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Stories From The UN Archive: UN Camel Caravans Deliver


Camels,
long known as the ships of the desert, have played an
important role helping the UN from as early as the 1940s in
driving up global vaccination rates and delivering
lifesaving aid.

To mark the International
Year of Camelids
in 2024 and on the heels of World
Immunisation Week
, celebrated annually in the last week
of April, we took a look at how caravans of these hardy
dromedaries played a key role.

From transporting
peacekeepers to polio vaccines, camels have helped the UN in
its broad range of mandates since the 1940s.

The UN
health agency, WHO, routinely used camels
in the 1950s to bring lifesaving vaccines into remote areas
in countries around the world.

In 1998, wending their
way across desert terrain to reach nomadic communities
scattered throughout Djibouti, teams of camels delivered
vaccines and a UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) immunisation team
into hard-to-reach areas.

Some communities who fled
conflict in the country were living in remote areas, and
camels were the “perfect choice” and the only way to reach
them, according to UNICEF.

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Because vaccines need to be
kept at cool temperatures, doses were first loaded into
refrigerators powered by solar panels, and then the whole
rig was strapped onto a camel’s back.

Into the 21st
century, the hearty beasts continue to help.

More
recently, another UNICEF initiative saw a mobile school on
camels reaching 4,000 children in nomadic communities in
Sudan.

Even today, camels deliver.

Camel
ambulances
are helping pregnant women gain access to
skilled birth attendants in remote parts of Yemen. Read the
full story from the UN agency for reproductive health and
rights, UNFPA, here.

Our
#ThrowbackThursday series showcases epic moments across UN
history, cultivated from the UN
Audiovisual Library
’s 49,400 hours of video and 18,000
hours of audio recordings.

Catch up on our series here
and UN Video’s Stories from the UN Archive playlist
here.
Join us next Thursday for another dive into
history.

© Scoop Media

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