Release of detained staff members urged by UN

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Gert Danielsen (facing camera), a UN staff member with UNDP, embraces a colleague after his release from captivity in Sana'a, Yemen. UN Photo/UNDP/Noeman Al Sayyad (file)

Governments and non-state actors around the world have been urged to immediately release all United Nations staff members and associated personnel who are being unlawfully detained.

The appeal has come from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members observed on 25 March each year.

On that day in 1985 Alec Collet, a British journalist, was abducted by gun men while working for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in Lebanon.

Daniel Dickinson reports.

The body of Alec Collet was finally found in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley in 2009.

In his message for this year's commemoration of the day, the UN Secretary-General said that the disturbing and widespread violence and turmoil of the past year also took a toll on UN and associated personnel.

As of March this year, 33 people were detained by state authorities in 15 countries.

One staff member is missing and two contractors remain in the custody of abductors.

Ban Ki-moon has called for the privileges and immunities granted to the UN to be recognised and for all staff members to be immediately released.

He also urged relevant national authorities to do everything in their power to prevent the taking of UN personnel as hostages.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations.

Duration: 0’54″

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