Niamh Lawless, New Zealand Red Cross Secretary General
It is with a heavy heart that I confirm reports that one of our international humanitarian delegates was kidnapped in
Syria in 2013 and remains missing.
Louisa Akavi was kidnapped along with six others in October 2013 while working with the International Committee of the
Red Cross, delivering medical supplies that would help people affected by the conflict. Four of the abductees were
released the next day, however, Louisa’s fate, and that of her two Syrian colleagues, remains unknown.
Louisa is a valued member of the Red Cross whānau. She is an extremely capable and experienced nurse; dedicated,
resilient and compassionate. She has worked with the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement for more than 30 years and this was
her 17th field mission.
Louisa has dedicated her life to assisting those affected by war and violence and she went to Syria because people
needed her. She wanted to use her skills to make a difference for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
We remain deeply concerned for her safety. We are supporting the International Committee of the Red Cross and the New
Zealand Government in doing everything possible to locate Louisa and bring her home safely.
Our priority right now is supporting Louisa’s family. While they are used to her being overseas for her job, this has,
of course, been an extremely stressful and worrying situation for them. We ask the media and the public to respect their
privacy at this difficult time.
We call on whoever is holding Louisa to release her immediately and unconditionally, and for anyone with information to