At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, called for an immediate ceasefire to protect the world’s most vulnerable communities from the virus. This included women, children, persons with disabilities and displaced persons in conflict zones.
The Belgian city of Ypres where, in the surrounding area, no fewer than five battles were fought during the First World War, has now backed the Secretary-General’s appeal.
“Ypres was completely destroyed during the First World War. From its own past, the city has the right, and duty, to continue to raise its voice in the debate about war and peace, that is unfortunately still relevant,” said Emmily Talpe, Mayor of Ypres.
Since backing the Secretary-General’s appeal, Ypres, also known as the City of Peace, has called upon cities and municipalities across Belgium to join the call. So far, over 70 have voiced their support in a show of solidarity for victims of war and violence in cities across the world.
The Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire has already gained global support. Armed groups and governments in more than 14 countries, including Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria, have announced a ceasefire. In countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Sudan, the Philippines and Colombia steps towards temporary ceasefires and cessations of hostilities have been taken between warring parties.
Closer to home, in Europe, the Moldovan government and the self-proclaimed government of Transnistria have reached an agreement to facilitate the movement of some members of the population.
“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever,” said the Secretary-General as he concluded his appeal.
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More information about the city of Ypres:
– Ypres is vice-chair of Mayors for Peace, a network of nearly 8000 cities and municipalities from 163 countries
– It plays a leading role in the network Peace Corner Westhoek, the Flemish region that was severely affected during the war