The Taliban announced a ceasefire on Thursday in areas of Afghanistan affected by the Chinese coronavirus, allowing medical teams access to provide health services and aid.
Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, said via Twitter that the Taliban would “stop fighting” in areas under the group’s control, provided that those areas are affected by the Chinese coronavirus.
“If, God forbid, the outbreak happens in an area where we control the situation then we will stop fighting in that area,” Mujahid said on Tuesday.
The announcement follows a United Nations (U.N.) Security Council statement on Tuesday which urged Afghanistan’s warring parties to heed the U.N. secretary general’s calls for an immediate ceasefire in response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. The U.N. added a ceasefire would allow the delivery of humanitarian aid throughout Afghanistan.
The Taliban has said it would guarantee the security of health and aid workers traveling to their areas if they were offering assistance to stop the epidemic.
On March 25, Afghanistan Minister of Public Health Ferozuddin Feroz said that Afghanistan could “turn into another Wuhan or Qom,” the origin city of the coronavirus in China and the first city to document cases of coronavirus in Iran, if the nation failed to take precautions. The call to action came amid criticism of Afghan authorities for failing to quarantine and screen 100,000 refugees returning from Iran in recent months.
The Taliban’s coronavirus ceasefire comes as efforts to broker a peace settlement to end the war in Afghanistan continue. In its statement on Tuesday, the U.N. emphasized the need for Afghanistan’s political leaders to cooperate in the face of a potential disaster should the Chinese coronavirus devastate the nation. “The choice is made stark by the all-encompassing threat of COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus], which poses grave dangers to the health of Afghanistan’s population, and, potentially, to the stability of its institutions.”
This week, Afghanistan imposed a lockdown in several cities in an attempt to curb the spread of the Chinese coronavirus. Already ravaged by decades of war, Afghanistan faces an uncertain future as the Chinese coronavirus threatens to wreak havoc on the country.
At press time on Thursday, Afghanistan had 273 infections and six deaths from the Chinese coronavirus.