The United Nations (UN) has said that the coronavirus pandemic is posing a “new and deadly threat” to people caught up in violent conflict.
He addressed members of the UN Security Council during a videoconference on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
The UN chief warned that the pandemic was amplifying and exploiting the fragilities of our world.
“As we meet today, the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, causing enormous human suffering and additional stress to health systems, economies and communities,” he said.
Guterres regretted that those already weakened by years of armed conflict are particularly vulnerable.
He stated that COVID-19 is not only spreading sickness and death but pushing people into poverty and hunger.
Guterres noted that protection of the vulnerable was becoming more difficult as access to services and safety was hampered.
He decried that some, “leaders exploit the pandemic to adopt repressive measures”.
The UN chief renewed his call for national frameworks to strengthen protection of civilians in armed conflict.
He demanded that countries ensure accountability through strengthened efforts to prevent serious violations of international law, by prioritising investigation and prosecution.
Guterres urged them to move beyond rhetoric and close the accountability gap through national legislation and coordinated international action.
“I urge States to review and rethink their approach to urban warfare, committing to the protection of civilians in their doctrine, strategy and tactics,” Guterres added.
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