The UN takes extreme precautions so that its blue helmets do not spread the new coronavirus

The UN is taking extreme precautions to prevent its "blue helmets" from spreading the coronavirus, including a suspension of new deployments and troop relays in the thirteen ongoing peacekeeping missions.

"We do not want to be part of the problem, we want to be part of the solution," chief of peacekeeping operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix explained at a remote news conference.

In the past, the organization's troops have been responsible for bringing disease to countries they helped, with the case of Haiti as the most notorious, where international forces were at the origin of a cholera epidemic that killed thousands of persons.

According to Lacroix, the United Nations is trying to be cautious and not contribute to the advance of the virus or in the areas where its soldiers are deployed, which include some of the most problematic areas in the world, or in their countries of origin.

For this, the most important a priori measure is the suspension until June 30 of the rotations and deployment of troops decided by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres.

The policy allows some exceptions, so some movements of troops may be made in case of need, but always under very strict measures, including quarantines of 14 days before and after deployment, according to Lacroix.

As a consequence, some of the forces currently deployed in operations will have to extend their stays in conflict zones.

So far, the organization has only confirmed 12 cases of COVID-19 in its peacekeeping missions, three of them in uniformed personnel, and all of them have been able to be treated in the place where they were, without requiring evacuations.

In total, more than 95,000 people serve in United Nations peace operations, about 70,000 of them military, while the rest are police and civilian personnel.


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