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Positive Mideast responses to UN cease-fire appeal

At a step to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic and aiming ultimately at ending hostilities, the United Nations envoys in Middle East hot spots urged all warring parties on Saturday for immediate cease-fires.

The envoys for Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stressed that solidarity is required to face the challenge of COVID-19 and this cannot happen “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,” UN stated. “That is why we echo the secretary-general in calling on all parties in the Middle East to work with the U.N. so we can “focus on the true fight of our lives” which is COVID-19.

They also urged all feuding parties “to reach out across conflict lines and cooperate locally, regionally and globally to stop the rapid spread of the virus,” and to allow access for humanitarian aid and “humanitarian releases.”

Secretary-General Guterres said on April 3 that warring parties in 11 countries had responded positively to his cease-fire appeal: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

He told the U.N. Security Council Thursday in its first meeting on the Coronavirus pandemic that he has been encouraged by support for his call for a global cease-fire to all conflicts from world leaders, regional partners, civil society activists and religious leaders.

“From South America to Africa and from the Middle East to Asia we have seen conflict parties take some initial steps to end violence and fight the pandemic,” he said. “Still, we must remain cautious, as any gains are fragile and easily reversible, as conflicts have festered for years, distrust is deep, and there are many spoilers.”

In Yemen, a two-week cease-fire proposed by the Saudi-led coalition backing the U.N.-recognized government went into effect on Thursday.

But Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite rebels, who control northern Yemen and the capital, Sanaa, quickly dismissed the cease-fire on Thursday.