Somalia: UN official urges immediate release of kidnapped staff member

30 January 2004
Map of Somalia

The top United Nations official in Somalia today strongly condemned the abduction of a UN staff member in the Horn of Africa country, calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Rolf Helmrich, a German national, was abducted late yesterday morning about 45 kilometres north of Kismaayo in the Lower Juba region in Somalia's south.

Maxwell Gaylard, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and Designated Official for UN Security in Somalia, issued a statement deploring Mr. Helmrich's abduction.

"The UN mandate is to support the Somali people in their development and peace-building efforts and our staff need to be safe in order to carry out their duties," Mr. Gaylard said.

Yesterday the UN began communicating with the region's de facto authorities in a bid to secure Mr. Helmrich's release.


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