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UN Peacekeeping conference to be held virtually in light of Omicron spread


UN Peacekeeping conference to be held virtually in light of Omicron spread

Photo: Isaac Billy/UN Photo

A UN peacekeeping conference originally scheduled to be held in Seoul today was moved online due to concerns about the Omicron variant of COVID-19. 

155 nations will be represented at the virtual conference intended to address the role of peacekeepers in facilitating medical aid to developing nations. The Omicron variant of COVID-19 was first detected in Southern Africa and has spread to 38 countries, causing several to reimpose travel restrictions in preparation for another winter surge. 

Expect today’s conference to heavily emphasize boosting cooperation among wealthier nations to coordinate and distribute greater volumes of vaccines and medical technology. The fast-moving Omicron variant has highlighted vaccine deficiencies in areas where peacekeepers are active in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The new variant is likely to further exacerbate vaccine hoarding by developed nations, which has already resulted in a mere 10% vaccination rate in Sub-Saharan Africa, compared to an average of over 60% in North America and Europe. As a result, the UN is likely to introduce greater aviation support to peacekeeping troops in isolated regions lacking adequate resources necessary to combat the virus. However, the effectiveness of global vaccine sharing efforts will be severely strained by the new variant in the winter months.

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