Note No. 5857
25 March 2004
Note to Correspondents
Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members, 25 March to Stress Risks Faced by UN Staff, Reporters around World
NEW YORK, 24 March (UN Headquarters) -- The nineteenth annual Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members will be observed with a ceremony on Thursday, 25 March at 11:30 am in the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) Club on the 3rd floor of the Secretariat Building. The observance of the Day intends to draw attention on the United Nations staff members who have been arrested, detained, abducted or "disappeared" while in the service of the Organization, and the importance of staff safety and security.
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 journalist and former Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Accra, has never been determined.
The Day will be observed with a brief ceremony intended to highlight the dangers faced daily by United Nations staff members as well as journalists around the world. Following his abduction, the UNCA made Mr. Collett their Honorary President, a title he has retained ever since. UNCA President Tony Jenkins, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Mrs. Elaine Collett, Mr. Colletts wife, and General Assembly President Julian Robert Hunte, will make brief remarks.
The latest Secretary-Generals report on safety and security of humanitarian personnel (document A/58/344), reported 34 United Nations staff members as under arrest, missing or detained -- the first missing case dating back to 1983. Last year at least 10 United Nations staff members were taken hostage in separate incidents in Liberia, Georgia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in January a United Nations staff member was kidnapped and held for over a week in Somalia.
Four journalists disappeared in 2003 while doing their work, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists -- in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Iraq, and Ingushetia, Russia.
The observance is organized by the Staff Council Standing Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service (CSIICS).
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