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Ban voices relief at release of UN-AU peacekeepers freed in Darfur

27 April 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed his relief at the release of four peacekeepers serving with the joint African Union-United Nations mission in the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur who were set free after having spent more than two weeks in captivity.

The unarmed South African police advisers – two women and two men – were released yesterday. They had been abducted at approximately 4 p.m. on 11 April after departing from their team site in Nyala, South Darfur state, on a seven-kilometre journey back to their private quarters.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said that he “appreciates the efforts made by the Government of Sudan,” as well as that of South Africa, in securing the safe release of the four police officers” serving with the mission, known as UNAMID.

“He once more emphasizes to all parties the importance of ensuring the safety of all UN and other personnel who are on the ground to help the people of Darfur,” it added.

After undergoing medical examinations, the four blue helmets, who are believed to be in good health, will be flown to their home country to be reunited with their families.

Yesterday, UNAMID Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari, who travelled to Nyala to meet with the released kidnappers, expressed hope that “this is the last time that peacekeepers, both military, police and civilians, who are here to bring peace and stability to the people of Darfur, are subjected to such unacceptable ordeals.”

Earlier this week, he held talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who pledged to do everything possible to bring about safe return of the UNAMID personnel.

The mission, with nearly 22,000 uniformed personnel, was set up at the beginning of 2008 to help end a seven-year conflict between the Government and rebels that has killed at least 300,000 people and driven 2.7 million others from their homes.



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