KIDNAPPED BY AL SHABAAB IN MANDERA

We're trying to save Cuban medics — CS Juma

After abduction, Cuban medics transferred from Garissa, Wajir, Lamu and Tana River where terrorists operate

In Summary

• Doing everything possible, Somalia asked to cooperate 

• Juma said international law and laws on war and conflict forbid harming humanitarian staff and medic

Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma at media briefing at Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi, on Thursday
DOING OUR BEST: Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma at media briefing at Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi, on Thursday
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY

The Kenyan government is doing everything possible to secure the release of two Cuban doctors in Mandera by al Shabaab, Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma said on Thursday.

The abduction on April 12 points to great arrogance and disrespect for human life and for all people, the Foreign Affairs CS has said.

"We are distressed because in situations of war, medical personnel are never [supposed to be] targets for abduction. Never," Juma told reporters at a briefing at the Intercontinental Hotel.

"We have asked Somalia to cooperate because the doctors could be in Somalia," she said.

Kenya is safe, Juma said.

After the kidnapping, other Cuban doctors have been moved out of Wajir, Garissa, Lamu and Tana River where terrorists have been known to operate.

Juma declined to elaborate as the operation is ongoing and sharing details could compromise the outcome.

Dr Assel Herera Correa, a general physician, and Dr Landy Rodriguez, a surgeon, were abducted in Mandera Town on their way to work.

They had appealed without success to be given safe quarters within the hospital compound, so they were driven a distance from home to work.

Their bodyguard was killed during the abduction.

 
 

Juma said international law, as well as laws of war and conflict, do not allow the kidnapping of medical personnel who provide unique and important services.

"In fact, our hospitals in frontier counties serve populations from across the border like the Mandera Hospital where they worked," she said.

"It is our strong desire as the government that the doctors will be back home safe," she said.

Somalia is an area of security concern, "the most threatening of this is terrorism," she said.

Juma said Kenya is keen to fight terrorism and is closely following political developments in Somalia, especially in the run-up to the 2020 General Election.

"We will also continue to work with AMISOM troop-contributing countries, IGAD, the AU, the EU and the UN, to build on existing strategic partnerships in degrading al Shabaab," she said.

"We cannot allow abduction to become a way of life, our principal objective is to protect the territorial integrity, meaning the safety of the people within that territory," she said.

On Monday, a Nairobi court allowed police to detain the driver of the two doctors for 15 days, for investigation.

This was after Isaack Ibrein Robow appeared before Milimani resident magistrate Muthoni Nzibe.

The case will be mentioned on April 30, 2019.

(Edited by V. Graham)