Ban deplores killing of aid workers in Somalia and Afghanistan

20 October 2008
UN aid workers in action

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today spoke out against the recent killing of aid workers in Somalia and Afghanistan, condemning the murders and voicing alarm at the increasing number of attacks against humanitarian staff in both countries.

Two local staff members for United Nations agencies operating in Somalia have been killed since Friday and a worker with a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Afghanistan was slain today.

“The Secretary-General deplores these acts of deliberate violence against those who are making every effort to alleviate the dire suffering of Somali and Afghan citizens,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.

“He is alarmed at the increasing trend of killing and abduction of aid workers in both countries.”

Staff of UN aid agencies and NGOs have come under increasing deliberate attack in Somalia and Afghanistan in recent months, as well as in other countries and regions plagued by conflict, such as the Darfur region of western Sudan.

In a report released earlier this month on staff security, Mr. Ban called for collective responsibility and closer collaboration between the UN and its Member States to better protect UN staff and other humanitarian workers.

The report found there were 490 attacks against UN offices, convoys and premises between July 2007 and June this year, leading to 26 deaths of UN staff. At least 63 workers with NGOs were murdered during the same period.

The most recent series of attacks started on Friday, when Abdenasser Adan Muse, a senior programme assistant for the World Food Programme (WFP), was shot three times as he left a mosque in the town of Merka.

A spokesperson for WFP, Bettina Luescher, told the UN News Centre that the agency was shocked and saddened by the attack on Mr. Muse.

“This killing only undermines what a dangerous place Somalia is – this is the second WFP staff member to be killed this year, in addition to five drivers working for WFP contractors,” Ms. Luescher said.

“WFP appeals to all factions in Somalia to respect humanitarian workers and allow them to carry out their life-saving work at a time when their skills are critically needed.”

Mukhtar Mohammed Hassan, a water engineer working with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), was shot dead yesterday in Huddur as he walked with friends after attending the local mosque.

The agency said an investigation into the circumstances and motive for the killing was now under way and offered its condolences to Mr. Hassan’s family.

“Mukhtar played an important role in providing vulnerable communities with access to clean drinking water and sanitation in areas where the risk of water-based diseases is high,” Hannan Suleiman, UNICEF Deputy Representative for Somalia, said.

Gayle Williams, who worked for the Christian NGO known as SERVE Afghanistan as a volunteer on projects assisting the disabled, was shot dead today as she walked to work in Kabul. She was 34 and a dual British-South African national.


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