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Senior UN official deplores latest kidnapping of aid worker in Darfur

24 October 2009 – The top United Nations humanitarian official in Sudan today condemned the kidnapping of a staff member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the latest in a series of aid worker abductions in the country's war-scarred region of Darfur.

“The kidnapping of Gauthier Lefevre serves nothing but to undermine humanitarian work in the region, at the sole expense of those who benefit from such endeavour,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan Ameerah Haq.

“It harms the chances of creating a safe and secure environment for delivering humanitarian relief and impacts negatively on our ability to deliver food and basic health and welfare services in areas where they are most needed,” added Ms. Haq.

The French-British national was snatched by gunmen on Thursday while retuning to Al Geneina - the capital of West Darfur state - from a field mission to help local communities obtain clean drinking water.

Ms. Haq called on the kidnappers to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Lefevre in a news release, underscoring the serious security concerns in Darfur for all humanitarian organizations working in the region.

Last week, an armed rebel group in North Darfur state released two staffers of the international non-governmental organization (NGO) GOAL who had spent three months in captivity.

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.

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