SUDAN WATCH: Three international aid workers from MSF-Belgium kidnapped in Serif Umra, N.Darfur

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Three international aid workers from MSF-Belgium kidnapped in Serif Umra, N.Darfur

The three international staff abducted are a Canadian nurse, an Italian doctor and a French coordinator. All three were working for the Belgian section of MSF (Doctors Without Borders). Two MSF Sudanese staff were also taken at the same time, however, they have since been released.

Doctors Without Borders workers abducted in Darfur
Thu Mar 12, 2009 (AP) report by Constant Brand BRUSSELS - excerpt:
Noureddine Mezni, a spokesman for U.N. peacekeepers in Khartoum, said the kidnappings took place Wednesday in north Darfur, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) west of al-Fasher.
Mezni said that six Doctors Without Borders employees were abducted initially from their offices in the Saraf Umra area, but one Sudanese worker was released Thursday morning.

The Italian branch of the aid group, which is also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, said the abducted include one Italian national, one French national and one Canadian national. It said two Sudanese national were immediately released.

It was not immediately possible to explain the discrepancy in the numbers.
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MSF confirms abduction of 3 international staff in Serif Umra, Darfur - excerpt:
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) today, Thursday, March 12, 2009, confirms reports that three of their international staff were abducted last night in Serif Umra, the Sudanese province of North Darfur. Two MSF Sudanese staff were also taken at the same time, however, they have since been released.

The three international staff abducted are a Canadian nurse, an Italian doctor and a French coordinator. All three were working for the Belgian section of MSF. Their immediate relatives have been informed. [...]
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Six aid workers from MSF-Belgium kidnapped in Darfur
Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:21am EDT KHARTOUM (Reuters)
Six aid workers from Medecins Sans Frontieres Belgium have been kidnapped in Sudan's Darfur, including three foreigners, a spokesman for the UNAMID peacekeeping force said on Thursday.

"Yesterday at around 11:00 p.m. three international and three national staff were kidnapped from MSF Belgium," UNAMID spokesman Ahmed Salah said. (Reporting by Andrew Heavens in Khartoum; Writing by Cynthia Johnston)
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Five aid workers kidnapped in Sudan's Darfur
Thu Mar 12, 2009 report (Reuters UK) - ‎16 minutes ago‎
"We can confirm that a group of armed men went to the location and ordered five persons to follow them. They were three international staff and two national staff," Kemal Saiki, communications director for UNAMID said.

"We have had reports one of the national staff has been released," he added. UNAMID had earlier said that six aid workers were kidnapped in an area of north Darfur 200 km (125 miles) west of the provincial capital El Fasher.

A U.N. official who asked not to be named said the foreigners were of Italian, French and Canadian nationality. MSF's Brussels office confirmed that a number of its staff had been kidnapped but gave no further details.
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Aid workers kidnapped in Darfur
Thu Mar 12, 2009 report (BBC News) - ‎17 minutes ago‎
Five members of the Belgian branch of Medecins sans Frontieres have been kidnapped in Sudan's Darfur region. "I can confirm the kidnap of three international employees and two local employees," an MSF official told AFP news agency.
Unnamed aid staff said the three international employees were from France, Italy and Canada.
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Abducted aid worker describes Darfur ordeal
The Canadian Press (via www.theglobeandmail.com)
April 7, 2009
CHARLOTTETOWN -- Laura Archer's ride as a sudden hostage in Sudan was long, bruising and frightening.

Lying in the back of a pickup truck along with two other members of Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), the Charlottetown native bounced over rough terrain, covered by a carpet, as armed captors drove her toward an uncertain fate.

"Initial fear when we were driving, because we didn't know where we were going and we didn't know the personalities of these men that were holding us and we didn't know if they were on drugs or if it was going to be an execution-style thing," she said.

In a recent interview with The Charlottetown Guardian, Ms. Archer, 30, detailed for the first time her ordeal of being kidnapped last month while working in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan.

On March 11, just one month before her planned return to her home in Montreal, Ms. Archer, Italian doctor Mauro D'Ascanio and French co-ordinator Raphael Meunier were were preparing dinner in their compound - a small, concrete house surrounded by a brick wall - when they and two unarmed watchmen were abducted by six heavily armed men .

"They weren't really violent," she said of her captors. "I mean they threatened us with the guns and they pushed us a bit. There was no real beating."

Just 30 minutes into what would be an estimated five-hour drive that possibly covered a couple of hundred kilometres, one of the two watchmen was released.

In captivity, she, Dr. D'Ascanio and Mr. Meunier made a concerted effort to remain calm, co-operate and avoid any action that would make their kidnappers angry.

They also remained quiet to avoid stirring up any emotion in their captors, who could not speak English and communicated only in Arabic.

They were given tea. They were never tied, blindfolded or gagged. They weren't harmed.

She returned to her home in Montreal last Thursday night with the goal to paint and to find some perspective.

Ms. Archer is not sure whether she will continue to work with MSF nor just how the kidnapping will influence her future career and life.

But she is wary that the full impact has yet to set in. "I'm staying aware of the fact that it [post traumatic stress] may come," she said.

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