UN says at least 35 staffers killed in 2009 hostile action

10:26, January 06, 2010      

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At least 35 staffers and peacekeepers were killed in hostile action in 2009, a United Nations Staff Union committee said here on Tuesday.

The toll did not list the death of Alex Collett, a staff member of the UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees, whose remains were found in Lebanon in November 2009. He had been abducted 24 years earlier and his fate was unknown until his remains were discovered.

The Committee for the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service in 2009 tallied "at least 28" civilian staff deaths due to acts of violence and the deaths of seven peacekeepers, including six killed in Sudan's Darfur region in three separate incidents and a seventh, the deputy force commander in Sudan who was shot dead by unknown gunmen as he was riding in a military vehicle while on home leave in Pakistan.

A union spokesperson, Guy Canduso, told Xinhua that reports invariably come in later in the year listing additional deaths so the figures reported on Tuesday were regarded as preliminary.

"Once again, United Nations personnel had to pay with their lives for their effort to assist populations in distress," said UN Staff Union President Stephen Kisambira.

"A particularly disturbing trend continued last year: deliberate attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Darfur to intimidate and undermine the United Nations," Kisambira said. "It is frustrating that hardly has anyone responsible been brought to account."

The 35 killed last year compared with 34 UN personnel killed in2008 down from the 42 counted in 2007 and which included 17 from the bombing of UN premises in Algiers.

Last year, 18 civilian staff members were killed in separate incidents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the committee said. Another five working for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) were killed during Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip in January 2009.

All tolled, two-thirds of the civilian personnel were local hires or national staff members, as opposed to international staff assigned from various UN posts outside the country where the slayings occurred.

Source: Xinhua

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