|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Attacks against United Nations Personnel Claim at Least 26 Lives in 2012
as Abductions, Detention of Personnel on Duty Continue
At least 26 United Nations personnel — 9 civilians and 17 peacekeepers, 2 of them police officers — were killed in the line of duty during 2012, the United Nations Staff Union said today. One consultant and four helicopter crew members working for the Organization also lost their lives.
The bloodiest incidents were the 8 June attack in which seven peacekeepers were killed in Côte d’Ivoire and the attack on 2 October that left four peacekeepers dead in West Darfur, Sudan. At least five civilians were killed during the conflict in Syria, nine peacekeepers in Darfur, six of them in West Darfur, and one civilian in Southern Kordofan, Sudan, bringing to 10 the number of fatalities in that country.
Many more peacekeepers were wounded, as were civilian personnel, and several staff members were kidnapped, some of them held for long periods. Two Jordanian peacekeepers were in captivity for 136 days, and a World Food Programme (WFP) staff member for 86 days.
In 2011, at least 35 United Nations personnel were killed in the line of duty, according to the Staff Union — 25 civilians, 9 peacekeepers and a military adviser. Four security guards working for the Organization were also killed. In 2010, at least 7 civilian staff members, 10 peacekeepers and a number of civilians working as United Nations contractors or implementing partners lost their lives as a result of acts of violence.
“It is sad to realize how many colleagues died or were wounded or kidnapped during the year while bringing peace, providing food and shelter and building the capacity of local populations,” said Staff Union President Barbara Tavora-Jainchill. “The United Nations exists to do good, to improve the lives of human beings in need throughout the world, and unfortunately United Nations staff members are more and more often targets of violent acts,” she added. “We ask Governments to do their utmost to protect those men and women. We ask the Secretary-General to provide staff members with safer conditions of work. We will continue to go everywhere to do our jobs, but in order to do so our safety has to be taken into account by all parties. We count.”
Not included in the total are United Nations personnel killed by friendly fire. One national civilian staff member was killed by a peacekeeper in Abyei on 13 November and another was injured. Four peacekeepers were killed and one injured in West Darfur on 20 December when a peacekeeper opened fire on his fellow peacekeepers.
Following is a list of deadly incidents, according to the Staff Union and its Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service:
— Sunday Afolayan, a Nigerian peacekeeper with the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), was killed on 21 January in an ambush by an unidentified group while on patrol near Saleah, Eastern Darfur, Sudan. Three other peacekeepers were wounded.
— Birabi Nkpara of Nigeria, 39, a peacekeeper serving with UNAMID, was killed on 29 February when unidentified gunmen ambushed a patrol near the town of Shearia, South Darfur, Sudan. Three other peacekeepers were injured.
— Muhammad Zahid Iqbal, 32, a community development marketing facilitator, and his driver, Habibullah, staff members of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), were shot dead on 29 Marchby unknown gunmen on motorcycles who opened fire on their vehicle while travelling from Quetta to Mastung, Pakistan. Another FAO staff member was wounded.
— A UNAMID police patrol from Togo was attacked on 20 Aprilby unidentified gunmen near the Sisi internally displaced persons camp, West Darfur, Sudan. Four peacekeepers were wounded, one of whom, police officer Bohonyake Tchalo, died of his wounds on 21 April.
— Seven peacekeepers from Niger serving with the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) were killed on 8 Junein an attack by unidentified armed elements while on patrol near the town of Tai in the south-west of the country, along the border with Liberia. They were Abdou Zoranto Aboubacar, 26; Hassane Amadou Sanda, 39; Sahabi Dan Sanda, 49; Djibo Haboubacar, 27; Mounkaila Housseini, 32; Mahamane Mahamadou, 41; and Na-Allah Soumaila, 27.
— Krishan Kumar, an Indian peacekeeper with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), was killed on 5 Julyin crossfire between the Congolese armed forces and the M23 rebel group in the town of Bunagana, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
— Abdul Aziz Mahmoud Hamouiyeh, 39, a teacher working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), was killed by a bullet on 17 July in Damascus, Syria.
— Jamal Al Fadil Farag Allah, 56, a Sudanese national working for WFP, was killed on 4 August while driving fellow staff member Saad Yousif when two unknown armed assailants attacked their vehicle near Hilat Yatu, Southern Kordofan, Sudan.
— Azgar Ali of Bangladesh, a UNAMID police officer, was killed on 12 August in Nyala, South Darfur, when a gang surrounded and fired on staff in the mission's community policing centre in the Otash camp for internally displaced persons. Another officer was injured.
— Yassin Mohamed Hassan, 32, a Somali national working for FAO, was killed on 27 Augustin an attack by an armed group in Merka, southern Somalia, while overseeing the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure.
— Jihad Husein Suleiman, 28, a UNRWA school attendant, was struck and killed by a single bullet in the chest on 9 Septemberwhile on his way to catch a bus from Yarmouk, outside Damascus, to his workplace.
— Hussam Humeidan, 35, a UNRWA teacher at Qalqilya School in Husseinieh, Damascus, died on 28 Septemberwhen he was caught in crossfire at a checkpoint near his home in Seyyida Zeinab, rural Damascus.
— Four UNAMID peacekeepers from Nigeria — Jibrin Sanusi, John Inalegwu, Shawai Abdullahi and Samaila Sarki — were killed on 2 Octoberwhen their patrol came under heavy fire from several directions in an ambush by unidentified assailants some two kilometres from the mission’s regional headquarters in El Geneina, West Darfur. Eight other peacekeepers were wounded.
— Vincent van der Walt, 23, a South African peacekeeper serving with UNAMID, was killed on 17 October in an ambush when a mission convoy came under fire from unidentified assailants while on its way from the town of Kutum to the town of Hashaba North, West Darfur. Two other peacekeepers were wounded.
— A UNRWA teacher, Rehab Awadallah, 45, and her niece lost their lives on 4 November when a shell exploded near them in the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus.
— Marwan Abu El Qumsan, a UNRWA teacher in his early 50s, was killed on 13 November by an Israeli air strike in northern Gaza while in a car near the scene of the air strike. His brother was severely injured.
In addition, Nermeen Gomaa Khalil, 41, an Egyptian woman working as a consultant for UN-Women, was fatally shot in the head on 12 February by unidentified gunmen passing in another car while she was driving through an upscale Cairo neighbourhood.
On 21 December, four Russian crew members of a helicopter contracted by the United Nations — pilot Sergei Ilin, co-pilot Alfir Abrakov, flight engineer Sergei Egorov and flight attendant Nikolai Shpanov — were killed when the aircraft was shot down in eastern South Sudan by that nation’s armed forces.
Several more staff members were wounded in the following incidents, among others: a staff member was shot on 1 February near Juba, Sudan; two UNAMID police officers shot on 24 February in East Darfur; six Indian MONUSCO peacekeepers and their interpreter ambushed and wounded on 16 October near Buganza, Democratic Republic of the Congo; two MONUSCO peacekeepers injured on 12 November in the crossfire during clashes between the Congolese army and Mai-Mai elements, west of Pinga, Democratic Republic of the Congo; and four members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) wounded when their convoy came under fire on 29 November near Damascus International Airport.
Unknown gunmen on 7 July attacked a group of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) workers on a field trip to vaccinate children against poliomyelitis in the town of Karam Qol, northern Afghanistan, injuring the head of the UNICEF mission in Faryab. On 17 July, a Ghanaian physician working as a consultant for the UNICEF/World Health Organization (WHO) polio eradication campaign and his driver were injured in Karachi, Pakistan, after men on two motorcycles attacked their vehicle. At least six people working on the campaign were shot dead in Pakistan on 17 December, and two others were shot and killed on 19 December.
United Nations staff members continued to be abducted during the year, including the following, among others:
— Two Jordanian peacekeepers kidnapped on 21 August in Kabkabiya, North Darfur. They were released in Zalingei, Central Darfur, on 2 January 2013, after 136 days in captivity.
— A British logistics expert with WFP, kidnapped with his Sudanese driver on 6 March in Nyala, South Darfur, by unknown armed men. The kidnappers subsequently released the driver and the logistician was freed on 30 May after 86 days in captivity.
— A 34-year-old Norwegian working for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) kidnapped on 12 Januaryby armed tribesmen in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, and released on 27 January in Marib, 173 kilometres east of Sana’a.
— Four international staff of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) — a Colombian man, a German man, an Iraqi woman and a Palestinian woman, as well as two local drivers — kidnapped on 21 January by armed tribesmen in Wadi Ahjar, some 50 kilometres north-west of Sana’a, and released on 1 February.
— Forty-nine peacekeepers of a UNAMID patrol kidnapped by more than 100 rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement on 19 February and detained for a few hours in the village of Shegeg Tova, north-western Darfur. The rebels detained three civilian staff until 21 February.
Violations of Independence
Violations of the independence of United Nations personnel continued throughout the year. On 6 February, the Secretary-General’s Executive Representative in Sierra Leone, Michael von der Schulenburg, had to leave the country at the Government’s request. South Sudan expelled a United Nations senior human rights officer on 25 October. Throughout the year, there were several instances of restrictions on staff movement, including investigations and patrols.
Sudan detained two peacekeepers of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in February for accidentally crossing the border. On 28 April it arrested four demining personnel — a United Nations staff member and three contractors — detaining them until 20 May. In Ethiopia, local security assistant Yusuf Mohammed, and Abdurahman Sheikh Hassan, a staff member of the Department of Safety and Security, were detained for months without charge. The latter was sentenced on 22 June to seven years in prison for communicating with what the authorities called a terrorist group. Four Myanmar nationals working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and two working for WFP were detained in June. Two were sentenced in August and the others released.
Meanwhile, 103 Member States have still not ratified the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, and 175 have still not ratified its Optional Protocol, adopted in 2005.
* *** *For information media • not an official record