Photo: United Nations Peacekeeping helps countries torn by conflict while creating conditions for lasting peace. Credit: United Nations. - Photo: 2023

UN Peacekeepers Victims of Continued Deadly Attacks

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS (IDN) — The UN’s peacekeepers, described as one of the most hazardous jobs at the United Nations, routinely risk their lives either in ongoing military conflicts or in post-conflict war zones.

According to figures released by the UN Staff Union on January 20, at least 32 UN peacekeeping personnel—28 military and 4 police, including one woman police officer—were killed in “deliberate attacks” in 2022.

And for the ninth year in a row, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was the deadliest for peacekeepers with 14 fatalities, followed by 13 fatalities in the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), four fatalities in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and one fatality in UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

By nationalities, the peacekeepers who died in 2022 were from Bangladesh (3), Chad (4), Egypt (7), Guinea (1), India (2), Ireland (1), Jordan (1), Morocco (1), Nepal (1), Nigeria (2), Pakistan (7), Russian Federation (1) and Serbia (1).

This brings the death toll to at least 494 United Nations and associated personnel who were killed in deliberate attacks in the past 12 years from improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades, artillery fire, mortar rounds, landmines, armed and successive ambushes, convoy attacks, suicide attacks and targeted assassinations, according to the Staff Union.

The figures for the preceding years include: 2021 (25 killed); 2020 (15 killed); 2019 (28 killed); 2018 (34 killed); 2017 (71 killed); 2016 (32 killed); 2015 (51 killed); 2014 (61 killed); 2013 (58 killed); 2012 (37 killed); 2011 (35 killed); and 2010 (15 killed)*.

Peacekeepers and the civilian personnel who work side by side with them are on the front lines of the United Nations work in the world’s most challenging environments. We honor the memory of our 32 colleagues whose lives were taken in 2022,” said the United Nations Staff Union President, Aitor Arauz.

“Each malicious attack against UN personnel is a blow to peacekeeping, one of the pillars of the multilateral edifice. It is a collective responsibility of the international community to put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure accountability for these heinous acts, which may constitute war crimes under international law”.

To this end, he said, “we were encouraged by the launch in 2022 of the Group of Friends to promote accountability for crimes against peacekeepers. We look forward to seeing Member States’ strong commitment on this issue lead to tangible outcomes on the ground”.

The approved budget for UN peacekeeping operations for the fiscal year 1 July 2021-30 June 2022 was $6.38 billion.

This amount financed 10 of the 12 UN peacekeeping missions, including the liquidation budget for the United Nations – African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), supported logistics for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and provided support, technology and logistics to all peace operations through global service centres in Brindisi (Italy) and a regional service centre in Entebbe (Uganda).

The remaining two peacekeeping missions, the UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) and the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), were financed through the UN regular budget.

According to the UN, peacekeepers work to protect hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in the world’s most fragile political and security situations.

Civilian and uniformed personnel in peacekeeping missions support ceasefires, prevent and respond to violence, investigate human rights violations and abuses, and help build peace, recovery, and development in many conflict-affected countries.

“There is no doubt that lives are saved and changed by their presence.”

The International Day of UN Peacekeepers on 29 May is an opportunity to recognize the service and sacrifice of the more than one million personnel who have served under the blue flag since 1948. It is also a chance to honour the memory of the more than 4,000 peacekeepers who lost their lives in the cause of peace, the UN says.

The creation of the first two UN peacekeeping operations goes back to 1948: UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

A former UN staffer, who was on a peacekeeping mission in the Middle East in the 1970s, told IDN he was entitled to a “post adjustment allowance”, along with several other benefits.

The base salary was supplemented by a post adjustment which varied according to the cost of living in the duty station and the US dollar exchange rate.

In addition, peacekeepers received all or some of the following:

. Rental subsidy if you newly arrived at the duty station and your rent represented too high a proportion of the total remuneration.

. Dependency allowances if you have an eligible dependent spouse and children on mission with you.

  • Under certain conditions, an education grant if you have eligible children in school.
  • Travel and shipping expenses when moving from one duty station to another.
  • Assignment grant to assist you in meeting initial extraordinary costs when arriving at or relocating to a new duty station.

A hardship allowance linked to living and working conditions is paid at some duty stations. Where there are restrictions on bringing family members, a non-family hardship allowance is also paid.

“Hazard pay” and rest, and recuperation break, are provided when you serve in locations where the conditions are particularly hazardous, stressful and difficult.

According to the UN, hazard pay is a form of compensation granted to staff members who have been requested to remain and report for work in duty stations where very hazardous conditions, such as war or active hostilities, prevailed and where the evacuation of families and nonessential staff had taken place.

The Chairman of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) is responsible for authorizing the application of hazard pay to a duty station based on the recommendation of the Under-Secretary-General, Department of Safety and Security.

The authorization is normally for a period of up to three months at a time and is subject to ongoing review. The application of hazard pay is lifted when hazardous conditions are deemed to have abated.

Meanwhile, at Monday’s (January 22) noon press briefing, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric pointed out that January 23 marked the 75th anniversary of UN peacekeeping.

“Our colleagues in the Peacekeeping Department are launching a campaign to mark this occasion under the theme, ‘Peace Begins with Me’.

The campaign promotes an understanding of the challenges faced by communities in conflict, demonstrates the value and impact of peacekeeping and calls for a collective global movement for peace. 

Since 1948, he said, peacekeepers from 125 countries have served in 71 operations around the world; more than 4,100 peacekeepers have given their lives under the UN flag in the last 75 years. “

The campaign provides an opportunity for us to remember their sacrifice and be inspired by their legacy,” he declared. 

*A non-exhaustive, detailed list of deliberate attacks in 2022 has been compiled by the UN Staff Union Standing Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service and is available from Vikram Sura at [IDN-InDepthNews — 24 January 2023]

Photo: United Nations Peacekeeping helps countries torn by conflict while creating conditions for lasting peace. Credit: United Nations.

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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