In view of the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation is urging all parties to regional armed conflicts to immediately stop hostilities, secure a ceasefire, and introduce a humanitarian pause.
We support the respective statement by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of March 23.
We proceed from the assumption that these developments could lead to a global humanitarian disaster, given that most people in the current hot spots lack access to medicines and skilled medical assistance.
Of special concern are the situations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Syria, as well in the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip. We note separately the risks associated with the possible deterioration of the epidemiological situation in African countries, where there is a persisting armed confrontation. The localities with camps for refugees and internally displaced persons are particularly vulnerable.
Our call is primarily addressed to the nations, which illegally use military force outside of their national borders. We especially note that the current conditions offer no justification for unilateral coercive measures, including economic restrictions, which are a severe impediment on the authorities’ efforts to protect the health of their populations.
We are highly concerned over the situation on territories controlled by terrorist groups, who could not care less about people’s wellbeing. These zones might potentially become most prone to the spread of the infection. We are confident that counter-terrorist measures must be carried on.
We call on the international community to provide the countries in need with the necessary humanitarian support without any political preconditions. Such support should be intended for saving people in distress. The use of humanitarian aid as a tool to force internal political change is unacceptable, as is speculation on the fate of any victims.
The Russian Federation will continue its work at the UN Security Council to facilitate the political and diplomatic settlement of regional conflicts based on the UN Charter and the universal norms of international law, and is ready for pro-active cooperation in this area with all parties concerned.