The international community’s attempts to forge a global ceasefire to help curb the spread of the coronavirus have been a “catastrophic failure,” said Oxfam International in a new report released Tuesday.
Oxfam said fighting continues in many conflict-torn countries despite the call in March by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to belligerent parties to lay down their arms.
The problem has been compounded by a diplomatic failure at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), years of low investment in peacebuilding efforts and weapons continuing to pour into conflict zones, Oxfam said in the report: Conflict at the time of the Coronavirus.
“We expected leadership from the Council as well as from many of those countries that say they support a ceasefire, but which nevertheless remain active participants in conflicts around the world, conducting operations military, selling arms and supporting others, “said Oxfam’s acting executive director. Jose Maria Vera.
On May 8, the United States, one of five permanent members of the UNSC, refused to vote on a UN resolution for a global ceasefire. Oxfam said it was only the latest in a series of failures that fuel conflict at a time when peace and international cooperation are needed.
The report argues that only stopping the violence would be an effective response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Last month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the UNSC that the coronavirus pandemic poses a threat to international peace and security “potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would significantly compromise our ability to fight disease ”.
Guterres, who called for a ceasefire in all world conflicts on March 23, said the pandemic had hampered efforts to resolve regional, national and international conflicts “exactly when they are most needed “
Investing in “peace efforts””
Oxfam said that two billion people living in fragile and conflict-affected states are now at increased risk of contracting the disease, including in areas where health systems are paralyzed and hospitals bombed, forcing them to flee to overcrowded camps.
In the past year alone, the international community has spent more than $ 1.9 trillion on its armed forces. It would have paid for the UN coronavirus call more than 280 times, according to Oxfam.
“Arms-exporting countries must stop fueling conflicts and strive to pressure warring parties to accept a global ceasefire and invest in peace efforts that can bring significant halt to the conflict, “said Vera.
The report underlines the situation in the Central African Republic, where the United Nations has announced the suspension of its humanitarian response in the areas where the armed groups have broken the cease-fire; in Myanmar, where the military has rejected national and international calls for a comprehensive ceasefire; and in Yemen, where the parties involved in the conflict continue to fight despite a unilateral truce.
WHO on Monday ordered staff to stop work in Houthi-led areas, citing “credible and perceived risks” to their safety.