New York, Jan 10 (IANS/WAM) Working for the UN became more dangerous last year, the world body’s staff union warned Friday, noting that at least 58 personnel were targeted by terrorists and insurgents.
The highest number of casualties occurred in attacks targeting the UN in South Sudan, Somalia, and in the Darfur region of Sudan, according to figures released Friday by the UN Staff Union’s Standing Committee for the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service.
It found that 58 UN personnel, including 33 peacekeepers and 25 civilians and associated personnel, were killed in 2013 while working for the organisation. The number represents an increase in the death toll from attacks on UN staff members compared to the previous year when 37 UN personnel were killed.
Among the horrific assaults was the killing of 12 people associated with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) during an ambush April 9, 2013, in Jonglei state.
The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in New York said about 30 peacekeepers were escorting a civilian convoy when they were ambushed by some 200 armed, unidentified men near the settlement of Gumuruk. The firefight that followed claimed the lives of five Indian peacekeepers, two national staff and five contractors.
Overall, 16 peacekeepers were killed in Darfur, seven in South Sudan, four in Mali and four in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UN Staff Union reported.
In addition, five civilian staff members, four of them working for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), were killed in Syria.
The Staff Union’s overview comes just months after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to member states and host governments to support all measures of safety and security to improve the operational environment for UN personnel and humanitarian workers.