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Somali elders stand up against kidnapping of aid workers

(Xinhua)

15:19, November 16, 2011

NAIROBI, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and its demining unit Danish Demining Group said traditional leaders and civil society in Somalia have been mobilizing strong support for a quick and safe release of its aid workers who were abducted in Somalia last month.

In a statement issued in Nairobi on Wednesday, the organization said the growing opposition is condemning the kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and Poul Thisted as an act violating Somali value.

"Knowing the importance of the clan leaders as the traditional power holders it is encouraging to receive this support. We are grateful and hopeful that this will help us getting back our colleagues who are held hostage in Somalia," Ann Mary Olsen, head of the international department with the DRC said.

Since the abduction on Oct. 25 of the two humanitarian aid workers, the Danish Refugee Council has appealed to traditional leaders, clan representatives and the general public. And this appeal has echoed substantial support.

"Large groups of Somali people gathering, shouting slogans and requesting those responsible to ensure a quick release – this is what opposition looks like in Central Somalia where numerous demonstrations have taken place in recent weeks," Olsen said.

She said release efforts are supported by a substantial number of Somali traditional leaders, influential clan members and elders who are opposed to the kidnapping condemning this as an act that is contradictory to Somali values where honor is obliging Somali people to treat guests with respect and dignity.

Most recent support comes from a group of influential traditional clan leaders who have issued a common statement condemning the kidnapping and calling for an immediate release.

The 32 year-old Buchanan and 60 year-old Thisted were kidnapped on Oct. 25 as they were driving through Galkayo in Central Somalia.

The two employees with DRC's demining unit, Danish Demining Group were on a field trip to monitor humanitarian aid activities in the region when they were abducted by a group of armed men.

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