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Ban welcomes release of aid workers held captive in Darfur for months

19 October 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today joined other United Nations officials in welcoming the release of two female aid workers who were abducted in the war-torn western Sudanese region of Darfur over three months ago.

The Irish and Ugandan staffers, Sharon Commins and Hilda Kawuki, were kidnapped by a group of armed men on 2 July while working for the international non-governmental organization (NGO) GOAL in the state of North Darfur.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban commended “the thousands of humanitarian personnel working in Sudan for their critical efforts.”

Underscoring the importance of the work of humanitarian aid workers, he stressed that the primary responsibility for the safety and security of all relief and peacekeeping personnel working in Sudan lies with the Government in Khartoum.

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.

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