Local News

UNCIEF Employee Finally Released, How About the NDC American Photojournalist Luke Somers?

National Yemen

Asma al-Mohattwari

After tens of calls, press releases, advertising campaigns, trips, and government support, the United Nation Office in Sana’a announced the release of its long-time abducted employee in Yemen James Massaquoi. Massaquoi flew back home on November 8th following strict security procedures for his safety. The UN office issued a statement saying that colleagues at the United Nations are delighted that James Massaquoi, who was abducted in Yemen in October 2013, has been released and is safe and well.

James is a water engineer who had been working in Yemen to help provide water and sanitation services in order to improve the health of local children. “We all are proud of the work James has been doing and look forward to his return to work for children once he has spent much-needed time with his family and friends,” said the statement.

On the other hand, there is no movement by the government of Yemen and the American Embassy to investigate and free American photojournalist Luke Somers, who was kidnapped last December by unknown gunmen in front of a supermarket on al-Zubairy Street.

Somers arrived in Yemen in late 2010 on a teaching visa. During the 2011 revolution, he was known as the most active photojournalist at Change Square. He worked as a copy editor for Yemen Times, the Yemen Observer, and National Yemen. By 2013, he joined the National Dialogue team and worked for the media center as a proofreader and reporter for English news and report stories.

One since his disappear,the Journalist Syndicate in Sana’a, condemned his kidnapping. Journalists representing a variety of media channels, including newsprint such as National Yemen and freelancers, are all disappointed at Somers’ unknown fate.

Shawqi Almaayn said that he was a nice, peaceful man and he was working for the best interests of the country. “He was always optimistic and was a guest. I am sure those who are doing such bad actions are the minority. I am sure he is coming back safe and these people are using their savageness for the sake of their interests.”

He added that there must be a government that applies the rule of law among all equally. “I am very sure there are dozens of government officials who are more educated and honest. They will fix things which went wrong for decades.”

The Syndicate also condemned the act of kidnapping for its negative effects on the country’s economy. Tribes use kidnapping as a way of achieving public projects, but today kidnapping has turned into a business for quick revenue, as well as financing for terrorist operations within the country and elsewhere.

“We thank the Government of Yemen and tribal leaders, including Abdallah Saleh Hafrien, who have supported efforts to bring about his safe release and we ask that he now be allowed privacy as he enjoys his reunion with his family,” ended the statement.

On October 15th, the Yemen UNICEF Office renewed its repeated calls for the immediate release of its staff member. Massaquoi was kidnapped in Sana’a on Sunday 6th October 2013 by unknown armed men.