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Somalia, 20 April 2016: UNICEF staff pay a united tribute on the one year anniversary of the deadly Garowe attack

© UNICEFSomalia/2016/Hussein
The UNICEF Somalia Representative and staff in Garowe, Puntland at the commemoration meeting to mark one year since the Garowe attack.

Garowe/Hargeisa/Mogadishu/Nairobi, 20 April 2016 – The staff from UNICEF Somalia came together to commemorate a day of mourning, a year after the devastating suicide attack in Garowe, Puntland, north-eastern Somalia in which four colleagues died and five others were wounded.

The offices united through video link and Skype, to pay their tributes to the colleagues for what Leila Pakkala, Regional Director, Eastern and Southern Africa called ‘a day of remembrance and of reflection’.

The four UNICEF staff members who died were Mr. Payenda Gul Abed, who had been coordinating UNICEF’s polio immunization efforts in Garowe since May 2014, Ms. Brenda Kyeyune, who had managed social mobilization and communication initiatives in support of polio eradication in Somalia since 2014, Ms. Woki Munyui, who had been a champion of girls’ education in Somalia since 2007, and Mr. Stephen Oduor, who had been undertaking vital administrative work for UNICEF Somalia since 2010.

The meeting opened with a prerecorded tribute from the UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

During the joint meeting, Alan, the brother of Brenda Kyeyune, spoke from Uganda about how his sister had devoted her life to helping women and children and how hard it was to understand why she should lose her life doing such good work.

The son of Payenda, Abed Gul, spoke from China about his family’s grief and his father’s journey from a remote village in Afghanistan to being an international polio specialist.

Of the five colleagues injured in the attack, Merriall Davies, Clement Adams, Florence Makonnen, Abdirisak Mohamed Ali and Jill Shemin, three participated in the meeting. One of those injured in the attack, Clement Adams, speaking from Eritrea, said he hoped this could be put behind us ‘and let us pledge we will forge ahead to help the children of this world.”

Another colleague who was seriously injured, Merriall Davies said she would stand for the legacy for which her colleagues had lived. And a third wounded staff member Florence Makonnen remembered the conversations she had with some of those who died in the days before the attack, and emphasized “we have to keep working, delivering and standing for what they paid for with their lives.”

© UNICEF Somalia/2016/Li
During a joint UNICEF office meeting in Nairobi, the Deputy Representative unveils plaques honouring UNICEF staff killed in the Garowe attack and those who earlier died in the line of duty.

The UNICEF Somalia Representative Steven Lauwerier spoke from Garowe saying, “As we mourn for our dear colleagues, we remember their professionalism and their legacy with pride. We owe it to them to carry their work for Somali children forwards with the same pride and professionalism.”

The Resident/Humanitarian Co-ordinator Peter de Clerq who was also in Garowe wished the families the strength to continue to cope with their grief.

The offices in Nairobi, Mogadishu, Garowe and Hargeisa then held separate tree planting, candle lighting and other ceremonies.

In Nairobi, the daughter of Woki, Ivy Mokua read from her blog that was published in the Kenyan paper The Star. She said: I know the best way to preserve my memory of her is to be as much her daughter as possible - diligent, hardworking, joyous, kind, honest and always be generous and loving to others.”

The brother of Steven, Alphonse, said he saluted those who served and continue to serve in such difficult countries.

UNICEF has been working in Somalia since 1972 – last year it treated over 115,000 severely malnourished children under 5 years of age, provided nearly 317,000 people with sustainable water supply systems, helped the authorities provide health care to 5.5 million people, ensured more than 84,000 young children and adolescents went to school for the first time and assisted over 9,300 survivors of gender-based violence through a package of services.

 

 
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