8 January 2014
INCREASE IN DEADLY ATTACKS AGAINST THE UNITED NATIONS
CLAIMED AT LEAST 58 LIVES IN 2013
Working for the UN became more hazardous last year, with at least 58 persons losing their life in deliberate attacks. According to the Standing Committee for the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service of the United Nations Staff Union, 33 peacekeepers and 25 civilians and associated personnel were killed in 2013. The civilian fatalities included nine staff members, four security officers and 12 contractors working on behalf of the Organization.
In 2012, 37 United Nations personnel — 20 civilians and 17 peacekeepers, two of them police officers — were killed in the line of duty. In 2011, 36 personnel — 26 civilians, nine peacekeepers and a military adviser — were killed.
The highest number of fatalities in 2013 occurred in the ambush on 9 April in which five peacekeepers, two national staff and five contractors were killed; in the attack in Mogadishu on 19 June, in which one United Nations staff member, three contractors and four security officers were killed; and in the attack in Darfur, the Sudan, on 13 July, in which eight peacekeepers were killed.
Sixteen peacekeepers were killed in Darfur, seven in South Sudan, four in Mali and four in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Five civilian staff members, four of them working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), were killed in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Following is an overview of deadly incidents in 2013, according to the Staff Union Standing Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service (the list may not be exhaustive):
— Nasri Khalil Hasan, a mathematics teacher with UNRWA, was hit on 13 March by shrapnel from a nearby explosion in Khan Eshieh camp, 27 kilometres from Damascus, Syria, during an intense armed engagement. He was rushed to a hospital and died of his wounds on 14 March.
— Thirty-two peacekeepers with United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), who were escorting a United Nations convoy, were ambushed on 9 April by some 200 attackers — some armed with rocket-propelled grenades — near the settlement of Gumuruk, Jonglei State, South Sudan. Five peacekeepers, two UNMISS national staff and five civilian contract employees — four Kenyans and one South Sudanese — were killed in the ambush. The peacekeepers were Mahipal Singh, Shiv Kumar Pal, Heera Lal, Bharat Sasmal and Nand Joshi. The national staff members were driver Yumana Deng and vehicle mechanic Peter Makwe Kiko.
-- In the early morning hours of 19 April, a Nigerian peacekeeper of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Aminu Ibrahim, was shot dead and two others were injured in an attack by unidentified assailants on the Mission’s team site near Muhajeria, East Darfur state.
— An Ethiopian peacekeeper of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), Genetu Woldegebriel, was killed and two were seriously wounded on 4 May in an attack by an assailant on a UNISFA convoy in the Abyei Area, which is contested by Sudan and South Sudan.
— A military convoy of the United Nations Organization Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) was ambushed by unidentified assailants on 7 May while travelling from Walungu to Bukavu, South Kivu province, eastern DRC. A Pakistani peacekeeper, Tanveer Hussain, was killed.
— Shelling on 14 June on the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism interim headquarters in Kadugli, South Kordofan state, the Sudan, which served as a logistics base for UNISFA, killed a UNISFA peacekeeper from Ethiopia, Mesert Nrea, and wounded two others. The shelling was reportedly carried out by elements of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).
— A vehicle rigged with explosives was detonated outside the gate of the United Nations Common Compound in Mogadishu on 19 June, and attackers then entered on foot. Gunfire and further explosions followed, as staff took refuge in secure areas. Among the victims were Rita Wairimu Muchucha, of Kenya, a Somalia operations manager of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); three United Nations demining contractors — two South Africans, Morne Lotter, 42, and Alan Simpson, 35, and a Somali, Isak Mohammed Osmani; and four Somali security officers who defended the compound — Ibarhim Addow Alasow, Siciid Mohamed Hussein, Abdulkadir Abshir Mohamed and Dahir Abdulle Moallim. Thirteen other people were also killed, including six civilians and seven al-Shabab attackers.
— A joint UNAMID patrol was ambushed on 13 July in South Darfur, approximately 25 kilometres west of the Mission’s Khor Abeche team site, and came under heavy fire from a large unidentified group. The peacekeepers were outnumbered four to one by their attackers who number between 100 and 150 and had trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns. Following an extended firefight, the patrol was extracted by UNAMID reinforcements. Seven Tanzanian military peacekeepers were killed: Shaibu Shehe Othuman, Oswald Chaula, Mohamed Ally, Mohamed Chukilizo Mpandana, Rodney Ndunguru, Photunatus Msofe and Peter Werema. Seventeen others were wounded. Another peacekeeper, John Sesay, a police advisor from Sierra Leone, who was seriously injured by bullet wounds, died on 30 September.
— Muhannad Husein Ishmawi, 39, a school attendant with UNRWA, sustained serious head injuries on 14 July when a shell exploded in Palestine Street in Yarmouk, Syria. He was rushed to a hospital in Damascus where he died of his injuries.
— Khatibu Shaaban Mshindo, a Tanzanian peacekeeper with MONUSCO, was killed and 10 others were wounded on 28 August in eastern DRC during an attack against the 23 March Movement (M23) rebel group, as the M23 directed artillery fire on a United Nations position north of Goma. The attack occurred as MONUSCO supported action by the Congolese armed forces to push the M23 off the heights from where they had been shelling Goma. One of the wounded Tanzanian peacekeepers, Hugo Munga, died on 18 September.
— A UNAMID military observer from Zambia, Alfred Banda, died on 11 October in El Fasher, North Darfur, following an attack by armed men who stabbed him and hijacked his vehicle.
— Three UNAMID peacekeepers from Senegal — Thierno Mbaye, Issa Faye and Mamadou Ndiaye — who were escorting a water convoy from El Geneina town to the Mission’s regional headquarters in West Darfur, were killed and one injured on 13 October, when the convoy was ambushed by an unidentified armed group.
— A suicide bomber on 23 October drove an explosive-laden vehicle to a checkpoint of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) at the entry to the northern town of Tessalit, killing two Chadian peacekeepers, Mbatssou Zigalaouna Hournou and Zakaria Bechir Ahmat, and injuring six others. Two other people were killed, including a child.
— A MONUSCO peacekeeper, Rajabu Ahmed Mlima, of Tanzania, was killed and another injured on 27 October after coming under fire from the M23 in Kiwanja, eastern DRC. The attacks occurred as MONUSCO supported action carried out by Congolese armed forces to protect civilians on the Kiwanja-Rutshuru axis, 25 kilometres north of Goma.
— An UNDOF national staff member, Sami Khaled Issa, was killed on 4 November by mortar shrapnel on the outskirts of Damascus.
— A UNAMID convoy came under attack by unknown armed people on 24 November on the road from Kabkabiya to Saraf Umra, North Darfur. A Rwandan peacekeeper, Christian Ruhara, was shot during the assault and succumbed to his injuries in the Mission’s hospital in Kabkabiya.
— Mohammad Suheil Yousef Awwad, 40, a UNRWA maintenance technician, was killed on 24 November in Damascus when a mortar shell struck his vehicle, also killing three other passengers.
— On 2 December, Suzan Ghazazweh, 57, a UNRWA teacher, died when a shell struck her home in Dera’a, southwestern Syria.
— A car bomb attack on 14 December in the north-eastern Malian town of Kidal killed two MINUSMA blue helmets from Senegal, Ousmane Fall and Cheikh Tidiane Sarr, leaving several others injured. The car bomb attack occurred early in the day as MINUSMA and Malian troops were jointly securing a bank in downtown Kidal. The power of the explosion caused the collapse of the building and damaged the facades of surrounding buildings.
— Two UNMISS Indian Battalion troops, Subedar K. P. Singh and Subedar Dharmesh Sangwan, were killed in action and one was injured on 19 December in Akobo, South Sudan, following an assault on a UNMISS base.
— A national staff member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Abdon Doewiss Ningha, was killed on 24 December in the Central African Republic.
— Two UNAMID peacekeepers (police), Talal Al Rjoub, of Jordan, and Allou Ka, of Senegal, were killed on 29 December in an armed attack by unidentified assailants on a UNAMID convoy near Greida, South Darfur.
Abductions and illegal detentions
Abductions of United Nations personnel continued throughout the year, mostly in relation with the conflict in Syria:
— An international staff member of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was abducted on 17 February in the demilitarized zone separating Israel and Syria. He was released on 17 October — eight months after his capture.
— On 6 March approximately 30 armed fighters of the Syrian opposition stopped and detained 21 UNDOF observers from the Philippines on a supply mission within the Area of Limitation, east of the B-Line. The observers were released on 9 March.
— Four UNDOF peacekeepers from the Philippines monitoring the ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights were held on 7 May by armed elements of the Syrian opposition in the vicinity of Al Jamla; they were released on 12 May.
— A group of armed elements of the Syrian opposition on 15 May broke into a United Nations observation post in the Golan Heights and detained for several hours three military observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization’s (UNTSO) Observer Group Golan.
— A Russian-made Mi-8 helicopter of a UNAMID contractor, tasked with delivering supplies to various UNAMID locations in South Darfur, made an emergency landing on 3 August due to severe weather conditions. The helicopter landed at about 50 kilometres south-east of Nyala, South Darfur state. Rebels from the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minawi detained the crew, which included one Sudanese and two Ukrainians, releasing them on 27 August.
— At least 16 United Nations and associated personnel were detained in Syria, and three remained missing at the end of the year.
Helicopter crashes continued in 2013. On 9 March, a Mi-8 AMT helicopter contracted by MONUSCO crashed around 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the regional capital, Bukavu, killing the four Russian crewmembers — Vladimir Safonov, Alexander Sarafanov, Alexander Bessmertny and Yevgeny Nikitin. Helicopter crashes in Ethiopia and Darfur caused injuries.
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