WHO denounces kidnapping of one of its doctors in eastern Mali

Visit by a delegation from the United Nations Security Council – NICOLÁS REMENE / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday denounced the kidnapping of physician Mahamadou Diawara, who was attacked by unidentified armed individuals on Monday in the Gao region of eastern Mali.

«WHO expresses its condolences to Diawara’s family and is working with local authorities to investigate and ensure the prompt return of our colleague to his family,» it said in a statement, adding that the doctor «led efforts to provide medical care to isolated and insecure communities.»

Diawara, who had been working at the UN agency’s office in Menaka since early 2020, was captured on Monday by unidentified armed bandits, with no known motives for his abduction at this time.

WHO, which has condemned the abduction, has also highlighted that the driver of his car was assaulted by the kidnappers, although the latter is reportedly recovering from injuries, while the doctor is unaccounted for.

Last November, a humanitarian worker from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Gao, but was later released, according to local media reports.

Mali, like other Sahel countries, has been experiencing an increasing number of jihadist attacks in recent years by both Al Qaeda’s affiliate in the region and the Islamic State, which has also led to an increase in inter-communal violence and the displacement of tens of thousands of people.