Magazine article UN Chronicle

Secretary-General Appeals for Alec Collett's Release; Five Other UNRWA Staff Set Free, Unharmed

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Secretary-General Appeals for Alec Collett's Release; Five Other UNRWA Staff Set Free, Unharmed

Article excerpt

Secretary-General appeals for Alec Collett's release; Five other UNRWA staff set free, unharmed

Alec Collett, a British journalist on assignment for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Lebanon, was kidnapped in Beirut on 25 March while riding in a car near the city's airport. It was the first time a United Nations employee had been kidnapped in that country. His driver, an Austrian national, was released.

As of the end of June, Mr. Collett was still being detained. A group calling itself the "Revolutionary Organization of Muslim Socialists" has claimed responsibility.

On 15 May, Aidan Walsh, an Irish national and Deputy Director of UNRWA, was kidnapped, after his station wagon was forced to halt on West Beirut's Corniche coastal road. He was removed from the vehicle at gunpoint by eight unidentified men wearing camouflage uniforms. He was released the following day.

On 7 June, the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Labanon, and three UNRWA staff members and the Austrian Ambassador were detained at the Burj El-Barajneh Palestine refugee camp in Beirut while attempting to distribute emergency supplies. They, too, were released unharmed the same day.

Mr. Collett, 63, was on a three-month consultancy mission which had begun 30 January, and had been visiting various UNRWA operations in Lebanon to assess UNRWA's information activities and provide information to the international media on potential major stories.

It was the second time he had undertaken such an assignment, having visited several Middle East countries for UNRWA from March to June 1984. Mr. Collett had also been Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Accra, Ghana, from 1979 to 1982.

A journalist for more than 35 years, he had been a correspondent in Prague for British newspapers after World War II and a reporter for the Associated Press in New York and at the United Nations from 1967 to 1971. He was editor and publisher from 1974 to 1979 of the "Diplomatic Report", a newsletter on United Nations and third world developments, particularly focusing on liberation movements.

On 28 March, Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, in a statement issued by a spokesman, said he was "deeply concerned" at the kdnapping and appealed "most urgently" for Mr. …

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