Press release: Women’s organizations in the Arab States region join UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s call for ceasefire in the face of COVID-19

Date: Friday, May 29, 2020

Originally published on UN Women's regional website for the Arab States

Ninety-one women’s organizations from Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Syria and Yemen issued a joint statement to call for a ceasefire in the face of COVID-19, joining a global appeal issued by UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s at the outset of pandemic.

The COVID-19 global health crisis has posed devastating threats to women and girls in fragile and conflict-affected countries. While all those living in humanitarian situations face dire circumstances as conflicts are likely to have interrupted health services and destroyed health infrastructures, women and girls are at a heightened risk as they often take shelter in crowded places, with limited access to water and sanitation.

Despite the challenges in translating international calls for ceasefire into stable truces on the ground, women peacebuilders have been at the front line of the COVID-19 response in their communities, working tirelessly to alleviate the hardships of the pandemic on their already exhausted populations.

The joint statement was an outcome from “Silencing the Guns in Times of COVID-19,” an interactive dialogue aimed at capitalizing on the efforts made by women’s organizations in conflict-affected countries across the Arab States region to help communities curb the spread of the virus and mitigate its social-economic impacts. The event was organized with support from UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States.

“We call on all conflict parties and their supporters to heed his call and to ensure access of humanitarian and medical assistance to our affected communities regardless of the interest of the conflict parties so we can form a united front against the pandemic and have a respite from suffering during these holy days and beyond.” Reads the statement.

“Our drained countries do not need yet another call to fall on deaf ears. We have already missed many opportunities to usher in peace and unity. If heeded, our call would not only allow our communities to finally have rest from senseless fighting, but would also show us that we can still put our differences aside and silence our guns in the interest of our collective safety and security. The pandemic has only made the need for us, both men AND women, to finally sit at one table and make peace as urgent as ever.”

Read the full statement here.