Secretary-General urges immediate release of captured aid workers in Somalia

5 November 2008

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned today’s abduction of four aid workers and two pilots from an airstrip in the central Somali town of Dusamareb and demanded that they be released immediately.

Mr. Ban is “deeply concerned about the worsening trend of killings and abductions of aid workers in Somalia,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.

“He calls upon all parties to respect the neutral and impartial status of humanitarian staff, and to allow them to do their work bringing vital life-saving assistance to millions of Somalis, nearly half of the population, who are counting on this support for their survival.”

Media reports say the six people captured today have been working for Action Against Hunger, a French non-governmental organization (NGO).

Last Wednesday two UN staff – both Somali nationals – working in the northern town of Hargeisa were killed after a suicide bombing at the local UN Development Programme (UNDP) compound. Six other staff were seriously injured in the explosion, part of a coordinated wave of attacks across the north that day.

Earlier last month two Somali staff members working for UN aid agencies – one for the World Food Programme (WFP) and the other for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – were shot dead in separate killings.

It is not just aid workers who are being targeted. An independent UN expert warned today that the killing of human rights defenders continues apace across the strife-torn Horn of Africa country.

On Monday, Mariam “Dabayarey” Aden Mohamed, chairwoman of the Bay region women’s organization, was murdered in Baidoa, while late last month Duniya Sheikh Doon, chairwoman of her local Somali women’s organization, was killed in Guriel.

Shamsul Bari, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, issued a statement voicing his deep sadness at those killings and also the execution of Aisha Duhulow, a 13-year-old girl who was stoned to death last week after being charged with adultery, even though she had been raped.

“Extra-judicial killing, summary and arbitrary execution constitute a cruel and unacceptable atrocity and a violation to the right to life that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the international community should address sooner than later,” Dr. Bari said.

 

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