Red Cross releases video plea to free 3 staff abducted in Syria
The Red Cross in Syria on Friday launched a video appeal for the immediate release of three kidnapped staff, warning the aid organisation's ability to help locals would be compromised.
“It’s a very, very simple appeal. I appeal from my heart in the name of humanity, on behalf of the families to release our colleagues safe and sound and unharmed,” says Magne Barth, the head of the Syrian arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in the video.
“It is clear if this situation is not resolved, it will affect negatively the aid we are trying to bring to the Syrian people.
“We need safety and security for our staff to be able to reach out, whether it is in the field of water, or health or food to the people who need us,” he said.
Six aid workers and one Red Crescent volunteer were abducted on October 13 as their convoy drove back to the capital Damascus from delivering medical aid in the northwestern Idlib province.
An Al-Qaeda linked group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), carried out the kidnapping, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, though there has been no claim of responsibility.
Three ICRC staff and the Red Crescent volunteer were released a day later.
The families of the three still missing “are very, very heavily affected”, Barth said.
The nationalities of the workers have not been made public, though the Red Cross has said most of the group are Syrians.
The Red Cross vowed to continue its work in Syria but has had to reduce its activities there to protect staff, spokesman Ewan Watson told AFP.
Kidnapping has become an increasing problem in Syria, with aid workers and journalists frequently targeted in rebel-held parts of the country, largely in the north.
At least 115,000 people are estimated to have died since the start of the conflict in March 2011.