Guterres Renews Call for Global Ceasefire to Tackle COVID-19 Pandemic

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (AP)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (AP)
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Guterres Renews Call for Global Ceasefire to Tackle COVID-19 Pandemic

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (AP)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (AP)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called again on all parties to conflicts to respond to his call for a global cease-fire to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that more than 20,000 civilians were killed or injured in attacks in 10 countries last year and millions more forced from their homes.

In a report to the UN Security Council released Thursday he Guterres said that the pandemic is “the greatest test the world has faced” since the world body was established 75 years ago.

Guterres said that according to the United Nations, more than 20,000 civilians were killed last year in conflicts in 10 countries — Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

“As the world confronts the monumental challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to silence the guns could not be more acute,” he stressed.

His new appeal focuses on the protection of civilians, stressing that the most effective way to protect them “is to prevent the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of armed conflicts,” The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Guterres said that figure is almost certainly an underestimate because it doesn’t include civilian casualties in Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, Sudan’s western Darfur region and the Palestinian territories.

In Syria, Guterres said hostilities resulted in the deaths of at least 2,404 civilians, including 466 women and 688 children. In Yemen, 3,217 civilians were reported to have been killed or injured, with children accounting for 25%, And in South Sudan there were 1,405 civilian casualties, while in Somalia 1,459 died.

He added that the millions of civilians forced out of their homes in 2019 added to the 70.8 million people already displaced by conflict and violence. For example, he said, almost 1 million people were newly displaced in Congo, 455,553 in Afghanistan and 200,000 in Nigeria.

According to AP, he warned that the pandemic may create "incentives for some parties to conflict to press for an advantage, leading to an increase in violence, while others may see opportunities because the attention of governments and the international community is absorbed by the health crisis.”



Azerbaijan Proposes Document on Principles of Peace before Full Deal with Armenia

FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo
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Azerbaijan Proposes Document on Principles of Peace before Full Deal with Armenia

FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo

Azerbaijan is proposing to sign a document with Armenia on the basic principles of a future peace treaty as an interim measure as they wrangle over a broader deal, a senior Azerbaijani official said on Sunday.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have repeatedly said they want to sign a peace treaty to end the conflict over the former breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, reported Reuters.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Saturday a text of a treaty was 80%-90% ready but repeated it was impossible to sign it before Armenia amended its constitution to remove an indirect reference to Karabakh independence, which Armenia has rejected.
Karabakh's ethnic Armenian inhabitants enjoyed de facto independence from Azerbaijan for more than three decades until September 2023, when a lightning Azerbaijani offensive retook the territory and prompted around 100,000 Armenians to flee.
Both countries have in recent months sought to make progress on the peace treaty, including the demarcation of borders, with Armenia agreeing to hand over to Azerbaijan four contested border villages.
A document on the basic principles could be considered as a temporary measure and form the basis of the bilateral ties and ensure neighborly relations between the two countries, Hikmet Hajiyev, foreign policy adviser to the president, told Reuters.
It can be signed until Azerbaijan holds COP29 climate summit in November, Hajiyev added.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in June that a peace treaty with Azerbaijan was close to completion but that his country would not accept its demands that it change its constitution.
After he made those comments, clashes broke out between police and demonstrators, the latest in a series of protests denouncing his policies, including the handing back of ruined villages to Azerbaijan, and demanding his resignation.
On July 5, Constitution Day in Armenia, Pashinyan said the country needed a new constitution "which the people will consider to be what they created, what they accepted, what is written in it is their idea of the state they created and the relations between people and citizens in that state".