Jean-Pierre Lacroix, head of UN peacekeeping operations, has decried the killing of 15 UN peacekeepers in five months of 2021.
Lacroix, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, told the Security Council on Monday that UN “blue helmets’’ faced increased attacks throughout the complex environments in which they worked.
He regretted that since Jan. 1, 2021, 15 peacekeepers had lost their lives “due to malicious acts”, saying, “one peacekeeper lost continues to be one too many”.
“Attacks against peacekeepers can constitute war crimes; are a huge impediment to the pursuit of peace; and an added constraint for the effective implementation of UN Security Council mandates.”
According to him, vehicle accidents and illnesses, were also causing fatalities and can significantly affect the ability of peacekeepers to deliver on their mandated tasks.
The peacekeeping chief, however, noted that the UN Action Plan had enabled “significant progress” in strengthening the safety and security of blue helmets.
“It contributed to a sustained decrease in peacekeeper fatalities due to malicious acts, from 59 in 2017 down to 13 in 2020,” he said of the Plan’s efficacy.
Lacroix said UN peacekeeping had revised guidance, processes and tools; strengthened policy and
“We have also made progress supporting host countries to bring perpetrators of crimes against peacekeepers to justice”, including in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), Mali (MINUSMA), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO),’’ he said.
Also addressing the Council, the head of the UN Department of Operational Support, Atul Khare, said that early warning technologies had proved to be effective in enabling missions that were regularly under attack to achieve greater security for their personnel.
For example, incoming rockets and mortars were detected in advance of impact during an attack on the MINUSMA Camp in Kidal region on April 25, which enabled staff to take refuge in bunkers thereby contributing to lives saved.
Although both require high priority attention, he noted the distinction between casualties from accidents and those from “malicious acts” and called for the upgrade of situational awareness. (NAN)