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Vietnamese peacekeepers and the fight against Covid-19

Malie Nguyen Malie Nguyen

Dieuhuong270198@gmail.com

May 29, 2021 | 16:53

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected Vietnamese “blue beret” soldiers in performing the UN peacekeeping mission. To ensure safety for them, the relevant agencies have made efforts to implement a variety of measures.

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Since 2019, Vietnam has sent 63 soldiers of the Level-2 Field Hospital to the Central African Republic and South Sudan to undertake the UN peacekeeping mission. The Covid-19 pandemic broke out in the two countries in March and April 2020, according to the World& Vietnam Report.

Actively preventing and controlling the pandemic

When the Covid-19 pandemic hadn’t yet broken out in South Sudan, the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations directed the missions to implement the Covid-19 prevention and control with four scenarios. They are when the host country has infections, when the mission has infections, when Vietnam’s force has infections and when Vietnam’s force has many infections.

The Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations has identified ensuring safety for Vietnamese peacekeepers as the first priority, making the latter feel secure to complete their assigned tasks.

Vietnamese peacekeepers and the fight against Covid-19
Employees at the Level-2 Field Hospital are treating patients.

In addition, the Department of Military Medicine and the Military Medical University has regularly organized online meetings with the Level-2 Field Hospital to get updated on the pandemic situation as well as share experience in the Covid-19 prevention and control with the hospital.

In March 2020, 12 officers and soldiers of the Level-2 Field Hospital returned to Vietnam. Nevertheless, they couldn’t come back to South Sudan due to the country’s imposition of entry ban and the suspension of international flights.

Therefore, the Level-2 Field Hospital at that time had only 51 soldiers and they had to suffer a heavy workload.

Making all-out efforts to complete the tasks

On June 15, 2020, the defense ministry’s steering committee for participation in UN peacekeeping operations held an online conference with Vietnamese soldiers at the Central African Republic and South Sudan. The event was chaired by Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Deputy Defense Minister.

At the conference, Vietnamese peacekeepers reported on the pandemic situation in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, their performances of assigned tasks as well as voiced their aspirations.

Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh shared difficulties with and praised the efforts of Vietnamese soldiers in performing the tasks during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also underscored the need of ensuring the utmost safety for Vietnamese peacekeepers.

On this occasion, General Ngo Xuan Lich, Defense Minister sent a letter hailing Vietnamese officers and soldiers in the Central African Republic and South Sudan for their remarkable achievements in performing the peacekeeping mission and preventing and controlling Covid-19.

The letter from the Defense Minister was a great encouragement for Vietnamese soldiers to surmount difficulties and accomplish their tasks.

Vietnamese peacekeepers and the fight against Covid-19
A soldier wears a face mask gifted by the Defense Ministry.

The Defense Ministry also presented the Level-2 Field Hospital medical equipment and supplies including protective clothes, face masks, medical gloves and disinfectant solution, with a total value of VND2 billion (US$ 86,905).

No one left behind

Seeing the determination of Vietnamese soldiers wanting to come back to South Sudan, the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations made attempts to coordinate with the relevant agencies to conduct a flight for them.

That flight was very meaningful because it carried medical equipment and supplies gifted by the Defense Ministry.

With the goal of leaving no one behind in the Covid-19 fight, the Ministry of Defense also sought ways to bring soldiers who completed their duties home for the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday.

During the days at the end of 2020, urgent dispatches were continuously sent to ministries, departments, branches, localities and relevant agencies to help to repatriate Vietnamese officers.

On the night of December 31, 2020, the flight carrying the last three officers from South Sudan landed safely at the Noi Bai International Airport at the moment when fireworks exploded in Hanoi’s sky to celebrate a new year.

The Hanoi Capital High Command was waiting at the airport to bring officers to centralized quarantine facilities.

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Malie Nguyen