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UNICEF staffer abducted in south Somalia, released

UNICEF staffer released after being abducted in southern Somalia

A staff member of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was released today after being abducted by armed men in the Lower Juba region of southern Somalia on Wednesday.

UNICEF said that Robert McCarthy, aged 47, had been released unharmed into the custody of UN security staff and members of the Somali Transitional Federal Government.

“We are very relieved that Mr. McCarthy has been released unharmed and thank the Transitional Federal Government for demonstrating leadership in this critical time,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, who was in Kenya and greeted Mr. McCarthy’s wife and two of their children.

Armed men abducted Mr. McCarthy on 1 March on the outskirts of Afmadow, which is 110 kilometres northwest of Kismayo in the Lower Juba region of this strife-torn Horn of Africa country.

UNICEF has around 200 staff working for its Somalia operation and of these, about 75 are based at the agency’s Somalia Support Centre, in Nairobi, Kenya and the rest inside Somalia. About 30 international staff work for UNICEF Somalia.

UNICEF has been operating in Somalia since 1972 and, following the collapse of the Government in 1991, it has continued to render services to children and women, working with local administrations where they exist, Somali communities, local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other UN agencies to help deliver services.

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