UNITED NATIONS – At least 22 U.N. peacekeepers and civilian staff were killed in attacks worldwide last year, including six who died in the Israel-Hezbollah war in southern Lebanon, the U.N. Staff Union said Tuesday.
The figure was down from the 32 U.N. personnel killed in 2005, though the union said the number of violent attacks against U.N. personnel was relatively unchanged.
"Apprehending and punishing the perpetrators would go a long way to address this situation," Staff Union President Stephen Kisambira said in a statement. "Very seldom those who attack and kill United Nations personnel pay for their crimes."
The union, which represents over 5,000 staff at U.N. headquarters, said all six U.N. staff members who died in Lebanon during the 34-day war last summer were killed by Israeli airstrikes.
Four U.N. observers were killed by an Israeli precision-guided bomb that destroyed the bunker where they took shelter in late July after their observation post came under heavy fire along the Israel-Lebanon border.
Israel said the bombing was a mistake due to inaccurate maps. But it refused to give a U.N.-appointed investigation access to the officials who may have been responsible, preventing the inquiry from determining why attacks on U.N. positions were not halted despite repeated warnings by U.N. officials.
Congo and Haiti remained among the most dangerous places in the world for U.N. peacekeepers and staff.
Nine U.N. personnel were killed in Congo last year, including eight Guatemalan peacekeepers who were ambushed by Ugandan rebels in the lawless eastern part of the country in January.
The incident was the second largest single loss of life suffered by the 16,000-strong peacekeeping mission in Congo since it began in 1999. Nine Bangladeshi troops were killed in February 2005 by ethnic militiamen.
In Haiti, four Jordanian peacekeepers were killed in two separate attacks in 2006, down from six U.N. deaths in the country the year before.