Tragedies for UN Personnel in Afghanistan, Somalia

In Afghanistan, a UN convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber, killing a driver for the UN’s political mission, UNAMA, and two doctors working for the World Health Organization. Remarkably, these marked the first killings of UN staff operating in Afghanistan in over a year and a half.

In Somalia, unfortunately, there has been little respite in the violence directed toward UN workers and peacekeepers. Over just the last two days, two Ugandan soldiers operating as a part of the African Union’s undermanned mission in Somalia have been killed by militants. 11 employees of the World Food Program, meanwhile, remain in captivity after being kidnapped on Sunday.

Besides underscoring the risks frequently taken on by UN personnel in these missions, it is worth noting from whom these attacks originated. While it is yet unclear who was behind the abductions in Somalia, the militant Islamist group Shabab, in claiming responsibility for the killings of the AU peacekeepers, continues its explicit efforts to derail the country’s peace process. In Afghanistan, the likelihood that the Taliban, resurgent in much of the country, organized yesterday’s suicide bombing does not bode well for UN and humanitarian personnel working in an increasingly dangerous environment.