Staff Union President Frustrated by Failure To Bring Perpetrators to Book as Deadly Annual Trend Continues
The trend of deadly attacks against United Nations personnel continued in 2009, with at least 28 civilian staff members losing their lives due to acts of violence, according to the United Nations Staff Union Committee for the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service.
In addition, the Committee said today, seven peacekeepers were killed during the year, six of them in three separate incidents in Darfur, and the Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) while on leave in Pakistan.
During 2008, at least 34 United Nations personnel lost their lives as a result of malicious acts, down from at least 42 deaths in 2007, a year that witnessed the deaths of 17 staff members killed in the terrorist bombing of the Organization's premises in Algiers, one of the deadliest years for United Nations staff.
In 2009, 17 civilian staff members were killed in separate incidents in Afghanistan and Pakistan alone. Five working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) were killed during Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip last January, and two were killed in Somalia. More than two thirds of the victims were national staff members.
Civilian staff members also came under shell fire in Gaza and Sri Lanka. "Once again, United Nations personnel had to pay with their lives for their efforts to assist populations in distress," said United Nations Staff Union President Stephen Kisambira. "A particularly disturbing trend continued last year: deliberate attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Darfur to intimidate and undermine the United Nations. It is frustrating that hardly has anyone responsible been brought to account."
Mr. Kisambira continued: "Fifteen years after the adoption of the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, 104 Member States have still not ratified it. The 2005 Optional Protocol to the Convention is still not in force as only 20 Member States have ratified it. The ratification of both the Convention and the Optional Protocol by all Member States would make a statement that Member States take seriously their primary responsibility to protect United Nations personnel and that they appreciate the United Nations role in maintaining peace and fostering development in far-flung areas of the world."