Home | Comment & Analysis    Friday 3 April 2020

Of Peacekeepers and Pandemics


By Jean-Pierre Lacroix

The COVID-19 pandemic is also developing in countries marred by armed conflict. In an op-ed featured in Le Monde, the head of United Nations Peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, underlines the role UN peacekeepers can play together with the Member States.

Op-ed. No one, no community, no country, is immune from this deadly pandemic. This is a crisis of global dimensions, with devastating human, social and economic impacts as we have seen from what is already happening around the globe. As the head of UN Peacekeeping, I am particularly concerned about those areas where COVID-19 will intersect with armed conflict.

People in already fragile political environments, where individuals are living in conflict-affected or post-conflict societies with little to no infrastructure or social and sanitary safety nets, are especially at risk. How do you wash your hands without access to clean water? What now for women who pay a disproportionate toll as frontline responders and caregivers, and who could lose their ability to feed their families because of collapsing economies?

And what if, on top of all of this, people are living under the threat of armed groups or terrorist acts? Just as the body cannot defend itself as well with a compromised immune system, populations that are deprived of functioning health systems and support networks are even more vulnerable to the pandemic and its consequence. The same can be said for the places where our peacekeepers operate—vulnerable civilians there are the most at risk.

Continuing our mission to promote conflict resolution

United Nations peacekeepers are not the remedy for COVID-19, but in many places, they are a part of the treatment plan. Peacekeeping operations must be able to continue their work and to maintain operational capability, so we can deliver on our life-saving mandates—promoting conflict resolution and protecting the populations we serve, as well as our UN personnel.

In countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Mali and South Sudan, where peace is fragile and populations have already suffered too much, our missions are supporting state authorities and other partners. Following World Health Organization guidance, we continue to patrol while applying social distancing rules and we have stepped up our use of online resources.

We are continuing to provide what direct assistance we can including by protecting humanitarian supplies and depots. Our aircraft are flying at a time when many others are not. As always, this is a partnership. The Member States who provide our police and military personnel are working with us to suspend or postpone planned deployments and rotations.

It is time to silence the guns

Having the blue helmets stay on the ground to help counter this pandemic is an important step in helping host countries tackle this challenge. In this regard, we need the support of our Member States now more than ever, in line with the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative which remains at the core of our work. Their willingness to stand firm in their commitment to peacekeeping operations is central to our ability to assist.

On the ground, we quickly added additional precautionary measures including quarantine and containment of incoming personnel in cooperation with host country authorities. Our missions are also working closely with national authorities to support their response. We are providing multi-faceted support: we are facilitating remote communications thanks to our technological means, we are helping to ensure critical supply chains are maintained, and our personnel are raising awareness on the coronavirus within communities, through local radio and digital media platforms, as well as during patrols.

The fight against this deadly virus—our common enemy—requires all of us to be united and act together. All the UN peacekeepers who are currently deployed deserve our gratitude and support; these women and men continue to serve under the blue flag in the cause of peace, in conditions even more difficult due to COVID-19.

Thanks to them, efforts to consolidate peace have not weakened, despite this virus which they are helping to fight. On March 23rd in New York, the UN Secretary-General stated that “it is time to put armed conflicts on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives”, calling on warring parties around the world to commit to a global ceasefire. Our missions have spread this message and we are repeating it now—it’s time to silence the guns.

The author is the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations. This op-ed was initially published in French in Le Monde on April 2nd, 2020.

The views expressed in the 'Comment and Analysis' section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not Sudan Tribune.

If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email it to comment@sudantribune.com

Sudan Tribune reserves the right to edit articles before publication. Please include your full name, relevant personal information and political affiliations.
Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.

Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis

Obituary: Ahmed Ibrahim Dreij 2020-09-28 11:36:14 Ahmed Ibrahim Dreij is an Open History Book for Readers, Whether He Was Alive or Deceased in the Grace of God by Mahmoud A. Suleiman Dear noble reader, this article comes out of the habit, (...)

BlindsSelf-confidence and preparedness against Disasters in Sudan 2020-09-21 11:46:04 Why things are only getting worse and the papers are filled with stories of gloom and doom in Sudan? By Mahmoud A. Suleiman The answer to the previous questions needs to know the reasons first, (...)

South Sudan: On Right of Access to Information and Media 2020-09-19 15:01:51 By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi South Sudan’s Right of Access to Information Act, 2013, in Section 35, enshrines the following: 1- The Minister (Minister responsible for Information and Broadcasting) (...)


Latest Press Releases

Sudan: Performing arts is not a crime, assaulting women and artists is! 2020-09-20 08:54:28 The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) Sudan is still struggling with militant Islamist ideology KHARTOUM: Central Khartoum Primary Court issued a verdict against five (...)

Civil Society Statement in Response to The Law of Various Amendments 2020-08-14 07:11:00 A Collaborative Civil Society Statement in Response to The Law of Various Amendments (Abolishing and Amending Provisions Restricting Freedom) – Exposing ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ Sudanese women (...)

Remarks by SRF leaders at the Friend of Sudan meeting on peace 2020-08-13 07:58:58 Chairman of the Friends of Sudan Conference, Your Excellency, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, The Prime Minister of Sudan and the participating team from the (...)


Copyright © 2003-2020 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.