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Release Of Female Aid Workers Abducted In Darfur

Senior UN Official Welcomes Release Of Female Aid Workers Abducted In Darfur

New York, Oct 18 2009 4:10PM The top United Nations humanitarian official in Sudan has welcomed the release on Sunday of two international aid workers who were kidnapped in the country's conflict-ridden region of Darfur three months ago.

Sharon Commins and Hilda Kawuki, who worked for the Irish aid agency GOAL, were abducted from their compound in North Darfur by a group of armed men in July, according to media reports.

"The kidnapping of Sharon Commins and Hilda Kawuki is a reminder of the dangers faced by humanitarians working to help the people of Sudan, often in circumstances of considerable personal risk," said UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan Ameerah Haq.

Praising those who worked to free the Irish and Ugandan captives, Ms. Haq said that efforts by the "Sudanese authorities and Darfurian community leaders constitutes a significant step towards ensuring that aid workers in Darfur can accomplish their humanitarian brief in a safe and secure environment."

At the end of August two civilian staff members from the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID, were also abducted from their home in the West Darfur town of Zalingei and have yet to be released.

Since the conflict in Darfur began in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militia, some 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed through direct combat or as a result of disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy, and more than 2.7 million others have been forced to flee their homes.

ENDS

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