Year’s Fatalities Highest Number Ever Recorded by United Nations Staff Union
At least 71 United Nations and associated personnel — 53 peacekeepers and 18 civilians, including 2 police personnel and 15 contractors — were killed in malicious attacks in the line of duty during 2017, according to the Standing Committee for the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service of the United Nations Staff Union. The casualties in 2017 are the highest number ever recorded by the Committee.
In the past five years, at least 310 United Nations personnel have died in deliberate attacks.
For the fourth year in a row, the peacekeeping mission in Mali suffered the greatest loss of life with 21 peacekeepers and seven civilians killed.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, however, on 7 December, 15 peacekeepers from Tanzania were killed and 43 were injured in the worst attack on United Nations peacekeepers in the Organization’s recent history. At least five members of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s military were also killed in that attack. The death toll in that country was the highest for United Nations peacekeepers in a single incident since 1993, when 23 Blue Helmets were slain in Mogadishu, Somalia.
In other incidents in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2017, six civilians working for the United Nations were also killed. Elsewhere, 14 peacekeepers in the Central African Republic and 5 civilians with the United Nations in Cameroon were killed.
The peacekeepers killed in 2017 were from the United Republic of Tanzania (18), Chad (9), Morocco (7), Bangladesh (4), Cambodia (4), Guinea (4), Niger (4), Burkina Faso (1), Egypt (1), Liberia (1), Nigeria (1), Mauritania (1), Senegal (1) and Togo (1). The civilians killed were from Mali (7), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1), Nigeria (3), Cameroon (1), Kenya (1), Sweden (1) and the United States (1).
In 2016, at least 32 United Nations and associated personnel were killed in malicious attacks in the line of duty. The figures for preceding years are as follows: 2015 (51 killed); 2014 (61 killed); 2013 (58 killed); 2012 (37 killed).
The President of the United Nations Staff Union, Bibi Sherifa Khan said, “United Nations staff work in some of the most dangerous places in the world and in war zones where they often come under attack. Currently, we are facing dramatic cuts in the United Nations budget, including to United Nations peacekeeping operations. This is a dangerous situation for United Nations staff and for the important goals and objectives of the Organization. When the United Nations sends its staff to work in conflict zones, the Organization, along with Member States, has the responsibility to ensure that the necessary resources are provided. Furthermore, those who attack our colleagues must be brought to justice. In this regard, I welcome the Secretary-General’s appointment of Dimitry Titov to lead a special investigation into attacks on peacekeepers in the Beni territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including the attack that killed 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers there.”
Deliberate Attacks that Resulted in Death
Following is the list of deliberate attacks in 2017 that resulted in death, compiled by the Union’s Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service. The list is by no means exhaustive:
On 3 January, two peacekeepers from Morocco with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), Hicham el Aouzi and Mohamed el Azzabi, were killed in an attack on their convoy while escorting trucks transporting fuel about 60 kilometres west of the city of Obo. Two other peacekeepers were injured.
On 5 January, a peacekeeper from Bangladesh with MINUSCA, Abdur Rahim, was killed by an unidentified armed group of about 50 assailants while on duty as a driver escorting military observers in Bokayai, 25 kilometres south-west of Bocaranga, Ouham-Pende prefecture, in the Central African Republic.
On 23 January, one peacekeeper from Chad with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Moussa Dady Mahamat, was killed when several mortar shots hit the Mission’s camp in Aguelhok in the northern region of Kidal, Mali. Two other Blue Helmets were seriously wounded.
On 31 January, five experts with a United Nations technical monitoring team — a United Nations independent contractor from Kenya, Odhiambo Moses Oremo, three nationals from Nigeria, Zakari Bakare, Abdullahi Baffa and Ibrahim Garba Kougama, and one national from Cameroon, Daraoudaï Jakaou — were killed by an unknown armed group while conducting a field mission near the Cameroon town of Kontcha, near the border with Nigeria.
On 8 March, a MINUSCA police peacekeeper from Senegal, Waly Marone, died in Om Bangui as a result of a gun-shot wound received during an assault by unidentified perpetrators.
On 12 March, Michael Sharp, of the United States, and Zaida Catalán, of Sweden, two members of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a sanctions-monitoring body established by the Security Council, went missing in the Kasaï-Central province, along with four nationals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo: their interpreter, Beitu Tshintela, their driver, Isaac Kabuayi, and two motorbike drivers, whose identities are unknown. On 27 March, the remains of Ms. Catalán, Mr. Sharp and Ms. Tshintela were discovered outside the city of Kananga, Kasaï-Central province, by United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) peacekeepers. Ms. Catalán’s body was also found decapitated.
On 3 May, Ousmane Ansu Sherif, a MINUSMA peacekeeper from Liberia, was killed and nine others were injured when their camp came under a mortar or rocket attack in Timbuktu.
On 8 May, five MINUSCA peacekeepers lost their lives when their convoy was attacked by suspected Christian anti-Balaka elements near the village of Yogofongo, about 474 kilometres east of Bangui: Abdeljalil Ez-Zaitouni of Morocco, and Eng Mao, Norin Seang, Tola Mom and Im Som, of Cambodia. Ten peacekeepers — nine from Morocco and one from Cambodia — were also injured in the exchange of fire.
On 13 May, one MINUSCA peacekeeper from Morocco, Mbark Azyz, died of gunshot injuries in the south-eastern town of Bangassou when members of a wide coalition, including anti-Balaka elements, opened fire on civilians overnight, targeting, in particular, Muslims and killing several civilians. Despite heavy fire against MINUSCA’s field office, peacekeepers responded to the attack to protect civilians.
On 23 May, two MINUSMA peacekeepers from Chad, Adam Mahamat Wali and Adoum Issacka, were killed and another injured when a MINUSMA foot patrol was attacked in an ambush around 6:30 a.m., five kilometres from Aguelhok, in the northern Kidal region of Mali.
On 31 May, Remmy Amakwe of Nigeria, a peacekeeper with the African Union‑United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), was killed in an attack by an unidentified group in a carjacking incident in Nyala, South Darfur State, Sudan.
On 8 June, four MINUSMA peacekeepers from Guinea, Pépé Théoro, Soua Bonamou, Alseny Yary Conté and Ibrahima Sory Soumah, were killed in Kidal, Mali, when their camp was hit by intensive rocket and mortar fire. Eight other peacekeepers were injured in the attack.
On 23 July, a MINUSCA peacekeeper from Morocco, Hicham Amahrit, was killed and three others injured in an attack allegedly carried out by anti-Balaka militias in Bangassou.
On 25 July, two MINUSCA peacekeepers from Morocco, Mohamed Ait Said and Zaid Kabouz, were killed in an ambush in Bangassou by suspected anti-Balaka fighters. Another peacekeeper was injured.
On 14 August, a peacekeeper from Togo, Massamaesso Tangaou, and a soldier from Mali, Baba Abdoulaye, both with MINUSMA, were killed in an attack by unidentified armed assailants on their camp in the town of Douenza, Mopti region. Another peacekeeper was injured.
On 14 August, unidentified gunmen attacked MINUSMA headquarters in Timbuktu, killing a contractor, five security guards and a member of the gendarmerie, all from Mali. A security guard and six peacekeepers, also from Mali, were wounded.
On 5 September, two MINUSMA peacekeepers from Chad, Abdelkerim Mahamat Dahab and Moussa Oumar Ali, were killed in Mali when their vehicle collided with a mine or explosive device about 15 kilometres from Aguelhok, Kidal region. Two other peacekeepers were seriously injured.
On 17 September, a MONUSCO peacekeeper from the United Republic of Tanzania, Mussa Jumanne Muryery, was killed and another injured in an attack in Mamundioma, North Kivu province, by presumed Allied Democratic Forces, against a position of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo located 500 metres from the MONUSCO base.
On 24 September, three MINUSMA peacekeepers from Bangladesh, Altaf Hossin, Zakirul Alam Sarkar and Monowar Hossain, were killed when their convoy hit an explosive device while travelling in the Gao region of northern Mali. Four other peacekeepers were seriously injured.
On 9 October, two MONUSCO peacekeepers from the United Republic of Tanzania, Marcelino Pascal Fubusa and Venams Moses Chibon, were killed and 18 injured in an attack on their base in Mamundioma by suspected Allied Democratic Forces.
On 26 October, three MINUSMA peacekeepers from Chad, Abdoulaye Ali Abderassoul, Ndonodji Issackar Laysam and Nadjibaye Jacob Djibiya, were killed and two injured in an attack by explosive device against their logistic convoy travelling from Tessalit to Aguelhok in Mali's northern Kidal region. A fourth peacekeeper from Chad, Djimadoum Adda Faustin, died of his wounds on 21 November.
On 24 November, four MINUSMA peacekeepers — Dianda Poureguen from Burkina Faso and Hassane Mouctarou, Kando Tinni and Mainassara Issoufou from Niger — and a member of the Mali’s armed forces, were killed and 21 others wounded in the attacks, including a MINUSMA civilian contractor in an attack against a MINUSMA convoy north of Douentza, Mopti region. A fifth peacekeeper, Boubakar Djibo Wahidou of the Niger, died of his wounds on 29 November.
On 26 November, a MINUSCA peacekeeper from Egypt, Abdelnaser Mostafa Rabab Abdelhamid, was killed and three others injured in an attack against their convoy, allegedly by the anti-Balaka group, near Gambo, Mbomou prefecture, in south Central African Republic.
On 4 December, a MINUSCA police officer from Mauritania, Beilil Issa, was killed in Bria, Central African Republic, in an attack by heavily armed anti‑Balaka elements. Three other police peacekeepers — two from Mauritania and one from Zambia — were injured in the attack, which occurred at a MINUSCA police checkpoint at the entrance of a camp for 35,000 internally displaced people.
On 7 December, 15 MONUSCO peacekeepers from the United Republic of Tanzania were killed when their company operating base at Semuliki, Beni territory, North Kivu, was attacked by suspected members of the Allied Democratic Forces. Five soldiers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo were also killed and 43 peacekeepers injured in the attack. One peacekeeper remains missing. The peacekeepers killed were: Juma Mossi Ali, Mwinchum Vuai Mohamed, Pascal Jonas Misingo, Nassor Daud Iddi, Iddi, Abdalla Ali, Hamadi Mzee Kamna, Saleh Said Mahembano, Samwell Fabian Chenga, Shazil Nandonde Khatibu, Hassan Abdallah Makame, Hamad Haji Bakar, Deograsias Kamili Rashidi, Issa Mussa Juma, Ali Haji Ussi and Saleh Issa.
Many other United Nations personnel paid with their lives while serving the Organization due to accidents, critical security incidents and other causes. At least 45 peacekeepers succumbed to illness while at least 15 died in accidents; the cause of death of five peacekeepers is yet to be determined and three civilian personnel remain missing.