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UN chief praises positive response to global ceasefire

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that over a dozen countries have said they will begin or continue ceasefires, in response to his appeal for warring parties to stop fighting amid the COVID-19 pandemic that is having devastating effects worldwide.

Fighters in Afghanistan, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen have all "expressed their acceptance for the call," Guterres said.  

"The virus has shown how swiftly it can move across borders, devastate countries and upend lives," Guterres said. "We need to do everything possible to find the peace and unity our world so desperately needs to battle COVID-19."

To further the call for a worldwide ceasefire, Guterres said that "citizen action is more important than ever," and called for people to add their voice by signing a petition that was started by a social media networking site called Avaaz, a group that describes itself as a "global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere." 

"The petition is going viral," U.N. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told CBS News after the Secretary General tweeted a call for the public to sign the petition. 

Earlier in the week, Guterres called for the world to dedicate 10% of global GDP, or $9 trillion, to counter the impact of coronavirus.

"We need to do everything possible to find the peace and unity our world so desperately needs to battle COVID-19," he said. "We must mobilize every ounce of energy to defeat it."

Afghanistan has a long way to go before peace — but the March agreements and a proposed ceasefire this week by the Taliban may allow U.S. forces to begin the withdrawal detailed in the peace talks.  
In Syria, "the Idlib ceasefire agreed between Russia and Turkey on 5 March continues to hold, with a halt in airstrikes and ground incursions," according to the report. "Mutual shelling has occurred since, but at significantly reduced levels."

The U.N. report also documents warring factions in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East where the call for a ceasefire has had an impact.

The COVID-19 outbreak has "underscored the imperative of stopping the fighting across the world," he said on Friday. "Many have heard and some answered my global appeal for a ceasefire... both state and non-state actors." 
But Guterres warned "The worst is yet to come," adding that there is a major difference between "declarations and deeds — between translating words into peace on the ground and in the lives of people."

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this piece misstated the amount Guterres called for the world to dedicate to fight coronavirus. It is $9 trillion.

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