Note to Correspondents

Note No. 5784
25 March 2003


NEW YORK, 24 March (UN Headquarters) -- To draw attention on the staff members who have been arrested, detained, abducted or "disappeared" while in the service of the United Nations, the eighteenth annual International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members will be observed on Tuesday, 25 March.

The Day marks the abduction by armed men, in 1985, near Beirut Airport, of Alec Collett, on assignment for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The fate of Mr. Collett, a former journalist and Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Ghana, has never been determined.

This year, the observance will be marked with the distribution of lapel pins, intended to highlight the importance of staff safety and security. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette will accept the first pin from Elaine Collett in a brief ceremony at United Nations Headquarters at 12:30 p.m.

Following the ceremony, the pins will be made available to staff members in the Secretariat lobby. With the pins, there will be a reminder for staff to consider giving a donation to the Scholarship Fund of the Coordinating Committee for International Staff Unions and Associations of the United Nations System (CCISUA), which benefits the children of those killed in the service of the United Nations. The pins were created by the United Nations Design Unit and paid for by the United Nations Staff Union.

At least 39 staff members of the United Nations family of organizations are under arrest or detention or are missing, according to the Secretary-General’s latest report on the issue. In addition, last year only there were five cases of hostage-taking and kidnapping, including that of a staff member of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) abducted in April in Mogadishu and detained for nearly a month.

The annual observance of the Day is organized by the Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service and the United Nations Staff Union.

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