Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (26 March) on a humanitarian ceasefire to prevent the spread of Covid-19:
The news of the first coronavirus cases in conflict zones makes it clear that tackling the Covid-19 pandemic must be the most urgent priority, even where ongoing tensions make this difficult. We have a shared responsibility to avert the fatal impacts that Covid-19 could have on people who are already weakened by war, displacement and hunger. Armed conflict must not be allowed to prevent assistance from reaching people in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Libya and Mali and internally displaced persons and refugees living in overcrowded camps in countries such as Syria and South Sudan. Aid workers operating on behalf of the United Nations and the numerous humanitarian NGOs must be able to carry out their vital work without being exposed to the dangers of war and civil war.
In light of the Covid-19 crisis, the UN Secretary-General is calling on warring parties across the world to “silence the guns”. A global humanitarian ceasefire would provide the breathing space we need in order to curb the spread of the pandemic in conflict zones. The UN Security Council should make this goal a priority, and we will work to make sure this happens.