UN refugee agency shocked and saddened by attack on staff in Pakistan

News Stories, 2 February 2009

© UNHCR/B.Baloch
A meeting of UNHCR staff and Afghan refugees in Quetta. The refugee agency has long worked in the Pakistani town.

GENEVA, February 2 (UNHCR) UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres expressed deep shock and sadness on Monday over a morning attack in Quetta, Pakistan, that left one UNHCR staff member dead and another missing.

The two staff members were on their way to UNHCR's office in Quetta about 8 a.m. local time when their vehicle was stopped by armed men. Driver Syed Hashim, who had worked for UNHCR for 18 years, was shot and died later in a Quetta hospital. John Solecki, the head of the UNHCR sub-office in Quetta for the past two years, was apparently abducted.

"On behalf of all UNHCR staff worldwide, I extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Syed Hashim, who leaves behind a wife, two daughters and two sons," Guterres said from UNHCR headquarters in Geneva. "We also express our solidarity with John's family and assure them we are doing everything possible to secure his release.

"UNHCR's mission in more than 110 countries around the world, including in Pakistan, is aimed solely at easing the plight of refugees, displaced people and innocent civilians in a totally impartial and humanitarian manner," he added. "The targeting of those who help the world's most vulnerable people leaves all of us deeply shocked and saddened."

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