India shipped out 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines on Saturday to inoculate UN blue helmets serving in peacekeeping missions.
The donated AstraZeneca vaccines left Mumbai for the Danish capital of Copenhagen, where they will be safely stored and distributed to UN peacekeepers serving in various missions.
Lauding India as “a longstanding and steadfast supporter of peacekeeping”, UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said, “an effective roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine to all peacekeepers is a key priority for the United Nations in order to protect our personnel and their capacity to continue their crucial work, help protect vulnerable communities and deliver on their mandates”.
He thanked the Government and people of India for their generous donation to safeguard peacekeeping personnel and “enable them to continue their life-saving work in a safe manner.”
The head of UN Operational Support, Atul Khare, said the “important donation” will ensure that UN peacekeepers remain healthy and “deliver in some of the most difficult environments in the world without relying on already stretched national health systems or ongoing COVAX efforts”.
We thank India…[and] remain engaged with our troop and police contributing countries to ensure that wherever possible, uniformed personnel are vaccinated through their national systems prior to deployment”.
At the same time, Mr. Khare’s department is leading UN system-wide arrangements to support national efforts in vaccinating UN civilian personnel and family members.
India has long played an important role in peacekeeping, particularly though its contribution of troops. Currently, more than 95 thousand UN peacekeepers are deployed in 12 missions.
Meanwhile, the UN Resident Coordinator in India, Renata Desalien, “heartily” thanked India for its “generous gesture of solidarity and support”.
“This step, especially for the United Nations, reflects India’s strong commitment to global peace and multilateralism”, she said.