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UNHCR worker missing after Guinea attack

Briefing notes

UNHCR worker missing after Guinea attack

9 January 2001

UNHCR is gravely concerned about the fate of radio operator Joseph Loua, who has been missing since a December 6 rebel attack on the town of Guéckédou in southern Guinea. According to an eyewitness, the 51-year-old father of five was taken by unidentified abductors toward the Liberian border. He was reportedly carrying radio equipment. On December 6, Guéckédou, the main urban centre of an area which houses hundreds of thousands of refugees, came under attack.

Parts of the UNHCR compound were destroyed but all other UNHCR staff managed to escape unscathed and are all accounted for. In the initial confusion following the attack, the whereabouts of Mr. Loua were not clear. But a subsequent inquiry by UNHCR security officials revealed that he had been abducted by the attackers. Mr. Loua is a Guinean national and a resident of Guéckédou. UNHCR officials in Geneva and in West Africa have demanded his immediate release.

Last September, another UNHCR worker was abducted to Liberia from Guinea following a rebel attack on the town of Macenta. Another UNHCR staff member was murdered during that assault. The abducted worker, a national of Côte d'Ivoire, was later released inside Liberia following numerous high-level interventions by UNHCR officials.