On 23 March the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) called on all parties to armed conflict, worldwide, to enter into a ceasefire while combatting the crisis of the spread of Covid-19.

The UN SG emphasized the need stating, “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.  It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.” 

A commitment to switch from armed conflict to saving lives would surely necessitate a moratorium on any use of landmines during the ceasefire.

To date, atleast 70 UN member states are adhering to the call for a Covid-19 ceasefire. As are several non-state armed groups.

However, in early April, the Tatmadaw has stated that it has no interest in joining the UNSG’s call for a Covid-19 ceasefire.

If a ceasefire is a bridge too far, the Tatmadaw should at least to a moratorium on the laying of new landmines. These random death traps make mobility by health care workers hazardous just when their presence in all parts of the country is needed the most.

A month after the UNSG’s call, on 23 April, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, stated “I urge all parties in Myanmar to act on the Secretary-General’s global call for ceasefire and put an effective halt to hostilities, as the world is facing a joint battle against COVID-19. I welcome the ceasefires already announced by several armed groups in the country and call for their effective implementation,…“In these challenging times, more than ever, humanitarian and child protection partners on the ground must be allowed to safely access the populations in need, especially children who are particularly vulnerable in times of conflict.”

Categories: Mine Ban