Remarks by H.E. Ms. Rabab Fatima, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN at the virtual meeting of the Group of friends of Peace Operations on “UN Peace Operations and its response to the COVID-19 crisis & Advancing A4P initiatives in the time of COVID-19” on 01 May 2020

I thank my dear colleagues, the PRs of Ethiopia, Norway and the Republic of Korea for convening today’s timely meeting.  I also thank USG Lacroix, USG Khare, USG Pollard, and SRSG Shearer for their briefings. I also thank the member governments for their support.

We all recognize that the Covid-19 pandemic has added a huge challenge to UN peace operations. This is a particularly testing time to preserve the hard-earned peace gains. I am happy to see the leadership of the USGs, SRSGs and the dedicated efforts of each and every one of our peacekeepers in the field to continue their important work and contribute to overcoming the crisis.

Allow me now to briefly touch upon a few specific points related to heath concerns:

  • As we have heard, even during the pandemic, our peacekeepers are responding to the call of duty and carrying out their peace operations. Besides, they are taking up additional responsibilities to support local efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic. In the process, they are getting exposed, which is putting them at high risk.  We are aware that peacekeepers on duty are getting infected to this deadly virus. It needs to be ensured that they receive the best possible medical care.
  • I have spoken to our contingent commanders in the field and have urged them to exercise extra caution and safety measures in coordination with their mission headquarters.
  • The health and safety of our peacekeepers are of utmost importance particularly at this time. We deeply appreciate the efforts of the DPO and DOS in this regard. Yet due to possible pandemic containment capacity constraint of local community, the risk of spread is always there. So, the capacities of Missions to handle such health emergencies need to be continuously scaled up.
  • Medical testing and treatment facilities in the Mission area including in the level-1 and level-2 hospitals have to be enhanced. Additional capacities may need to be built and adequate equipment be provided keeping in mind the safety requirement for transportation of COVID patients.  Provisions for isolation units, including isolation chambers during air transportation and provisions for Aeromedical Evacuation Teams (AMETs) to accompany the patients must also be there.
  • We understand that many contingents, deployed before the COVID pandemic, may not have been adequately equipped and in the current restriction of global travel are possibly unable to obtain those supplies from national sources. But they need to be protected. So, adequate supply of PPEs, masks, testing kits, and disinfectants should be temporarily sourced from UN until those supplies arrive.
  • Growing dangers of supply chain disruptions, social unrests, and violence in the pandemic situation might affect the mission settings. It is important that the living condition requirements of peacekeepers during pandemic are not compromised. Various aspects of gender dimensions including gender based violence, extended rotations for women peacekeepers add to our challenge.
  • The pandemic is a new reality. So, going forward, preparedness to address challenges such as the one we are confronted with now, has to be embedded in future planning and mandate setting of peacekeeping Missions. We must be prepared for any such contingency. The peacekeepers who are at the frontline would need to be protected by all means.
  • Finally, I wish to reiterate that Bangladesh remains fully committed to UN peacekeeping and to A4P and we shall continue to do our part in furthering these mandates and critical work.
  • I thank you.