UN worker killed in southern Somalia

MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (BNO NEWS) -- A United Nations (UN) humanitarian worker serving with the UN food relief agency in the southern Somalia was killed, the UN said Tuesday.

Yassin Mohamed Hassan, a staff member of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was killed on Monday morning in an attack by an armed group in the Somali port city of Merka.

Hassan, 32 and a Somali national, had served with the agency in different capacities for four years and had been in the Merka area as part of a mission that was overseeing irrigation infrastructure rehabilitation works under an FAO program.

The Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, said the UN "reminds all actors in Somalia of the neutral and impartial nature of humanitarian action and appeals to all parties to permit aid workers to continue to safely serve all those in need in the country, wherever they are."

"As civilians continue to be the principal victims of ongoing conflict, the UN demands that all parties minimize the impact of conflict on civilians," Bowden added in the statement.

Since August 2011, 20 humanitarian workers have been killed in Somalia while trying to bring relief and support to millions of people being affected by the country's violence.

Somalia has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process after decades of warfare, with the country recently ending its transitional federal governing arrangements.

Most of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, was for several years driven by a fluid frontline dividing the two sides until last year. Fighters belonging to the Al Shabaab militant group and troops belonging to the Somalia Government, with the latter supported by the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) carried out constant confrontations.

Since the Al Shabaab withdrawal from the capital in August last year, the frontlines have been pushed back to the surrounding area.

However, the use of roadside bombs, grenades and suicide bombers still takes place. In addition, Government forces have been on an offensive against the Al Shabaab, which still controls parts of Somalia, primarily in its south-central regions.

UN humanitarian agencies and their partners have been helping Somalis deal with the impact of drought, as well as the after-effects of famine in some areas; while famine was officially declared over earlier this year, many Somalis are still in desperate need.

The number of Somalis receiving life-saving aid has more than doubled since July 2011, when famine had been declared, with more than 1.6 million Somalis now receiving food assistance, and 1.7 million people able to access clean water.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), national staff members like Mr. Hassan make up more than 90 percent of humanitarian workers around the world, working on the frontlines, and too often, they bear the brunt of attacks on aid providers.

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