3 January 2012 United Nations staff members have become primary targets of attacks by terrorists and insurgents around the globe, the world body’s Staff Union warned today as it paid tribute to those colleagues killed while serving with the Organization in 2011.
According to the Staff Union, 35 UN personnel – 25 civilians, nine peacekeepers and a military officer – were killed in 2011, along with four security guards working for the Organization. The number represents an increase in the death-toll from attacks on UN staff members compared with the previous year, when 15 UN personnel were killed.
“Enough is enough,” said UN Staff Union President Barbara Tavora-Jainchill. “One life lost is one life too many. The security and safety of United Nations premises and staff have to be taken more seriously, more funds must be made available for that purpose and decisions regarding security of staff should be independent of any economic or political consideration,” she added, noting the Staff Union would continue to lobby for the safety of UN staff members worldwide.
The three worst attacks against UN personnel in 2011 occurred in Afghanistan and Nigeria – two countries where the world body maintains a significant presence.
On 1 April, a large crowd of Afghan demonstrators angry at the burning of a copy of the Koran by a United States group stormed the UN compound in Mazar-i-Sharif and killed three UN staff and four Nepalese guards. Many staff were wounded, including the head of UNAMA’s office in the city. On 31 October, three Afghan employees of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were killed and two others wounded when suicide bombers and gunmen attacked their compound in Kandahar.
In addition to those killings, on 26 August a car bombing at the UN complex in the Nigerian capital of Abuja claimed the lives of 13 staff members. Hundreds of personnel from 26 different UN agencies and entities were in the UN building when the bomber struck.
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