September 30, 2005

22 UN staffers detained since mid-2004: Annan

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Twenty-two U.N. staff members
have been detained since mid-2004 despite an international
treaty guaranteeing the safety of U.N. personnel,
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Friday.

The total comprised seven in Eritrea, four in Afghanistan,
two in Ethiopia, two in Serbia's Kosovo province and one each
in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Mozambique, Russia, Sudan and
Zimbabwe, Annan said in a report to the 191-nation U.N. General

He said one U.N. employee who worked for the International
Bank for Reconstruction and Development was listed as missing
in Sri Lanka following last December's Indian Ocean tsunami.

The seven held in Eritrea were all Eritrean nationals in
custody after being charged with failure to fulfill their
national military service obligations, a U.N. official said.

"The United Nations is concerned about its staff and feels
strongly against the detention of its staff members," U.N.
spokesman Brenden Varma said.

The General Assembly asked Annan to monitor threats to U.N.
staff around the world after two 2003 bombings of U.N. offices
in Baghdad, including one that killed 22 people. His report
covered the period from July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2005.

While the world body did not suffer another catastrophic
attack during the period, it was marked by "significant threats
and risk" to staff, Annan said, citing the situation in Iraq,
Afghanistan, Sudan and Lebanon, among others.

There was a sharp increase in hostage-takings and
kidnappings, and "recent events of international terrorism,
while sparing United Nations facilities, presage a further
widening of risks that spares no country or activity," he said.