UN calls for release of its three abducted workers in Afghanistan

31 October 2004 – A United Nations spokesman in Afghanistan today issued an impassioned appeal for the immediate release of three international workers who were abducted on 28 October.

Manoel de Almeida e Silva called on those responsible not to harm Shqipe Hebibi, Annetta Flanigan and Angelito Nayan. “We worry about them, about their medical and physical conditions, and about their emotional well-being,” he said.

“All three require medical attention and the best response to such a situation is their immediate release – the most heartfelt wish of the parents, brothers and sisters, husband, friends and colleagues of Annetta, Lito and Shqipe.”

He told a press briefing in the capital Kabul that the three, while coming from very different backgrounds, “have at least one thing in common – their commitment to serve people who can benefit from their knowledge and expertise.”

He added that the victims had been warmly received by Afghans. “This is why it is so difficult to understand this abduction, this act of violence against three individuals who are working towards prosperity, reconstruction and peace in this country.”

The spokesman also explained the lack of more detailed information, saying, “We feel that while our colleagues are not with us, we should avoid discussing any aspect of the ongoing investigations.”

Responding to press questions, Mr. de Almeida e Silva said the responsibility for security in the country belongs to the Afghan authorities. “Do not lose sight of that,” he said. “It is the Minister of Interior that has the leadership in the investigation of this case.”

The Afghan authorities, he said, “are working very hard with the resources available to them and they have the support of their international partners throughout this process.”

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