United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) attends a virtual press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, April 30, 2020. Guterres on Thursday once again called for a global ceasefire and debt moratorium while COVID-19 continues its path of worsening destruction. (Xinhua/Xie E)
UNITED NATIONS, April 30 (Xinhua) -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday once again called for a global ceasefire and debt moratorium while COVID-19 continues its path of worsening destruction.
"The ceasefire call has resonated widely, with endorsements from 114 governments, regional organizations, religious leaders and more than 200 civil society groups spanning all regions. Among them are 16 armed groups," the UN chief said in the virtual press briefing.
"But we know that mistrust remains high, and that it is difficult to move to implementation," the secretary-general noted.
Noting that in Syria, the Idlib ceasefire is holding, however, he said that "we are still hopeful for a country-wide end to hostilities."
Guterres is obviously not satisfied with the ceasefire implementation in Libya, saying that "we are seeing an escalation despite all our efforts and those of many others in the international community."
As for Afghanistan, he said that the United Nations is "pushing hard" for a humanitarian ceasefire between the government and the Taliban.
In Yemen, Guterres said that all parties have expressed support for his appeal for ceasefire, adding that the United Nations is "actively engaging with all the parties and key regional and global actors, aiming at a permanent ceasefire."
The secretary-general expressed the hope that the Security Council will be able to "find unity and adopt decisions that can help to make ceasefires meaningful and real."
In an appeal issued on March 23, Guterres urged warring parties across the world to lay down their weapons in support of the bigger battle against COVID-19, the common enemy that is threatening all of humankind. On April 3, the UN chief reiterated the global ceasefire appeal.
As for debt moratorium, the UN chief said that debt moratorium must be extended to all developing countries "that are unable to service their debt, including several middle-income countries."
"That initial debt moratorium must be followed by targeted debt relief, and by a comprehensive approach to structural issues in the international debt architecture, to prevent defaults leading to prolonged financial and economic crises," he added.
Guterres on April 17 called for an "across-the-board debt standstill" for some developing countries in order to help them win the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking of the dire economic plight that many people are facing, the UN chief cited the International Labour Organization as reporting this week that the global workforce will be hit with the equivalent of the loss of more than 300 million jobs.
Millions of children are in danger of missing life-saving vaccines. Remittances are in sharp decline, as are flows of foreign direct investment, he said.
"Poverty could rise by 500 million people - the first increase in three decades," he warned.
The UN chief commended the efforts of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the G20 that are taking efforts to help countries and people overcome the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guterres also urged kicking start planning for a better recovery.
"Recovery from COVID-19 can help to steer the world on a safer, healthier, more sustainable and inclusive path," he said.
"It will be critical to address the fragilities, inequalities and gaps in social protection that have been so painfully exposed, and place women and gender equality front and center if we are to build resilience to future shocks," said the secretary-general.
"And recovery needs to go hand-in-hand with climate action," he added.
"Our template remains the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement on climate change," he added.