Statement by Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu (28 March 2020)

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Bogotá, 28 March 2020. COVID-19 is the greatest challenge humanity has faced in its recent history, and it is clear that the only way to address this challenge is through unity, both between as well as within countries.

This virus does not distinguish between race, borders, social status or political ideologies. For this reason, now more than ever, it is time for violence and conflict to give way to union and solidarity. In this sense, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has made a call to "put armed conflict in lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives."

In Colombia, even within this context and the measures of mandatory isolation, there are those who continue to be victims of violence; communities in departments such as Cauca, Chocó and Antioquia, persons in the process of reintegration and social leaders continue suffering from threats, harassment, and armed actions.

Some sectors in the country have already called for unity, appealed for solidarity, and asked to put aside hatred to find solutions and move forward together, this is what Colombia and the world need today. It is time to deepen dialogue and reconciliation at all levels and to lend a helping hand to the most vulnerable communities. They have been the main victims of the conflict and could become victims of this pandemic if we do not act with the same sense of togetherness, as one humanity.

It is time to declare a ceasefire and to join efforts to reduce the risk of the spread of the virus and the risk of it affecting especially the most vulnerable communities. Today, I extend to Colombia the Secretary-General's call for all of us to put life above any other consideration.