Aid workers kidnapped in Darfur: French relief group

5th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Armed men in Sudan's Darfur region kidnapped two aid workers from a French humanitarian group overnight, the organisation said Sunday.

PARIS - The two team members of Aide Medicale Internationale (AMI) were abducted at Ed al Fursan in southern Darfur, a statement from the group said.

AMI declined to release the names or the nationalities of the aid workers.

"Aide Medicale Internationale strongly deplores this kidnapping of members of its team who work daily to improve the health of the local population," it said.

The AMI team, which has been providing medical relief in Ed al Fursan since 2004, was spared from Khartoum's recent decision to expel several non-governmental organisations from Darfur.

"We were continuing our programme, we weren't targeted," said Frederic Mar, a spokesman for AMI.

French authorities were alerted and the foreign ministry set up a crisis response cell to deal with the kidnapping, saying in a statement that it was acting "given that it was a French NGO" that was concerned.

Sudan expelled 13 NGOs after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant on March 4 for President Omar al-Beshir for alleged war crimes including genocide in Darfur.

Two Sudanese workers for AMI were shot dead when their bus was attacked in in February in southern Darfur.

The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government and its militia allies.

Over the past six years, the rebels have fractured into multiple movements and the war has widened into overlapping tribal conflicts making the region increasingly dangerous for humanitarian relief efforts.

The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died from the combined effects of war, famine and disease and some 2.7 million fled their homes. Sudan puts the death toll at 10,000.


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