In a document submitted on Friday in New York City to the United Nations General Assembly which reported an increase of security incidents against UN personnel working in the field in dangerous regions, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on member nations hosting UN personnel to “redouble their efforts” to ensure greater safety for these men and women.
“United Nations personnel serve courageously in the most dangerous places in the world, performing duties essential to the restoration and maintenance of human dignity and development,” the report from the Secretary General noted. It continued, “Their safety and security is the Secretary-General’s highest priority.”
According to the report, the current state of warfare with suicide bombings, random shootings and improvised explosive devices has made working in such locations more difficult and increasingly dangerous for UN personnel.
In 2012 there were 1,793 security incidents against UN personnel, with 387 of those being serious incidents involving death, injury or abduction. These numbers were up sharply from 2009 (257) and 2010 (268), though down from 2011 (402). However, the 2011 numbers included a plane crash in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which killed 32 and the car bombing at a UN building in Abuja, Nigeria killing 18.
The report noted of key concern was the sharp increase in abductions from 2011 (21) to 2012 (31) which appears to be continuing with the first half of 2013 (15) matching approximately half of the 2012 total.
Twelve of the 15 individuals abducted in 2013 were working in Syria.
Of particular attention Ban noted that locally recruited staff members are at a greater risk. The majority of UN field personnel are recruited locally. He urged that greater steps be taken to protect these individuals.
“On behalf of all United Nations personnel, the Secretary-General wishes to express his deepest appreciation to Member States for their continued support to and engagement with the Department of Safety and Security. The Secretary-General is confident that Member States and the United Nations system will continue to take the necessary steps to strengthen security management. The Secretary-General requests all Member States that have not already done so to ratify or accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel."