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UN expresses concern over killing of its staff

Sounding "alarm" over increasing attacks against humanitarian workers in Somalia and Afghanistan, the UN Secretary-General has condemned killings of those who are making efforts to "alleviate the dire suffering of the people".

world Updated: Oct 21, 2008 10:17 IST

Sounding "alarm" over increasing attacks against humanitarian workers in Somalia and Afghanistan, the United Nations Secretary-General has condemned killings of those who are making efforts to "alleviate the dire suffering of the people".

Ban Ki-moon's statement came in the wake of killing of two local staff members of the United Nations since Friday and of one worker of a non governmental organisation in Afghanistan on Monday.

"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," his spokesperson said, adding that he is alarmed at the increasing trend of killing and abduction of aid workers in both countries.

Staff of UN aid agencies and NGOs has come under increasing attacks in recent months in countries and regions plagued by conflict, including Somalia, Afghanistan and Darfur region of Somalia.

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

The report found that 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 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.

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

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