UN Freezes Peacekeeping Missions; Trump-WHO Fight Continues

In view of the pandemic Coronavirus, the United Nations announced that it has halted the rotation and deployment of UN peacekeepers till June 30 to prevent the spread of the virus.
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Crux of the Matter

Who are Peacekeepers?
United Nations’ Peacekeepers are troops, military personnel, cops or volunteers deployed to bring lasting peace in nations torn with war and conflict. There are more than 100,000 peacekeepers deployed across the globe. European Union, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are major contributors to the peacekeepers. Currently, the peacekeepers, popularly known as blue berets, are deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Mali, and South Sudan. They may need to keep operating given the sensitive situation.

UN’s Woes
The United Nations is facing a two-fold challenge with the peacekeepers: looking after the safety of them and worrying about governments calling them back home. One concern of nations can be that if their men/women get infected with Coronavirus, they will not be taken care of properly in the conflict-hit nations, and therefore may urge to bring them back.

We very much hope that the Member States will work with us. I think no one wants to see UN peacekeeping operations being a vector for the spread of COVID-19.

Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman of UN Chief

The United Nations, therefore, announced that it will halt all rotation of troops from and to the conflict zones. UN has also affirmed that it is taking precautionary measures to make sure the soldiers do not get infected, infect other soldiers or locals. The pandemic has not yet attacked Africa with full throttle, but if it does, the UN is a step ahead in regions where peacekeepers are deployed, as per the UN.

When an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, Nepalese peacekeepers were deployed there for assistance. These peacekeepers infected local people with Cholera that turned into an epidemic that took at least 10,000 lives.

Vexed Tedros
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a subsidiary of UN. In a press briefing, Donald Trump said that WHO seemed to be very China-centric. He cited that his preemptive measure of travel ban to China was also disapproved by WHO. WHO chief Tedros has been applauding measures taken by China when many nations across the world are unhappy with it for opaqueness in information sharing. Trump also threatened to block the US’ funding of the WHO. The US is the largest contributor to the funds received by WHO.

Please don’t politicise this virus. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicising it.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Chief

In response, WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom, who is also the first non-medical chief of the WHO, said that political parties should not politicise the issue and that China and US should come together to fight the dangerous enemy. WHO is getting some heat for delays in declaring this outbreak pandemic. Tedros said he is facing death threats, racial slurs, and personal attacks due to the pandemic. Last week two scientists suggested that Africa could be a good testing ground for COVID-19 vaccine, and in response to that Dr. Tedros said that he would not tolerate when the whole black community is insulted.

  • Peacekeeping by the United Nations is a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace.
  • At the time when US threats to stop funding to WHO, American billionaire Jack Dorsey has pledged $1 billion (around 28% of his wealth) to fight coronavirus, which is highest by any individual.
  • On January 14th, a tweet by WHO backed a Chinese report stating that there were no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of Coronavirus.