By Agnes Szucs
BRUSSELS (AA) – The EU on Sunday called for an immediate and nationwide cease-fire in Syria to deal with the novel coronavirus.
In a statement, EU External Action spokesman Peter Stano stressed the dangers of the virus in war-zones, reiterating the importance of ending hostilities which he said "is important in itself."
The cease-fire "is also a precondition for halting the spread of the coronavirus and protecting an already struggling population from its potentially devastating consequences," he added.
The situation is particularly critical in the northwestern province of Idlib because of the high number of displaced people, he said.
The EU joined the UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen's call to stop violence and limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Syria has been in civil war since early 2011 since the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.
Hundreds of thousands of people were killed, and more than 10 million others displaced in the past nine years, according to UN officials.
On Nov. 29, the second round of Syria talks ended with failure to get an agenda by the regime and opposition groups.
On March 5, Turkey and Russia agreed on a cease-fire to halt fighting in northeastern Syria.
Despite the continues diplomatic efforts, the Russian-backed Syrian regime continues with military operations.
The virus that emerged in Wuhan, China, last December has spread to at least 177 countries and territories.
According to Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center, more than 669,300 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with over 30,900 deaths and more than 142,000 recovered.