As the international community marked the World Humanitarian Day today, a senior United Nations official warned of the grave threats faced by aid workers in Somalia, where they continue to be targets of armed groups which often abduct and detain them and steal desperately needed relief supplies.
“As humanitarians deliver aid and medical workers treat the sick and wounded, they are directly targeted,” the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Somalia and Humanitarian Coordinator, Peter de Clercq, said at a press briefing in the Somali capital.
“They are still facing threats and they are being prevented at times from bringing relief to those in desperate need – this must stop,” he added.
The UN official noted that 74 violent incidents affecting humanitarian personnel, health facilities and assets had been registered in the Horn of Africa country since the beginning of 2018. Seven humanitarian workers have died thus far this year and another ten have been injured.
Of the 18 humanitarian workers who have been kidnapped this year, six remain in the custody of their captors, including the German nurse Sonja Nientiet who was working with the International Committee of the Red Cross when she was abducted in the capital, Mogadishu, last May.
The Humanitarian Coordinator said that although the number of aid workers who have been targeted in 2018 is lower than the figure for last year, the practice remains a cause for concern.
Somalia’s federal government has vowed to take action to reduce the threats facing aid workers.
“Our ministry will work on getting strong policies that protect the well-being of civilians, aid and health workers,” the federal Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Hamza Said Hamza, said at today’s event.