|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
2007 ‘ONE OF DEADLIEST YEARS’ FOR UNITED NATIONS PERSONNEL, STAFF UNION SAYS;
AT LEAST 9 PEACEKEEPERS, 33 CIVILIAN STAFF MEMBERS KILLED DURING YEAR
NEW YORK, 2 January (United Nations Staff Union) -- At least 42 United Nations staff members were killed on duty in 2007, according to the Staff Union’s Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service, with the killing of 17 staff members in Algiers on 11 December capping off one of the deadliest years ever.
“While we mourn our colleagues and the other civilians killed, we cannot but stress the need for prevention and punishment,” said Staff Union President Stephen Kisambira. “Prevention is the task of the Department of Safety and Security, but especially of Member States. Those responsible for such heinous acts must be sought and brought to justice by Member States, who are responsible for national security. Very seldom are perpetrators prosecuted, perpetuating the climate of impunity.”
Six peacekeepers were killed in a bomb attack in southern Lebanon on 24 June. Other incidents, from Sudan to Uganda and from Afghanistan to the Gaza Strip, claimed the lives of at least three other peacekeepers and 33 civilian staff members. Four truck drivers delivering supplies for the World Food Programme (WFP) were killed in three separate incidents in Sudan. In addition, several staff members were arrested or abducted.
Here is a chronology of last year’s incidents, compiled by the Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service:
-- On 10 January, WFP driver Emmanuel Chaku Joseph, 28, 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 26 January, 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 17 April, 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 8 May, Mr. Sadequllah, 38, 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 25 May, 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 21 May, 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 28 May, WFP truck driver Richard Achuka, 41, 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 13 June, 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 24 June, 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 25 July, Eric Lalloyeau, 39, 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 12 October, 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 16 October, 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 2 December, 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 6 December, 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 11 December, 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 16 March, 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 30 April, 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 3 October, 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 17 October, 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 4 December, Myanmar authorities expel Charles Petrie, the top United Nations official in the country, after a statement on 24 October by the United Nations Country Team that denounced the “deteriorating humanitarian situation” in Myanmar.
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