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UN chief ‘extremely grateful’ for India’s 200,000 COVID vaccines for peacekeepers

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “extremely grateful” for the gift of 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses announced by India for peacekeepers, the spokesperson for the UN chief has said.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, while addressing the UN Security Council meeting on COVID-19 on Wednesday, announced a gift of 200,000 COVID-19 doses for the UN peacekeepers.

“Keeping in mind the UN Peacekeepers who operate in such difficult circumstances, we would like to announce today a gift of 200,000 doses for them, he said.

We are extremely grateful for this donation announced today by the Indian delegation. The distribution will be operationalised by the UN’s Department of Support, Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, told PTI.

The 200,000 doses essentially mean that it will be possible to administer the required double doses of COVID-19 vaccines to all UN peacekeepers across missions.

According to the UN Peacekeeping, currently a total of 94,484 personnel are serving in 12 peacekeeping operations across the world led by the Department of Peace Operations.

A total of 121 nations are contributing uniformed personnel to the UN peacekeeping missions. India is traditionally among the largest troop contributing countries to peacekeeping missions.

The UN Department of Operational Support (DOS) provides “operational support to all UN Secretariat entities, including advisory, operational and transactional support services and, where needed, exercises delegated authority on behalf of clients.

The DOS supports the entire UN Secretariat, consisting of almost 100 entities located around the globe. It is led by Under-Secretary-General Atul Khare and consists of three offices working in the areas of Support Operations, including human resources, health-care management and capacity-building, Supply Chain Management and Information and Communication Technology, the DOS website said.

The announcement by India was welcomed by UN diplomats.

Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN, Ambassador Bob Rae tweeted: This is an important and generous announcement by Indian government on vaccinating 95000 UN peacekeepers.”

Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations, Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza tweeted, The gesture & announcement by India of a gift of vaccines for UN Peacekeepers is much appreciated. Vaccinating #UNPeacekeepers who put their lives on frontlines to protect civilians & Peace agreements is the largest security multiplier in the context of a global COVID-19 pandemic.

Jaishankar told the Council that India has been very much at the forefront of the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

India earlier provided critical medicines, diagnostic kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment to more than 150 countries, about 80 of them on a grant basis. India, the pharmacy of the world, is stepping forward to meet the global vaccines challenge, he said.

The vaccine Covishield is the version of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India. Covaxin is the indigenously developed vaccine by pharma company Bharat Biotech.

Jaishankar said these two vaccines have already been granted emergency authorisation and additionally, as many as 30 candidates are under various stages of development.

In one of the largest vaccination drives ever, India will vaccinate about 300 million frontline and healthcare workers, elderly and vulnerable over the next six months. India’s vaccination programme, which began a month ago, has already seen nearly 7 million people vaccinated, he said.

Under the initiative Vaccine Maitri , which translates into Vaccine Friendship, India is providing vaccines to the world. While India is a significant source of supply to the COVAX facility, the country is also directly sending vaccines to friends and partners.

Starting with our immediate neighbours, 25 nations across the world have already received Made in India vaccines. 49 more countries will be supplied in the coming days, ranging from Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa, South-East Asia and the Pacific Islands, Jaishankar said.

Following the announcement, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti tweeted, Protecting the Protectors! External Affairs Minister @DrSJaishankar announces a gift of 200,000 doses of vaccines for UN peacekeepers at #UNSC. India responds immediately to request of @UN Secretary General @antonioguterres.”

India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Nagaraj Naidu tweeted External Affairs Minister @DrSJaishankar in solidarity with @UNPeacekeeping announces India’s gift of 200,000 doses of #COVID19Vaccine for all @UN peacekeepers.