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UN chief: Cease-fire appeal backed by 11 nations

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that warring parties in 11 countries have responded positively to his appeal for a global cease-fire to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, but turning words into peace is enormously difficult and fighting has escalated in major conflicts including Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan.

He called on all governments, groups and people with influence “to urge and pressure combatants around the world to put down their arms,” saying the need is urgent because “the COVID-19 storm” is now coming to all conflict areas.

Guterres told a briefing at U.N. headquarters in New York that his appeal 10 days ago was rooted in the recognition that “there should be only one fight in our world today: our shared battle against COVID-19.”

The U.N. chief said the appeal is “resonating” across the world, citing a growing number of endorsements for the cease-fire from 70 countries, civil society, religious leaders including Pope Francis, and more than 1 million people in an online petition organized by Avaaz.

He said parties to conflicts in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen have also expressed their acceptance.

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