How Young Indians Are Leading UN Peacekeeping Efforts Amid COVID
Amid COVID-19, many young Indian officers are putting their lives at risk to bring essentials to the marginalised.
The Youth, Peace, and Security agenda of the United Nations has gained much-needed momentum in countries affected by conflict and violence, especially amid COVID-19. It has also helped young people realise how important they really are in contributing to peace efforts, security and stability in their countries.
The implementation of the agenda and its ideals has been aided by the UN Peacekeeping forces, and its remarkable individuals who work tirelessly to achieve one common goal — building a brighter future for young people who are stuck in warn-torn or strife-ridden areas.
One such individual is Major Parvathy, an Indian Army Officer deployed to the state of Lakes in South Sudan as a UN Military Liaison Officer since November 2019, to assist in the successful implementation of the Revitalized Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).
She monitors the security situation across the state, undertakes liaising activities between the security agencies, government institutions, UNMISS and other civil society actors. She also monitors contextual developments and engages with stakeholders. She has also led several patrols to hotspot areas in the Lakes state to ensure the protection of civilians and provide humanitarian support.
Actively Involving the Youth in UN Peacekeeping Efforts
“Right now, tens of thousands of young peacekeepers deployed around the world play a major role in helping our peace operations carry out their important lifesaving work. Promoting the Youth, Peace, and Security agenda is an integral component of mandate implementation and delivery in all our peacekeeping operations,” Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix says.
Actively engaging with the youth of the area in discussions and encouraging them to come up with solutions faced by their communities is also something she and her team do when conducting missions and patrols.
In South Sudan specifically, the youth make up one-third of the population and yet, they continue to be excluded from political and peace-building processes.
Major Rohini Aher is also one such individual who is part of the UNMISS as a doctor and has been part of the mission for the past five months. As a doctor she deals with many young people regularly and strong believes their talents and ideas should be channelised into ensuring peace and global security.
She, along with her team, have tapped into these opportunities to interact with the youth, to make them realise their own strengths, to read more and educate themselves. She also feels that internet access and education in underdeveloped and developing nations have made an already-curious young generation more involved in the general global situation and specific crises.
The two individuals are part of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) which is a peacekeeping initiative in the recently-independent nation of South Sudan after being ravaged by a gruesome civil war of 6 years.
An Inclusive Approach
The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) is also a peacekeeping mission that is tasked with maintaining a ceasefire between Israel and Syria as a result of the Yom Kippur War. Our Indian forces are also a part of this peacekeeping force.
To keep peace between the two nations, Private Emica Mary Pasi and her team have formed a military police. She believes that an inclusive approach will enable the youth of the area to strongly influence positive decision-making at all levels. She herself as a young person has endeavoured to contribute towards the Youth, Peace and Security agenda to the best of her capabilities.
As part of the Military Police Platoon for four years now, she mainly interacts with local civilians through the screening procedures that occur at the gates where protocols are strictly adhered to, and also increases situational awareness through those interactions.
Corporal Ramesh Reddy is also one such person who feels that he is just as responsible as the next person for ensuring a bright future for one and all. He also knows that the youth can bring about a positive change in a much more energetic manner.
The contribution of the youth in maintaining global peace has been tremendously impactful with the use of technology and general awareness.
Being part of the INDCON LOGICOY for 10 years now, he has been dedicated to his task of providing logistical support to the mission.
These peacekeeping forces have helped realise the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda; they have also helped the locals of the area deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Peacekeepers are overwhelmingly young women and men, and peace operations have played and continue to play a key role in the protection, empowerment, and advancement of young people,” says Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.
Aiding in Safety & Hygiene of Vulnerable Communities
Many areas of Lakes in South Sudan, where Major Parvathy is deployed, are remote and lack access to communication networks and basic health services. She and her team regularly conduct patrols in these remote areas and distribute COVID-19 prevention materials.
Last year, they reached over 10,000 people with key messaging on COVID-19 prevention protocols and hygiene measures.
As an active member of the COVID-19 working group of the Rumbek Field Office, she coordinated with various stakeholders including local authorities and other peace partners, to design and implement joint strategies that help contain COVID-19, while ensuring the continued implementation of the mission’s mandate.
For instance, they coordinated the construction of a water and sanitation system in the local hospital in their area of responsibility, ensured continuous supply of water, provided hand wash stations, and encouraged local communities to follow hygiene measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. They also organised a donation of assorted medical and non-medical supplies, and hygiene materials such as soaps and water dispensers, to support at least 400 families in Lakes State of South Sudan.
Each one of these inspirational individuals believes that the youth play a very important role in moving toward global peace and security.
29 May is globally celebrated as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, to honour these individuals.
(Rishabh Chaturvedi is a student of class 11. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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