Somalia: Annan says UN has access to detained staff as talks continue on release

3 April 2001

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that the United Nations remains in contact with two of its staff members who have been detained in Somalia since last week, as talks continue to secure their release.

Referring to the two abducted staffers -- British nationals Bill Condie and Roger Carter -- Mr. Annan told a press conference in Nairobi that the UN was making sure that the captives had access to adequate food and water.

"We are negotiating to get them out and I am quite hopeful that we get them out as we got the others out," he said. Five of the seven people abducted on 27 March have been released.

Mr. Annan was quick to reiterate his strong condemnation of the tactics of the militia responsible for the abductions. "These lawless and reckless people who prey on young men and women from distant lands who've come to help, whose only reason for being in Somalia is to help the needy, ought to understand that their behaviour is something that the international community cannot accept and cannot condone," he stressed. "Aid workers deserve better treatment and deserve our appreciation and thanks rather than this kind of treatment."

Recalling his meeting yesterday with two of the released aid workers, the Secretary-General said he had a chance "to hear from them directly what an ordeal they had gone through." The former captives were in "good health and good spirits," Mr. Annan told reporters.


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