German aid group says three employees kidnapped in Syria
Three members of German aid group Gruenhelme, reported missing for more than six weeks, have been kidnapped in northwest Syria, the organisation said.
"It has been 45 days since three members and employees of Gruenhelme were kidnapped overnight on May 14-15, in the village of Harem" in northwest Idlib province near the Turkish border, the group's founder Rupert Neudeck said in a statement dated Friday.
The aid group has contacted the German foreign ministry, police and Syrian exiles in Germany in a bid to obtain news of its employees, but to no avail, said Neudeck.
Contacted by AFP, a spokesman from the foreign ministry would only confirm that three Germans have been "reported missing" in Syria, without giving further details.
Neudeck said his group was "very surprised to see that... the media in Germany have been silent" on the case.
"But we are no longer able to remain silent," he said.
The three staff were identified as Bernd Blechschmidt, Simon S. and Ziad Nouri.
The aid group urged German authorities, the United Nations and the European Union to "do everything" to find its employees and to secure their liberation.
Gruenhelme (Green Helmets) has been in northern Syria for several months to help the reconstruction of local infrastructures and to provide healthcare.
In 27 months, more than 100,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict, which morphed from a popular movement for change into an insurgency after the regime unleashed a brutal crackdown on dissent.
© 2013 AFP