UN says staff abducted in Sudan freed
DARFUR - Three United Nations refugee agency workers who were abducted from Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region last month have been freed, the UN said Tuesday.
The three, Sarun Pradhan and Ramesh Karki of Nepal and Sudanese national Musa Omer Musa Mohamed, had been snatched by armed men on November 27 in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state.
The UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi hailed the men's release in a statement, with the agency voicing particular gratitude to the Sudanese government and its personnel "who worked to ensure this outcome".
The UN did not provide any further details on the circumstances of the men's release.
"At this time our immediate focus is on the health and well-being of our colleagues, as well as that of their loved ones following this ordeal," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters.
"We are doing everything possible to ensure they are being well taken care of."
"UNHCR staff work in some of the most difficult circumstances in the world, helping people in great need, often facing being far away from their families for lengthy periods at a time," he said.
"Like other humanitarian workers, they should not have to endure the peril of abductions, violence and threats to their lives," he said.
He urged "all parties, not just in Sudan but everywhere, to respect international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of all civilians, including aid workers whose work is to help refugees and others affected by conflict and persecution."
Edwards stressed that the UN refugee agency would continue its work in Sudan, "providing life-saving support to hundreds of thousands of displaced in the country".
Last month's abduction of UNHCR workers is not the first in Darfur as several foreign and Sudanese aid workers have been abducted in the region in recent years.
At least 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in Darfur since the conflict first erupted in 2003, the UN says.