Thursday, January 15, 2009

At least 34 UN staff members killed in attacks worldwide in 2008

UN staff in the World Conference Centre in Bonn, Germany

13 January 2009 – A radio reporter in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a schoolteacher in Gaza, seven food aid truck drivers in Sudan and Somalia and ten peacekeepers in Darfur are among the 34 United Nations staff members killed by malicious acts in 2008, the world body’s Staff Union said today.

Although the figure represents a slight decline from the previous year, “2008 was another harsh year for United Nations personnel around the world,” Staff Union President Stephen Kisambira said in a press release.

“The Staff Union is particularly concerned by the killing of many contracted workers who are increasingly being used as a substitute for United Nations staff in many dangerous areas in the world,” he added.

“The Staff Union once again appeals to Member States to guarantee the minimal security conditions necessary for the United Nations to carry out its life-saving work,” he stressed.

One of the most deadly incidents occurred when a joint police and military patrol was ambushed by at least 200 attackers on horseback and armed SUVs between Gusa Jamat and Wadah, North Darfur on 8 July, killing seven peacekeepers and wounding 22 from the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

On 29 October a security advisor and a driver for the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) were killed in a suicide car bombing of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) compound in Hargeisa, northern Somalia. Six staff members were also injured, two of them seriously.

In addition to malicious actions, air crashes also took their toll, the Staff Union said, with seven staff members dying on 3 March in a crash in eastern Nepal and another seven losing their lives when a plane carrying humanitarian supplies went down in the eastern DRC.

At least 10 UN personnel were taken hostage during 2008, and one was still missing in Somalia at the end of the year.

In addition, on 14 December, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Niger, Robert Fowler, his assistant and their UN driver went missing while driving near the country’s capital, Niamey.

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