UN agency saddened by killing of refugee worker in eastern Chad

27 October 2009
Young refugees at a camp in eastern Chad, where refugee official Michel Mitna was killed

The United Nations refugee agency today expressed its shock and sadness at the death of a colleague working for its government counterpart in eastern Chad who was killed in an ambush over the weekend.

Michel Mitna was head of the Chadian refugee body CNAR (Commission National d'Accueil et de Réinsertion des réfugiés) in Guéréda and worked daily with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to protect and assist refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The 40-year-old Chadian national, who leaves behind a wife and five children, had worked in eastern Chad for six years.

He was riding about 110 kilometres north-east of Abéché on Saturday morning in a vehicle clearly marked with the CNAR and UNHCR logos when he was attacked by armed bandits and killed. His driver was wounded and the unidentified bandits managed to escape.

“UNHCR is deeply shocked and saddened by this tragic killing,” spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva. “This is the 51st armed attack on a humanitarian vehicle in eastern Chad this year alone, 31 of which belonged to UNHCR and its partners.”

Just last week, five staff working for Première Urgence, a French non-governmental partner of UNHCR, were kidnapped while travelling in convoy. The bandits only freed the kidnapped staff when their hijacked vehicle was involved in an accident. Two of the five aid workers are still in hospital in the capital, N'Djamena.

UNHCR said armed banditry is the greatest security threat for aid workers in eastern Chad, where humanitarian agencies are working to assist some 250,000 refugees from neighbouring Sudan since 2003, as well as 160,000 internally displaced Chadians since 2006.


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