Darfur aid workers seized in new round of threats

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- Gunmen in Sudan’s Darfur region have kidnapped five international aid workers, adding to the growing list of frustrations facing foreign workers in the Sudan since the issuance of an arrest warrant against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
The aid workers were seized from the offices of the Medicins Sans Frontieres/Belgium in Saraf Umra, about 230 km from the regional capital, El Fasher, North Darfur.
The United Nations-African Union Joint force (UNAMID) who condemned the kidnappings said the workers seized included three international staff working for the medical aid agency and two Sudanese nationals who were released later.
“UNAMID deplores this action against aid workers who are in the region to help the people of Darfur.
UNAMID hopes for the safe and swift release of the aid workers,” it said.
The three aid workers have been identified as an Italian doctor, a Canadian nurse and a French national who was the chief of operations at the MSF office.
International staff in Darfur have been apprehensive lately following the issuance 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 as crimes against humanity and genocide.
The Sudanese government suspended the operations of several non-governmental organisations, accusing them of giving false information to the ICC, which led to the 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 report from Darfur that confidence-building patrols across Darfur had been stepped up.
UNAMID forces and police personnel continue to conduct their daily patrol activities 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 building 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 IDP camps and 36 villages.

12 march 2009 23:09:00

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