Darfur aid workers seized in new round of threats

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- Gunmen in Sudan’s Darfur region have kidnapped five inter national aid workers, adding to the growing list of frustrations facing foreign w orkers in the Sudan since the issuance of an arrest warrant against President Om a r Hassan al-Bashir.
The aid workers were seized from the offices of the Medicins Sans Frontieres/Bel gium in Saraf Umra, about 230 km from the regional capital, El Fasher, North Dar f ur.
The United Nations-African Union Joint force (UNAMID) who condemned the kidnappi ngs said the workers seized included three international staff working for the m e dical aid agency and two Sudanese nationals who were released later.
“UNAMID deplores this action against aid workers who are in the region to help t he people of Darfur.
UNAMID hopes for the safe and swift release of the aid work e rs,” it said.
The three aid workers have been identified as an Italian doctor, a Canadian nurs e and a French national who was the chief of operations at the MSF office.
International staff in Darfur have been apprehensive lately following the issuan ce of an arrest warrant against the Sudanese President al-Bashir on suspicion of aiding what the International Criminals Court (ICC) in The Hague has classified a s crimes against humanity and genocide.
The Sudanese government suspended the operations of several non-governmental org anisations, accusing them of giving false information to the ICC, which led to t h e issuance of the arrest warrant against President Bashir.
The kidnappings took place as UNAMID said it had stepped up the surveillance of Darfur villages in anticipation of any hostilities.
UNAMID said in its daily rep o rt from Darfur that confidence-building patrols across Darfur had been stepped u p .
UNAMID forces and police personnel continue to conduct their daily patrol activi ties throughout the region, in particularly in the Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps and villages.
During the last 24 hours, UNAMID said its military conducted 24 confidence build ing patrols, 17 escort patrol and 8 night patrols covering 45 villages/IDP camps .
Similarly, police personnel conducted a total of 88 patrols in and around the ID P camps and 36 villages.

12 march 2009 21:32:00

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