Staffer gravely wounded in attack on UN refugee compound in south Sudan dies
An Iraqi staffer of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), gravely wounded two weeks ago in an attack on a compound in southern Sudan, died overnight in a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing to 22 the number of UNHCR staff killed in the line of duty since 1990, with many more wounded.
“Once again, the humanitarian community is mourning a friend and colleague who died trying to help others in a place that has already seen far too much sadness and violence,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in paying tribute today to Nabil Bahjat Abdulla, 48.
“For two weeks Nabil fought a courageous battle between life and death, and sadly it was a battle which he lost. And we have lost an excellent and brave colleague.”
Mr. Bahjat Abdulla, a UNHCR logistics officer from Baghdad who leaves behind a wife and four children, was critically wounded on 15 March when two gunmen attacked a compound in Yei, set up to prepare for the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees following a peace accord between the Government and southern rebels.
He joined the agency in Iraq in 1991 and was assigned to UNHCR's south Sudan operation last October.
A local guard was killed in the attack. A second guard who was also critically wounded is recovering.
Mr. Guterres asked that UNHCR flags be flown at half-mast and a minute's silence be observed in all offices worldwide at midday today. UNHCR works in 116 countries, often in difficult and dangerous situations.
The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) joined UNHCR in expressing its “profound regret.”