The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres has called on the people of the world to give UN workers more support while highlighting the safety concerns the world body’s staff face as they work to bring relief to various peoples of the world.
This was contained in a personally-signed message released on the UN’s website on the 2017 International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff of the world body.
The Day has been celebrated every March 25 on the anniversary of the abduction of Alec Collett, a former journalist. Collett was working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) when he was abducted by armed gunmen in 1985. His body was found in Bekaa’s Valley in 2009.
“In 2016, seven of United Nations staff members were abducted by non-state actors. Four were kept as hostages,” Guterres said.
He added that more than 20 UN civilian personnel remain in detention, six of who are being held without the UN having received any explanation for their arrest.
“We are still awaiting news of the fate of two members of the Group of Experts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a sanctions-monitoring body established by the Security Council,” he said.
“We are doing everything possible to find and help them.”
Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan of the Group of Experts went missing in the Kasai Central region in the DRC on March 12 along with four Congolese nationals, UN News Centre wrote.
Guterres noted, “The International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members has taken on even greater importance in recent years as attacks against the United Nations intensify.
“This is a day to mobilise action, demand justice and strengthen our resolve to protect UN staff and peacekeepers as well as our colleagues in the non-governmental community and the press.”