Thursday, January 25, 2018

2017 becomes deadliest year for UN personnel: union

Seventy-one UN staff and contractors were killed in line of duty in 2017, making it the deadliest year ever for personnel of the world body, said the United Nations Staff Union on Wednesday.

In the past year, 53 peacekeepers and 18 civilians were killed, the highest toll ever recorded by the union's committee for the security and independence of its members.

The figure is a significant increase over the death toll in 2016, when 32 UN staff and associated personnel lost their lives in line of duty.

At least 310 UN personnel have died in deliberate attacks in the past five years, said the union.

For the fourth year in a row, the peacekeeping mission in Mali suffered the greatest loss of life with 21 blue helmets and seven civilians being killed.

The attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Dec. 7, 2017, which resulted in 15 deaths and 43 injuries, was the worst single attack on UN peacekeepers since 1993.

"United Nations staff work in some of the most dangerous places in the world and in war zones where they often come under attack," said Bibi Sherifa Khan, president of the UN Staff Union.

"Currently we are facing dramatic cuts in the UN budget, including (cuts) to the UN peacekeeping operations. This is a dangerous situation for UN staff and for the important goals and objectives of the organization," she said.

She demanded that the perpetrators in the attacks against UN personnel be brought to justice.

An official report of the United Nations said 56 UN peacekeepers were killed in 2017, the highest fatalities through violent acts in over two decades.

Since 2013, 195 blue helmets have been killed by acts of violence, more than during any other five-year periods in history, according to the report released on Monday.

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