United Nations Assistant-Secretary and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Kevin Kennedy – Statement on International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members [EN/AR]
Amman, 25 March 2017
The United Nations marked the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members with a renewed call for the immediate release or information of over two dozen staff still being held in detention or missing in Syria.
“Ongoing arrests and detention of UN staff inside Syria continues to remain a matter of grave concern,” said Kevin Kennedy, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis. “While we have secured the release of many of our UN colleagues, we call for the unconditional and immediate release of those colleagues who remain in custody, and for parties to the conflict to reveal the fate of those still missing.”
Throughout the world, United Nations, International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement staff, and aid workers face widespread violence and intimidation, arbitrary detention and even death in areas of conflict and disaster while working to assist others.
Since the start of the crisis in Syria in March 2011, hundreds of humanitarian workers and health workers have been killed in the course of duty. At least 66 humanitarian workers were killed and 114 were injured in the first nine months of 2016 alone.
“All parties to the conflict in Syria are obliged under international humanitarian law to safeguard the safety and security of humanitarian workers. I call on all parties to respect the rights, privileges and immunities of United Nations personnel,” Kevin Kennedy said.
In Syria today, a total of 28 United Nations staff members continue to be detained or missing, the majority of them staff working with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
“Thousands of Syrians, working for either national or international NGOs, many in partnership with the UN, risk their lives each and every day working to help others,” said Kevin Kennedy, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis. “We salute them today.”
The International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members is commemorated each year on the anniversary of the abduction of Alec Collett, a former journalist who was working for UNRWA when he was abducted by armed gunman in 1985. His body was finally found in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in 2009.
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