Pope Francis Backs U.N. Call for Global Ceasefire to Address Coronavirus

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Francis celebrates a Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on Sunday, albeit without members of the public in attendance. He will then go to his studio window to recite his blessing at noon to the …
Remo Casilli/Pool Photo via AP

ROME — Pope Francis has thrown his support behind the United Nations’ appeal for a global ceasefire to address fallout from the coronavirus, telling pilgrims in the Vatican Sunday that the measure represents a “courageous first step.”

“This week the United Nations Security Council adopted a Resolution which proposes some measures to deal with the devastating consequences of the Covid-19 virus, particularly for areas in conflict zones,” the pontiff told the crowd gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for his weekly Angelus prayer.

“The request for a global and immediate ceasefire, which would allow that peace and security necessary to provide the needed humanitarian assistance is commendable,” the pope said. “I hope that this decision will be implemented effectively and promptly for the good of the many people who are suffering.”

“May this Security Council Resolution become a courageous first step towards a peaceful future,” Francis concluded.

Last Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council passed resolution 2532 (2020), which demands a general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations.

In a unanimous decision, the 15-member assembly called upon all parties to armed conflicts to “engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days, to enable the safe, unhindered and sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance, and provision of related services by impartial humanitarian actors, in accordance with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.”

The cease-fire would also enable medical evacuations, in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian and refugee law as applicable, the U.N. said.

The security council noted that the general and immediate cessation of hostilities “does not apply to military operations against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Qaida and Al-Nusra Front, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida or ISIL, and other Council-designated terrorist groups.”

Last Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the council, insisting that the health pandemic “has fast become a protection crisis,” adding that more than one billion children are out of school and 135 million people face starvation by year-end.

These “wide-ranging risks require an urgent and united response,” Guterres said.

The U.N. chief said that “terrorist and violent extremist groups see the uncertainty created by the pandemic as a tactical advantage.”

“In Somalia, there is a risk that Islamist extremist group Al-Shabaab, could increase its attacks while security forces, by necessity, focus on the pandemic,” he said.

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