Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Kidnapped Aid Workers Still Held in Sudan

Despite reports that four aid workers from Doctors Without Borders had been freed yesterday, it appears that they are still in the hands of their captors. Via The Vancouver Sun:
Four kidnapped aid workers - a Canadian nurse, an Italian doctor, a French field worker and a Sudanese staff member - are still being held in Sudan despite earlier reports that the team had been freed, a Sudanese Foreign Ministry official said on Saturday.

"They are still not released, the government is making its utmost efforts and is coordinating with the concerned authorities," said Ali Youssef Ahmed, head of protocol at Sudan's Foreign Ministry. "I can assure you that they are well, everybody is safe and sound. We're expecting their release in the next few hours."

Doctors Without Borders - the organization under which the four were working in the African country - said in a statement Friday that it had been informed of the team's possible release. The Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed such reports.

``We have not yet seen our colleagues, nor have we had a chance to speak with them since we heard that they were being released,'' said the statement.

It is hard to imagine a much more wretched place than Sudan, and it is about to get even worse. Sudan's President, Omar al-Bashir expelled 13 humanitarian groups from the country last week and has ordered all remaining organizations out by the end of the year. This is in retaliation for his indictment on war crimes charges stemming from Sudan's genocidal campaign against Darfur.

Please continue to pray for Laura Archer, Raphael Meonier, Mauro D’ascanio, and their unnamed Sudanese colleague, and for the safety of the remaining aid workers who still labor to bring food, water, and hope to the millions of Sudanese people who rely on their help.

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