UN Security Council calls for protection of aid workers globally

The United Nations headquarters building is pictured though a window with the UN logo in the foreground in the Manhattan borough of New York

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council on Friday called on all countries to respect and protect aid workers and U.N. personnel, and strongly condemned all violence against them and "the unlawful denial of humanitarian access."

The 15-member body adopted a Swiss-drafted resolution with 14 votes in favor, while Russia abstained.

The resolution, which did not identify any specific conflicts, was adopted after more than seven months of war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The United Nations says more than 250 humanitarian workers have been killed in the conflict.

Israel is under growing global pressure to allow more aid into the besieged enclave, where the U.N. says a famine looms.

"This resolution is not about one context in particular, it's for all humanitarian workers, all over the world," Switzerland's U.N. ambassador, Pascale Baeriswyl, told reporters.

Slovenia's deputy U.N. ambassador, Ondina Blokar, said that since 2003 at least 2,491 aid workers had been killed and more than 4,500 had been wounded or kidnapped around the world.

"These numbers continue growing with every month of ongoing armed conflict in Gaza, Sudan, Ukraine and elsewhere. This is simply inexcusable and unjustifiable," Blokar told the council.

Most of the aid workers killed in Gaza worked for the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said investigations are needed into the deaths of all humanitarian workers in Gaza.

Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood told the council that the killing of more than 250 humanitarian workers in the conflict between Israel and Hamas - "more than in any other conflict in the U.N.'s history" - was unacceptable.

(Editing by Timothy Heritage)