23 March 2006
Press Release
Note No. 6000

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Note to Correspondents




To draw attention to the staff members who have been arrested, detained, abducted or “disappeared” while in the service of the United Nations, the twenty-first annual International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members, 25 March 2006, will be observed on Friday, 24 March.

The Day marks the abduction by armed men, in 1985, near Beirut Airport, of Alec Collett, on assignment for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).  The fate of Mr. Collett, a former journalist and Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Ghana, has never been determined.

This year, the observance will be marked with the distribution of lapel pins, intended to highlight the importance of staff safety and security.  Jan Eliasson, President of the United Nations General Assembly, will accept the first pin that day from Elaine Collett in a brief ceremony at United Nations Headquarters at 12:30 p.m.

The pins will be made available during the day in the Secretariat lobby to all members of the United Nations community.  With the pins, there will be a reminder to consider giving a donation to the Scholarship Fund of the Coordinating Committee for International Staff Unions and Associations of the United Nations System (CCISUA), which benefits the children of those killed in the service of the United Nations.

At least 43 staff members of the United Nations family of organizations are under arrest or detention or are missing, according to the Secretary-General’s latest report on the issue.  In February, 27 national staff working for the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) were arrested by the Eritrean authorities for varying durations, and in March militia groups kidnapped two staff members in Somalia.

The annual observance of the Day is organized by the Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service and the United Nations Staff Union.

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For information media • not an official record