Thursday, October 13, 2011

Two Spanish Aid Workers Kidnapped in Kenya

Two female Spanish aid workers were reportedly kidnapped earlier today by Somalian Islamist Shebab rebels from Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, the third kidnapping of foreigners in just over a month. Kenyan police indicated that the two women were working for MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres).

Consequently, Kenya has launched a exhaustive search effort; however, the women are reported to have been taken towards the border with war-torn Somalia, where heavy fighting was reported in a town just across the border. A local driver who was taking them around was shot and seriously wounded before he was released during heavy rain.

COMMENT: In Madrid, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that two logisticians were abducted, but declined to release their names.

Needless to say, the Kenyan government is still politically grappling with the negative press blow-back from the kidnapping of the wife of a British publishing executive, Judith Tebbutt, 56, was kidnapped in September, only to be followed by the kidnapping earlier this month of a Frenchwoman, Marie Dedieu, 66, both of whom have been taken to Somalia by local pirates. No demands have yet been made public by the gunmen for the release of either woman.

Dadaab, the world's largest refugee complex, is home to some 450,000 refugees, most of whom have come from Somalia, fleeing drought and war. The al-Qaeda-linked Shebab controls much of southern Somalia, and recently fought heavy battles with local militia backed by Kenyan military along the border areas, near Dadaab.

A Kenyan driver working for the international aid organization, Care Kenya, is still missing after he was abducted in September at gunpoint at the wheel of his vehicle from the Hagadera camp in the Dabaab complex.

It should be noted that most international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have long since removed their aid workers from Somalia and even northern Kenya, given the geographical reach of most rebels and pirates from Somalia. Unfortunately, few NGOs and aid organizations train their field staffs in how to survive a hostage-taking or kidnapping. They are remise in not doing so.

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