their open, goal-oriented, and rapid talks to resolve the five-year conflict. •
Source: https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/politik/jemen-un-frieden-verhandlungen-102.html from 16 April 2020
(Translation Current Concerns)
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