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Head Of UN Refugee Agency In Somalia Released

Head Of UN Refugee Agency In Somalia Released After Two Months In Captivity

The United Nations refugee agency has welcomed the news that the head of its office in Somalia has been released today unharmed after two months in captivity in the war-torn Horn of Africa country.

Hassan Mohammed Ali, who heads the UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR office in Mogadishu, is in good health and will soon be reunited with his family, the agency said in a press release.

Mr. Ali, a Somali national who is also known as Keynaan, was abducted from his home near Mogadishu on 21 June by an unknown armed group.

The agency thanked the Somali organizations and civil society members who held demonstrations to call for Mr. Ali’s release over the past two months.

“We are also grateful for all the expressions of public support and solidarity received during the difficult weeks of his captivity,” UNHCR said in its statement.

The agency noted that it would continue to provide aid to displaced civilians across Somalia, where they are suffering from the combined effects of violent conflict, prolonged drought and the current global food crisis.

UNHCR also offered its sympathies to aid workers who are still forcibly detained in Somalia, noting that the number of abductions and attacks against such workers has increased in recent months.

Meanwhile, a UN envoy today visited Somalia and neighbouring Kenya to spotlight the dire humanitarian situation.

UN Special Humanitarian Envoy Abdul Aziz Arrukban is also in the region to advocate for the stronger involvement of Persian Gulf countries in tackling the unfolding emergency in the Horn of Africa nation.

Mr. Arrukban toured the Bakool region of south-central Somalia and then called on the Dagahaley camp for refugees in north-eastern Kenya, which is home to more than 200,000 Somalis fleeing fighting in their homeland.

The visit is taking place in the wake of last week’s Djibouti agreement, which is designed to end the long-running conflict between the country’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the rebel group known as the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia.

But deadly clashes have since taken place in the southern port city of Kismayo, displacing thousands of people and prompting Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN Special Representative for Somalia, to issue a statement calling on all sides to honour their commitments under the accord.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah briefed the Security Council yesterday on the latest developments in Somalia, stressing the need for concerted international action to try to stabilize the country, which has not had a functioning national government since 1991.

“Delivery of humanitarian assistance is made difficult because there is no security,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah told journalists after the briefing, saying the situation is so dire that the international community needs to re-think its approach or face doing business as usual.

“No policeman has been paid… [since 1 January],” he added. “The congressmen are rarely paid, which pushes them to blackmail the parliament, president or prime minister.”


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