Burundi: UN humanitarian relief official welcomes release of seized aid workers

18 May 2001

Welcoming the release of several aid workers kidnapped earlier this month in Burundi, a top United Nations humanitarian official today stressed the need for steps to protect relief personnel worldwide.

In a statement released in New York, Kenzo Oshima, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, expressed "profound relief" at Wednesday's freeing of six staff members of the Dutch non-governmental organization (NGO) Memisa by troops from the rebel Forces pour la Défense de la Democratie.

All six aid workers, who had been operating a mobile clinic at the time of their abduction on 11 May, were said to be in good health.

Condemning the kidnapping, Mr. Oshima stressed that the humanitarian staff were delivering -- "often at great risk to themselves" -- much-needed assistance to the most vulnerable populations in Burundi.

He called on all parties, in Burundi and elsewhere, to "take all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel."


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