By Jim Fair
Pope Francis on March 29, 2020, joined the call for a global ceasefire amid the coronavirus pandemic, stressing the need for constructive dialogue in the search for peace.
His remarks came after praying the noonday Angelus from the Library of the Apostolic Vatican Palace.
“In the past days, the UN Secretary-General launched an appeal to ‘cease the global and immediate fire in all corners of the world,’ recalling the present COVID-19 emergency, which knows no borders – an appeal to total cease-fire,” the Pope said. “I join all those that have listened to this appeal and I invite all to follow it up, halting all forms of warlike hostility, fostering the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, openness to diplomacy and attention to those that find themselves in a situation of greatest vulnerability.
“May the joint commitment against the pandemic be able to bring all to recognize our need to reinforce fraternal bonds with members of the one family; in particular, may it awaken in nations’ leaders and other parties involved a renewed commitment to overcome rivalries. Conflicts aren’t resolved through war! It’s necessary to overcome antagonisms and oppositions through dialogue and a constructive search for peace.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on March 21 urged warring parties across the world to “lay down their weapons” in support of the bigger battle against Covid-19. “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war”, he said. “It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”
Responding to the UN appeal, several armed groups in Cameroon, the Philippines, Yemen, and Syria, have taken the first steps to reduce violence in recent days, according to Vatican News. The five-year-long civil war in Yemen has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. In Syria, a potential outbreak of Covid-19 poses a deadly threat to 6.5 million internally displaced people, suffering the effects of nine years of conflict.
Around seventy states around the globe are currently engaged in some type of conflict, most of them in Africa and Asia, according to the Vatican. Many of these are forgotten wars. The Kurdish-Turkish conflict, for example, has been ongoing since 1984. The civil war in Somalia, since 1991.
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