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High Commissioner condemns killing of four UN staff members in Tajikistan

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High Commissioner condemns killing of four UN staff members in Tajikistan

22 July 1998

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, today expressed outrage at the ambush killing of four members of the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan.

"I am deeply shocked and saddened by yet another assault on people who have dedicated their lives to the service of peace and humanity. These cowardly attacks must be stopped," Mrs. Ogata said.

She expressed her condolences to the families of the victims. "I was horrified upon learning that one of the victims was Yutaka Akino of Japan, a close personal friend and a brilliant scholar. I deeply mourn his death. I share the pain and grief of his family."

The killing of Mr Akino, who was a UN Civil Affairs Officer, as well two UN military observers from Poland and Uruguay and the group's Tajik translator on Monday followed the abduction of a French aid worker who died during a rescue attempt eight months ago.

"The latest slayings will undoubtedly make our efforts to improve the lives of people in Tajikistan doubly difficult," Mrs. Ogata said.

UNHCR has been involved in the repatriation of Tajik refugees who fled their country following the outbreak of civil war in 1992. Since 1993, UNHCR has helped repatriate 53,000 Tajik refugees from Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.

UNHCR is building shelters and helping communities integrate returnees by reconstructing schools and clinics in Tajikistan.