Five years have passed since the vile and absurd kidnapping of Assel and Landy

Five years have passed since the vile and absurd kidnapping of Assel and Landy
Fecha de publicación: 
12 April 2024
Imagen principal: 

Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Five years have passed since the kidnapping in Kenya, on April 12, 2019, of Doctors Assel Herrera Correa and Landy Rodríguez Hernández, Cuban physicians who were serving in that country as part of an intergovernmental cooperation agreement in which they were voluntarily participating.

Since the news of the vile and absurd kidnapping was known, the governments of Kenya, Somalia and Cuba have made countless and enormous efforts to achieve the rescue of our two doctors and their return to their homeland.

Cuba's government is grateful to the governments of the Republic of Kenya, the Federal Republic of Somalia and other countries for the efforts that are still being carried out for the release of our doctors.

This extraordinary and unprecedented event in the long history of Cuba's International Medical Cooperation has been permanently followed by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz and has received the attention of the Party, the State and the Government, headed by the First Secretary and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, as well as authorities and entities inside and outside Cuba.

Last February 17, we received the hard and worrying news about the alleged death of our two compatriots, victims of an air attack on February 15, by U.S. military forces operating in Somalia.

In spite of the many efforts made by the Cuban government, it has not been possible to obtain information nor evidence to reach definitive conclusions and clarify the situation of Assel and Landy, whether they are still alive or to confirm the sad news disclosed on February 17.

The data obtained to this day are insufficient to corroborate the truth of what happened in accordance with procedures endorsed by science and national legislation.

What has been confirmed so far is that on the night of February 15, 2024, the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), which operates in Somalia, carried out an air attack in the area where the Cuban doctors were located.

Given the nature of the conflict in Somalia and the impossibility of obtaining confirmation, in recent weeks the Cuban government has repeatedly requested, through direct communications and diplomatic notes to the United States government, precise information on the events that have occurred.

At our insistence, the U.S. government confirmed that an attack took place in the area where our doctors were, but without clarifying the precise location. It also stated that its authorities have launched an investigation. However, to date, the U.S. government has not responded with the seriousness or urgency required. It has not even provided data on the circumstances and characteristics of the operation carried out. It has not clarified whether the operation was justified, whether U.S. military forces acted with due respect for International Humanitarian Law and with the obligatory care to protect civilians and innocents. It has not provided information on victims nor offered any data that would allow us to determine whether during the operations carried out by the U.S. Africa Command, on the dates and in the geographical area reported, our doctors were among the victims of the attack.

The Cuban government has conveyed these requests for information to the government of the United States in a respectful manner and in the spirit of cooperation and due attention that is expected between States in such sensitive situations. It has done so, knowing that various sources affirm that it was a U.S. military operation, with U.S. troops and weapons, which allegedly took the lives of our compatriots.

The absence of data and of a prompt and adequate response from the U.S. government prevents us from having accurate elements to offer the families and our people a conclusive version of what happened.

We await an official response to the inquiries that Cuba has respectfully submitted, with elements that may be provided by the U.S. civilian and military agencies operating in Somalia and in that region of the world.

Cuba's government reiterates its gratitude to the governments of the Republic of Kenya, the Federal Republic of Somalia and other countries for their efforts.

Our Government continues to communicate with the United States Government in search of information. Cuba will not cease in its hopes and efforts until the truth is known.

Havana, April 12, 2024

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