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    24 March 2015

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

    Message on the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members

    25 March 2015

    VIENNA, 25 March (UN Information Service) - The disturbing and widespread violence and turmoil of the past year also took a toll on United Nations and associated personnel.  As of 15 March 2015, 33 UN and associated personnel were detained by State authorities in 15 countries.  One staff member is missing and two contractors remain in the custody of abductors.

    On this International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members, and as demand for United Nations engagement intensifies,  I call on relevant Member States to respect the status, privileges and immunities of the United Nations and to immediately release all UN staff members and associated personnel who are being unlawfully detained .

    In addition, I appeal to those non-State actors that are holding staff members to immediately release them.  I also call on relevant national authorities to do everything in their power to prevent the taking of UN personnel as hostages and to facilitate the release of those being held.

    The safety of United Nations and associated personnel should be a collective priority for all concerned.  Yet abductions of United Nations personnel are increasingly carried out by unscrupulous actors seeking to extract ransom, make a political point, or impede the Organization's operations.

    In the first two months of 2015, abductions of UN personnel occurred in Gardez, in Afghanistan and Bangui, in the Central African Republic.  Two contractors working for the Joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) were kidnapped in Zalingei at gunpoint and remain in custody.

    I am especially concerned about the situations in South Sudan and Syria.  A World Food Programme staff member was seized last October at Malakal airport in South Sudan.  Several others have been similarly detained there last year.  In Syria, numerous staff of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in particular, have been detained and arrested or are missing.

    On this International Day, let us amplify our demands for justice and strengthen our resolve to protect United Nations staff and peacekeepers, as well as our colleagues in the non-governmental community and the media.

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