The coronavirus has sparked at least one positive, if tentative, outcome: a rebel group in the Philippines announced a ceasefire this week.
The Communist Party of the Philippines said 24 March that it had ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army, to observe a ceasefire aimed at “fighting the Covid-19 pandemic”. Days earlier, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had declared his own unilateral ceasefire.
The coronavirus outbreak is already upending humanitarian responses, and it threatens to destabilise economies and exacerbate crises across the globe. But is it overly optimistic to think that a pandemic can also be an ingredient for peace?
Elsewhere, a separatist militia in Cameroon also declared a coronavirus ceasefire, the BBC reported, while combatants in Libya agreed on a “humanitarian pause”. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, allied against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, also reportedly announced it would “avoid engaging in military action”.
“As the devastation spreads and economies shrink, pressures may grow on governments and opposition in polarised situations to find common ground,” the International Crisis Group said in a report this week.
Still, flickers of peace are also easily extinguished. In Libya, clashes resumed days after the humanitarian pause was announced.
- Irwin Loy
Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.
We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant.
But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced.
You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission.