United Nations, April 12 (IANS) UN Middle East envoys have launched a joint appeal for the cessation of hostilities and for dialogue across the region amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The joint appeal was launched on Saturday by Geir Pedersen, the UN special envoy for Syria; Jan Kubis, the UN special coordinator for Lebanon; Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Iraq; Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen; and Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, reports Xinhua news agency.
On March 23, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched an appeal for an immediate global ceasefire, urging all warring parties to pull back from hostilities, put aside mistrust and animosity, and silence their guns.
Many parties have responded positively to the secretary-general’s appeal, but more needs to be done to translate words into action, said the envoys.
Too many in the Middle East have endured conflict and deprivation for far too long. Their suffering is now compounded by the COVID-19 crisis and its likely long-lasting social, economic and political impacts, they said.
“We call on all parties to engage, in good faith and without preconditions, on negotiating immediate halts to ongoing hostilities, sustaining existing ceasefires, putting in place more durable and comprehensive ceasefires, and achieving longer-term resolutions to the persistent conflicts across the region,” said the envoys in a joint statement on Saturday.
“We also appeal to all to exercise maximum restraint, de-escalate tensions and work to resolve differences through dialogue, negotiation, mediation or other peaceful means. We further call on all to refrain from any activities that can lead to further deterioration of stability and security in any country or the region as a whole,” they added.
They called on all sides to facilitate humanitarian access and assistance to the internally displaced and refugees, communities under siege, and all who have been ravaged by war and deprivation, without prejudice or discrimination.
“This requires fast-tracking the passage of health and aid workers at borders and in-country and ensuring they are protected. We further call on all to facilitate safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) to their homes by urgent, effective and meaningful action and measures,” they said.
No country, region or community can face the challenge of COVID-19 alone, they said, adding that “solidarity is required today and will be very much needed tomorrow”.
“None of these efforts will succeed if the guns of war and conflict are not silenced. At a time like this, partisanship and narrow interests must yield to the greater cause and the good of the people.
“That is why we echo the secretary-general in calling on all parties in the Middle East to work with the UN so we can focus on the true fight of our lives,” said the envoys.