Aid worker shot dead at hospital in Somalia

An Italian woman who devoted more than 30 years to working with Somalis suffering from tuberculosis and famine, has been shot dead in the breakaway state of Somaliland.

Annalena Tonelli, 60, who was awarded this year's Nansen prize, given annually for outstanding work by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was killed in the grounds of the hospital she founded at Borama, in the far north-west of Somalia.

Abdulkadir Suleman Ali, a local government official in Borama, said: "The man waited for Annalena Tonelli outside one of the tuberculosis wards, under the shade of a tree. He fired two rounds from a pistol at her forehead." No one has been arrested, and the motive is not known.

Dr Tonelli was a devout Christian who knew from a young age that she wanted to work among the poor. She never attempted to proselytise, living as a Christian in rigidly orthodox Muslim communities, slowly winning their affection by her devotion.

She worked first among Somalis living in north-east Kenya, then later in Somalia. For years she helped famine-struck communities in the south of the country, an experience she said was "so traumatising that it put my faith in danger". Later she founded two hospitals in Somaliland. A lawyer by training, she later gained several diplomas in medicine, including one from London in tropical medicine.

Naming her for the Nansen prize in April, Ruud Lubbers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said: "Dr Tonelli lives a modest life, eating the same food she gives her patients and she owns no property. Over the past three decades ... her quiet devotion to helping those in need is living proof that individuals can still make a tremendous difference." Yesterday he added: "She dedicated her life to helping others, carrying out her noble mission in remote, difficult places little noticed by the outside world. In doing so she touched the lives of thousands of people. We mourn the loss of a truly great woman."

Dr Tonelli was born and raised in Forli, near Italy's Adriatic coast. She inspired huge affection and support in her home town, where the local people raised €20,000 (£14,000) a month to keep her work going. A local group called the Committee for the Struggle against World Hunger co-ordinated the effort to help her. Yesterday Ivano Natali, a member, said: "We are incredulous about the killing. As a solitary woman she was in danger and under threat for 35 years, but no harm befell her until now. She was always working to support the rights of Somalis."

News
i100'Geography can be tough'
News
newsVideo targets undecided voters
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

DevOps Engineer - Linux, Shell, Bash, Solaris, UNIX, Salt-Stack

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: A fast growing Financial Services organisation b...

Trade Desk FIX Analyst - (FIX, SQL, Equities, Support)

£50000 - £60000 per annum + excellent benefits: Harrington Starr: An award-win...

DevOps Engineer - (Linux, Shell, Bash)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer - (Linux, Shell, Bash)DevOps Eng...

Retail Business Architect

Flexible for the right candidate: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: I have a fa...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis