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UN suspends peacekeeper deployments until June 30

Apr 08, 2020

New York [USA], April 8 (ANI): The United Nations has suspended the rotation and deployments of uniformed personnel, including individual officers and already formed, police and military peacekeeping units until June 30, in view of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
"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," spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, said on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.
"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," he added.
The decision was sent to all countries contributing troops and police and to all relevant peace operations.
During the time of crisis, 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 spokesperson said.
The organisation is also working with the governments to provide counselling 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.
Dujarric stated that the World Food Programme is working with the Jordanian government to ensure that support to refugees is maintained, including through cash transfers for food and other needs.
Deliberating on other UN-related missions, the spokesperson said that the UN Development Programme is supporting medical waste management in Jordanian hospitals to protect patients, medical workers and the general public to help the country in warding off the contagion.
"The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is also increasing its ability to prevent, treat and limit the spread of COVID-19 among refugee communities across East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region, areas that host some of the largest refugee populations in the world," Dujarric further said.
Many of UNHCR's operations in the area have provided refugees with more food and basic relief items to reduce the frequency of distributions and the risks posed by queues and large crowds, he added.
Meanwhile, a new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the urgent need to strengthen the global health workforce, with nurses being on the frontline.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that nurses are the backbone of any health system, adding that the new report, entitled "The State of the World's Nursing 2020," is a wakeup call to ensure they get the support they need to keep the world healthy.
"There are just under 28 million nurses worldwide, with a global shortfall of 5.9 million, with the greatest gaps in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean region and Latin America, he said.
The report further estimated that countries experiencing shortages need to increase the total number of nurse graduates by an average 8 per cent per year, along with improved ability to be employed and retained in the health system.
To praise the efforts undertaken by frontline workers, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres dedicated a special message, on World Health Day, to all medical and para-medics workers, who work day and night to keep people safe.
"We are more deeply grateful than ever to all of you, as you work, round the clock, putting yourselves at risk, to fight the ravages of this pandemic," he said.
"You make us proud; you inspire us. We are indebted to you," Guterres added.
The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has reached 14.3 lakh with more than 82,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. (ANI)