By Lei Yang
“As shells flew over my head and exploded with a deafening sound, I insisted on holding the syringe in my hand,” recalled Mao Li, a nurse from the Chinese peacekeeping force in Lebanon. She told the reporter what she experienced in the previous day’s work to conduct COVID-19 vaccination.
Since May 6, peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have consecutively taken COVID-19 vaccination at China’s 19th peacekeeping medical contingent to Lebanon, including peacekeeping officers from countries like Cambodia, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil and El Salvador, and international staff that the UN recruited from countries such as the Philippines, Morocco and Lebanon.
The Chinese peacekeeping medical contingent deployed in southern Lebanon is stationed at a location less than 10 kilometers from the Blue Line on the border between Lebanon and Israel. These days, warfare has been reignited in Lebanon, with large-scale demonstrations taking place in many places of the country. Due to the multiple threats such as military conflicts, ethnic contradictions, and the COVID-19 outbreak, peacekeeping missions now face mounting risks. Nevertheless, the Chinese medical peacekeepers have never suspended their efforts to vaccinate the UNIFIL troops against COVID-19.
“I once vaccinated more than 80 people a day,” said Pu Ying, a doctor who has served in the military for 37 years. “As soon as I took off my protective clothing after returning from the vaccination site, I put on an isolation gown to do rehabilitation therapy for a patient.”
There have been only one to two doctors for each discipline in the contingent , so they must devote themselves to both vaccination and emergency treatment. “One day, I saved the life of an emergency patient, and still completed my vaccination task at the same time,” recalled Zheng Faren. “A service member must keep calm in emergencies and consciously follow orders.”
After the centralized vaccination for UNIFIL began, all doctors, nurses, and administrative and logistic staff of the contingent have devoted themselves to the frontline of the vaccination work. They informed the recipients of vaccination details , inquired about their health conditions before inoculation and publicized post-vaccination knowledge. Meanwhile, they standardized procedures such as COVID-19 vaccine storage management, technical specifications for inoculation, and reporting and treatment of post-vaccination abnormal reactions, so as to prevent vaccination accidents.
“Apart from health and logistic support for UNIFIL, we also provide humanitarian medical assistance,” said Yang Deng, a staff officer in charge of health and logistics. “During the vaccination period, we sent medical and epidemic control supplies to the local Red Cross Society twice.”
China’s 19th peacekeeping medical contingent to Lebanon, established by the Guilin Joint Logistic Support Center, consists of 30 members. Since its arrival to mission zone on July 28, 2020, peacekeepers have won high acclaim from UNIFIL, the Lebanese government and local people for their outstanding performance, and they were all awarded the UN Peace Medals of Honor, the highest honor for UN peacekeepers.