1. Home
  2. East Africa
  3. Somalia

End attacks against aid workers, agencies urge

Fahmo Aden a resident of Mogadishu sits by her son who was injured in June 2007 in an explosion meant for former Prime Minster Ali Mohamed Gedi, 1 April, 2008.

Hassan Mahamud/IRIN

Civil society groups in Somalia and aid agencies have called for an end to attacks against their staff, saying such incidents seriously hampered efforts to assist thousands of needy Somalis.

"The civil society family in Somalia condemns in the strongest possible terms the killings, abductions and attacks targeting members of civil society and aid workers," Abdinasir Ahmed, head of the Peace and Human Rights Network, told IRIN on 24 June.

"We are appealing to all sides in the Somali conflict to condemn such senseless acts that only harm the people," he added.

The call follows the abduction of two aid workers and the killing of a peace activist in Beletweyne town in Hiiraan region, central Somalia. Mohamed Hassan Kulmiye, who was working at the Centre for Research and Development (CRD), a local think-tank involved in peace initiatives, was shot by unidentified gunmen on 22 June.

On 21 June, the head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Mogadishu, Hassan Mohamed Ali, better known as "Keynaan", was abducted from his home by unknown armed men.

A few days earlier, an employee of CARE International, whose name the agency declined to reveal, was abducted near El-Dheer town in Galgadud region. He was the second CARE staff member to be abducted in six weeks.

The incident prompted CARE, one of the largest aid agencies in the war-torn country, to suspend its operations in Galgadud, despite the fact that the central region is one of the hardest hit by drought and displacement.

UNHCR, in a statement, said Ali was driven by his abductors to an unknown location. "We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Hassan Mohamed Ali," the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said.

Guterres, who had just returned from a three-day mission to Kenya, which focused on Somalia’s humanitarian crisis, added: "He and other Somali staff are absolutely crucial in the provision of life-saving humanitarian aid for tens of thousands of innocent civilian victims of the ongoing conflict in their country."

Separately, CARE country director David Gilmour said: "It is extremely distressing to know that due to the current levels of insecurity we will no longer be able to provide emergency food assistance to more than 250,000 people in Galgadud.

''The problem in Somalia today is that we do not know where the threat is coming from. We no longer know who the enemy is''

"Equally sad is that close to 400 primary school teachers and 5,000 school-children, half of whom are girls, will not benefit from a recently commenced education programme in the same region."

The worsening state of security, particularly in Mogadishu and south-central Somalia, has hindered the work of local and international aid agencies trying to assist tens of thousands of people affected by the conflict.

"The current spate of killings and kidnappings is forcing many of us [civil society and aid workers] to go into hibernation," a local aid worker said on condition of anonymity. "The problem in Somalia today is we do not know where the threat is coming from. We no longer know who the enemy is."

Hussein Ali Weheliye, the chairman of the administrative council of the region, said the suspension of CARE activity would affect thousands.

"It could not come at a worse time," he told IRIN. "We have tens of thousands people that depended solely on CARE aid. This will have a serious negative impact on their lives."

Appealing to the abductors to release the aid workers without conditions, he added: "All they [abductors] have achieved is to add to the misery of their fellow Somalis."


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article

Get the day’s top headlines in your inbox every morning

Starting at just $5 a month, you can become a member of The New Humanitarian and receive our premium newsletter, DAWNS Digest.

DAWNS Digest has been the trusted essential morning read for global aid and foreign policy professionals for more than 10 years.

Government, media, global governance organisations, NGOs, academics, and more subscribe to DAWNS to receive the day’s top global headlines of news and analysis in their inboxes every weekday morning.

It’s the perfect way to start your day.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian today and you’ll automatically be subscribed to DAWNS Digest – free of charge.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.