Every day, United Nations peacekeepers work to protect millions of vulnerable people in increasingly dangerous places in the world’s most fragile political contexts.
From protecting civilians in war-torn areas and building social cohesion, to ensuring the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, to rebuilding infrastructure and providing livelihood skills to impoverished communities, peacekeepers work with local and international partners to help create the conditions for political solutions and sustainable development. .
As we approach the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers (29 May), whose theme this year is Advancing People’s Peace: The Power of Partnerships, here are five ways peacekeeping partnerships change.
1. Advance climate action
Climate change exacerbates the risk of conflict and makes recovery more difficult. Increasing drought, desertification, flooding, food insecurity, and water and energy scarcity in many parts of the world are making it harder for conflict-affected communities to rebuild their life. United Nations peacekeepers are on the front line of these escalating crises.
In December 2021, 70% of South Sudan’s Unity region was submerged by water, following the worst flooding in 60 years.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), in partnership with humanitarians and local authorities, took immediate action, with Pakistani engineer peacekeepers constructing 70 kilometers of dykes to protect the town, camps for displaced families, the airport and roads that provide vital access. both for humanitarian aid and for trade.
On January 4, 2022, UNMISS and its partners celebrated 100 consecutive days of combating rising waters. In a truly communal effort, displaced families monitored the perimeter, checking for cracks in the mud dykes.
Reflecting on the remarkable efforts of all the partners involved, the head of the UNMISS field office in Bentiu, Hiroko Hirahara, explains: “What I can tell you with pride is that everyone came together. I mean, it’s the beauty of Bentiu people that we can discuss here, there, everywhere, but once the situation arises, everyone comes together. We work in solidarity. I think we are making progress. »
2. On the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, peacekeepers have continued to protect civilians from violence and maintain peace, while supporting national responses to the pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, radio has been a critical channel for disseminating accurate and timely information on COVID-19 transmission, prevention, treatment and best practices, especially in local communities. At a time when most people were working from home due to rising COVID-19 cases, MONUSCO’s Radio Okapi host Jody Nkashama was in the studio trying to stop the spread by keeping listeners informed .
“We braved fear to serve more than 24 million listeners with reliable information about the pandemic, which had sparked various rumors and loss of life, with a negative impact on the national economy,” says Nkashama.
In addition to providing life-saving information and countering dangerous misinformation about the virus, Radio Okapi, which is run by the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), has played an important educational role for young students. As millions of children were unable to attend school due to stay-at-home orders, Radio Okapi stepped in to fill the void.
3. Support local livelihoods
For peace to last, communities affected by conflict must be supported to rebuild their livelihoods. Peacekeepers organize and fund vocational and vocational training workshops and services to help local communities generate income to support their families.
In South Sudan, healthy livestock are not only a status symbol, but also a lifeline for many families, helping them put food on the table, meet nutritional needs and educate their children.
A weekly veterinary clinic is a longstanding tradition in Malakal, South Sudan, thanks to Indian peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). From 2006 to 2015, and again in 2018, after a hiatus as conflict escalated in the region, Indian peacekeepers provided free veterinary services and training to local farmers to ensure the health of their livestock.
In the absence of other veterinarians treating animals in Malakal, UNMISS veterinary services saved lives and livelihoods.
“Helping people maintain their livelihoods goes a long way towards peacebuilding efforts in this young nation,” the Lt. Col. says. Philip Varghese.
4. Strengthening national capacities to maintain peace and security
Peacekeeping missions work with host governments to build and improve national capacities to maintain security, public order, and effective policing and justice mechanisms.
In March 2022, the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) launched operation “Zia siriri ni Akomandé”, (“Let peace reign”) in the northwest of the country.
The operation aims to reduce the influence of illegal armed groups and the impact of explosive devices by increasing patrols and aerial reconnaissance missions.
Working closely with local communities and the national army, blue helmets carry out patrols to assess the security situation and also hear the concerns of local communities. During recent patrols, the lack of medical supplies and access to schools was highlighted by communities.
In response, peacekeepers provided daily drinking water, school supplies and sports equipment, as well as free medical assistance, including for women and children. Roads have also been rehabilitated to improve living conditions and access to services.
“The number of incidents and attacks in the area has drastically decreased in recent weeks, proof that there is a real impact of the actions of our units”, according to Lt-Col. Abdoul Aziz Ouedraogo.
5. Support women and youth in building lasting peace
The leadership of women and young people is crucial in shaping the solutions that impact lives and lead to peace and development. UN peacekeeping operations support the meaningful engagement of women and youth to ensure their priorities are at the heart of political and security decisions.
Decades of conflict have divided the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. In 2021, a project facilitated by the United Nations Mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP), and sponsored by the Embassy of the Netherlands, helped bring women from both communities closer together, through a centuries-old tradition: weaving.
The Klotho Women’s Initiative has created loom projects that have enabled Greek and Turkish Cypriot women of different ages to exchange their knowledge of weaving.
“At first we felt like strangers, but thanks to this bi-communal collaboration, we learned that we were the same,” says Hande Toycan, a Turkish Cypriot. “By meeting, getting to know each other’s life and habits, we will slowly open the way to peace.”
“Until now I had no contact with Turkish Cypriots,” says Greek Cypriot Flora Hadjigeorgiou. “The first time I came into contact with a Turkish Cypriot was through the Klotho project. At 65 years old. »
Distributed by APO Group for UN News.
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