UNITED NATIONS, Feb 12 : Several member states of the United Nations on Monday called for plans to ensure the safety and security of peacekeeping personnel.
Presented during the 258th plenary meeting of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, the latest report of the secretary-general highlighted key developments in UN peacekeeping, and it also noted that the changing nature of conflict has exposed peacekeepers to high security risks.
Fatalities among uniformed peacekeepers due to acts of violence almost doubled in 2017, from 34 in 2016 to 61, the highest recorded for peacekeeping since 1994, according to the report.
The report also found that the total cost of occupational safety and health fatalities, injuries and illnesses to the organization and its peacekeeping operations was approximately 250 million US dollars a year.
On behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Omar Kadiri, Morocco's deputy permanent representative to the UN, said that the killing of UN peacekeeping personnel and all acts of violence against such personnel constitute a major challenge to the credibility of UN field operations and ability of peacekeepers to carry out their mandate.
He called upon the Secretariat to ensure that adequate measures are taken to improve the physical security infrastructure of camps.
On behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Canada's permanent representative to the UN Marc-Andre Blanchard said that they strongly support a robust culture of performance evaluation and accountability throughout the UN.
The ultimate goal of strengthening performance must be to increase the overall effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, because doing so will improve the safety and security of civilians and uniformed peacekeepers alike, said Blanchard.
"More attentions should be paid to the safety of peacekeepers," said Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, adding that the Secretariat and the missions should formulate security rules in an integrated manner, strengthen information collection and sharing, ensure that security equipment and measures are in place, and strengthen medical ambulance capacity effectively.
Jerry Matjila, the permanent representative of South Africa to the UN, called for the use of modern technology in peacekeeping operations, in order to strengthen the safety and security of the peacekeepers.
The UN should also adopt the use of smart technology and heightened key capabilities to enable peacekeepers to counter any attack by armed groups and other forms of asymmetrical threats which are increasingly prevalent in peacekeeping, he said.