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Somalia: Rights Expert Decries Aid Workers Killing

Somalia: UN rights expert decries killing of aid workers

30 January 2008 - The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia today condemned the recent killing of three aid workers there and called for justice in the case.

Three staff members of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)–Holland were killed in Somalia earlier this week. Victor Okunnu, a Kenyan doctor, Damien Lehalle, a French logistician and their Somali driver Billan were killed when their car was hit by a roadside bomb outside the town of Kismayo. A Somali journalist, Hassan Kafi Hared, as well as a Somali boy were also reportedly killed in the blast.

Calling the deaths "a great loss" Ghanim Alnajjar condemned all attacks on aid workers, journalists and human rights defenders in Somalia.

"The international aid community must be allowed to carry out their humanitarian and human rights work in safety and without fear of retaliation," he said. "These brave people work under extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances and their senseless deaths are an affront to all Somalis and the humanitarian and international communities."

Mr. Alnajjar said those responsible must be held accountable for their crimes. Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, but he urged "the Somali authorities to investigate this case and all cases in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.

All "authorities and groups concerned" must ensure safe and secure conditions for humanitarian and human rights activities, he said.

ENDS

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