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2007 One of the Deadliest for United NationsSalem-News.com
2007 ‘one of deadliest years' for United Nations Personal, Staff Union says; at least 9 peacekeepers, 33 civilian staff members killed during year.
(UNITED NATIONS) - At least 42 United Nations staff members – including 17 who died in the December 11th 2007 attack in Algiers – were killed on duty last year, making it one of the deadliest years for the Organization, according to its Staff Union.
“While we mourn our colleagues and the other civilians killed, we cannot but stress the need for prevention and punishment,” said Stephen Kisambura, the Union’s president.
He called for Member States to bolster prevention efforts as well as bring those behind “heinous acts” to justice.
“Very seldom are perpetrators prosecuted, perpetuating the climate of impunity,” Mr. Kisambura noted.
Ranging from bombings in southern Lebanon to armed attacks in Afghanistan, at least nine peacekeepers and 33 civilian staff members lost their lives in 2007, according to figures from the Union’s Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service. This is an increase from 32 UN staff killed in fatal attacks in 2006 and at least 15 staff deaths in 2005.
Seventeen UN staff members were among dozens who perished in two car bomb attacks in the Algerian capital on December 11th. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon characterized the incident as a “despicable strike against individuals serving humanity’s highest ideals under the UN banner.”
In the wake of the tragedy, Mr. Ban promised the world body’s staff that he would spare no effort to ensure their safety and ordered an immediate review of the Organization’s security precautions and policies, stressing that “the security and welfare of UN staff is paramount.”
A half dozen UN staff also lost their lives in war-wracked Sudan. Four drivers serving with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) were killed – three in the Darfur region and one in southern Sudan, while two peacekeepers serving with the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) lost their lives in separate incidents.
A June 24th bomb attack killed six blue helmets and injured two serving with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) while they were patrolling near Khiyam, a town in southern Lebanon. The following month, a French peacekeeper with UNIFIL lost his life while clearing unexploded ordnance left over from the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah.
Afghanistan also proved to be dangerous for UN staff, as a remote-controlled explosive device killed an Afghan driver and four Nepalese contractors working with the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) on April 17th. Meanwhile on December 2nd, a WFP truck driver was killed by armed men on the road from Kandahar to Helmand in the country’s south while delivering 14 tons of high-energy biscuits.
Last year also saw UN staff being arrested or detained in Darfur, Somalia and Myanmar.
Staff members of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) traveling in two vehicles clearly marked with the agency’s logo were abducted on April 30th while en route to making a routine visit to a refugee camp near the town of El Geneina, West Darfur. After an hours-long search, the six aid workers were found unharmed.
Also in Africa, the head of WFP’s Mogadishu office, Idris Osman, a Somali national, was taken away by dozens of armed Government forces on October 17th and released nearly a week later with no explanation given for either his arrest or his release.
In Myanmar, UNDP Programme Assistant Mynt Ngwe Mon, her husband and brother-in-law were arrested in the early hours of October 3rd in Rangoon and released the following day. On December 4th, the top UN official in the country, Charles Petrie, was expelled after an October 24th statement by the UN Country Team denouncing Myanmar’s "deteriorating humanitarian situation."
Here is a chronology of last year’s incidents, compiled by the Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service:
-- On January 10th a WFP driver, 28-year old Emmanuel Chaku Joseph of Sudan, is murdered during a roadside ambush when unknown gunmen open fire on his pick-up truck on the road between Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, and the town of Torit.
-- On January 26th, Mohan Singh Gurung, an Indian peacekeeper with the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), is shot dead by unidentified attackers when the demining team he is escorting comes under fire near Magwe, Southern Sudan. Two other UNMIS Indian peacekeepers are injured.
-- On April 17th, a remote-controlled explosive device is detonated in Kandahar City, Afghanistan, as a United Nations road convoy was passing. The blast claims the lives of an Afghan driver and four Nepalese contractors working with the United Nations Office for Project Services.
-- On May 8th, 38-year old Mr. Sadequllah, a driver for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is shot dead while on his way to work in Kandahar, Afghanistan, apparently by men on a motorbike.
-- On May 25th, Lieutenant Colonel Ehab Nazih, of Egypt, who was serving with UNMIS, is shot and killed in an armed robbery in El Fasher, Darfur region, Sudan, after three robbers break into his house.
-- On May 21st, Abdel Khalil Khalil, a schoolteacher working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Nahr El-Bared camp in Lebanon, is hit and killed by sniper fire.
-- On May 28th WFP truck driver 41-year old Richard Achuka, is shot and killed by gunmen who ambush four WFP trucks that had delivered food in Kotido District, in northeastern Uganda's Karamoja region.
-- On June 13th, two UNRWA staff members are killed while on duty in the Gaza Strip during gun battles between Hamas and Fatah. Abdullah Hossain Abu Ghail, a sanitation worker, is caught in the crossfire and dies while performing his duties in Khan Younis. Hassan Al-Laham, a social worker, is caught in the crossfire at Beach Camp and dies later in hospital. Two other UNRWA workers, a sanitation worker and a refuse truck driver, are also seriously injured.
-- On June 24th, six peacekeepers with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) are killed in a bomb attack while on patrol near the town of Khiyam in southern Lebanon. The victims are Jonathan Galea Garcia, Juan Carlos Villora Diaz and Manuel Portas Ruiz, of Spain; and Jefferson Vargas Moya, Jeison Castano Abadia and Jhon Posada Valencia, of Colombia. Two other peacekeepers are seriously wounded.
-- On July 25th, 39-year old Eric Lalloyeau, a French peacekeeper serving with UNIFIL, dies while clearing an unexploded ordnance left over from the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, while a UNIFIL team is clearing such ordnances in a valley south of Shama, southern Lebanon.
-- On October 12th, a WFP contract truck driver is shot dead on the road between the state capital, Nyala, and the city of El Fasher, capital of North Darfur; some 25 bags of grain are looted.
-- On October 16th, two WFP contract truck drivers are shot dead in South Darfur state on the road between the town of Ed Daien and the city of El Obeid, while they are returning to El Obeid after delivering supplies.
-- On December 2nd, Mr. Ezatollah, a WFP truck driver, is killed by armed men on the road from Kandahar to Helmand in southern Afghanistan while delivering 14 tons of high energy biscuits. The attackers steal the truck.
-- On December 6th, Mahmat Mahamadou, a UNHCR driver based at the Field Office in Danamadji, southern Chad, is attacked and shot dead while returning alone in a vehicle after delivering a staff member to a meeting point for transfer of staff.
-- On December 11th, 17 staff members are among the dozens killed in two car bomb attacks in Algiers. The first attack causes the collapse of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office, which also housed staff from other agencies, and damages the UNHCR office, across the street. The second explodes near the country’s Constitutional Court. The victims are Saadia Boucelham, UNDP; Samia Hammoutene, UNDP; Chadli Hamza, UNDP consultant; Mohamed Khelladi, UNDP consultant; Steven Olejas, UNDP; Hind Boukroufa, UNDP; Djamal Rezzoug, UNDP consultant; Abderrahim Hanniche, International Labour Organization (ILO); Mustapha Benbara, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); Kamel Sait, UNFPA; Adnane Souilah, UNFPA; Hakim Si Larbi, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); Gene Luna, WFP; Babacar Ndiaye, Department of Safety and Security; Karim Bentebal, UNHCR; Nabil Slimani, UNHCR; Mohamed Laseli, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Rescuers are able to pull two United Nations employees from under the rubble.
Other major incidents include:
-- On March 16th, masked gunmen ambush and open fire in the Gaza Strip on a three-vehicle United Nations convoy carrying UNRWA’s Gaza Field Office Director John Ging, shortly after it leaves the crossing point with Israel. A vehicle blocks the convoy about one kilometre to the south of the Erez crossing point. Three armed men jump out and try to open the doors of the convoy’s middle car, unsuccessfully. Then they open fire on the car, leaving 11 bullet holes in the side. Nobody is hurt and the convoy is able to safely reach UNRWA’s headquarters in Gaza City.
-- On April 30th, UNHCR staff members are travelling in two vehicles clearly marked with the UNHCR logo for a routine visit to a refugee camp south-west of the town of El Geneina, West Darfur, when unknown armed men hijack the vehicles and abduct six aid workers. After several hours of searching by the United Nations, the African Union Mission in Sudan and Government authorities, the staff members are found unharmed near Saraf Omra, east of Geneina, where they were brought by truck by the local population.
-- On October 3rd, UNDP Programme Assistant Mynt Ngwe Mon, 38, is arrested at 4 a.m. in her house in Rangoon, Myanmar, along with her husband and her brother-in-law. Her driver is also detained later in the morning at her residence. Are all released on 4 October.
-- On October 17th, up to 60 armed Government forces invade the United Nations compound in Mogadishu and take away Idris Osman, of Somalia, the head of the WFP Mogasdishu office. He is released on 23 October after nearly a week in detention. No explanation is given for his arrest and release.
-- On December 4th , Myanmar authorities expel Charles Petrie, the top United Nations official in the country, after a statement on October 24th by the United Nations Country Team that denounced the “deteriorating humanitarian situation” in Myanmar.
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