Tag Archives: peacekeeping

COVID-19: A double burden for women in conflict areas, on the frontline

By: 

NJOKI KINYANJUI

Since COVID-19 broke out in December 2019, it has continued to spread across the globe unabated, with countries at different phases along the curve

Public health emergencies worldwide, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impacts, affect women and men differently, but take a disproportionate toll on women.

Even more so in conflict-affected countries and post-conflict contexts, where the existing gender inequalities and exclusion of women from all decision-making, including on peace and security issues, are severely deepened.

In these contexts, women are often on the periphery of the community’s solutions, especially peace and political solutions; and have limited access to critical information and decision-making power on social, economic, health, protection and justice outcomes.

Yet, with all these challenges, women remain on the frontline agitating for meaningful and full political participation and in other socio-economic arenas, including in health.

It is therefore very positive that the Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for a global ceasefire to enable COVID-19 responses in fragile and crisis settings has been endorsed by many Member States, regional organizations and civil society groups including women’s organizations.

There is already documented evidence on the rise of violence against women, particularly domestic violence. In his recent message on Gender Based Violence and COVID-19, Mr. Guterres notes that “over the past weeks as economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying global surge in domestic violence” and issued a rallying call to end violence against women in their homes.

Women on the frontline

It is well recognized that globally, women predominantly carry the burden of providing primary healthcare,. About 70 per cent of global health workers are women and emerging statistics show that health workers are increasingly getting infected by COVID-19.

Women are also employed in the service industries and the informal sector, which are amongst those hardest-hit by the measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission. They are also paid less and are most often the ones doing unpaid care work.

Women’s networks and organizations are key partners in UN peacekeeping. They provide innovative community approaches to resolve conflicts, and wage peace and reconciliation. It is these same networks that are critical vehicles for women’s participation in COVID-19 decision-making, prevention and responses and elevated advocacy for the global ceasefire call. This is particularly critical at the local level, where COVID-19 prevention and response measures are anchored in community engagement, participation and sharing the right information.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix recently emphasized that peacekeepers, both women and men, are playing a key role in providing credible information along with their protection and conflict resolution work, in partnership with national authorities in fragile environments further strained by the pandemic.

As 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, the multiple impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the inequalities it lays bare are a stark reminder of how women can lead to turn the tide, as actors and decision-makers at all levels, in the health sector, but also more broadly on peace and political processes in their respective countries.

It is a time to come together and use the momentum created by the endorsement of the global ceasefire call, to protect women, safeguard the gains towards the fulfillment of their rights and lead as protectors of peace.

 

Ms. Kinyanjui is the Chief of Gender Unit and Senior Gender Adviser, UN Department of Peace Operations

For more information on COVID-19, visit www.un.org/coronavirus

Africa Renewal

 

UN Secretary-General’s briefing to Member States on the Organization’s Response to COVID-19

New York, 27 March 2020

[as delivered]

I want to start by thanking the Presidents of the General Assembly, Security Council and the ECOSOC for their solidarity and for their determination and patience with which they have been

UNSG Antonio Guterres

facing the enormous practical and technical difficulties in the work of the bodies they preside.

I think what just happened demonstrates how these difficulties can occur and so my gratitude and my appreciation.

And I would like to express to all the distinguished delegates and colleagues and especially to the Permanent Representatives that, like me, are away from their countries – to express my solid solidarity as, like me, you are concerned about your families and friends in your home countries, and about the effect this crisis is having on your communities and nations.

As it was said, I am here together with five members of the Executive Committee. We are working sometimes very far away from each other, but I can tell you we have never worked so closely together in solidarity and coordination. I wanted them to participate in this session exactly to demonstrate that we are all as a team at the disposal of Member States. And so, all of them will be able to answer your questions, probably much better than myself.

And I want to add a note of heartfelt thanks to the courageous and hard-working staff of the United Nations, working in some of the most difficult and dangerous locations.

Excellencies,

We are taking all measures possible to keep staff safe.

I can report that our critical work is continuing largely uninterrupted.

Our business continuity plans are working.

We are able to procure goods and services, pay salaries and vendors, operate our data centres and protect our premises and staff.

Staff are motivated and committed to fulfilling their functions – here in New York and across the globe.

In New York, we have taken significant steps since mid-March to reduce the footprint in the building.

As you know, and always trying to be ahead of the curve in relation to the progression of the pandemic in the city, most of our staff have been working remotely, non-essential travel has been discouraged, guided tours have been suspended and non-mandated meetings and events cancelled.

Following the Executive Order by the Governor of New York last week, we have moved to full telecommuting.

Only those staff whose physical presence is absolutely necessary are coming to the building.

A dedicated website has been developed to keep the public, delegates and UN personnel up to date on the crisis and to provide resources to maintain wellness, including mental health, during this highly challenging time.

We have established a 24-hour hotline for information. and we are monitoring the well-being of directly impacted UN staff in New York and around the world.

The Permanent Missions of Member states are also encouraged to share information with the UN Medical Services.

To support staff, we paid this month’s salaries almost a week earlier than usual, taking into account that many had to make very dramatic adjustments in the way they live.

Answers to frequently asked questions on a host of issues — including telecommuting, cancellation of travel, rest and recuperation, and medical insurance — have been shared with all staff through webinars, video messages, letters and guidance notes and are available on the COVID-19 website.

All conference and related services have now switched into telecommuting mode with the difficulties and glitches that you have obviously have already witnessed, but with the determination to move ahead.

Documentation and publications continue to be processed. They are being distributed electronically and provided on-line for meeting participants. I have been doing everything possible, together with my colleagues, for all the reports that are due to the different bodies to be delivered and to be delivered on time.

Unfortunately, interpretation services are currently not available remotely but we are exploring options to provide this function.

Let me now turn to our work outside New York and in the field.

Over the course of last week, I had video conferences with all duty stations, Regional Economic Commissions, Resident Coordinators and Special Representatives in peacekeeping and and Special Envoys in political missions.

My message was three-fold: take all precautions to protect staff; adapt to ensure that critical functions continue; and work with host governments to support their efforts.

In early February, we activated a UN Crisis Management Team under the leadership of WHO, and the whole UN system is mobilized to work on critical issues.

Our Resident Coordinators and UN country teams are on the frontlines.

As of last week, 93 per cent of UN Country Teams reported being engaged with national authorities in preparing preparedness and response plans.

The Development Coordination Office is obtaining key data and collaborating with partners to deliver time-sensitive information and communications guidance.

We are holding weekly virtual meetings with the 129 Resident Coordinators to provide policy and operational support.

Many of our economists in Resident Coordinator’s Offices are collaborating with regional economic commissions and United Nations Country Teams to analyze the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.

These analyses will be important in deciding how best the UN can support countries in defining priorities and programming responses, particularly in ensuring that recovery from the pandemic supports and lifts the poorest and the most vulnerable.

We will also be issuing next week a report that will reinforce my calls for shared responsibility and global solidarity with a concrete road map for the UN response, and which will serve equally to empower governments and partners to act urgently. This report will be an absolutely instrument for all our Resident Coordinators and country teams to serve better the governments of the countries we work with.

To assist our peacekeeping operations and special political missions, a Field Support Group is developing solutions to enable missions to address the health crisis while delivering on their critical mandates.

Our medical staff have been assessing the capacities of our host countries and field entities, including the availability of laboratory testing and Personal Protective Equipment.

For countries with limited or no intensive care capacity, WHO has instituted the same MEDEVAC mechanism as for Ebola. We are working together with several Member States trying to create an operational MEDEVAC system that can grant assistance to our colleagues worldwide.

Standard Operating Procedures for the management of suspect cases in the workplace in a non-clinical setting have been disseminated to Resident Coordinators and Heads of Entities, and guidance on how duty stations can manage their first case has been sent out.

The United Nations has a well-established mechanism to coordinate supply chain support to countries, and we stand ready to place the global network of supply chain of the different UN entities at the disposal of Member States for health supplies, medical staff and other needs.

We are also working with Troop Contributing Countries to manage rotations.

Moving troops in and out of countries during a global health pandemic is extremely challenging and we have postponed rotations.

Criteria are being developed to determine when rotations can take place in the current circumstances, and we are in close dialogue with host countries and troop contributing countries and police contributing countries in order to overcome the difficulties that exist today.

Let me now turn to broader UN-wide efforts to address the crisis and its aftermath.

On Monday, I called on warring parties to silence the guns and instead to help create corridors for life-saving aid and open precious windows for diplomacy. All my Special Envoys and Special Representatives are working hard to ensure that this appeal is positively responded and that the positive responses are followed by necessary measures in the form of coordination to allow the ceasefires to be effective.

On Wednesday, we launched a US$2 billion dollar global humanitarian response plan to fund the fight against COVID-19 in the world’s poorest countries.

We must come to the aid of the ultra-vulnerable – millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves.

And yesterday, the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide called for people to stand up against the increase in hate crimes targeting individuals and groups perceived to be associated with the coronavirus.

I ask you all to support these appeals in whatever way you can.

I have also been advocating for action in three critical areas, including by addressing yesterday’s G20 summit:

First, to suppress the transmission of COVID-19 in a coordinated way as quickly as possible.

That must be our common strategy.

And that implies we need massive support to increase the response capacity of developing countries and those in the most fragile contexts.

Second, we must work together to minimize the social and economic impact.

While the liquidity of the financial systems must be assured, our overarching emphasis must be on the human dimension. This is a human crisis, not a financial one.

We need to concentrate on people, keeping households afloat and businesses solvent, able to pay their workers.

This will require a package reaching double-digit percentages of global Gross Domestic Product, including a global stimulus package to help developing countries that requires a massive investment by the international community.

We have been in close contact with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other International Financial Institutions for that purpose.

I also appealed for the waiving of sanctions that can undermine countries’ capacity to respond to the pandemic.

Third, and finally, we must set the stage for recovery that builds a more sustainable, inclusive and equitable economy, guided by our shared promise — the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

All our efforts need to be underpinned by a strong commitment to respect for all human rights for everyone, without stigma.

Recovery must address the inequalities, including gender inequalities, that are leaving so many more people vulnerable to social and economic shocks.

And we are not only fighting a pandemic; in the words of Dr. Tedros, we are fighting an “infodemic”. Our common enemy is a virus, but our enemy is also a growing surge of misinformation. So to overcome this virus, we need to urgently promote facts and science. We also need to promote hope and solidarity over despair and division. We are therefore launching a COVID-19 Communications for Solidarity Initiative to rapidly inform the global public and promote and inspire acts of humanity around the world.

Today’s threats – from COVID to climate change – are global and must be addressed through multilateral cooperation.

That is what the United Nations continues to offer, even, and especially, in these trying times.

Thank you.

Fallen Zambian Peacekeeper Honored At Ceremony In Central African Republic

UNITED NATIONS MULTIDIMENSIONAL INTEGRATED STABILIZATION MISSION  IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (MINUSCA)

Fallen Zambian Peacekeeper

Fallen Zambian Peacekeeper

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, delivered an emotional speech on Friday, November 16, 2018, at a ceremony honoring Staff Sergeant Derrick Sichilyango of the Zambian contingent, who died as the result of a road accident  that occurred while he was carrying out his official duties.

The ceremony was held  at the Headquarters of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA)in Bangui. The MINUSCA Force Commander, General Balla Keïta, members of the senior leadership of the Mission, as well as other civilian, police and military personnel were in attendance.

The Special Representative expressed the United Nations’ solidarity with the Republic of Zambia and its battalion serving with MINUSCA.   “It’s an immeasurable tragedy that Staff Sergeant Derrick lost his future. I salute and honor him for the work he has done to support this country, to represent Zambia with courage and honor, and to uphold the values and principles of the United Nations, ” he said.

“When we refer to our fallen peacekeepers, we most often think of those who died in the field of battle. But we must also remember that so many others have lost their lives because of the difficult environment in which we serve. They died of illness and accidents, as was the case for our deceased colleague,” recalled Mr. Onanga-Anyanga.

“He died at a time when his services in the contingent and the army of Zambia in general were indispensable. His death deprives the United Nations, the Zambian army, and the entire country of an extremely hard-working officer, “ said the Commander of the Zambian Battalion.,

Staff Sergeant Sichilyango deployed to the Central African Republic in June 2018.  He joined the Zambian Army on March 14, 2005, after basic military training, and then completed courses in auto mechanics at the Military Training Establishment of Zambia (MILTEZ). He was 38 years old, married and had three children.

With 930 peacekeepers, including 59 women, the Zambian battalion has been deployed since 2015 in the Vakaga prefecture, northeast of CAR, to ensure the protection of civilians. Based in Birao, the contingent provides security in the locality and surrounding area by conducting daily patrols. Like other contingents of the Mission, the Zambian Battalion regularly organizes civil-military activities in solidarity with the people in its area of responsibility and with the aim of strengthening social cohesion.

———–

 

 

Public discussion on Peacekeeping documentary “Until There is Peace”

More than 60 guests attended the documentary screening of the “Until there is Peace” movie, which was held on 18 April 2018 at UNIC Lusaka.

The movie screening attracted guests from the Zambia Scouts Association, students from the

Patrons watching the documentary "Until There is Peace"

Patrons watching the documentary “Until There is Peace”

University of Zambia (UNZA), Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA), Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce, as well as UNIC Lusaka Library dairy clients among others.

Until there is peace, is a movie that was directed by Melonie Kastman and produced by Lynn Zekanis. The documentary aims to show the important role that UN Peacekeeping missions play to foster peace with a particular highlight of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The one hour thirty-five minutes documentary had the guests glued with silence as they watched, and later had a very educative and interactive question and answer session which resulted in UNIC Lusaka staff explaining more about the works of the UN Peacekeepers as most of the guests only after watching the movie did they appreciate the efforts of the peacekeepers.

Meanwhile, Colonel Rex Mwenda a member of the Zambia Scouts Association emphasised that UNIC Lusaka needs to host more of such events, so that many Zambians can see and commend the UN Peacekeepers for the job well done in filling up the loopholes in war torn countries to eradicate conflict.

More information on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations

20th Anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide

It’s been 20 years since the genocide in Rwanda happened and yet the memories are still fresh in the memories of many. It was a time of confusion, betrayal, a time of people who once lived in harmony as brothers and sisters, turned against each other in senseless killings that lasted 100 days and saw entire families wiped out and whole communities disappearing off the face of the earth.  Those who survived had to endure many hardships physically and emotionally as they tried to rebuild their lives. 20 years later, Rwanda is a different country, peace and harmony has returned the spirit of oneness, and the country is moving forward.

Students viewing the exhibition. Photo credit UNIC Lusaka

Students viewing the exhibition. Photo credit UNIC Lusaka

To commemorate the Genocide, the United Nations in Zambia embarked on an educational outreach tour in Kitwe at the Copperbelt University (CBU), Dag Hammarskjöld Institution for Peace Studies (DHIPS) and Ndola National Technical High School for Girls from 7-9 April, under the theme “Kwibuka 20-Remember, Unite-Renew”. The participation at the outreach programs was very lively and the response to the topic under discussion generated a lot of debate with a few controversial points of view especially on the failure of the international community in responding to what was happening in Rwanda.

During the tour, there was a video screening of a short documentary called “Kwibuka 20”, whose purpose was to highlight the theme for 2014 and show the audience what steps the people of Rwanda have taken towards Remembering, uniting and renewing as a country.

A presentation by UNIC Lusaka focused on the lessons learnt from the Genocide and the success stories that Rwanda has achieved post 1994. Other activities included a question and answer session and the screening of the video “Kwibuka 20”, which set the stage for the discussion. Other activities included the sending of a bulk Short Message Service (SMS) to 4000 mobile numbers with links to various resources that people could refer to regarding the Rwanda Genocide.