WASHINGTON: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed sorrow Wednesday for the lack of support for his call for a global cease-fire to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a UN Security Council session on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, Guterres said a global cease-fire would help combat the pandemic, facilitate humanitarian aid to vulnerable people and open space for dialogue.

“I am encouraged by expressions of support. However, this support has not been translated into concrete action,” said the UN chief. “In some cases, the pandemic may even create incentives for warring parties to press their advantage, or to strike hard while international attention is focused elsewhere.”

He made the call in March, three months after the first cases emerged outside mainland China, which is zero ground for the virus that has infected 5.6 million people worldwide.

Guterres said the pandemic, known as Covid-19, continues to spread, causing suffering and additional stress to health systems, economies and communities.

“Those that are already weakened by years of armed conflict are particularly vulnerable,” he said.

The UN Mission in Libya documented at least 58 civilians killed and 190 injured between April 1 and May 18, Guterres said.

“Where armed conflict continues, Covid-19 makes the protection of civilians more challenging than ever – and our support more important than ever,” he added.