The end of 2019 brought with it a global challenge with the spread of a deadly viral infection which engulfed the world one city after the other – first Wuhan, China and gripped the whole world in total fear. Healthcare systems of developed nations were brought to their knees, unable to contain the deadly mutating pathogen named SARS-CoV-2. With countries of Africa already suffering from uncontrollable infectious diseases on top of the prevailing humanitarian crises, this new challenge posed a grave challenge to the peacekeepers. They not only had to perform their duties of peacekeeping but also confronted the grave task of fighting the pandemic amid the non-availability of vaccine and potential curable treatment.
Our recent deployment in North Darfur, Sudan brought us face to face with the humanitarian crises compounded by the looming pandemic. The challenge was enormous, and the responsibilities became manifold, but it did not bend or affect our resolve to help our brethren in distress. The new norm was not just the patients’ wellbeing but prior to that, taking all precautions to safeguard against the uncompromising enemy diffused in the environment.
Our compassion in face of the challenge that lay ahead invigorated our spirits and kept us strong in matching steps with the legacy of the healers of Pakistani peacekeepers in Darfur dubbed as ‘The Pearl of UNAMID’. Every challenge made us more passionate, and every moment of exhaustion brought the best out of us. Here, we were at the forefront of humanitarian crisis with the additional challenge of the pandemic. Our first encounter was with a suspected COVID-19 patient with pleural effusion, who was provided prompt medical care reiterating the principles of Hippocratic Oath.
The peacekeepers realized the treachery of the landscapes, with no tracks and roads in this part of the country which appeared a wasteland. The hills ebbing into valleys and landscape dotted with dry, lifeless grass that faintly rustles in the wind and by the look of it, must be bitter as ashes to a camel’s mouth taking the majesty of life out of the locals with the sparseness. Our first encounter with the locals of Kabkabiya, Darfur was indeed enough to leave us awestruck. Having been through the horrors of warlike tribal commotions, reminiscing and craving peace and their eyes dilated in their gaze searching for the majesty of life – not silver and gold but clean water, food and medical care.
Here we were at the frontline, a ray of hope for the withered, lifeless and miserable brethren of Sudan. The crisis struck region with the challenges of pandemic manifested the fragility of humanity but the human instinct for survival surpassed the calamities at hand. With the dawn of the day, plans initiated for the conduct of a massive effort to alleviate the sufferings of the locals of Kabkabiya with the conduct of a Free Medical Camp. It came as a sigh of relief for the locals. A diligent and dedicated team of specialists in medicine, surgery, E.N.T, Pathology and Gynecology treated 2,688 patients besides a multitude of allied medical services and a plethora of lab tests provided at the doorsteps of the local community as part of community outreach program by the Pakistani peacekeepers. As the days edged towards night, the frontline soldiers at the local hospital of Kabkabiya were weary but not downtrodden as our hearts were filled with the joy of serving humanity in distress.
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