A global ceasefire as the pandemic rages: Who will heed the call?

Houthi rebels in Yemen. (Photo credit: Jamestown.org)
Houthi rebels in Yemen. (Photo credit: Jamestown.org)

As wars and low-intensity conflicts in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, and many other countries drag on amidst the coronavirus pandemic, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has sparked hopes for a global ceasefire.

On Monday, March 23, Guterres issued a call for “a global ceasefire in all corners of the world … The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war … it is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

Source: United Nations


The Southern Cameroons Defense Forces is one of numerous militias fighting for the establishment of “Ambazonia,” a breakaway state comprising the majority English-speaking region of Cameroon.

The United Nations is lauding its unilateral decision to call a halt to fighting for the next few weeks to allow coronavirus prevention and testing measures to be put in place.

So far, it is the only rebel group in the conflict to declare a ceasefire.

Sources: BBC News, Journal du Cameroun, BBC News (2)


The United Nations’ call for a ceasefire in Yemen has been heeded, at least in words, by all major parties in the war.

As in other conflicts, the U.N. wants factions to lay down arms to allow for COVID-19 preparation.

It remains to be seen whether Saudi Arabia, the Houthis, and others will actually comply with their shared pledge to cease hostilities.

Source: Relief Web (activist group)


The New People’s Army communist rebel group in the Philippines will lay down its arms after over 50 years of fighting, at least until the April 15.

A communiqué issued by the 3,500-member group states that their ceasfire is a “direct response to the call of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire between warring parties for the common purpose of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.”

President Rodrigo Duterte had already announced a government ceasefire in its actions against the rebels.

Sources: Time, Antiwar (activist website)


Rebel groups jockeying for power in the war-torn country of Libya agreed in principle to the UN’s call for a global ceasefire.

However, a day later, two warring factions, both backed by foreign powers, were shelling each others’ positions again.

Sources: Reuters, The Guardian

A brief lull — or something more?

In response to the U.N.’s plea, rebels in Cameroon, the Philippines and Syria are laying down their arms for at least a brief period.

But will the COVID-19 pandemic actually lead to a real breakout of peace?

The notion is perhaps not so far-fetched.

Natural disasters, which the coronavirus can certainly be considered, are highly disruptive to entrenched human behaviors.

For example: Indonesia’s bloody, decades-long war in Aceh, Sumatra, was curtailed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Source: The New Humanitarian

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