UNMAS operations are continuing in a limited number of programmes. This changes regularly due to the evolving impact of COVID-19.
Whether UNMAS operates as a component of peacekeeping or special political mission, or as a member of the country team, our programmes conform to the United Nations Designated Officials' security and programme criticality requirements.
Currently, all key posts in UNMAS field programmes are staffed either in person or through telecommuting arrangements. UNMAS has also started to include virus prevention practices in its community liaison and risk education activities. That said, some tasks are being modified to respond to local travel or movement restrictions and WHO and UN guidelines on preventing potential virus transmission. UNMAS is monitoring the impact of the virus on United Nations mine action operations on a daily basis and is happy to answer any questions you may have.
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“We are in this together – and we will get through this, together.” Secretary-General, António Guterres
Heeding the words of the United Nations Secretary-General, mine action personnel quickly adjusted their work plans to provide whatever assistance they could to people living in conflict and post-conflict settings as they face the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, as the virus began to spread quickly, some risk education teams working for UNMAS incorporated messaging from WHO and UNICEF into their training materials and translated the essential guidance for distribution throughout the areas they work. As freedom of movement was limited, this guidance was transmitted through any means available, digital messaging and radio.
UNMAS continues to carry out operations and planning where it can, emphasizing the needs of the most vulnerable; women, children and people with disabilities, and prioritizing the clearance of health facilities and access to these facilities.
UNMAS continues to work closely with all United Nations partners, in the spirit of "One UN". UN staff were all called upon to show compassion and kindness in all of their work and to ensure that they take every precaution to safeguard their own health and to ensure that they do not become a vector of the virus.
Some examples of UNMAS assistance:
In the area of risk education, our programme in Somalia took the initiative to educate the at-risk population about COVID-19 so that they can be more informed about how to protect themselves from the virus.
After the Government of Sudan announced the COVID-19 outbreak as a public health emergency, UNMAS in coordination with National Mine Action Center convened an urgent meeting with the Ministry of Health to suggest the use of Mine Risk Education teams to disseminate COVID-19 awareness messages, including personal hygiene and social distancing, which was welcomed by the health ministry.
Today, JASMAR, one of the UNMAS implementing partners, is disseminating COVID-19 awareness messages along with explosive ordnance risk education in South Kordofan state.