UN calls for global ceasefire as coronavirus rages on

Marje Pelayo   •   March 25, 2020   •   587

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres holding news conference on COVID-19. United Nations (March 23, 2020)

REUTERS – Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday (March 23) called for a global ceasefire so the world can focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives,” Guterres told a virtual news conference.

So far more than 337,500 people have been infected and over 14,600 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

The spread of the the highly contagious COVID-19 respiratory illness has drawn comparisons with painful periods such as World War Two, the 2008 financial crisis and the 1918 Spanish flu.

“The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly. Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world,” Guterres said.

“The most vulnerable – women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced – pay the highest price,” he said. “They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.”

The United Nations has been trying to mediate an end to conflicts in countries including Syria, Yemen and Libya, while also providing humanitarian assistance to millions of civilians.

Guterres warned that in war-torn countries health systems have collapsed and the small number of health professionals left were often targeted in the fighting.

“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world,” he said. “It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.” (Production: Dan Fastenberg)

UN warns against harsh treatment of protesters in Myanmar

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 16, 2021

The United Nations (UN) has warned Myanmar’s military for its harsh treatment of protesters, saying that the “world is watching closely.”

In a press briefing, UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said that UN Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener has called on the Myanmar military to refrain from using violence and respect human rights.

“The right of peaceful assembly must fully be respected, and that demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals. She has conveyed to the Myanmar military that the world is watching closely, and any form of heavy-handed response is likely to have severe consequences,” she said.

Protests across Myanmar have grown after the military takeover on February 1 where top political leaders were arrested.

Several of the high officials detained include State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.  

There are also reports that the military use excessive force against the demonstrators.

According to the UN human rights office (OHCHR), as of February 12, more than 350 political and state officials, activists, and civil society members have been taken into custody. Several members of the media, monks, and students were also detained

“Several face criminal charges on dubious grounds, and most have received no form of due process or permitted legal representation, family visitations or communication,” according to the UN.

Burgener also reiterated UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s statement and called for a visit to Myanmar under agreeable conditions. -AAC

UN condemns military takeover in Myanmar

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 1, 2021

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

The United Nations (UN) condemned the military takeover in Myanmar and the detention of top political leaders and government officials.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the developments in Myanmar “represent a serious blow to democratic reforms” in the country. Among those detained include State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

The detentions and the seizure of power took place on the eve of the opening session of Myanmar’s new parliament.

The coup followed brewing tensions between the government and the military in the aftermath of last November’s general elections.

The Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) claimed an overwhelming victory in the polls, securing over 80% of the seats. However, the military and several political parties disputed the results and alleged that the polls were marred with irregularities.

Guterres reiterated that the November 8, 2020 general elections “provide the clear will of the people of Myanmar to continue on the hard-won path of democratic reform.”

“The Secretary-General urges the military leadership to respect the will of the people of Myanmar and adhere to democratic norms,” the statement reads.AAC

Duterte rescinds IATF decision, orders 10 to14-year-olds to stay home

Marje Pelayo   •   January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte revoked the earlier decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 (IATF) easing age restrictions in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Duterte expressed concern that children aged 10 to 14 years old may compromise their safety and the safety of the older sector given that the new strain of coronavirus is said to be more contagious.

“Just to be sure and in our desire to protect our people, napilitan akong (I was compelled) ire-impose ang (the) 10 to 14 (years old restriction). Not at this time. It’s a sacrifice for the parents and for the children. It would limit their movements,” the President said late Monday night (January 25).

Following the president’s announcement, children 10 to 14 years of age are still not allowed to go outside their homes.

This policy, the President said, will remain in effect until the government is sure that the public is safe from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through vaccination.

Last Friday (January 22), the IATF announced its plan to relax age restrictions which is supposed to take effect on February 1.

President Duterte asked for the public’s understanding regarding his latest decision.

Pasensya na po kayo. (I’m sorry.) Mine is just a precaution,” he said. 

Takot lang ako kasi itong bagong (I’m worried because this new) strain strikes the young children,” he added,  reminding the public to continuously follow the standard health and safety protocols as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country remains high.

To date, COVID-19 cases in the country have surpassed the half a million mark.

Meanwhile on Tuesday (January 26), the IATF is expected to come up with a recommendation on the quarantine classifications to be imposed for February.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during Monday’s meeting reported that at this stage, the health care utilization rate in Davao de Oro and Baguio City has reached the critical level while that of Nueva Viscaya and Agusan del Norte are already high. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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