Thursday, January 05, 2006

Attacks on UN workers up in 2005

Reuter's carries a story on a report from the UN staff union that attacks on UN workers around the world were up significantly in 2005, here. I discuss the general problem of UN neutrality and values in this Harvard Human Rights Journal article, from 2004, here. From Reuter's:

2005 sees big jump in attacks on UN staff

January 5, 2006

Attacks on U.N. peacekeepers and civilian staff rose sharply in 2005, causing at least 32 deaths compared with 19 in 2004, the U.N. staff union reported on Thursday.

There were at least 23 attacks on U.N. personnel during the year, a significant increase over the 13 recorded in 2004, staff union president Rosemarie Waters said.

Peacekeeping troops and international police officers working in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo were the most frequent targets.

But incidents last year targeted many civilians as well, including two U.N. agency staffers shot dead in Nairobi, another died of stab wounds in Kabul, a second Kabul staffer killed in an explosion at an Internet cafe, and a staff member of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees killed by gunfire in the West Bank.

Other U.N. civilian targets included a security officer shot and killed in the Somali port city of Kismayo, an employee of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda killed in Arusha, Tanzania, a World Health Organization staff member killed in an explosion in Burao, Somalia, and a U.N. Development Program employee stabbed to death in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

"These incidents once again serve as a tragic reminder of the innumerable risks undertaken daily by United Nations staff across the globe," said staff union official Guy Canduso.

They also offered fresh evidence that the blue and white U.N. flag is no longer seen universally as a symbol of neutrality, he added.

The flag's symbolic value was dealt a devastating blow in 2003 by two bombings of U.N. offices in Baghdad, including one that killed 22 people.

It is up to the U.N. member-state where an attack occurred to track down and prosecute those responsible, but too few perpetrators are now brought to justice "to end the current situation of impunity," Waters said.

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