Red Cross employee abducted in Darfur is well
KHARTOUM, SUDAN - A French employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) abducted Thursday in war-torn Darfur is in "good health", Sudan's minister of state for humanitarian affairs Abdel Baqi Gilani told AFP.- - -
"He is in good health according to the first report I have received," Gilani said about Frenchman Gauthier Lefevre, who the Red Cross earlier said was abducted near El-Geneina, capital of West Darfur state.
Gilani did not elaborate but he said he expected Lefevre to be freed "soon" because he works for the Red Cross, with has a good reputation among Darfur groups.
"I think he will be released soon. The ICRC is very respected and neutral and has no enmity among Darfur groups," Gilani said.
He also described the kidnappers as "bandits" and said that the Sudanese government "condemns" the abduction - the fifth one of a foreign relief worker in war-torn Darfur since March but the first to target an ICRC employee.
In Geneva, the ICRC issued a statement earlier saying the incident occurred around midday as Lefevre "was returning with other ICRC staff to El-Geneina after completing a field trip north of the town to help local communities upgrade their water supply systems.
"He was travelling in one of two clearly marked ICRC vehicles when he was seized a few kilometres (miles) from the town."
The ICRC has called for his immediate and "unconditional release" - a demand also made by the French foreign ministry in Paris. -AFP
From Radio Dabanga Friday October 23, 2009 - excerpt:
International staff Red Cross Darfur kidnapped
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EL GENEINA (23 Oct 2009- Updated) – A French staff worker of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in El Geneina in West Darfur was kidnapped from his car this afternoon. He was returninmg to his compound after a fieldtrip to supervise waterprojects.
Radio Dabanga learnt that he was seized 40 kilometres from Geneina town in his ICRC marked car by around ten gun men.
The men took the Red Cross worker out of the Red Cross car, leaving other ICRC staff behind allowing them to continue their way, Tamara Al-Rifai, spokesperson of the ICRC in Khartoum told Radio Dabanga.
A local reporter of Radio Dabanga noticed that the kidnappers were heading for the nearby border with Chad. This was confirmed by a government official in El Geneina.
The new kidnap case happened few days after the release of two aid workers of GOAL after 106 of captivity. The kidnapping of two UNAMID-staff workers in Zalingei is still continuing. [...]
News release from ICRC's website October 22, 2009:
Sudan: ICRC staff member abducted in West Darfur
Khartoum/Geneva (ICRC) – An expatriate staff member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was abducted by several armed men today near the town of Al Geneina, in West Darfur, near the border with Chad.
The incident occurred around midday local time. The staff member, Gauthier Lefevre, a French national, was returning with other ICRC staff to Al Geneina after completing a field trip north of the town to help local communities upgrade their water supply systems. He was travelling in one of two clearly marked ICRC vehicles when he was seized a few kilometres from the town.
The ICRC currently has no indication of who the abductors might be or of their motives. It is in contact with the authorities and other parties with the aim of resolving the situation as swiftly as possible.
Mr Lefevre's family was informed of the incident immediately.
The ICRC is calling for the rapid and unconditional release of its kidnapped staff member.
For further information, please contact:
Tamara Al-Rifai, ICRC Khartoum, tel: +249 183 476 464 or +249 912 17 05 76
Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17