UNITED NATIONS: At least 32 peacekeeping personnel, seven of them from Pakistan, were killed in deliberate attacks against them last year, according to a United Nations body.
For the ninth year in a row, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was the deadliest for peacekeepers with 14 fatalities, followed by 13 in the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), four in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and one death in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Among the 32 fatalities were 28 military and four police personnel, including a woman police officer, the press release said.
“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,” Staff Union President Aitor Arauz said in a statement.
“Each malicious attack against UN personnel is a blow to peacekeeping, one of the pillars of the multilateral edifice,” Arauz said. “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.”
The union said the 32 killed in 2022 bring to 494 UN and associated personnel killed in deliberate attacks in the past 13 years from improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades, artillery fire, mortar rounds, landmines, armed and successive ambushes, convoy attacks, suicide attacks and targeted assassinations.
It said the peacekeepers who died in 2022, by country, were 7 from Pakistan, 7 from Egypt, 4 from Chad, 3 from Bangladesh, 2 from India, 2 from Nigeria, one each from Guinea, Ireland, Jordan, Morocco, Nepal, Russia and Serbia.
Among the Pakistani peacekeepers, six — Muhammad Ismail, Faizan Ali, Asif Ali Awan, Samiullah Khan, Muhammad Saad Nomani and Muhammad Jamil Khan — serving MONUSCO, were killed in a helicopter crash in the east of Congo.
The MONUSCO helicopter that crashed in the Tshanzu area, 20 kilometres south of Rutshuru, in North Kivu, was part of a surveillance and reconnaissance mission, carried out in an area where clashes had taken place between the M23 militia and the armed forces of the DRC.
Another Pakistani peacekeeper Babar Siddique, serving with MONUSCO, was killed in an attack on the Mission’s operational base in Minembwe, South Kivu, by suspected members of the Twirwaneho armed group, the press release added.
Pakistan has been one of the largest contributors of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping operations. Since the 1960s, Pakistan has contributed over 200,000 troops to 43 missions. In its service to the cause of peace, Pakistan lost 157 of its bravest who made the ultimate sacrifice.