Pakistan: UN reiterates call for kidnapped staff member

Source: United Nations News Service

The United Nations today repeated its appeal for the release of a staff member who was abducted last week in western Pakistan.

John Solecki, the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the city of Quetta, was kidnapped on 2 February and his driver, Syed Hashim, was killed in the attack.

In a press release issued in Islamabad, the UN said it is seeking information on a group called the Balochistan Liberation United Front, which on Saturday claimed in local media reports that it is holding Mr. Solecki, who has been with the world body since 1991.

He has a medical condition requiring regular medication, UNCHR said, adding that delaying his release will lead to a deterioration of health.

“John Solecki has worked tirelessly for nearly two years providing humanitarian assistance to some 400,000 Afghan refugees in Balochistan province,” the press release said, noting that he has also been very active in helping Pakistanis affected by floods and earthquakes.

With his openness and good humour, [Mr. Solecki] is much appreciated and respected by refugees and local communities alike,” it said, noting that his family, colleagues and friends are calling for his immediate release without harm.

UN personnel must now take extra security precautions, and the recent attack is impeding the delivery of crucial aid in Pakistan’s volatile west.

UNHCR stressed that it is an “apolitical, humanitarian organization,” whose 6,000 staff work in over 110 countries to help over 30 million refugees, displaced people and others.

Strongly condemning Mr. Solecki’s abduction and the killing of Mr. Hashim, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who visited Pakistan last week, said that “such acts are aimed, not only against UN personnel, but also against those they serve selflessly and with dedication.”

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