Senior UN official voices indignation as aid workers are abducted in Kenya

13 October 2011

The head of the United Nations refugee agency today voiced shock and indignation at the violent abduction from the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya of two female aid workers and the shooting of their driver.

“These MSF [Médecins Sans Frontières] colleagues were working to rescue lives,” said António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “It is wholly unacceptable that they should be made targets for kidnap. I appeal to those responsible to facilitate their immediate and safe return.”

The Dadaab refugee complex is the world’s largest refugee camp and currently hosts 463,739 refugees, most of them Somali. The camp’s population has swollen this year with the arrival of more than 190,000 refugees fleeing famine and conflict in Somalia.

The two MSF staff members were abducted from the Ifo extension area of the camps at around 1:20 p.m. local time. Their driver was shot and is receiving medical treatment in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Media reports quoted Kenyan police as saying that the hostage-takers are suspected to be members of the Somali militant group known as Al Shabaab.

Kenya sealed the border with Somalia after the abduction and mobilized the military and the police to search for the hostages, according to the press reports.

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