UN Secretary-General António Guterres says the worst is yet to come. Repeats appeal for global ceasefire

New York – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned on Friday that “The worst is yet to come” in conflict countries. He repeated his call for a global ceasefire to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic. “There is an opportunity for peace, but we are far from achieving it. The need for that is urgent. Storm COVID-19 will now reach all conflict sites,” Guterres added, while presenting a report on the recent developments since the launch of his call on the 23rd of last March.

UN Secretary-General has already called for a global ceasefire in all conflict areas of the world to better combat the COVID-19 epidemic. A petition launched by a non-governmental organization, to support the United Nations appeal gathered about one million signatures. However, no decrease in fighting had occured so far in countries of conflict.

In his meeting with journalists, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric expressed his satisfaction with the initiative taken by Avaaz Organization. He stated: “We are very pleased with the number that this petition managed to attract,” stressing the need to pressure the fighting parties.

The United Nations had welcomed the statement issued by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in which the SDF expressed its support for the Secretary-General’s call for an immediate global ceasefire to facilitate the global tackling of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Possibility of EU lifting sanctions on Syria over coronavirus

In related news, the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern about the spread of the coronavirus in Syria – the Syrian Health Ministry said it has registered sixteen cases of COVID-19 in the country and two deaths. The WHO said that it will take Syria a long time to control the spread of the virus.

In this regard, EU countries expressed support for the call of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to lift the sanctions on some countries in the context of coronavirus pandemic. The European Union hinted on the possibility of lifting sanctions on Syria as a way to facilitate the process of controlling the virus. EU foreign affairs chief, Joseph Burrell said in a statement:

“In some countries, such as Syria, Yemen and Libya, the negative impact of coronavirus can be escalated, given the conflicts that are taking place there, which is why we fully support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to coordinate a common global response to the pandemic, and his calls for an immediate worldwide ceasefire”.