Journos Kidnapped in Somalia

24.08.08

Categorie: Africa, Reporters |

daria-saddaq-security-mogadishu-november-22-2007.JPGGetting shot at, mortared or blown up — these are not the scariest things in my line of work. The thing I’m most terrified of is abduction. The uncertainty, the sustained grinding fear, the creeping madness that comes from knowing you’re probably going to die … and can’t do anything about it. That’s my nightmare.

So it’s with a sick feeling in my stomach that I pass on this report:

Somali gunmen kidnapped five people, including two foreign journalists, according to police and eyewitnesses.

The two journalists, an Australian man and Canadian woman, had been staying at the Shamo Hotel and were scheduled to visit a refugee camp at Elasha, 17 kilometers (10 miles) south of Mogadishu, Ahmed Ali Salad, a worker at the hotel, said by telephone today. He said he knew only their first names, Nigel and Amanda. A Somali translator and two drivers working with them are also missing, he added.

The abductees are freelancers Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan. Amanda, the poor girl, is just 26 years old. I’m glad to report that my friend Ajoos, a fixer working at Shamo, was not among those kidnapped, but it seems two of Shamo’s security detail might have been. I’ve emailed Ajoos and some of my other Somalia sources for more information, so stay tuned.

The Shamo was my home in Somalia for several weeks late last year. It’s an island of comfort and security in a very troubled country. But you can’t report from the island.

(Photo: me)

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14 Responses to “Journos Kidnapped in Somalia”

  1. simon bonney says:

    hello !
    my name is simon bonney – nigel brennan is my brother inlaw! – if you have any information in regards to nigel and amanda’s wearabouts/safety and the intentions of their capters and what can we do about it! it would be very much appreciated if you could forward this information to us as urgently as possible – regards simon bonney

  2. David Axe says:

    Simon,

    I will pass on anything I learn from my sources in Somalia.

  3. Be says:

    Hello, Nigel is a friend of mine (in the UK). All his friends here are deeply concerned and we would also appreciate any information. Thank you.

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  10. gerard white says:

    My friend Keiko Akahane a Japanese female doctor was kidnapped on the 22nd of September in the Ogaden region of Somalia along with her colleague William Sools a Dutch male nurse. The were both volunteers with Medicins Du Monde a French NGO and were doing their best to help in a region ravaged by famine, drought and war.

    I have known Keiko for 10 years since she was a university student. I have always admired her amazing self effacing manner, she only cares for others. Keiko graduated top of her class from a leading university, her classmates went into highly paid positions in the medical profession and Keiko began a career as a paediatrician caring for premature babies and their family. For years she worked 18 hour days, living in the hospital and never taking a day off being paid less than the basic salary at McDonald’s.

    Last year she used her savings to go back to university to learn how to administer medicines in disaster relief zones and immediately after graduation she volunteered her skills to Medicins Sans Frontier and Medicins Du Monde, within weeks she was in Ogaden as the sole doctor for 450,000 people. At the time she wrote “I can only give medicine but they have no water to take medicine, the people need food and water more than medication”.

    On October 9th Keiko was due to leave Ogaden having completed her six month mission. Keiko was not returning home with a suntan and some cool Africa experience on her CV. The mission had changed her. After 7 years as a doctor in Japan it is true to say that there are many hundreds of children who would not be alive today if it were not for the dedication, care and attention of Keiko. After 6 months in the Ogaden region there are countless thousands of people whose life has been touched directly by Keiko. In Keiko’s typical practical approach she had decided to return to Japan and study to be a surgeon so that she could return to the region and help more people.

    The kidnapping of Keiko Akahane and her colleague Willem Sools is a crime against the thousands of people who owe their lives to the work carried out by NGO’s in the region. It is potentially disastrous for many thousands more people immediately now as the NGO’s have had to cease their activities in the region because of security fears.

    The kidnappers paraded Keiko and Willem last week in front of journalists in Mogadishu stating that they do not want money they want Somali prisoners held by Ethiopia to be released in return for the safe return of Keiko and her colleague.

    I am struggling to understand the logic of abductors who remove the only hope that hundreds of thousands of their people rely on for survival in order to try to negotiate the release of a few hundred of their comrades. Do they not care for the thousands of innocent people who are and will suffer as a direct result of their actions?

    I am desperately seeking any help, assistance, advice or guidance anyone can offer.
    Is there anyway to communicate messages of encouragement and hope to Keiko and Willem? Is there anyway to communicate with the kidnappers, appeal to their humanity and make them aware of the damage they are doing to the people of Ogaden and Somalia by abducting Keiko and Willem?

    I hope there may still be a way of resolving this matter in a positive manner. I believe if the kidnappers were to release their hostages and make some statements about how they are being oppressed, about what is really happening in the region it might be possible to win world sympathy for their plight.

    As a matter of urgency, please alert others to this post

    If you think you can help please email me as soon as possible. If you would like to voice your support or express your feelings please do so at http://missingdumonde.blogspot.com/ Please do not do nothing

    This is an appeal for immediate and urgent action. The Aid workers in the region are the last hope for hundreds of thousands of people. Many agencies have ceased operations in the field because of security concerns. The kidnappers must be made to understand the damage they have done. Unless of course that is their real intention.

    In desperation I am considering going to Mogadishu myself, I know it will be dangerous but I can’t just sit here and do nothing. Can anyone support me in any way?

    I realise this page is for Amanda and Nigel, I would have never known about them had it not been for my own friend being kidnapped. Is no one, government or journalist group able to pay the ransom demand?

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