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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 5 November 2012

Statement by Commissioner Georgieva on the release from captivity of humanitarian workers in Niger

"It was with great relief and joy that I received news that five humanitarian workers taken captive three weeks ago in Niger have now been reunited with their families following their release on Saturday. However the relief and happiness that we feel is overshadowed by of our sadness for the tragic death of their dear colleague, who was killed during the initial kidnapping.

Aimé Soulembaye dedicated his life to helping people in need. He died from injuries sustained during the attack on the offices of a humanitarian agency in Niger, when his five colleagues were taken hostage.

Humanitarian aid workers, by the nature of their work, risk great danger daily to reach those in need, the victims of war and violence. They are protected under International Humanitarian Law and their work adheres to basic humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence.

The killing of Aimé and the kidnapping of his colleagues are gross abuses of international humanitarian law. We call again on all parties involved to respect basic humanitarian principles and allow unhindered access by humanitarian workers to those in need.

On behalf of the European Union I have expressed our sincere condolences to Aimé's family, friends and colleagues and our happiness that his five colleagues are again reunited with their families."


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