Thematic Study

Healing or Harming? United Nations Peacekeeping and Health

Sara E. Davies and Simon Rushton

Whether it’s the Ebola outbreak in West Africa or cholera in Haiti, health emergencies present particular challenges for United Nations peace operations. UN peacekeepers can contribute to a host population’s health by facilitating access for humanitarian aid agencies or delivering health assistance directly. But they can also present a health threat to the host population, and face health risks in challenging environments themselves.

The new IPI report “Healing or Harming?” explores the complex relationship between UN peacekeeping and health. In terms of challenges, it finds a need for greater attention to medical checks and health care provision for peacekeepers both before and during deployment. In terms of opportunities, the authors show that peacekeepers can play a vital role in delivering health care in emergency settings, as well as facilitating and assisting humanitarian access.


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