UN suspends peacekeeper deployment until June 30

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has suspended until June 30 the rotation and deployments of uniformed personnel, including individual officers and already-formed, police and military peacekeeping units, because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said on Tuesday.

“Our priorities are to ensure the COVID-19-free status of incoming uniformed personnel and mitigate the risk that UN peacekeepers could be a contagion vector and simultaneously maintain our operational capabilities,” Dujarric said. 

“A few, limited exceptions may be considered to continue to deliver on the mandate, but only in extenuating circumstances on the basis of strict conditions to prevent the spread of the virus.” 

The decision was sent to all countries contributing troops and police and to all relevant peace operations. 

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Yacoub El Hillo, was appalled to have learned that heavy shelling hit Tripoli’s Al Khadra General Hospital, injuring at least one healthcare worker and damaging the fully functioning medical facility, the spokesman said. 

El Hillo called it a clear violation of international humanitarian law.

The coordinator said repeated calls by the United Nations and the international community for a cessation of hostilities have only been met with complete disregard and the fighting has intensified. 

He called it unacceptable at a time when healthcare and health workers are vital in the fight against a global pandemic, adding that if Libya is to have any chance against COVID-19, the ongoing conflict must come to an immediate halt. 

The UN team in Jordan led by the World Health Organization (WHO) is working closely with the government by supporting the National Preparedness and Response Operational Plan to contain the virus and procure medical equipment, personal protection equipment and diagnostic tests, Dujarric said.

The UN Children’s Fund is working with the Jordanian Ministry of Education to ensure continued learning for the most vulnerable children, including home learning through TV and online and in print in communities with no access to the internet, the spokesman said. 

The world organization is working with the government to provide counseling services over the telephone to women, including refugees. It is also transferring cash to women who had to stop working due to COVID-19, he said. -Xinhua

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