- UN 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, demanded that they be released immediately.
Mr Ban said he was “deeply concerned about 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,” statement said.
Media reports said six people captured today have been working for Action Against Hunger, a French non-governmental organization (NGO).
Last week Wednesday two UN staff, both Somali nationals, working in the northern town of Hargeisa were killed after a suicide bombing at local UN Development Programme (UNDP) compound. Six other staff were also seriously injured in the explosion, said UN further stating this was part of a coordinated wave of attacks across the north that day.
UN has also reminded that earlier last month two Somali staff members working for UN aid agencies – one for World Food Programme (WFP) and the other for UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – were shot dead in separate killings.
Somalia has been labelled one of the worst areas of operation for humanitarian agencies, with insurgents and militia groups targetting aid loads for loot and foreign staff for ransom keep.
Fighting between different groups and transitional government troops continues to impede humanitarian operations, with services such as UN flights into Mogadishu having had to be suspended following a ban by an Islamist insurgency group a few months ago.
Coupled with difficulties to ship food aid into Somalia because of surging piracy as well as inland aid-bunkig by criminal elements, country has been dubbed one of the world most critical crisis areas, with international community called on to help bring normalty to avoid a deeper humanitarian crisis.
Somalia is in the grip of a deepening humanitarian crisis, brought on by conflict, successive failed or poor harvests, and hyperinflation. Recent assessments indicate critical rates of malnutrition throughout south central Somalia and among internally displaced populations in North. WFP has said that median rate of acute malnutrition in 20 surveys conducted this year has been found to be more than 18 per cent - which is already well above 15 percent emergency threshold.
On the other hand, piracy off coast of Somalia is estimated to have cost up to US$30m in ransoms so far this year, according to a recent report.
Authorities in Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland say they are often powerless to confront pirates, with most vessels reportedly freed after their owners pay hefty sums.
Human Rights Watch considers Somalia as most ignored tragedy in world.
Somalia has lacked a functioning central government since 1991 and has been afflicted by continual civil unrest.
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