Filipina UN poll volunteer killed in Kabul attack

Ex-teacher among 5 Taliban fatalities First Posted 05:57:00 10/29/2009

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MANILA, Philippines?A Filipina election volunteer was among five United Nations personnel killed in Wednesday?s terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations said Thursday.

In his report to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Ambassador Hilario Davide, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, identified the slain Filipina as Jossie G. Esto, 40, an Electoral Outreach and Training Coordinator under the United Nations Volunteers Program.

Esto was killed when gunmen stormed the Bekhtar Guest House in Kabul?s Shar-e-Now District being used by UN and other international workers, the ambassador said .

The dawn attack, which left four other UN staff members dead, was later claimed by the Taliban.

Davide said Esto was a former school teacher who also worked as an electoral officer and civic education officer in the Philippines before serving as a UN volunteer in Liberia, Timor-Leste and Nepal. She was married with two children aged 14 and 11.

Davide said Esto is the fourth UN staff member from the Philippines to die in terrorist attacks targeting the world body. In 2003, Ranillo Buenaventura, a staff member of the UN Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq was killed in the suicide car bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad.

Last year, Gene Luna, a staff member of the World Food Program, was among the fatalities in the terrorist bombing of UN offices in Algiers, Algeria, while Perseveranda So, a staff member of the United Nations Children?s Fund, was among the victims in a suicide bomb attack on a hotel housing international workers in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Esto?s death came five years after Angelito Nayan, a Filipino UN volunteer assisting in the 2004 Afghan elections, was kidnapped in Kabul and held for three weeks by the Taliban before he was released.

Davide said Esto had been in Afghanistan for just over a year and was among several UN volunteers working with the United Nations Development Program/Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacity for Tomorrow (UNDP/Elect) Project, which is the primary vehicle through which the international community supports elections in Afghanistan.

UNDP/Elect works closely with electoral bodies such as the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan and provides project and program design and management, mobilization of donor funding, activity coordination, reporting, and the channeling of funds for electoral support, Davide's office said in a statement.

UNV executive coordinator Flavia Pansieri expressed condolences on behalf of the organization?s 8,000 volunteers and staff to the families of Esto and Yah-Lydia Wonyene of Liberia, another UN Volunteer who was also killed in the attack.

?Jossie and Lydia dedicated their knowledge and experience as volunteers to support the people of Afghanistan,? Pansieri said.

?As volunteers, they demonstrated a true commitment to the cause of peace and development and their sacrifice will not be forgotten.?

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