The United Nations said it lost two more peacekeepers from Gabon and Morocco, during an ambush by rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) on Monday.
This brings to four the number of UN peacekeepers killed since Jan. 13 in the troubled country where rebels are fighting to take control of the capital, Bangui.
In all, nine UN peacekeepers have died in “hostile incidents” around the world this year, according to Mr Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman to the Secretary-General.
“This demonstrates yet again the perilous environment in which peacekeepers carry out their mandates to protect people and support peace processes, tasks made harder by the global pandemic.
“While progress has been made in reducing casualties among United Nations peacekeepers, recent incidents show that the threats continue.
“Our collective efforts to ensure the safety of peacekeepers, including through the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, need to keep pace,” Dujarric said in a statement.
The Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, strongly condemned the latest incident, and expressed condolences to the families, governments and fellow citizens of the affected peacekeepers.
Guterres reiterated that attacks against UN peacekeepers might constitute a war crime, and called on the government to identify and bring perpetrators to justice.
He also restated his concerns over the escalation of violence in CAR, and sued for peace.
The UN chief urged all parties to immediately cease hostilities and engage in dialogue to advance the political process, “preserve fragile gains and fulfill the country’s aspiration for lasting peace”.
Reacting, President of the GeneraI Assembly, Amb, Volkan Bozkir, said he was “appalled” by the killings.
“Our brave UN personnel risk their lives to protect civilians, support political processes, stabilise countries in transition and facilitate humanitarian aid.
“They need our support,” Bozkir said in a tweet on Tuesday.