Two Polio Workers Killed in Garowe, Somalia

Among UNICEF colleagues killed in an attack on a UN convoy were two polio heroes

Four UNICEF colleagues were killed in the attack on a UN vehicle in Garowe, Somalia on 20 April. Among them were two staff working in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative – and for some, our cherished friends – delivering Polio, Routine Immunization and Communication programmes in Somalia. Payenda Gul had been a polio eradicator since 1999, working to protect children in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Somalia. Brenda Kyeyune had joined the team in 2014, working to make sure communities are engaged in polio eradication.

The commitment of these colleagues to achieving polio eradication and improving children’s lives was tested in the most challenging circumstances and they were never found wanting. They are true heroes. This is a tremendously difficult time but we are deeply thankful for their accomplishments, and remember them with respect and gratitude.

Comments can be submitted to the UNICEF condolence book that has been opened in New York by email to icon@unicef.org

New York, 21 April 2015: All of us within the UNICEF family remain stunned by yesterday’s horrific attack in Garowe, Somalia, which claimed the lives of seven people ― including four UNICEF colleagues ― and injured five others.

Today, we sadly confirm the names of the four UNICEF colleagues who were killed:

  • Mr. Payenda Gul Abed, who co-ordinated UNICEF’s polio programme in Garowe since May 2014;
  • Ms. Brenda Kyeyune, who managed social mobilization and communication initiatives in support of polio eradication in Somalia since 2014;
  • Ms. Woki Munyui, who supported UNICEF’s education programme in Somalia since 2007; and
  • Mr. Stephen Oduor, who provided essential administrative assistance to UNICEF Somalia’s programmes since 2010.

Many of you worked beside them ― sharing meals, laughter, ideas. You saw, first-hand, their dedication to our common cause: children. Please know that your colleagues around the world share in your grief ― as we share in your hopes that our five injured colleagues will recuperate as quickly as possible.

The families of each of these heroes have been contacted, and offered every assistance in this extraordinarily difficult time.

In 2013, we dedicated a memorial at UNICEF House honoring those colleagues ― those sisters and brothers ― who have fallen in their duties to serve the world’s most vulnerable children.

Today, we add four more names to this list.

As we remember them, let us recall not how these four were taken from us, but rather all they gave us in life ― their dedication, their ideas, their friendship ― and all they left behind: a legacy of service to children that will endure, and always inspire.


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