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UN official speaks out against killing of Somali journalist

Stop killing journalists.
Stop killing journalists.

UN official speaks out against killing of Somali journalist

The top United Nations humanitarian official for Somalia has expressed his shock and disappointment at the latest killing of a journalist in the strife-torn nation, the deadliest place in Africa for the media to work.

Nasteh Dahir Farah was fatally shot on 7 June by unknown gunmen in Kismayo. He had been working for the BBC and the Associated Press, and was also the vice chairman of the National Union of Somali Journalists.

In a statement issued today, Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for Somalia, noted that “members of civil society in Somalia – in particular the media – have been singled out for attack and assassination.”

Mr. Farah’s death brings to nine the number of journalists killed in Somalia in 2007-2008. He is the second reporter to be killed in Kismayo this year.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Somalia is now the second-most dangerous country to be a journalist, behind only Iraq.

“It’s a tribute to the dedication and courage of journalists such as Mr. Farah, that despite the fact that members of the media are frequently targeted, harassed, arrested and killed in Somalia, he continued his work,” said Mr. Bowden. “Sadly, his dedication cost him his life.”

Security in various parts of Somalia, which has not had a functioning national government since 1991, remains precarious, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Incidents of carjacking targeting humanitarian aid organizations are on the rise along the Afgooye-Mogadishu road, hindering efforts to deliver aid to 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have fled from violence in Mogadishu. Some 22 humanitarian vehicles have been hijacked in Somalia so far in 2008.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) has managed to secure six ships to transport 40,000 metric tonnes of food aid from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to Mogadishu. The Dutch naval mission to escort vessels along the pirate-infested Somali coastline ends on 22 June, and WFP is urgently seeking other navies to provide escorts.