NEW YORK, APRIL 27 – In the past 20 years, with the increasing complexity and intensity of conflicts, UN peacekeepers have faced multifaceted challenges to their safety and security in the field. Traditional and non-traditional security factors pose serious threats to their lives and safety.
Since 2013, more than 250 UN peacekeepers have been killed in targeted attacks. Moreover, loss of lives due to diseases, traffic accidents and other causes is not uncommon in the operational environment of peacekeeping operations. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has not only compromised the implementation of peacekeeping mandates, but has also negatively affected the safety and security of UN peacekeepers.
All these issues were on the agenda of today’s launch of the Group of Friends on Safety and Security of Peacekeepers. Forty-nine countries joined the virtual event. Italy, as part of the Group, reaffirmed its full support to effective training, efficient equipment and adequate medical capabilities to better protect the Blue Helmets.
Member States and the UN Secretariat have made tremendous efforts in this area in the past few years. In December 2017, General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz published his report, “Improving Security of United Nations Peacekeepers”, in which specific measures were presented with the goal of improving the safety and security and reducing the number of fatalities of peacekeepers. Based on the Santos Cruz report, Secretary-General António Guterres released an Action Plan in January 2018 to address issues related to the safety and security of peacekeepers.
The new Group of Friends was established by Brazil, China, Indonesia, and Rwanda as an informal mechanism to discuss and improve the safety and security of UN peacekeepers. The Group aims at further strengthening the safety and security of UN peacekeepers and making contributions to the improvement of peacekeeping operations. (@OnuItalia)