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Jakarta Post

Indonesia renews call to maintain UN peacekeeping operations during COVID-19

  • Apriza Pinandita
    Apriza Pinandita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, May 15, 2020   /   09:28 am
Indonesia renews call to maintain UN peacekeeping operations during COVID-19 A helmet and flak jackets of South Africa's 1 Parachute Battalion of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission are arranged on the ground on Feb. 14, 2008 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (UN Photo/Marie Frechon)

Indonesia has renewed its call for the world to refocus on maintaining and supporting peacekeeping operations, as countries in conflict are being hit even harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than countries at peace.

Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi on Thursday reiterated Indonesia’s concerns about the impacts of the coronavirus crisis in conflict countries, saying that Indonesia was committed to upholding any and all efforts to resolve conflict and build peace.

“As we are all aware, COVID-19 has an enormous impact for all countries, including countries affected by conflict. The situation on the ground, which is already fragile due to ongoing conflicts, is now worsened by COVID-19 due to limited health infrastructure, fragile security, challenging economic situations and humanitarian conditions,” Retno told a press briefing on May 14.

The COVID-19 crisis had disrupted peacekeeping operations (PKO), making it difficult for conflicting parties to engage and discuss peace, while also limiting the movement and activities of peacekeepers, Retno said.

Access to humanitarian aid and logistics had been disrupted due to the unavailability of transportation, she added.

Read also: COVID-19: Nearly 90,000 Indonesians return home after more than 700 infected abroad

In this regard, Indonesia continued to stress the importance of ensuring the safety and health of UN peacekeepers at the UN Security Council (UNSC) meetings.

“At least 13 countries with PKO have confirmed COVID-19 cases. Sixty-four peacekeepers have contracted the virus,” Retno said, citing UN data.

Although no Indonesian peacekeepers had contracted the disease to date, the country remained fully alert in following developments on the ground, she added.

Indonesia is the largest country among UNSC member states in terms of contributing peacekeeping troops, and the eighth largest among all UN member states.

“Therefore, Indonesia will closely follow the impact of COVID-19 on our peacekeepers,” Retno said.

On March 23, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued an appeal for a global ceasefire during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"To warring parties, I say: Pull back from hostilities. Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns, stop the artillery, end the airstrikes. This is crucial to help create corridors for life-saving aid," he states in the press release published on the UN website.

“As a non-permanent member of the UNSC, Indonesia welcomes and supports the [UN secretary-general's] call,” Retno stressed at Thursday's briefing.

Read also: Indonesia to prioritize quality in peacekeeping contributions as UN funds evaporate

Along with other members of the UNSC, Indonesia was currently drafting a resolution on measures to address COVID-19 challenges, particularly peace and security.

“Unfortunately, the draft has yet to reach consensus. The longer the UNSC cannot agree on the draft, [the more] it sends a negative signal on the ground, and could even worsen the situation for [people] in many conflict areas,” Retno said.

The UNSC should focus on enhancing cooperation to protect the people in conflict areas, and Indonesia was ready to continue contributing to negotiations on the draft resolution, she concluded.