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Research Report

Medical Support for UN Peace Operations in High-Risk Environments

Copyright Date: Apr. 1, 2017
Pages: 28

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
  2. (pp. i-ii)
  3. (pp. iii-iv)
  4. (pp. 1-1)
  5. (pp. 2-4)

    On May 28, 2015, the force commander and police commander of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) suffered an attack while conducting a visit to contingents in Ber, about sixty kilometers east of Timbuktu. The operation was kept top secret to ensure security. Nonetheless, on the route back the convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) and the lead vehicle was destroyed, resulting in the injury of a significant number of troops and the destruction of equipment. The highlevel commanders were able to control the situation on the ground and immediately requested a helicopter for...

  6. (pp. 4-7)

    The purpose of medical support for peace operations is “to secure the health and well-being of members of United Nations [peacekeeping operations] in a timely and efficient manner.”13 The medical aspects of a UN mission’s work fall into two categories: (1) providing medical support to mission personnel under the command of a chief medical officer, who oversees the provision of medical care in the mission hospital or clinic and oversees the care provided to troops, police, and civilian personnel; and (2) ensuring the health of peacekeepers and civilian personnel prior to their deployment in the mission.14

    Medical support for UN...

  7. (pp. 7-10)

    The 2015 HIPPO report made several recommendations related to medical support, which were seen to give much-needed momentum to efforts to reform and to provide more resources to medical support structures.26 The three main recommendations were to:

    1. Establish a system “to enable Member States to contribute short- or medium-term specialist capabilities,” including for medical support;

    2. Prioritize “timely and reliable medical evacuation and casualty evacuation” in mission startups and continuously maintain this throughout the mission, including the capability to fly at night, and not to assess any mission “to have reached an initial operating capability unless these arrangements are in place”;...

  8. (pp. 10-18)

    The above-mentioned initiatives are addressing serious gaps in medical support in the field, especially in terms of policy guidance on how to adapt to high-risk environments. However, there are still significant challenges to medical support to peace operations. We have identified five core challenges that the UN needs to address in order to meet its duty to care for its personnel in high-risk environments.

    While the Medical Services Division (MSD) should be considered a nucleus linked to all aspects of medical support, there is a clear disconnect in its lines of authority and accountability. The majority of UN healthcare personnel...

  9. (pp. 18-21)

    The preamble of the UN Charter states, “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”81 This sentiment applies not only to civilians the UN aims to protect but also to the personnel it deploys to the field. Given the rise of violent extremism and complex attacks targeting peacekeepers in some missions, the UN faces a more challenging job in protecting those it deploys. As this paper has shown, existing medical...

  10. (pp. 22-22)