Afghans join chorus calling for release of three abducted UN workers

7 November 2004

Prominent Afghans are joining the international and grassroots chorus calling for the release of three United Nations workers abducted 10 days ago in Afghanistan.

The concern of family, friends and colleagues of Annetta Flanigan, Shqipe Hebibi and Angelito Nayan “increases every day, every hour, every minute that goes by and they are still being kept away from them,” UN spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told the press today in the capital Kabul.

“People who claim to have control over our three colleagues have been telling the press that they are not in good health,” he said. “If that is the case, the best response for their need of medical attention is their immediate release.”

He called on those responsible not to harm the three, who came to Afghanistan to help with the country's first-ever presidential election last month.

Meanwhile, the Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Defence, General Besmellah, issued a statement Saturday saying that the abduction depressed the entire nation and that such action goes against Afghan culture, according to the UN spokesman. “He noted that the three UN workers came to help Afghan people to have fair elections after decades of war,” Mr. de Almeida e Silva said.

Four presidential candidates – Mr. Yonous Qanooni, Mr. Mohammed Mohaqeq, Mr. Abdul Rashid Dostum and Mr. Ahmed Shah Ahmadzai - issued a statement “strongly condemning the abduction as an inhuman act” and asked for their release, the spokesman noted.

A hotline established to receive information or tips from the public has been receiving a number of calls everyday, Mr. de Almeida e Silva said. But he added that “most of the callers are doing so to say how sorry they are with this abduction, appeal for Lito, Annetta and Shqipe's early release, and express their appreciation for the work of the United Nations in Afghanistan.”

 

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