Apr 10, 2020 12:47 UTC
  • UN Chief urges unity among UNSC members in face of coronavirus pandemic

The head of the United Nations has called for unity among Security Council members, warning that the coronavirus pandemic could pose a threat to world peace or trigger opportunistic biological terrorist attacks.

According to reports, speaking at the international body's first meeting on the pandemic, the secretary general, Antonio Guterres, said the outbreak had the potential to increase social unrest and violence.

The meeting, the first of its kind since the outbreak began in China late last year, was held behind closed doors by video conference.

“To prevail against the pandemic today, we will need to work together," he said. "That means heighten,” he said on Thursday.

The novel coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness — dubbed COVID-19 — has infected more than 1,600,000 people and claimed the lives of over 96,000 others globally, as of Friday morning.

The pandemic has confined billions of people to their homes and pushed the world into a recession.

“A signal of unity and resolve from the Council would count for a lot at this anxious time," Guterres added.

He described the war against coronavirus as “the fight of a generation - and the raison d'être of the United Nations itself.”

Guterres stressed that the world body’s involvement would be “critical to mitigate the peace and security implications” and “a signal of unity and resolve from the council would count for a lot at this anxious time.”

He further warned that the pandemic could lead to opportunistic terror attacks across the globe.

He said that terrorists are seeing the pandemic as “an opportunity to strike, groups seeing how a biological terrorist attack might unfold” and that the epidemic was “triggering or exacerbating various human rights challenges.”

After the meeting, the Security Council broke its silence and issued a statement on the coronavirus outbreak.

It expressed “support for all efforts of the secretary general concerning the potential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic to conflict-affected countries and recalled the need for unity and solidarity with all those affected.”

The WHO declared a “public health emergency of international concern” at the end of January.

The US has become the epicenter of the disease with 466,033 positive cases of infection and more than 27000 deaths, compared with nearly 83,000 cases in China and 3,337 deaths.

Gutterres also warned that the pandemic “poses a significant threat to the maintenance of international peace and security – potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease.”

He said, “The weaknesses and lack of preparedness exposed by this pandemic provide a window onto how a bio-terrorist attack might unfold - and may increase its risks.”