Aviation News

June 7, 2011

Three Kidnapped UN Air Service Crewmembers Released in Darfur

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By: BNO News
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The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) on Tuesday announced the release of three air service crew members who were abducted in the strife-torn Darfur region of Sudan more than five months ago.

United Nations C-130

On January 13, three Bulgarian men were abducted by armed men while working for the WFP-run UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) at a landing strip in Um Shalaya, 60 kilometers (37.2 miles) southeast of the West Darfur capital of El Geneina.

“WFP is grateful to the Government of Sudan for its tireless efforts in securing the release of the three men who were seized while they were working to help the most vulnerable people in Darfur,” said WFP Regional Director Amer Daoudi in Khartoum.

The men appeared to be in good health and no ransom was paid to secure their release. WFP said it worked closely with the Sudanese government at all levels of the process.

Last year, three Latvian UNHAS service members were abducted in Darfur. The three helicopter air crewmembers were freed after more than a month in captivity in December.

In May, the UN Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of the team of experts tasked with monitoring the sanctions imposed in Sudan’s Darfur region through February 19, 2012.

Darfur has been severely affected by the armed conflict between rebels and government forces. In February 2003, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebelled against the Sudanese government due to the oppression of non-Arab people in Darfur.

After years of fighting, the Sudanese government and the JEM agreed on a ceasefire in February 2010. An estimated 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million others displaced so far.

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