A Thoughtful, Analytical Approach to NGO Security

Security Incident

Red Cross staffer shot in Aceh

Erhard Bauer
Dr. Erhard Bauer

The Red Cross has suspended activities in the Indonesian province of Aceh for a day after a representative of the German Red Cross delegation, Erhard Bauer, was shot and wounded by a pair of gunmen in the outskirts of Banda Aceh on Thursday. Bauer suffered wounds to his abdomen and arm.

While the motive for the attack is unknown Aceh has experienced low-level political violence since 2005 when a thirty year separatist war was officially ended.

Bauer was treated at Public Hospital Dr. Zainoel Abidin (RSUZA) in Banda Aceh before being flown to Singapore for further treatment and convalescence.

Contractor on UN guest house assault

In this video Chris Turner, an American private contractor, talks about his first hand experience of the suicide attack on the guest house in Kabul.

Attackers target UN staff in Kabul guest house

Yesterday Taliban militants wearing police uniforms carried out a complex suicide attack on a privately owned guest house in Kabul. A two hour fire fight resulted in the deaths of six UN staff members.

This video from STRATFOR has a quick summary and analysis of the attack. Its well worth watching if you have the bandwidth.

In the aftermath of this attack we are already seeing the inevitable calls for a complete review of security procedures for UN and NGO staff in Kabul. There will be a flurry of activity as outside security consultants are called in and security assessment teams from regional NGO offices descend on Kabul. Numerous reports will be written, fingers will be pointed, and a couple of people may even lose their jobs. Unfortunately many will come to the conclusion that this incident was an unanticipated and unforeseen escalation of the threat.

The problem is that it is just not true. The writing has been on the wall for the past two years. There have been numerous incidents of surveillance on UN and NGO buildings and staff. The Taliban and their allies have also repeatedly made it clear, both in word and deed, that they do not view the UN and most NGOs as neutral.

Selected Attacks, Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2009

1 Feb 2009 - Charbagh, Pakistan - Two MSF medical staff were killed when their clearly marked ambulances were fired upon in Charbagh.

2 Feb 2009 - Quetta, Pakistan - A driver with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was killed and John Solecki, the head of the local UNHCR office, was kidnapped.

9 Jun 2009 - Peshawar, Pakistan - 5 U.N. workers are among those killed in a complex suicide attack on the Pearl Continental hotel in Peshawar.

18 Aug 2009 - Kabul, Afghanistan - Two Afghans working for the U.N. were killed during a suicide vehicle bomb attack on a NATO convoy.

5 Oct 2009 - Islamabad, Pakistan - Five World Food Program (WFP) staff were killed and four others injured after a suicide bomber disguised as a Frontier Corps soldier was allowed to walk into the WFP office under the simple pretext of being allowed to use the toilet. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility with the following words: "We proudly claim the responsibility for the suicide attack at the U.N. office in Islamabad. We will send more bombers for such attacks. The U.N. and other foreign (aid groups) are not working for the interest of Muslims. We are watching their activities. They are infidels."


1. Dig out previous security risk assessments and physical security audits and make sure you've actually implemented the recommendations contained within.
2. If your existing security risk assessments and physical security audits are older than six and twelve months respectively update them now.
3. Ensure your Crisis Response Plan is current and practice it quarterly.
4. Implement a counter-surveillance plan.
5. Make sure you have a plan to respond if hostile surveillance is detected. Knowing your organization is being surveilled has little value if you are unable to respond to the fact.
6. Train as many staff as possible in personal counter-surveillance and surveillance detection.
7. Allow flexible work hours and 'work from home' policies.
8. Review access control procedures and ensure that guards are actually following them.
9. Limit visitors and insist on advance appointments.
10. Identify proper medical support.
11. Pull out all the stops on your active acceptance plan. You are unlikely to influence the Taliban and their supporters but you are going to need all the support and goodwill you can get from neighbours, beneficiaries, and local police.

The Future

As governmental and UN organizations continue to improve their security measures to deal with the militant threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan more and more of the risk burden will fall on softer targets, including NGOs. I assess their is a 70 to 80% chance that there will be VBIED or complex attack on an NGO facility in Afghanistan or Pakistan within the next twelve months. Are you ready?

Acceptance, ladders, kindness and WFP

If you read this blog regularly you undoubtedly already know of yesterday's suicide attack the the WFP office in Islamabad. If you somehow missed the news I suggest you take a look at Peter's post on the loss of five of his WFP colleagues. This brief coverage from Dawn news should also help bring you up to speed.

At this point there isn't much purpose in rehashing the copious news coverage of this tragedy but it might be worth looking for some tentative security lessons. I'm somewhat hesitant to do so for fear that it will be seen as pointing the finger of blame so I'll caveat by saying that is not my intent. I am in no way second guessing those who were forced to make difficult choices based on incomplete and often contradictory information.

No, they really don't like you...

I'm hoping this incident will finally lay to rest the persistent and dangerous myth that there is no evidence that the Taliban and other extremist groups are deliberately targeting the UN and humanitarian organizations in Pakistan. If the kidnapping of
John Solecki, the murder of his driver, the murder of Zil-e-Usman, and numerous death threats were not enough to convince perhaps these words from Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq will:

"We proudly claim the responsibility for the suicide attack at the U.N. office in Islamabad. We will send more bombers for such attacks. The U.N. and other foreign (aid groups) are not working for the interest of Muslims. We are watching their activities. They are infidels."

"The WFP is promoting the US agenda. They are silent on massacres and do not comment on killings in Waziristan and other areas."

Ladders and walls

The attack also highlights one of the limitations of passive physical security measures. As United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano put it, “You build a 50 foot wall, somebody will find a 51 foot ladder.”

Responding to the VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) attacks in Baghdad in 2003, Algiers in 2007 and Hargeisa in 2008 the UN increased passive security measures to deal with the new threat. Significant sums of money were spent building and strengthening blast walls, hardening buildings, installing vehicle barriers and blocking access roads. These measures would have made it much more difficult for extremists to carry out an effective VBIED attack on a UN facility.

In this case however the Taliban adapted to the increased security measures and used the equivalent of Janet's figurative 51 foot ladder, a single suicide bomber with seven or eight kilograms of explosives and ball bearings strapped to his chest. This simple change in tactics accomplished what using a larger VBIED probably would not have. Given the success of this attack we can expect similar attacks in the future.

A small act of kindness

At this early stage in the investigation it appears likely that the suicide bomber, who was wearing a Frontier Corps uniform, was let in to the WFP compound under the pretext of needing to urgently use the washroom. Critics have been quick to
lay blame on the private security company guarding the WFP compound, calling them negligent even before investigations were fully underway. While I agree to some extent I think its important to point out that there was likely simple but brilliant social engineering at play here.

There were 13 private security guards, three Frontier Corps soldiers and two police officers on duty at WFP at the time. I have little doubt that every one of them knows what its like to stand outside under the blazing sun hour after hour only to have the very people they were charged with protecting refuse to provide them water or let them have use of their washroom facilities. Add to this the fact that many private security guards are former Frontier Corps men and it's easy to understand how any one of them might have been willing to bend the rules for what to them appeared to be a brother-in-arms.

The great tragedy of this entire event is that it may have been the result of a small act of kindness. I truly hope it's not the case.

Third aid worker dies in CAR

This Sunday morning brings sad news. According to sources COOPI aid worker Adramane Abdel Karim has died from his injuries. Adramane was severely injured during the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) attack on a COOPI vehicle that killed two of his colleagues.

LRA incursions in the Central African Republic (CAR) have intensified since last December when LRA bases in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo were the target of a broad military offensive. Small groups of LRA rebels have since extended their operational range to portions of South Sudan, CAR, and the Congo.

Two aid workers killed in CAR

A child in a rebel camp in northern CAR holding bullet casings
Child with bullet casings in rebel camp.
Credits: Pierre Holtz | UNICEF CAR | hdptcar.net 

Two aid workers with an Italian NGO were killed on 21 September in the Central African Republic when Lord's Resistance Army rebels attacked their vehicle on the Banqui to Obo road.

According to Cooperazione Internazionale's blog Claude Nzapaoko Porcel and Jean Jacques Namkoisse were killed in the attack. A third aid worker, Adramane Abdel Karim, was severely injured and is in critical condition. AFP quotes a military source as saying, "Two other people were wounded by bullets, and five others are missing."

Canadian aid worker murdered in Honduras

Dallas Martens (31), a Canadian volunteer aid worker with the Morgan Jayne Project, an organization dedicated to fighting AIDS, was shot dead by thieves on the island on Roatan in Honduras last Friday.

Dallas and his wfe were returning home after celebrating their first wedding anniversary when Dallas was killed. The couple had stopped to view a house they were considering buying when two masked gunmen appeared from the side of the house. The thieves opened fire, hitting Dallas three times as he tried to protect his wife from the bullets. The gunmen fled with the woman's purse.

The couple moved to Roatan to support the Morgan Jayne Project, which specializes reducing the incidence of mother-to-child transmission of the AIDS virus. The couple also planned to adopt a baby boy they had met while volunteering for the organization the previous year.

The Morgan Jayne Project is trying to raise money to offer a reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators. More details are available at their website.

Canadian aid worker murdered

NGO worker beaten to death in Dhaka

Swapan Mandal (35) an aid worker with a local NGO died in Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) on 13 September after being severely beaten the day prior.

According to police Swapan Mandal and two other men stole money and a mobile phone from a Management Department of Dhaka University student. When the student cried out for help bystanders rushed to intervene, catching Swapan, and beating him severely before handing him over to police.

The Police say they rushed Swapan to DMCH where he died the next morning.

Swapan’s wife however denied the allegations saying that her husband was not a mugger but an NGO worker who worked with local sex workers. She suspects he was tortured. "He has no connection with the mugging," she added.

Update on kidnapped Greek aid worker

Kalash children

A 12 member jirga left Chitral yesterday for Afghanistan’s Nuristan province in an effort to secure the safe release of kidnapped aid worker Athanasios Lerounis. Lerounis was kidnapped on 8 September from his room in the Bumboret Valley.

According to the police they have “... credible reports that the Greek national has been sifted to Nuristan.” A local shepherd is reported to have witnessed a group of men taking a foreigner to a location in Afghanistan near the AfPak border. In addition police have arrested a Nuristani man suspected of being involved in the case. He is a close relative of the guide who is suspected of having helped the kidnappers move Lerounis to Nuristan.

This incident highlights the strengths and weaknesses of acceptance as an NGO security strategy. Lerounis’s acceptance by the local community did not prevent the murder of his police guard. Nor did it protect him from being kidnapped by those elements, criminal or Taliban, who live outside local societal norms. Community acceptance may however prove crucial during efforts to secure Lerounis’s safe release. Kalash community members have been actively working to secure his release. Besides the formation of the jirga mentioned above community members have assisted police in their investigations and are bringing pressure on the government to work quickly and effectively in regaining Lerounis’s freedom.

[Photo credit: Simon Taylor]

Aid worker killed in Iraq

Ra'aed Mohammed Saeed (50), an aid worker with the Human Relief Foundation’s office in Mosul, Iraq was ambushed and shot dead near his home on 1 September 2009 according to an HRF statement on the organizations website.

Mr Saeed, 50, was a project co-coordinator involved in the implementation of HRF’s projects including aid distribution and assistance to orphans and widows in northern Iraq. He leaves behind a wife and six children.

Ra'aed Mohammed Saeed

Greek aid worker kidnapped in Pakistan

Kalash woman and child
Kalash woman and child-- courtesy Gul Hamaad Farooqi

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped a Greek national from his room in the Bumboret Valley, Chitral, after killing one of his guards and injuring another early yesterday morning. The man was sleeping in his room inside the Kalash House museum when up to twenty armed men broke in and forced him to accompany them at gunpoint. The assailants also seized a local Kalash teacher, identified as Ajmeer Kalash, but quickly abandoned him after they tied him to a pillar.

The Greek man, identified in some reports as Athunasius, had been living and working in the Bumboret Valley since 1995. He was supervising the construction of the Kalash House museum and primary school where he also volunteered as a teacher. The project is funded by small Greek NGO and is intended to help preserve and promote the unique Kalash culture. During his time in the valley Athunasius also helped establish two primary schools and three maternity centres.

Note: The local media does not seem to be any better at handling Greek names than I am. Local reports have reported the victim as being Athanasee Laironaise, Lerunis Athuanisis, or simply Athunasius.

While Chitral is generally considered peaceful, it does border the conflict-plagued Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. An Afghan government adviser visiting the region was kidnapped last year. Two years ago unidentified gunmen murdered a Spanish national and his Pakistani servant at their residence in the Bumboret Valley.

Bumboret Museum
The museum in Bumboret

Two UNAMA staff killed in Kabul suicide attack

Two Afghan staff with UNAMA were killed in this morning’s suicide attack in Kabul according to a statement by UN Special Representative Kai Eide.

“I am shocked and greatly saddened to have learned that two of my staff members were among those killed in today’s suicide bombing on Kabul’s Jalalabad Road.

A third colleague has been wounded and is currently being treated for his injuries. All are nationals of Afghanistan.

At this time UNAMA is in the process of contacting the families of our colleagues to inform them of this tragedy. And we will grieve together. I condemn completely those responsible.”

Largely unoticed aid worker deaths in Somalia

Somali IDPs near Mogadishu
Somali IDPs near Mogadishu by Abdurrahman Warsameh for ISN Security Watch

Largely overshadowed by an al-Shabaab attack on a UN compound in Wajid and the looting of an MSF office in Jilib is the news of the death of Omar Ali Alasow, an aid worker with Daryeel Bulsho Guud (DBG). Omar was shot dead as he sat outside a DBG office at an IDP camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu.

DBG is paying a high price for its work in Somalia. Last year gunmen killed Mohamed Muhamoud Keyre, DBG’s deputy head. In a separate incident Mohamoud Ahmed, a security guard with DBG, was killed when armed men stormed the DBG office in Mogadishu.

Also largely unnoticed was the beheading of four Somali aid workers by al-Shabaab militants earlier this month. According to an ICC report Fatima Sultan, Ali Ma'ow, Sheik Mohammed Abdi, and Maaddey Diil were killed some time after being abducted from the town of Merca on 27 July. According to an eyewitness account the militants beheaded the four after they refused to convert back to Islam.

All four worked with a local NGO that cared for orphaned children.

Russian NGO and her husband murdered in Chechnya

A Chechen boy stands in the street during the battle for Grozny.
Photo: Mikhail Evstafiev - A Chechen boy stands in the street during the battle for Grozny.

Zarema Sadulayeva, the head of a Russian NGO called Save the Generation, was found dead in Chechnya on Tuesday, 11 August, alongside her husband (Alik Djibralov). The pair had been abducted from the office of their NGO on Monday afternoon. Their bullet ridden bodies were stuffed in the boot of a car in Chernorechye, Grozny.

Save the Generation works with marginalized children to provide them with alternatives to joining local armed groups.

This is the second murder of prominant NGO workers in Chechnya in less than a month. Natalia Estemirova of Memorial Human Rights Center was murdered by unidentified gunmen on 15 July.

Volunteer aid worker murdered in Zanzibar

Children using computers at a Camara sponsored event
Photo credit: Camara

Robert Decourcey Stringer (26), a volunteer aid worker with the Irish charity Camara, was killed during an apparent mugging and robbery in Zanzibar last Friday. Robert's body was discovered on a beach at 0800 AM, 7 August, 2009. He had suffered head injuries and some of his personal possessions were missing.

Robert was on holiday in Zanzibar after completing a five week volunteer mission as a team co-ordinator with Camara's computer training team in Tanzania.

A local man has since been
arrested in connection with the incident.

Camara provides refurbished computers and computer literacy training to schools and colleges in Africa.

Aid workers missing after Chad robbery

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is reporting that two of its aid workers are missing after the robbery of one of its compounds in Chad. MSF Netherlands said it could not account for the whereabouts of one international and one local aid worker after the attack.

According to Reuters, “A local source in Chad said the attack on the compound took place in the town of Ade on Chad's eastern border with Sudan.”

Refugee children in Chad

Red Crescent aid worker killed in Somali crossfire

ICRC is reporting that an aid worker with the Somali Red Crescent Society was killed in the centre of Mogadishu on 21 July, 2009.

According to ICRC, "Farah Aden Mo'allim was travelling in a public transport vehicle when he was caught in crossfire and hit by a stray bullet. He died instantly, before he could be taken to the nearest hospital."


Caritas aid worker murdered in Congo

On 15 July, Ricky Agusa Sukaka (27), an aid worker with Caritas France was shot and killed in Musezero, North Kivu, according to a Caritas International press release.

The press release goes on to say:

When his colleagues found him, his pockets had been emptied and his Secours Catholique-Caritas France t-shirt removed.

Villagers reported seeing Mr Sukaka, who was a Congolese national, stopped by two men wearing Congolese army uniforms before he was killed.

Refuse pit in center of Congo IDP camp

Afghan aid worker killed in neighbourhood dispute

On 18 July 2009, an Afghan driver working for an INGO in Jalalabad was shot and killed during an apparent neighbourhood dispute. While the exact circumstances surrounding the case are unclear (as is usual in Afghanistan) it does not appear that the incident was related to the driver’s work with the INGO.

The driver’s son was badly beaten during the incident.

Somali gunmen kidnap three aid workers in Kenya

Three aid workers — an American, a Pakistani, and a Mozambican — were kidnapped by armed men in Kenya’s border town of Mandera on Friday night. The gunmen reportedly seized the trio from an NGO run guest house where they were watching television with seven other expatriates. The victims were forced into a Land Cruiser and driven across the border into Somalia.

A ‘security guard’ cum ‘private tour guide’ was seriously injured during the incident.

Al Shabaab, the anti-government Islamic fundamentalist group that is holding two kidnapped French security officials, denied involvement in the incident calling it a “cowardly act” before pointing the finger at rival fundamentalist group Hizbul Islam. Al Shabaab’s promise to assist in locating the kidnapped aid workers is far from reassuring, however. It seems that Hizbul Islam, the original kidnappers of the French security officials, turned the pair over to Al Shabaab in order ‘to avert bloodshed’. In turn Al Shabaab has announced that they will try the Frenchmen under Shariah.

Al Shabaab ‘assistance’ in locating the kidnapped aid workers might best be avoided.

Human rights activist murdered in Russia

On 15 July 2009, Ms. Natalia Estemirova, a social worker and human rights advocate with the Russian NGO Memorial Human Rights Center was abducted and murdered by unknown assailants. According to a Human Rights Watch report Ms. Estemirova was forced into a white van as she left her apartment in Grozny at 8:30 in the morning. Her body was later found on a roadside in Ingushetia with two gunshot wounds to the head.


Read the BBC’s obituary for Ms. Estimirova for more on the life and work of this award-winning champion of human rights.

UN staffer killed in apparent kidnapping attempt in Pakistan

On 16 July 2009, gunmen killed Zil-e-Usman, a Pakistani working for UNHCR, just outside the agency's field office at Kacha Gari refugee camp, near Peshawar. According to UN and Pakistani officials the incident appears to have been a botched kidnapping attempt.

Usman (59) had worked for the UN for 30 years. A guard at the IDP camp was also killed.

The Kacha Garhi IDP camp mainly hosts Pakistani’s uprooted by the ongoing fighting between Pakistani forces and Taliban militants in the Bajaur tribal area.

Afghan aid worker murdered in Afghanistan

On 11 July an Afghan aid worker working for an undisclosed INGO in Afghanistan was shot to death by armed men who broke in to his residence in the Dare Kalan area of Kapisa province. The circumstances surrounding the death are unclear.

Source: ANSO

NGO security guard killed in crossfire in Afghanistan

On 6 July, an off duty security guard working with an undisclosed INGO was killed during a clash between Coalition forces and Afghan militants in the area of Khada Khel village, Sherzad District, Nangarhar Province.

Source: ANSO

NGO staffer strangled in Bangladesh

Late on Sunday, 12 July, a female NGO staff member was strangled to death in an apparent robbery and rape attempt in Bangladesh. Four assailants attacked Sheuli Akhter, 30, as she was returning home in the evening in Dadpur village at Boalmari upazila in Faridpur. The attackers stole her mobile phone after apparently trying and failing to rape her.

Ms. Akhter worked as an assistant accountant with the Boalmari office of Social Development Committee, a Bangladeshi NGO.

Adding insult to injury

The children of Mary Morgan, the aid worker severely injured in a bus crash in Kenya on Tuesday morning, were robbed in Nairobi Hospital while giving blood on Wednesday. The trio had flown to Kenya after the crash to assist their mother.

The thieves stole their cash, credit cards and mobile phones.

View Larger Map

Aid workers injured in Kenyan bus crash

An aid worker with Habitat for Humanity Northern Ireland has been seriously injured in a bus crash in Kenya. Mary Morgan (61) was seriously injured when the brakes of the minibus that was transporting them failed as the driver attempted to round a bend on the winding roads outside Nairobi.

Mary was one of 13 Habitat for Humanity staffers aboard the minibus which crashed enroute to a project site in Kathiami at 7.40am on 7 July. Five other staff suffered minor injuries while the remaining seven largely escaped injury.

Initial reports suggest that the bus was locally hired to transport staff to and from the project site.

Comment: While transport owner/operators are clearly responsible for maintaining their vehicles in a safe operating condition aid organizations are also responsible for ensure that the vehicles they hire meet their organization’s safety standards. It is incumbent upon the organization to do their own safety inspection before hiring the vehicle.

more: NI aid worker in Kenyan bus crash

Arsonists attack Islamic NGO in Scotland

Well, I must admit I never thought I would be writing about an NGO security incident in Scotland but here we go:

On July Arsonists set alit the Glasgow branch of
Islamic Relief. The fire caused approximately £70,000 to the international NGO’s charity shop at Albert Drive, Pollokshields. The fire damaged the shop front, a portion of the interior, and rendered the shop’s stock unuseable.

Image of burned Islamic Relief storefront in Glasgow

Police are looking for two white males between the ages of 18 and 25 in connection with the incident. One of the suspects was described as having a slim build, wearing a black hooded jacket with black and white checked lining, a red top and a red 'Ferrari' baseball cap. The other is described as having short dark brown hair and wearing a green top with a white collar.

The incident followed threatening phone calls made to the shop during Islamic Relief’s Gaza emergency appeal in January.

Comment: Ironically Islamic Relief’s shop had better physical security than many NGO facilities in far more dangerous parts of the world. They had good rolling security shutters on the front windows and door, an alarm system (visible in top left of photo), and likely video cameras as well.

Deminers released, health workers still held

The sixteen humanitarian deminers kidnapped in Afghanistan on Saturday have been released. Apparently tribal local tribal elders were able to negotiate the release of the team.

Two Afghan staff from the Netherlands based HealthNet TPO (HNI) who were also kidnapped on Saturday in nearby Khost province remain unaccounted for.

Sixteen humanitarian deminers kidnapped in Afghanistan

Sixteen humanitarian deminers from the Mine Detection and Dog Centre in Afghanistan were seized by unidentified gunmen on Saturday, 5 July. The group was taken while travelling along the Logar to Gardez road. So far, there have been no claims of responsibility.

The Logar to Gardez road is considered unsafe for travel by many NGOs, who travel the route only when essential and in unmarked vehicles. Last August
five IRC staff were killed in an ambush on the same road.

View Logar-Gardez Road in a larger map

Gunmen kidnap 16 Afghan UN demining workers-police

Two aid workers kidnapped in Darfur

Two aid workers with the aid group Goal, were kidnapped in Sudan's western Darfur region on 3 July 2009. Goal chief John O'Shea identified the two women as Sharon Commins (32), from Clontarf, Ireland and Hilda Kawuki (40) from Uganda.

The pair were seized by armed men from their compound in the northern Darfur town of Kutum shortly after dark. Their Sudanese guard was also taken during the incident but he was later released.

The incident followed a growing trend in Darfur kidnappings; foreign aid workers being seized from their compounds shortly after dark by well prepared teams of armed men. Compound walls and unarmed guards can do very little to deter this type of attack.

More: Irish aid worker kidnapped in Darfur

Three aid workers killed in Afghan IED attack

On 23 June 2009 three Afghan aid workers with Development and Humanitarian Services for Afghanistan were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Jowzjan province, Afghanistan.

The three aid workers, two engineers and a driver, were returning from a project site in the district of Aqcha (Aqcheh) when their car was struck by the remotely detonated IED. The massive explosion killed the trio instantly.

US aid worker murdered in Mauritania

An American humanitarian aid worker was shot and killed by suspected Al Qaeda militants in the Mauritanian capital Tuesday.

Christopher Lenget, the director of a school for computer science, was getting out of his car in front of the school, when two young men tried to kidnap him. He apparently resisted and was shot in the process.

Aid workers killed in Sri Lanka

On 13 May, Red Cross worker Majurin Sivakurunathan was killed in the crossfire alongside his mother according to an ICRC spokeswoman speaking to CNN. On 8 May an unnamed Sri Lankan aid worker with Caritas Australia was killed during a government artillery attack on the “No Fire Zone” in the Vanni region of Sri Lanka. Two more good people wasted in a country that can ill afford it.

Personal note: I find in very hard to write about the self induced disaster in Sri Lanka. The slow, painful, and seemingly inexorable slide from humanitarian situation to humanitarian catastrophe and my part in it eats at me. It’s not like the future wasn’t obvious even two or three years ago. Yet somehow, once again, we have failed to prevent a problem from becoming disaster. As a friend recently put it “i
t makes me feel dirty and ashamed to have been part of a process that was complicit in this f....g disgrace”.

Tsunami housing destroyed by government artillery fire, 27 July 2007.

Gunmen kill two more aid workers in Somalia

On 10 April, unidentified gunmen murdered two aid workers and their driver in a government controlled near Somalia’s Ethiopian border.

The gunmen killed the head of the Juba Community Care relief group, a colleague, and their driver as they were leaving town in their vehicle.

"Unidentified gunmen opened fire on their car as soon as they left for a trip to conduct surveys," Dahir Mohamed, one of their colleagues, said by phone from the region."We don't know who is behind the attack and the gunmen escaped after they killed the men," local elder Hasan Haji Idris said.

As with most attacks on aid workers in Somalia no group has claimed responsibility for the incident and the motive is unclear.

Source: Two Somali aid workers and their driver shot dead

Second ICRC staffer killed by shelling in Sri Lanka

On 8 April, Sinnathurai Kugathasan, a staff member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was killed by artillery fire in northern Sri Lanka, according to a statement from the committee.

Kugathasan, who had been working for ICRC since 2002 as a water technician, was hit by an artillery shell and killed instantly while fetching water for his family in Ampalavanpokanai, in territory held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He is survived by his wife and three children.

Kugathasan is the third humanitarian worker to be killed by artillery fire in Sri Lanka this year. On 17 March, R. Sabesan of CARE International died from shrapnel wounds. On 4 March ICRC staffer Vadivel Vijayakumar was also killed in an artillery attack in the same area.

Four aid workers killed in Pakistan

According to Pakistani television reports four aid workers with USAID funded Rise International were killed by gunmen in the Kund Bangla area of Shinkiary near Mansehra, Pakistan, on 6 April 2009. The gunmen fired upon the agency vehicle killing the three female staff. The body of their driver was found nearby.

The victims of the attack were identified as:

Sadaf Yar Muhammad - social mobiliser
Anjum Zeb - assistant education officer
Naeema Kausar - teacher
Saifullah - driver

According to a Rise International spokesman the four were returning to Mansehra from Kund Bangla when they were attacked. Their team had been in Kund Bangla to encourage local parents to send their children, especially girls, to school.

Although no culprits have been identified by police suspicion falls on Pakistani Taliban associated militants who object to education for girls. Conservative elements in the region object to the rapid pace of social change brought by NGOs and others since the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.

Update: Local sources have indicated that Sadaf Yar Muhammad was the only victim working for Rise International. The other two women worked for the local education board. Local papers are now reporting that the incident may be the result of a domestic violence case.

FAR aid worker killed in Sudan

On 23 March, Adam Khatir, a Sudanese aid worker with Fellowship of African Relief, was shot dead by gunmen at his home in Kongo Haraza, Sudan. According to Mark Simmons, FAR’s country director, “He was ambushed on Saturday by men who wanted his Thuraya satellite telephone. They came to his home on Monday evening to take the phone, but it wasn't there. The armed men then opened fire on him."

On 21 February
two aid workers with Aide Médicale Internationale were killed when gunmen attacked a public bus near Nyala.

FAR Saddened by Death of Staff Member in Darfur
Sudanese aid worker shot dead in Darfur

Third WFP aid worker killed in Somalia

Update/Correction: Although Ahmed Hussein was previously a WFP contractor he was not working for WFP at the time of his death and had not done so for some time.

On 19 March, an aid worker with the UN's World Food Program (WFP) was killed in Mogadishu, Somalia according to a local radio station. Ahmed Hussein "Gesey" was shot in the head by unidentified gunmen while driving his vehicle in the Yaaqshiid district of Somalia’s capitol.

Ahmed Hussein is the third WFP staffer to be killed in Somalia this year. Ibrahim Hussein Duale was assassinated by gunmen near Garbahare on 6 January. On 8 January Mohamud Omar Moallim was shot by unidentified gunmen while distributing food to displaced people at Daynile, 6 miles north west of Mogadishu.

For other aid worker deaths this year see the Aid Worker Fatalities 2009 map.

Aid worker killed in Sri Lanka

On 17 March, R. Sabesan, a volunteer aid worker and former caretaker for CARE International, was killed by artillery fire in the ‘no-fire’ zone of northern Sri Lanka.

On Tuesday afternoon shrapnel from artillery fire inside the government agreed ‘no-fire’ zone severed one of Sabesan’s legs. He later died from his injuries. The lack of appropriate medical facilities and the lack of medical evacuation options contributed to Sabesan’s senseless death.

According to CARE, Mr. Sabesan, 24, had been working for CARE as a caretaker in the Mulliativu District office since March 2005.

Mr. Sabesan is the second aid worker to be killed by artillery fire in Sri Lanka this month.
Vadivel Vijayakumar, an ICRC staff member, was killed by artillery fire on the 4th.

Four UN staff kidnapped in Somalia

Update - Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Muktar Robow Mansoor is claiming that all four kidnapped staff have been released and are “... with me with their luggage and we are going to hand over the U.N. officers soon. They are free now.”

On 16 March gunmen kidnapped four UN aid workers in Wajid, Somalia. The UN staffers were preparing to fly from Wajid airport when they were seized. The presence of armed escorts did not deter the kidnappers. No shots were fired.

The kidnapped staff included one Azerbaijani and one Ghanian, both with UNDP, one French staff member of WFP, and a Somali from the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).

Kidnappings of aid workers and journalists are common in Somalia. Although many victims are released unharmed after the payment of ransom the process can drag on for months. A Canadian journalist and an Australian photographer abducted last August are still being held. Four aid workers with Action Contre la Faim and two Kenyan pilots have been held since November.

Foreign aid workers travelling to Somalia should ensure their financial affairs are in order and their families understand their wishes in the event they are kidnapped.

Somalia: Unknown Gunmen Kidnap UN Aid Workers
hawiye gunmen kidnap UN aid workers

American aid worker dead in Benin

On 12 March American Peace Corps volunteer Kate Puzey was found outside her home in Badjoude, Benin, where she worked as an English teacher. Although the Peace Corps has not yet commented on the cause of death there is some suspicion that she may have been murdered. The Peace Corps is waiting for local authorities to finish their investigations.

According to the Peace Corps, Ms. Puzey began her service in Benin on July 17, 2007. She was 24 years old and a native of Cumming, Georgia.

Three Red Cross staff killed by mobs in Mozambique

Angry mobs have killed at least three Red Cross volunteers and several police officers in Mozambique amidst fears that health staff were responsible for spreading Cholera. The attacks on Red Cross staff began when a rumour spread that the Red Cross and local authorities were infecting wells and fountains with cholera.

Red Cross staff were in fact treating wells with chlorine. Unfortunately local residents confused
cloro, the Portuguese word for chlorine, with Cholera and the rumour that health staff were deliberately infecting the wells quickly spread.

On 25 February 2009 two Mozambique Red Cross staff were killed by an angry mob in Quinga while they were on a safe drinking water public education campaign.


By 28 February the violence had spread to Angoche where a mob attacked a local health care center. The mob killed a police officer who had been sent along with four others to protect the centre’s aid workers.


On the same day, further down the coast in Moma district, another mob seized a local community leader and attacked police sent to rescue him.


More: Red Cross Volunteers Killed By Mob In Mozambique As Cholera Situation Deteriorates
Mozambique: Policeman Killed in Cholera Riot
Mozambique mobs kill three Red Cross workers in cholera mix-up

Five aid workers kidnapped in Darfur

Three international aid workers with Medecins Sans Frontieres Belgium were kidnapped on Wednesday from their offices in Darfur, Sudan according to an MSF statement. MSF identifies the trio as a Canadian nurse, an Italian doctor and a French coordinator. Two Sudanese staff were also seized but were quickly released.

The kidnapping took place in Serif Umra in north Darfur, where MSF Belgium runs a health clinic and dispensary.

While MSF France and MSF Netherlands were among the thirteen aid groups expelled from Darfur last week MSF Belgium was not. The Swiss and Spanish branches of MSF also remain in Darfur.

More: International aid workers kidnapped in Darfur
Foreign Aid Workers Kidnapped In Darfur

Note: I’m on the road right now so can’t really give this incident the attention it deserves. Check out the sidebar for timely news and opinion on Darfur.

Update: The three kidnapped MSF staff have been identified as Laura Archer, Mauro D'Ascanio and Raphael Meonier.

Sudan Rumours

Rumours and breaking news from Sudan:

* A mob burnt vehicles parked outside an INGO compound in Khartoum
* @robcrilly reports NGO staff held at gunpoint by national security in Nyala as they were trying to leave for airport.
* Delays for exit visas
* Some foreigners have had trouble trying to get laptops out of Sudan over the last couple of days. I recommend you sanitize your hard drive before trying to get it out of the country.

Rob Crilly is in Sudan at the moment. Follow him on Twitter (@robcrilly) for a journalists perspective of events.

ICRC staffer killed in northern Sri Lanka

TamilNet is reporting the death of an ICRC staff member in northern Sri Lanka on 4 March 2009. According to the report Mr. K. Vijayarasa, was killed in an artillery attack as he was returning home from assisting with the evacuation seriously injured patients from a local hospital.

Update: ICRC has issued a news release. They identify the deceased staff member as Vadivel Vijayakumar and point out that Vijaykumar’s nine year old son was injured in the same incident.

Note: TamilNet is exactly an unbiased source but their bias is overt and they are often the first to report issues affecting Tamils in northern Sri Lanka.

Two aid workers killed in bus attack

On 21 February 2009, two Sudanese members of Aide Médicale Internationale (AMI) were killed by camel riding gunmen near Nyala, in Darfur, Sudan.

A dozen gunmen had forced a cargo truck and the passenger bus on which the AMI staff were riding to stop at the roadside in an apparent act of banditry. The gunmen then opened fire killing the two AMI staff members and wounding four other bus passengers. A third member of the AMI escaped unharmed.

The victims included a nurse practitioner and a health educator.

AMI has taken the decision to suspend programming the area to honour the memory of their slain colleagues.

Aid worker caught up in Guatemalan highway robbery

Sandra van den Brink, an aid worker with Ayudamos, was among 12 bus passengers robbed and molested near Huehuetenango, Guatemala, on 19 February.

Sandra was on a small shuttle bus returning from a project visit in Mexico when four gunmen in a truck pulled alongside the bus and forced them to stop. The gunmen took control of the bus and drove it to a remote ravine where they tied and robbed the passengers. The gunmen sexually assaulted several of the female passengers during the incident.

There are a couple of things worth noting from this story. First is that Sandra obviously had some understanding of the context she was in and understood that the incident did not fit the normal crime pattern in the area. Unfortunately she was unable to act on the knowledge she had.

Second is that Sandra was instinctually afraid of being moved to what is known as the second crime scene. This isolated location is a place where the attackers feel more comfortable and in control. Common thieves rarely move their victims to a second location but rapists and murderers usually do. Being moved to a second crime scene drastically reduces a victim’s chances of survival.

Aid worker attacked by gunmen in Somalia

On 19 February 2009 gunmen attacked a Somali aid worker in Afgoye near Mogadishu, killing one security guard.

The armed men attacked the home of Mohamed Hassan Orow, the head of a local NGO, sparking a fire-fight with his private security guards.

Two bystanders were reportedly injured in the incident.

Employees of humanitarian organizations are regularly the target of attacks in Somalia. Most NGO’s have resorted to using private security guards.

NGO staff member killed in Kandahar

The Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO) is reporting that a national staff member of an INGO has been assassinated in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The staff member was apparently shot several times in the head. Night letters, anonymous fliers distributed at night, had recently been posted in the area threatening anyone working for foreign organizations.

Although ANSO indicates that details are sketchy and caution that details may change they quite rightly point out that NGO’s should take the information at face value until further information becomes available.

Two aid workers murdered in Sri Lanka.

According to the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) two members of its field staff were abducted on 2 February in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka. The pair were on leave at the time. On 10 February their bodies were found near the government controlled town.

There is something about this incident that reeks of pathos. Murdered in a dirty little war... no press coverage... reduced to an anonymous three paragraph press statement.

If anyone knows their names please send them my way and I’ll record them here.

FSD press statement.

Two MSF staff killed in Pakistan


According to MSF two of their medical staff were killed during fighting in Swat district, Pakistan on Sunday 1 February 2009. The two staff were on their way to collect casualties of the heavy fighting when their clearly marked ambulances were fired upon in Charbagh.

Riaz Ahmad (24) and Nasar Ali (27) were killed in the attack. An MSF volunteer was also injured in the attack. The drivers of both ambulances escaped injury.

Attacks on independent medical staff strike me as extremely myopic. You might deprive your enemy of medical care but you also deprive yourself, your colleagues, and your community of the same care.

For more on attacks on aid workers in 2009 check out the aid worker fatalities map.

UNHCR officer kidnapped, driver killed in Quetta

On 2 February, unidentified gunmen kidnapped UNHCR sub-office Chief John Soloki from the Chaman Housing area in Quetta, Pakistan. The gunmen opened fire on his vehicle as he was leaving for work in the morning killing his driver.

Aid workers robbed and sexually assaulted in DRC

A group of aid workers with an unspecified NGO were robbed and assaulted in eastern DRC according to a media report. The group was stopped and robbed by unidentified armed men. The gunmen then raped a French woman and sexually assaulted others in the group.

The aid workers had been based in Goma.

Video update - Aid worker mauled by tiger

New Zealand aid worker mauled by tiger

Ruth Corlett with Pancake the Tiger
Photo: Ruth with Pancake the Tiger by Corlett family

An aid worker from New Zealand is in hospital after being mauled by a tiger at the Khumsu Chiang Mai Tiger Centre in Thailand. According to Thai media the year old tiger attacked Ruth Corlett after she touched its head during a hands on exhibition at the centre.

According to Stuart, Ruth’s husband, she is remains in hospital but is doing “OK”.

Ruth Corlett and her husband were apparently working with Partners in Thailand near the border with Myanmar.

Partners is a faith based organization working on relief and development.

MSF forced to relocate by South Darfur violence

On 15 January, following heavy fighting in Muhajariya, South Darfur, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was forced to temporarily relocate most of its medical team to Nyala.

According to a recent MSF article the MSF base in Muhajariya has since been completely destroyed by fire. Fortunately the MSF clinic remains functional and a skeleton crew of local staff are attempting to provide basic services despite the risks.

The security situation in the Muhajariya area remains far from clear. Fighting between government forces and the Justice and Equality Movement has made delivery of aid very difficult. UNAMID is trying to fill the humanitarian void left after the withdrawal of the other humanitarian organizations.

Further complicating the situation, local civilians and ‘some’ combatants have taken refuge at UNAMID camps. This clearly endangers the safety and security of UNAMID troops and those civilians seeking refuge in the camps.

Although Sudanese officials have not directly linked the current attacks with the impending indictment of Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court, Sudanese government officials have repeatedly threatened recriminations against civilians, peacekeepers, aid workers and others in the event of an arrest warrant.

If you weren’t already cynical enough

As with many things in life it seems that the death of Jiri Zivny may not have been what it first seemed. A report in the AsiaSentinal suggests that Jiri may have died in a motorcycle accident rather than a robbery. You can read more in this disillusioning report: Cashing in by Doing Good in Cambodia

At this point it is very difficult to know exactly what is going on but it reinforces my previous advice - “Ensure you have proper medical evacuation insurance before you go abroad. The organization you work for should be able to provide this for you. If not, you will need to pay for your own... and you should probably consider choosing another organization.”

Whatever the outcome of this incident may be my thoughts are for Ziri, a man who seems to have been struggling to turn his life around for the better.

Canadian humanitarian worker dies

The Canadian Aid Worker who was seriously beaten in Cambodia last week has died from his injuries. Jiri Zivny died at 5:15 p.m. local time on 15 January at Phnom Penh's Calmette hospital from injuries he sustained during a mugging.

As sad as this is it gets worse. According to CBC:

Zivny's medical insurance had expired before the attack. News of his death came as Picklyk and others were trying to raise funds to bring him back to Canada for treatment.

In other words Zivny did not have insurance to cover medical evacuation and neither did the organization he had paid 2700.00 CDN to volunteer for.

Potential aid workers take note - Ensure you have proper medical evacuation insurance before you go abroad. The organization you work for should be able to provide this for you. If not you will need to pay for your own... and you should probably consider choosing another organization.

More: B.C. aid worker dies in Cambodia

French aid worker stabbed in Aceh

On 08 January 2009, a French humanitarian aid worker, Sebastien Daridan, was stabbed in the torso by a local resident.

Daridan is the head of mission for the French NGO Triangle Génération Humanitaire.

Local police detained an Acehnese man identified as Edi Miswar. The motive for the attack is unclear.

More: French aid worker stabbed, in critical condition in Aceh

Canadian aid worker seriously beaten in Cambodia

Jiri Zivny
Jiri Zivney, a Canadian volunteer humanitarian worker with the International Humanitarian Hope Society, was beaten and robbed in Cambodia. He remains in Phnom Penh in critical condition.

Jiri was in Cambodia delivering medical supplies to Cambodian orphans as part of a humanitarian trip to China, Vietnam, Thailand and Burma. He was apparently attacked shortly after withdrawing cash from an ATM.

A trust fund has been set up for Jiri Zivny. Please make all checks payable to International Humanitarian Hope Society (a tax deductible receipts will be issued).

Valley First
100-180 Seymour Street
Kamloops BC V2C 2Es
Phone 250-374-4924

Account # 610071571
transit 27310-809

For more details go to the International Humanitarian Hope website.

UNRWA contractor killed in Gaza

On 8 January a civilian contractor for the UN Palestinian Refugees Agency (UNRWA) was reportedly killed when a UN convoy on its way to pick up relief supplies was hit by two tank shells in northern Gaza on Thursday according to a UN spokesman. Two other contractors were injured.

The convoy was reported to have been co-ordinated with the Israeli military and occurred during the three hour cease fire scheduled to last from 1pm (11:00 GMT) to 4pm (14:00 GMT) at the Erez crossing.

The Israeli army says it is investigating the incident.

more: Israel fires on UN Gaza convoy

Gunmen kill second WFP aid worker in Somalia

On 8 January 2009 gunmen killed a UN World Food Programme (WFP) worker as his team distributed aid in Daynile 10 kms north of Mogadishu. The unidentified aid worker was the second WFP staff member murdered since the beginning of the new year. The gunmen also stole the victim’s vehicle after taking weapons from his bodyguards.

WFP food monitor Ibrahim Hussein Duale was shot dead on Tuesday by masked gunmen at a school near Garbahare.

Gunmen kill WFP aid worker in Somalia

Second (?) aid worker killed in Gaza

On 6 January, Mohammed Ibrahim Samouni, a Palestinian aid worker, was killed in an aerial bombing in Gaza. One of his six children was also critically injured in the incident.

Mr Samouni worked at a food packing station managed by CARE's General Union of Palestinian Peasants in support of CARE's Gaza Fresh Food Project.

More on Mr Samouni’s death: Worker for CARE's food distribution project killed in Gaza and Violence halts most of CARE's aid distribution in Gaza Strip

Mr Samouni may have the dubious distinction of being the second aid worker killed in the recent round of fighting in Gaza. Then again he might not.

The IFRC, is reporting that a Palestinian Red Crescent Society volunteer, Arafa Abdul Dayem, was killed while on duty, after an air strike hit the Al Salheen in Jabaliya. It sounds similar to the earlier incident reported by Oxfam. A different incident location, Beit Lahiya, was given but OpenStreetMap shows both locations in close proximity so I’m thinking its the same incident.

To make matters even more confused IPS quotes a spokesman for Gaza's Shifa Hospital as saying, “One Palestinian doctor and three medics have been killed during Israel's bombing campaign...”.

View Larger Map

On a related note Mikel Maron and volunteers are working on a Gaza OpenStreetMap update. If you know Gaza reasonably well but are fortunate enough to be in the relative safety of some place else you might want to give them your help. Good maps will help the relief effort and improve the safety and security of aid workers in Gaza.

Aid worker killed in Somalia

It’s only the sixth day of the new year and already we have this disturbing report of the death of an aid worker colleague in Somalia.

According to WFP:

Three masked gunmen shot and killed 44-year-old Somali national Ibrahim Hussein Duale, while he was monitoring school feeding in a WFP-supported school in Yubsan village six kilometres from the Gedo region capital of Garbahare. Witnesses say the gunmen approached him while he was seated, ordered him to stand up and then shot him.

WFP Statement
Aid worker killed in Somalia

Oxfam Funded Paramedic Killed in Gaza

According to an Oxfam statement a paramedic working for an Oxfam funded organization, Union of Health Work Committees, has been killed in the fighting in Gaza. The health care worker was killed when an errant shell hit his ambulance. Another paramedic and the ambulance driver were injured in the same incident.

The ambulance team was trying to evacuate an injured person in the Beit Lahiya area of Gaza.

Gunmen kill ICRC driver in Sri Lanka

On 23 December unidentified gunmen shot and killed a driver with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

Mr. Sivasundaralingam Gangatharan (32) was killed near the ICRC office after stepping down from the bus he was taking to work. The father of two had been working for ICRC since 1999.

Sri Lanka: ICRC staff member killed in Jaffna
ICRC driver shot dead in Northern Sri Lanka

Gunmen fire on WFP food truck killing one

On 22 December, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a WFP contracted food aid delivery truck in the southern Philippines. The vehicle’s driver assistant was killed in the attack.

more: Gunmen fire on U.N. aid truck in Philippines, 1 dead

Gumen Kill Aid Worker in Eastern DRC

On 15 December gunmen shot and killed a Congolese aid worker from an Italian aid group in eastern Congo. Boduin Ntamenya was killed and his driver, Ciza Deo Gratias was seriously wounded when their vehicle was ambushed in the town of Burayi 5 km south of Rutshuru. Both men worked for the Voluntary Association for International Service (AVSI), an Italian non-governmental organisation operating in eastern Congo.

Although the incident took place in territory controlled by the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), CNDP officials blame the incident on the Rwandan Hutu rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The CNDP claim to have captured one of the aid worker’s killers.

This is the second fatal attack on humanitarian workers in DRC in less than a week. On 11 December a staff member from IRC was murdered in Bukavu.

Somali ICRC guard killed in shooting incident

On Saturday, 13 December, a Somali security guard working for ICRC was killed in a shooting incident in Mogadishu. An ICRC staff member and a driver were apparently temporarily detained by TFG police but were later released.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are unclear.

ICRC guard killed in Mogadishu shooting incident

German aid worker, parents abducted in Yemen

Bani Thabyan tribesmen kidnapped a German aid worker and her parents in southern Yemen on Monday. The aid worker and her visiting mother and father were seized by the tribesmen in Dhamar province, 105 kilometres south of the capital, San'a according to security officials. The kidnappers are demanding the release of imprisoned fellow tribesman.

German and Yemeni officials have yet to release the identity of the captives.

Kidnappings of this type are fairly common in Yemen. In the majority of cases, the hostages are freed unharmed after negotiations.

Map of Dhamar

Aid Worker Murdered in DRC

On 11 December, Seguin Tshisekedi was shot dead by unknown assailants a short distance from his home in the city center of Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the IRC, Mr. Tshisekedi had worked for IRC as a data entry assistant since 2003.

The motives for the attack are unclear. Radio Okapi reports that Tshisekedi’s mobile phones are missing but that 425.00 USD and personal valuables were left behind.

Pasted Graphic

Kenyan Aid Worker Wounded in Ambush

Gunmen shot and wounded an aid worker in a northern Kenya during an ambush on an ambulance. The attackers fired on the ambulance while it was transporting twelve members of the German non-governmental organization GTZ from one camp to another.

Approximately 250,000 Somali refugees live in three refugee camps in the Daadab area near Somalia.

Read more: Gunmen Wound Aid Worker In Kenya

One released, another taken

Dany Egreteau, the French aid worker who has kidnapped on 3 November in Kabul has apparently been released unharmed.

Unfortunately this good news is tempered by the apparent abduction of Jestina Mukoko, the Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project. Jestina was forced from her home in Harare by armed men in civilian clothing at 5 AM on 3 November. The Zimbabwe Peace Project local intelligence and police authorities are involved in the abduction.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project works to document violence and torture across Zimbabwe through a network of Peace Monitors.



CCF Aid Worker Killed in Afghanistan

On 30 November Mohamad Shar (52) was killed when a suicide bomber attacked a passing vehicle. Shar had been working for Christian Children's Fund (CCF) for 18 months. He leaves behind a wife and six children.

Its difficult to understand the impact that Shar’s loss will have on his family. Shar wasn’t the target of the suicide attack but it is his family and the families of other victims who suffer the consequences.

Below is the story of Sami’s family. Sami was also killed in a suicide attack in Kabul on either 29 or 30 November. It may well have been the same attack killed Shar.

Mother (the first woman): My lovely son, oh my son my son.

Anchor: This is Sami’s family. Sami, who had worked for six years as a cleaner in Kabul city, was killed yesterday by suicide attack while he cleaned the street. Sami left five children behind. His oldest child is seven years. According to Sami’s wife he was the sole breadwinner of the family. After him there is no one to help this family.

Sami’s wife: My husband was a cleaner and he is dead now. He was supporting us and providing food. I am asking Karzai what should I do with my orphan children now and how should I feed them.

Anchor: These children are waiting for their father to come home. They do not understand that their father is never returning.

Eldest daughter: My uncle came and said Daddy had hurt his leg only then they brought his dead body.

Eldest son: He took his bicycle and his bag to bring food for us.

Anchor: Sami had two brothers and his brothers say they are not able to help the children. They are street cart porters and barely make a living (for their own families).

Eldest brother: I heard Sami was injured. When I arrived there I saw his body was torn into pieces.

Second brother: I went and saw his body was torn into pieces. The body was bleeding all the way to the cemetery. Why? We are all terrorized. Nothing left for us. Oh fear Allah; fear Quran! Why are they doing this to us?

Anchor: This is the second attack in this street. The first one killed five city cleaners and injured seven.

UN Contract Worker Killed in Afghanistan

On 26 November Belqis Mazloomyar, a UNHCR contract worker, women's rights activist, and community worker, was killed by unknown gunmen in Surkh Rod district of Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan. She was shot during a local shura meeting at Lower Sheikh Mesri, a temporary settlement for returnees. The identity of the perpetrators and their motives remain unclear.

More: Statement by Kai Eide, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan

Aid Worker Murdered in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

An aid worker with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) was killed by unidentified gunmen in Batticaloa last night. A. Vigneswaran was shot and killed after the gunmen forced him from his house according to local authorities. Vigneswaran had worked as a construction-supervisor with NRC for two years.

More: NGO officer shot dead in eastern Sri Lanka

Mumbai Blasts

As word comes in about the scope of the terror attacks in Mumbai you might want to check out these close to real time sources:

MumbaiHelp is willing to assist with trying to connect families to relatives in Mumbai.

If you search #mumbai in Twitter you will receive the latest tweets. If that’s too overwhelming try the CNN Twitter feed or BreakingNewsOn

If you have a good connection try IBNlive.

Updated: Gunmen Kill American Aid Worker and Driver in Peshawar

Gunmen shot and killed an American aid worker and his driver in Peshawar, Pakistan on Wednesday 12 November. The men were killed near their office in the University Town area. The names of the victims have not been officially released pending notification of next of kin but local television channels are reporting the victim as Stephen Devency.

The American reportedly worked for the FATA Development Program, a USAID funded coalition of humanitarian organizations.

Update: The NYT has identified the murdered American as Steve Vance of the Co-operative Housing Foundation (CHF). The Tehrik-i-Taliban, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the murders.


American Aid Worker Shot Dead
US aid worker killed in Pakistan

Gunmen Kill Mercy Corps Staffer in Somalia

On 8 November gunmen shot dead a Somali aid worker in southern Somalia. Mohamud Mohamed Osman “Sakow” of Mercy Corps was assassinated while walking to his house in Jamame, north of Kismayu.

Read more:
Somalia: Aid worker killed in Somalia
Hawiye jehadist al shabaab killed today Aid worker in shabelle region Somalia
Gunmen kill another aid worker in south Somalia

Somali Gunmen Kidnap Aid Workers on Airstrip

Somali gunmen have kidnapped a group of aid workers from an airstrip in central Somalia.

French Aid Worker Kidnapped in Kabul

The details are still sketchy but it appears that a French aid worker has been kidnapped in Kabul this morning. According to various sources he was taken while walking in Karta Parwan, a suburb of Kabul. An Afghan, possibly with the National Directorate of Security, was shot when he tried to intervene.

More: Western aid worker kidnapped in Kabul, Afghan shot dead

Updated: Video From Hargeisa Attacks

Thanks to noodlepie for sending the link to this video of the aftermath of the suicide attacks in Hargeisa.

Warning: Some of the footage is graphic. Don’t watch it if you find coverage of victims of violence exploitive.

More video showing the UNDP compound.

Updated: Suicide Attacks on UNDP and Horn Relief in Somalia

Update: New information suggests three killed and eight injured at UNDP compound.

A UNDP compound has been struck by a suicide bomb attack in what seems to be a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks across northern Somalia. Initial reports suggest that at least one UN staff member and a security guard were killed.

It appears that Horn Relief, an NGO working in the horn of Africa may also have been hit in the attacks.

Suicide bombers in Somalia strike UN compound

Somali Aid Worker Murdered

A female aid worker was gunned down by unknown assailants on 25 October near the Somali town of Gurilel. Duniya Sheik Daud worked for Iida, a group that campaigns for women's rights and against female genital mutilation.

more: Another aid worker killed in Somalia

Taliban Kill British woman aid worker in Kabul

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the murder of a female aid worker early on 20 October. Gayle Williams was targeted by two motorcycle riding gunmen while she walked along a Kabul street.

According to a Taliban spokesman, “We killed her for spreading Christian propaganda.”

Read more:
British woman aid worker killed in Afghan capital

WHO Aid Worker Wounded by Somali Gunmen

Gunmen shot and seriously wounded Osmail Moalim Ahmed, an official with WHO, on Sunday 27 July 2008. The attackers shot him five times in the chest before taking his car. Osmail was running the Polio Vaccination Campaign in Dinsor, southern Somalia.

UN aid worker injured in S Somalia
WHO aid worker seriously wounded by Somali gunmen

Two French Aid Workers Kidnapped in Afghanistan

Two French aid workers from Action Against Hunger (ACF) were kidnapped in Afghanistan on Friday. The pair were taken at 1 AM as they slept in their ACF guest house in Nili, Day Kundi Province. The kidnappers reportedly tied up the local guards before fleeing with thier two victims.

According to ACF they have knowledge that the two staff members are still alive.

Kidnapping in Afghanistan: Two ACF Humanitarian Aid Workers Abducted
Two French aid workers kidnapped in Afghanistan

Gunmen Kill Aid Workers in Somalia

On 11 July gunmen shot and killed Mohamed Muhamoud Keyre, the deputy head of Mogadishu-based, German-funded Daryeel Bulsho Guud (DBG). DBG reported that he had been gunned down as he was performing ablutions at a Mosque at Elasha Biyaha, Mogadishu.

In a separate incident gunmen seriously wounded Ali Bashi, who heads Mogadishu-based charity group, SORDA. Ali Bashi was attacked while distributing food to internally displaced people in Taredishe camp 13 kilometres south of Mogadishu.

Meanwhile, in southern Somalia, gunmen shot and killed a WFP-contracted driver. Ahmed Saali was killed in fighting between convoy escorts and militiamen at a checkpoint in Lower Shabelle region on Monday.

Somali aid worker killed near Mogadishu, another wounded
Somali aid worker killed by gunmen

Massive Suicide Blast Targets Indian Embassy in Kabul

Three Afghan NGO staff killed in Air Strike

On 3 July, three Afghan aid workers employed by an International NGO were reportedly killed in a Coalition Force (CF) air strike in Nuristan. Another staff member was wounded in the incident.

According to reports the aid workers were evacuating the area after receiving warnings of impending CF operations when their vehicle was caught in the air strike.

UNDP Head Assassinated in Mogadishu, Somalia

Osman Ali Ahmed, head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Mogadishu, was assassinated by gunmen as he returned home from evening prayers. The gunmen shot him six times at close range. His younger brother was also fatally wounded in the incident.

Gunmen kill senior U.N.official in Mogadishu

Australian Aid Worker Shot and Killed in Tanzania

Darren Stratti, an Australian aid worker helping build a village for orphans in northern Tanzania, was shot by burglars in a robbery attempt. He later succumbed to his wounds.

Mr Stratti worked for foodwatershelter, a small NGO set up to work in developing countries, building the villages which provide education, health and social facilities for women, children and orphans.

Shot kills the dream of aid worker Darren Stratti
Australian aid worker killed in Africa

Gunmen Seize Aid Workers in Somalia (update 2)

Gunmen have reportedly seized aid worker Mohamoud Abdi Adan while he was travelling to Mogadishu from Merka. Mohamoud is a local co-ordinator for Water for Life.

Reuters is reporting that a female staff member was taken in the same incident.

Somali gunmen kidnap workers with Italian charity

Update 2 July - Reports now suggest that at least four Water for Life staff may have been kidnapped. See Aid Worker Killed, at Least 4 Kidnapped Near Somali Capital for more info.

Aid Worker Killed in Somalia

On 30 June, unidentified gunmen kidnapped and later killed Siyad Orow, a Somali aid worker in Mogadishu. Siyad Orow was the head of ASAL, a local implementing partner for WFP.

Gunmen kill aid worker in Mogadishu: officials

Two UN Mine Action Program Staff Abducted/Released in Somalia

Somali gunmen seized then quickly released two Scandinavian UN Mine Action Program staff over the weekend. The gunmen kidnapped the pair and a local IMC translator when they stormed the IMC compound in Hudur, Somalia.

Noefolk Nelson and Ulf Felink were released on Saturday hours after they taken. A Somali translator was also released.

Four foreign aid workers, two Italians, a Kenyan and a Briton, abducted in April and May, are still being held by gunmen in Somalia.

U.N. says Somali gunmen release two of its workers
Abducted Scandinavian UN workers released by Somali gunmen (Roundup)

Two Merlin staff killed in Afghanistan

On 19 June unidentified armed men killed two Merlin staff members at a medical clinic in Kunduz. Dr. Sayid Masoom, the clinic head, and Mohammad Ewazewaz, the unarmed duty guard for the clinic, were fatally shot in the attack.

You can read Merlin’s statement at the link below.

Somali gunmen kidnap senior UN aid worker

On 21 June Somali gunmen reportedly seized the head of the UNHCR office in Mogadishu, Somalia. Ten men raided the house of Hassan Mohamed Ali in Elasha, south of the capital on Saturday, according to witnesses.

Reuters Africa
Yahoo News

Aid Worker Killed in Road Accident in Ethiopia

A volunteer with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) was killed in a vehicle accident in Ethiopia on Saturday. 61 year old teacher David Evans was apparently killed after he was struck by a vehicle as he walked with colleagues.


Armed Men Abduct Aid Worker in Somalia

According to Mareeg Online a local representative of CARE International in Somalia was kidnapped in Galguduud Region on Saturday night. According to a member of the Ceel Dheer administration heavily armed men were seen taking the CARE staff member away.

Mareeg online reports that the staff member had received telephone threats prior to the incident.

Somalia: Unidentified men abduct aid worker in central Somalia

Air Strike in Sri Lanka Injures Aid Workers

A number of staff from an INGO consortium were lightly injured as the result of a government air strike in northern Sri Lanka on 14 June. The air strike occurred at around 2:00 PM near the town of Parantan.

Aid workers attending a humanitarian relief planning session were forced to flee when the bombs struck about 100m from their meeting location. Several people were injured is the confusion.

Many aid agencies have offices and warehouses in the Parantan and Kilinochchi town areas.

View Larger Map

NGOs Looted after Rebel Attack in Eastern Chad

Looting has been widespread in the eastern Chadian town of Goz Beida after the town was attacked and seized by rebels over the weekend. Armed men looted several NGO compounds while other compounds were struck by small arms fire. It also appears that one NGO compound burned after fuel supplies caught fire.

EUFOR, deployed to protect Sudanese and Chadian refugees, has reported that it has been providing armed escorts for aid workers seeking shelter in the nearby EUFOR camp.

It is likely that the government will attempt to retake the town over the next couple of days. Any government counter attack will likely be accompanied by air strikes. NGOs should plan accordingly.

Map Showing Location of Goz Beida

Some 300,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled the Darfur conflict live in camps in Eastern Chad. 187,000 Chadians displaced by fighting in Chad have also sought sanctuary in IDP camps in the area.

Rebels attack eastern Chadian town, aid worker says
Officials: Rebels attack in eastern Chad

Gunmen Kill WFP Driver in Somalia

Gunmen have killed a World Food Programme contracted driver in southern Somalia. Hassan Abdi was taking food aid from Mogadishu to the Bay and Bakool regions when he was attacked near Leego village early on 12 June 2008.

Abdi was the third WFP-contracted driver to be killed in Somalia this year.

WFP says gunmen kill driver in Somalia

Aid Workers Attacked by Camp Residents

On 12 June 2008 two aid workers were attacked at De Klerks Oord Centre in South Africa. A man with a knife attempted to attack one Red Cross volunteer before disappearing in the crowd. Another aid worker was slightly hurt when camp residents pelted them with stones, bread and bones.

The De Klerks Oord Centre serves as a shelter for 2,000 immigrants who were displaced by last month's xenophobic violence in Pretoria North.

Abduction of Sri Lankan Aid Worker

Sebastian Goodfellow, a Sri Lankan driver for the Norwegian Refugee Council, a humanitarian organization working in Sri Lanka, has not been seen since May 15. It is feared that he has been abducted, possibly by an armed group operating with the tacit support of the security forces.

You can help by going to Amnesty International’s Online Action Center and send a message to President Mahinda Rajapakse and Ambassador Bernard A. B. Goonetilleke.

If you are a blogger please help by linking to the Action Center’s message page.

Gunmen kill senior aid worker, driver in Mogadishu

Mohamed Abdulle Mahdi, the head of the Woman and Child Care aid agency (WOCCA), was killed by unidentified gunmen in Somalia on Wednesday 11 June 2008.

The gunmen opened fire on Mahdi’s car as he was travelling through the Suqbad neighborhood of Mogadishu. Mahdi’s driver was also killed in the incident.

Gunmen kill humanitarian chief, driver in Mogadishu: aid worker
Top Somali aid worker shot dead

Islamabad Bomb Damages Local NGO

The building of a local NGO, Devolution Trust for Community Empowerment, was damaged in an apparent VBIED attack on the Danish Embassy in Islamabad. Dozens of its staff were reported to have been injured by flying glass. A spokesperson for the NGO said that the organization had been concerned about their location across the street from the embassy.

Canadian Aid Worker Kidnapped in Haiti Released

Gunmen Threaten INGO Staff in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

Gunmen in civilian clothing have reportedly threatened INGO staff and local residents in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. In one incident an INGO staff member had a weapon pointed at his head.

Young gunmen in civilian clothing have caused a series of disturbances on the town streets in recent days, threatening civilians and aid workers in broad daylight.
At least one International NGO has gone into hibernation until the situation stabilizes.

Medecins du Monde Aid Worker Kidnapped in Haiti

A Canadian aid worker with Medecins du Monde was kidnapped on 21 May from the Tomasin neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.

Haiti has a well established kidnapping industry. At least 139 people have been kidnapped this year. Most kidnappings occur in the capital.

Three Aid Workers Kidnapped in Somalia

Three aid workers from Cooperazione Italiana Nord Sud were kidnapped by gunmen on 21 May in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia. Two Italians, one male and one female, and a male Somali colleague were kidnapped early in the morning in the village of Awdhegle.

Two Italians among three aid workers kidnapped in Somalia: officials
Somali gunmen kidnap two Italian aid workers-officials
Witness: Somali gunmen seize 2 Italian aid workers

Red Cross Website Hacked to Steal Quake Relief Donations

A section of the Chinese Red Cross website has reportedly been hacked. Apparently the hacker gained access to the website and created four fraudulent bank accounts to steal earthquake relief funding. If you can read Chinese you can read the report here. Otherwise check out the link attached to the graphic below. Read the full report from The Dark Visitor.

Gunmen Kill Aid Worker in Southern Somalia

The director of the Somali aid organization Horn Relief was killed by masked gunmen as he arrived at his house in Kismayo, Somalia late Saturday. According to village elders the reason for the killing of Ahmed Bariyow was not readily apparent.

The killing comes as central Somalia enters a humanitarian emergency amid fears of a full blown famine.

Press TV: Somali aid organizer shot dead.

Kidnapped Aid Workers Released in Pakistan

On 17 May, Taliban fighters operating in Mohmand Agency, Pakistan, released four employees of two NGOs. The four were kidnapped by the Taliban on 23 April.

The aid workers were reportedly released after a local Peace Jirga facilitated talks between the Pakistani government and the Taliban.

Aid Vessel Hijacked near Somalia

A Jordanian vessel carrying 4,000 tonnes of sugar donated by Denmark was seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia on 17 May.

The Indian Ocean near Somalia has one of the highest piracy rates in the world. At least twelve ships have been attacked this year. Vessels carrying aid shipments are easy and lucrative targets for the pirates who ply the Somalia coastline.

WFP Head of Sub-office Killed by Gunmen in Northwestern Kenya

On Wednesday, 7 May 2008, gunmen shot dead 37-year-old Zimbabwean Silence Chirara outside a UN compound in Lokichoggio, north of Nairobi, near the border with southern Sudan. He was ambushed while driving a clearly marked UN vehicle.

See also:
UN food agency shocked by killing of staffer in Kenya
Zimbabwean Aid worker killed in Kenya

Another WFP contracted driver killed in Somalia

On 7 May another WFP contracted driver was killed by militiamen at an illegal checkpoint in Somalia. The incident occurred when 12 WFP contracted trucks were stopped at gunpoint at a checkpoint 30 km north of Galkayo. The driver was injured and later died when a gunman opened fire on the trucks.

A similar incident occurred on 13 February when the leader of a WFP contracted aid convoy was shot and killed by militia in southern Somalia.

Save the Children Aid Worker Killed in Chad

Save the Children aid worker, Pascal Marlinge, was shot and killed by armed men in Chad on 1 May 2008. The link below has more detail from Save the Children.

UNDP Worker Arrested with Pistol - Snarky Comments Follow

This article about a UNDP worker being arrested while carrying a pistol is interesting but its the comments that stand out. Some are funny... some just sad. What does it say about acceptance as a security strategy in Sri Lanka? Have we been doing a good job communicating what it is we do and who we are?

Action Against Hunger Leaves Sri Lanka in Protest

ACF has made the difficult decision to withdraw from Sri Lanka due to lack of confidence in the government's investigation into the massacre of 17 ACF staff two years ago. This couldn't have been an easy decision for ACF. Concerns over the impact of their withdrawal on beneficiaries must weigh heavily. However, ACF's action may well help raise the profile of attacks on NGOs in Sri Lanka and help end the culture of impunity that grips the island.

I applaud ACF for making morally courageous choices under difficult circumstances.

Kidnapped UN Workers Released in Pakistani Raid

KinderBerg Afghanistan Suspends Operations After Staff Kidnapped

German KinderBerg has reportedly suspended operations for five days after the apparent kidnapping of two staff members near Charikar the capital of Parwan province. The area had previously been considered relatively safe.

Pakistan: Shifting Targets?

Islamabad Bomb Kills Turkish Aid Worker

On Saturday, a bomb blast at the Luna Caprese Italian restaurant killed a Turkish aid worker and wounded eleven others. According to reports a British diplomat and the Italian owner of the restaurant were among the injured.

It appears that the bomb was planted in the outdoors eating area and was not the work of a suicide bomber. Luna Caprese was popular with expats as it was one of the few restaurants in Islamabad to serve alcohol.

Time has more details here.

UN Helicopter Crash in Nepal

According media reports ten bodies have been pulled from the wreckage of a UN helicopter that crashed in bad weather in Nepal. The helicopter was returning with UN arms inspectors from a camp in Eastern Nepal.

Somewhat surprisingly there seems to be some confusion as to how many passengers were on board. In my experience with UN helicopter flights passenger manifests were checked repeatedly. At the time it I thought it was annoying. Now it just seems prudent.

Four Killed in Attack on NGO Office in Pakistan

Kidnapped Aid Workers Reportedly Killed in Afghanistan

Aid workers Cyd Mizell and Muhammad Hadi have apparently been killed in Afghanistan according to this statement by Asian Rural Life Development Foundation. The pair had been kidnapped by armed men in Kandahar while they travelled to work in the morning.

Our prayers are with the families and friends of Hadi and Cyd.

Aid Worker Kidnapped in Solmalia Freed

According to this AlertNet report the GAA aid worker who was kidnapped yesterday in Somalia was freed by security forces.

Aid Worker Kidnapped in Somalia

According to his colleagues a German aid worker of German Agro Action (Deutsche Welthungerhilfe) was kidnapped by armed gunmen in Era Gabo, Somaliland. Daniel Bronkal was apparently taken during an ambush on the GAA vehicle. The driver, who sustained injuries during the attack, and a fellow aid worker avoided capture in the confusion.

Although it the motivation for the kidnapping is not clear at this point the area has experienced a spate of criminal kidnappings for ransom. In January two MSF Spain staff were released by their kidnappers after being held for a week.

more from AlertNet

Family Statement Regarding Cyd Mizell, Aid Worker Held in Afghanistan

Cyd Mizell's father asks for his daughters safe return in this video statement.

If your connection is too slow for the video you can read the text of the statement below.

SEATTLE, Feb. 3 /CNW/ -- The family of Cyd Mizell, an American aid worker currently being held in Afghanistan, today released the following statementfrom her father, George Mizell: "I am Cydney's father. My family and I want to thank all those who have shown their deep concern for the safety and well being of my daughter, Cydney Mizell, and Muhammad Hadi. I am indebted to the Afghan people for their support of Cydney and Muhammad. "My family and I love Cyd very much. I'm confused why my daughter would be taken because she's a gentle, caring and respectful person. "When we talk to Cyd, she tells us about the friends she's made and the kindness that's been shown to her and her desire to help them. "To those people who are holding our daughter, please let Cyd come home. Each day that passes without knowing about Cyd is difficult for our family andfriends. "We ask that you work with us so Cyd can come home. Cyd knows how to contact us and her co-workers. All of us are waiting to hear from you."

For further information: Bill Curry, spokesman for the Mizell family, +1-206-697-3684 Web Site: http://www.onlinefilefolder.com

Afghan Security Tight After American Kidnapped

Cyd Mizell, an aid worker with the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation, and her driver, Abdul Hadi, were reportedly kidnapped in Kandahar on 26 January. This short AP video has a plea from her organization for her quick release.

According to relief web hundreds of Afghan women in Kandahar demonstrated to protest the kidnapping and demand her safe release.

Aid Worker Killed - Sri Lanka

I met the Rev Fr Nicholaspillai Packiyaranjith of the Jesuit Refugee Services while I was in Mannar district a few weeks ago. He struck me as a quiet, principled man, who was dedicated to his beliefs and service to others. Despite the difficult security situation in the area he continued to work hard to bring relief to the poorest and most vulnerable. In short he was the type of man I endeavour to be.

On the afternoon of 26 September 2007 while travelling towards Vellankulam in an LTTE controlled area of Mannar his vehicle was struck by a command detonated Claymore. Fr. Packiyaranjith was killed instantly. His driver was severely injured.

No one has accepted responsibility for this brutal and myopic act. Nor is anyone likely to. The government blames the LTTE. The LTTE blame the government.

Over the weekend the sheer senselessness of his death left me feeling frustrated and depressed. This morning however, I had a revelation. Fr. Packiyaranjith was the type who, if he had been given the choice, would have chosen to spend his last moments in his quest to help others.

Sri Lanka needs more like him.

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