NEW YORK, 12 January (United Nations Staff Union) - At least 34 United Nations personnel lost their lives as a result of malicious acts in 2008, the Staff Union's Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service said today, down from at least 42 in 2007.
"Nonetheless, 2008 was another harsh year for United Nations personnel around the world," said Staff Union President Stephen Kisambira. "At least seven truck drivers working for the World Food Programme were killed in Sudan and Somalia. Ten peacekeepers were killed in Darfur. A suicide car bombing against a United Nations compound in northern Somalia killed two. 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."
"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," Mr. Kisambira added.
Here are the major incidents during the year, according to the Staff Union's Security Committee:
-- On 17 March, Kynal Ihor, 25, a Ukrainian police officer serving with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is killed in an operation undertaken by UNMIK and the NATO-led Kosovo Force, or KFOR, to reclaim the courthouse in North Mitrovica.
-- On 24 March, Mohamed Ali, a driver with the World Food Programme (WFP), is killed while transporting food in South Darfur.
-- On 7 April,Hamid Dafaalla, 47, the driver of a WFP-contracted truck, and his assistant, are shot and killed by unknown assailants after delivering humanitarian food supplies to the town of Rumbek, southern Sudan.
-- On 12 April,Nagya Aminu, 36, a Nigerian police officer with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is dragged from his car and shot dead by unidentified gunmen near the cathedral in the Bel-Air district of Port-au-Prince.
-- On 21 April, Mohammed Makki El Rasheed, 58, working for a WFP-contracted trucking firm delivering food aid, is shot and killed on a main transport route between North and South Darfur. A guard is injured.
-- On 7 May, a WFP truck driver is killed in central Somalia by militiamen who stop a convoy of 12 WFP-contracted trucks at an illegal checkpoint 30 kilometres north of Galkayo, demanding money. A gunman opens fire on the trucks and shoots the driver, who later dies in the hospital.
-- On 7 May, Silence Chirara, of Zimbabwe, 37, the coordinator of WFP's logistics operations for southern Sudan, is ambushed and shot dead by unidentified gunmen while driving a clearly marked United Nations vehicle in the town of Lokichoggio, north-western Kenya.
-- On 8 May,Wafa Shaker El-Daghma, a school teacher serving with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), is killed at her home in Gaza in an operation conducted by the Israel Defense Forces.
-- On 28 May, John Kennedy Okecha, a Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), is found dead with bullet wounds in his vehicle in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur.
-- On 12 June, Hassan Abdi, a WFP-contracted truck driver, is killed by gunmen shortly after dawn near the village of Leego, Somalia, when his convoy of WFP-contracted trucks is attacked.
-- On 27 June, Muzamil Ramadan Sida, 28, the Ugandan driver of a WFP-contracted truck, is shot and killed by unidentified assailants in an ambush on the Juba-Yei road in southern Sudan.
-- On 6 July, Osman Ali Ahmed, 48, of Somalia, the officer in charge of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the country, is gunned down by unidentified assailants as he leaves a mosque in Mogadishu.
-- On 7 July, Ahmed Saalim, a WFP-contracted driver who is part of a convoy of WFP-contracted trucks delivering food aid, is shot and killed when fighting breaks out between convoy escorts and militiamen at a checkpoint near Leego, Somalia.
-- On 8 July, 7 UNAMID peacekeepers are killed and 22 are wounded when a joint police and military patrol is ambushed by at least 200 attackers on horseback and armed SUVs between Gusa Jamat and Wadah, North Darfur. The victims are Charles Kabera, Nzitonda Bisukiro, Janvier Burasiyo, Theogene Murindabigwi and Emmanuel Sempundu, of Rwanda; Julius Osega, of Uganda; and Joseph Dawson, of Ghana.
-- On 13 July, militiamen kill an agent for a WFP-contracted transport company in the southern Somali town of Buale.
-- On 16 July,Shehu Abdullahi Gada, a Nigerian company commander serving with UNAMID, is killed by unknown gunmen in five vehicles while on patrol in Forobaranga, West Darfur.
-- On 15 August,Abdulkadir Diad Mohamed, 33, of Somalia, a WFP administration and finance assistant, is abducted by unidentified armed men in Dinsor, southern Somalia, and killed after trying to escape. The driver of the vehicle in which he is travelling is also killed, while a third member of the group manages to escape.
-- On 6 October,Kwari Vincent, a Nigerian peacekeeper serving with UNAMID in southern Darfur, is killed in an attack on his convoy.
-- On 17 October, two men armed with pistols attack and shoot Abdenasser Adan Muse, of Somalia, a senior WFP programme assistant, as he leaves a mosque in the central Somali town of Merka. He is rushed to the hospital, where he dies after a few minutes.
-- On 19 October, Mukhtar Mohammed Hassan, a water engineer working with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), is shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the southern Somali town of Huddur.
-- On 29 October, Mohammed Geele, a local security adviser, and Hashi Sayid, a driver for the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), are killed in a suicide car bombing against the UNDP compound in Hargeisa, northern Somalia. Six staff members are also injured, two of them seriously.
-- Also on 29 October,Ben Benjamin Titus, 34, a South African peacekeeper serving with UNAMID, is killed and a South African female peacekeeper is wounded in North Darfur. A contingent of South African peacekeepers are securing a water point near the Kassab camp for internally displaced persons when they come under attack from unidentified men in several heavily armed vehicles.
-- On 21 November, Munyiragi Didace Namujimbo, a national staff member in the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) working as a journalist with Radio Okapi, is shot and killed in Bukavu, South Kivu.
-- On 26 November, Belqis Mazloomyar, an Afghan contract worker for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Afghanistan, is shot dead at a meeting of local elders in Lower Sheikh Mesri.
-- In late December, two UNRWA staff members die as a result of the conflict in Gaza.
-- On 29 December, Pape Lamine Ndiaye, a Senegalese military officer serving with UNAMID, dies after being shot in the leg two days earlier at a market in El Fasher. He is one of three UNAMID military officers who are car-jacked by three armed men and forced to leave their vehicle.
Air crashes also took their toll. On 3 March, seven United Nations staff members and three crew members died when a United Nations helicopter crashed in Ramechhap district, eastern Nepal. The flight had left the Maoist cantonment site at Sindhuli and was bound for Kathmandu.
On 1 September, a plane carrying humanitarian supplies from Kisangani to Bukavu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, crashed into a mountain about 15 kilometres north-east of Bukavu airport while beginning its landing in bad weather. The 17 people on board were killed, including 7 United Nations staff members.
At least 10 United Nations personnel were taken hostage during 2008, and 1 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, of Canada, his assistant Louis Guay, and their United Nations driver, Soumana Mounkaila, went missing while driving near the country's capital, Niamey.
For information media - not an official record