Rome (Agenzia Fides) - The planetary emergency of the coronavirus pandemic, "which knows no borders", makes more urgent than ever a "global and immediate ceasefire in all corners of the world". This is the appeal launched by Pope Francis in particular to those responsible for the nations and parties involved in conflicts around the world, at the conclusion of the Angelus prayer on Sunday 29 March in the Library of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
The Bishop of Rome referred to the appeal launched in recent days by the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, inviting everyone "to follow it up by ceasing all forms of hostilities, encouraging the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, openness to diplomacy, and attention to those who find themselves in situations of vulnerability. May the joint fight against the pandemic" the Pope hoped "bring everyone to recognize the great need to reinforce brotherly and sisterly bonds as members of one human family", and to take note that "conflicts are not resolved through war", and "antagonism and differences must be overcome through dialogue and a constructive search for peace".
According to Father Qaisar Feroz OFM cap, Executive Secretary of the Communications Office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, Pope Francis' support for the United Nations' call for a global ceasefire represents the most suitable "compassionate response" to the present moment, and the war against Coronavirus should also erase "all political wars; cold wars, biological wars, economic wars. This is a time to save humanity, and I hope that also in Pakistan all opposition parties, including all Islamic groups, respect and support the United Nations' call for a global ceasefire by following the necessary measures taken by the Pakistani government, taking into account that over 25% of the population lives below poverty".
Even the Jesuit, Cedric Prakash, of the "Prashant" Center and Ahmedabad (India), hopes that the appeal re-launched by Pope Francis will not be ignored by world leaders". The ceasefire implored by Pope Francis – says Father Cedric Prakash to Agenzia Fides - is "the wisest thing to do right now", in order to ensure that "all hostilities everywhere cease immediately and without conditions, and that all men and women come together in a spirit of unity, harmony and tolerance, trying to win Covid 19 once and for all".
In recent days, António Guterres' appeal has been joined by the parties involved in different war scenarios around the world. In Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have said they are willing to suspend any military action in the north east of the country. In Yemen, devastated by five years of war, UN envoy Martin Griffith has announced "positive responses" from both the Houthi rebels and the governmental forces regarding a "humanitarian truce" to be put in place, to better combat the danger of the pandemic.
In Africa, the leaders of one of the main separatist militias operating in Cameroon (SOCADEF, Southern Cameroons Defense Forces) gave their willingness to a two-week ceasefire, from March 29 to April 12, to promote pandemic prevention initiatives. A message of adhesion to Guterres' appeal was also expressed by the Communist Party of the Philippines, jointly with that of the government in Manila. (Agenzia Fides, 30/3/2020)