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Pakistan: abducted UN staffer's health reportedly worsening

18 March 2009 – The United Nations said today it is very concerned about the condition of staff member John Solecki, who was abducted in Pakistan more than six weeks ago, after the group which claims to be holding him reported that his health was deteriorating.

“The United Nations is keen for John to receive immediate professional medical care in a clinic or hospital where the necessary medical tests can be carried out,” according to a news release issued in Islamabad.

“The swift delivery of medical help is important. John’s well-being is the responsibility of the group who is holding him and we hope they are taking steps to make sure John remains well and is not suffering,” it added.

Mr. Solecki, the Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Quetta, was kidnapped on 2 February during an attack in which his driver, Syed Hashim, who had been with the agency for 18 years, was killed.

A group known as the Balochistan Liberation United Front claims to be holding Mr. Solecki and has demanded the release the people it says are in Pakistani custody. Since 2004, rebels in the province have called for political autonomy and a larger share of natural resource profits.

The UN said it appreciates all efforts on behalf of the Baloch tribal leaders to ensure Mr. Solecki’s safe release and remains in active communication and contact with them to support this goal.

“The UN is still willing to speak directly to those who have John, in the spirit of being ready to listen and to find a safe way to secure his release.”

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